Friday, May 07, 2010

Tea Parties, Reagan, Bush, Perot, Clinton, Bush, and Why the Center is Against Obama

If President Obama has half a brain in his head, he'll become an actual "moderate." Let's look at where the actual center of American politics resides, on domestic issues. Reagan famously won over Democrats, which Bush (42) lost to Perot, when he ran against Clinton, in '92. Clinton had a change of heart, approving conservative domestic policies like "welfare reform," before his re-election in '96. It's worth noting that the GOP took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years in '94.

I suggest that the "tea party" movement is a manifestation of this same "center-right-libertarian" movement that has influenced America's politics over the last 20 years. These people aren't "worked up" about abortion, or gay marriage. They are more concerned with the government keeping American business "uncompetitive" in the world market, and keeping Americans from being gainfully employed. It's already out in the open: NY Dems have already shut down the conversion of an old Bronx armory into a mall, because they wanted "living wage" guarantees (an abstract number, sometimes equated to union wages) for every emloyee of every business that rented space in the proposed mall. Some legislators suggested the city should "make up the difference" with tax money! These are politicians that represent President Obama's view on the economy, and government's role in it.

That idea is the opposite of what will foster economic competition. One thing that this idea does not take into account is that lower wage jobs serve a function in any economy. People with no skills or work experience aren't worth paying wages that experienced workers make. The "living wage" argument supposes that anyone with an entry level job is supporting a family, when most entry level jobs go to teen, or adult children of people making a "living wage," who are still supporting those children. Why don't we make the minimum wage 15, or 20 dollars an hour? Figure it out.

There is a shortage of jobs in the USA. That means that people will work harder to find work, and employers will be able to pay less, to get qualified workers. No government regulation can change that for the better, though it can screw things up exponentially, with bad legislation. This is what I worry about, with President Obama. He has a real problem between his base, and the majority of Americans, who side with the "tea party" people more often than not. Better ideas come from people who own, manage, and work for actual businesses, in the real world, not "academics" or "politicians." Besides not listening to the "tea party" people, he made fun of them, which made him look pretty petty.

Perot warned us about "the big 'sucking' sound" that would come if either Clinton or GHW Bush won the election, in '92, because both of them were pro-NAFTA. That sound came and went, without much notice, until now. The policy is not wrong, but it will be painful, at times. I'll quote Walter E. Williams: "If they shoot a hole in their side of the boat, do we have to shoot one in our side, too?" Protectionism will not re-industrialize America. We should ratify the pending trade treaties with Columbia, South Korea, and any other nation that wants to buy American products.

There are many concepts that are "off" of this administrations "radar," which ought to be "on it." Common sense reforms, like switching "defined benefit" federal retirement programs to "defined contribution," and allow employees to contribute as much as they want. Obama's also not touching Social Security, better known as the greatest "Ponzi" scheme the Feds have ever pulled on us, because it's so disgraceful. At least Bush tried to fix it, as noted in my "right of center" LEAVWORLD: GRAFFITI POLITTI blog. I'd rather have an account of my own, than a statement telling me what the government "promises, but not guarantees" for me, in the future.

In conclusion, here's how we can trace the political "center" of US politics, over the last 30 years: Reagan "took back" the "center" that had drifted to Carter, Bush (42) lost them to Clinton, with help from Perot. Bush (43) didn't exactly win them back, but "the center" still liked the GOP more than Gore. For the record, the budget surpluses would have ended in 2001 whether Gore or Bush won the election. I was also one of those who said to myself "thank God Al Gore isn't the president" on 9/11." Bush held his "center-right" coalition together until he got re-elected, when it all fell apart. The economic conservatives broke from the defense hawks, and the social conservatives, who each had their own gripes with "their" party in charge of both executive and legislative branches of government.

In '06, the Dems took control of the congress, and the Bush Administration "circled the wagons" around Iraq. Senator Obama, newly elected, was a rising star, though no-one thought he was ready to be president. He represented "the future" of the Democratic party, while Hillary represented the "now" opposition to Bush. They agreed on increasing the federal budget, and didn't bother to act on the Bush administration's warnings of the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which presaged the "mortgage crisis." Bush lost all credibility with fiscal conservatives when he passed the TARP bill, and then tapped it to bail out GM, all the while not acting against Fannie/Freddie. This is when the "center" said "what do we have to lose, voting for Obama, instead of McCain?"

McCain had no chance, and was successfully painted as a continuation of Bush's fiscal policies. Obama won the center, in '08, but many of those voters who supported him are attending "tea parties" now. There are alot of issues that occupy voters, and they seem to rotate in precedence, on a political level. I like our president, because he is going to give us, as a nation, a real idealogical test,in a different way than Bush did. Where is "the center" of this country? We're gonna find out. Call it "triangulation."

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