I have identified three conservative arguments that United States President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their fellow liberal Democrats used to win reelection in the 2012 election.
Rejection of the Liberal Argument of Accepting American Economic Decline
President Jimmy Carter, a liberal Democrat, argued that Americans should accept that the
would not be as strong as before because of post-war American decline. Because of this argument and his explanation
that there was a general “malaise,” he provided no hope for economic improvement. Republican nominee Ronald Reagan defeated
Carter in the 1980 presidential election by inspiring his fellow countrymen
that because of freedom, America
could do better economically and that “its best days were ahead.” No one has followed Carter’s model of
accepting decline. Every nominee from
either party has argued that the economy could get better.
Obama followed the optimistic Reagan model by arguing that America could get better economically – with Obama’s policies while simultaneously arguing that it would not by returning to the Republican policies he falsely blamed as responsible for the recession. Now Obama’s belief that
America could get better was not because he
believes in the free market like Reagan, but because he believes he can
transform the United States
into a European-style socialist welfare state.
His optimism about the American economy does not extend to a rejection
of the companion liberal argument of accepting a decline in U.S. military
power or even diplomatic influence. Nevertheless,
the point is that the Obama campaign and other liberal Democrats recognized the
lack of popular appeal of the old liberal notion of accepting economic decline. The Democrats know that they must produce positive
results because Americans expect to prosper.
Appeal to the Middle Class
Liberal Democrats had been identified as representing the interests of the poor because they advocated policies that were intended to help the poor – often at the expense of the middle class. The backlash from the middle class has led them to advocate increasingly for the middle class, as well. For years, they have been claiming that Republican policies have hurt the middle class.
During the 2012 campaign, liberal Democrats not only advocated further extensions of the “Bush middle class tax cuts,” but attempted to outflank the Republicans on their right by claiming that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s plans would amount to a tax increase on the middle class. The liberal Democrats’ fiscal and economic ideas do not work and they are wrong to appeal to Americans as constituents instead of as individuals by promoting policies that that are beneficial to the economy as a whole, or at least do as little harm to it as possible. Indeed, it is wrong for them to pander to voters by trying to bribe anyone into voting for their policies. Nonetheless, the Democrats realize that they cannot win by appealing only to the poor. Republicans have won the argument that tax cuts are good for the middle class, just as they had won the argument that welfare should be temporary, not a way of life.
The Recognition of Stock Prices as an Economic Indicator
The third conservative argument used by the liberal Democrats during the 2012 general election campaign is implicitly related to the second one. It was that their economic policies must be working because the Dow Jones Industrial Average of thirty blue-chip stocks was doing well, implying that the market was ratifying the liberal Democratic policies by demonstrating its confidence in them. Indeed, the Left was actually boasting that stocks were doing well!
In the past, rising stock prices, particularly as reflected by the Dow average, were dismissed by the liberal Democrats as something that benefited only the wealthy. Stock prices rose to record highs during the administration of President George W. Bush, a Republican, the significance of which they dismissed, but when they dropped after the Panic of 2008, liberal Democrats began to cite the decrease as an indicator of the severity of the economic recession. Since Obama took office, they have increasingly pointed to rising stock prices as indicators of economic recovery, meaning that they recognize stocks as reflective of the economy as a whole, not only how the upper classes are doing. Perhaps their attitude change has occurred because they realize now that a majority of Americans, including many middle class Americans, owns stocks, often through pension funds.
The liberal Democrats are still a long way off from a mature economic view about stocks, as they still vilify some of the industries that comprise the mutual funds most Americans own, such as the energy, pharmaceutical or insurance sectors, or toward understanding that policies that adversely affect businesses in general or even particular sectors or industries can affect the whole economy. Thankfully, many voters do understand at least in part because of the more widespread ownership of stocks because conservatives are winning the argument about the economic significance of stocks.
If I think of more such examples of conservative arguments used by the Left, I shall post them. In the meantime, I invite you, my dear readers, to post any other examples.