Between now and November of 2016 a couple of billion dollars will be spent to convince American voters that one party of the other has the answers - or at least that they have the questions. Most will be wasted - not because advertising doesn't work, campaigns and candidates are unimportant, or 21st Century Get Out the Vote techniques are lacking. To the likely benefit of Republicans major realities have made their way into the consciousness of any sentient being since the reelection of Barack Obama. Some broad strokes:
1. There is a limit as to what big government can do, regardless of the ideological orientation of the president and the amount of financial resources and political capital thrown at the problem.
- The launch of Obamacare in 2013 was a disaster. Despite three years of preparation and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the technology, it took myriad executive orders changing the legislatively enacted provisions and months of fumbling to enable the simple tasks of examining alternatives and enrolling. More on the substance, only a fraction of the target audience has signed up, insurance rates continue double-digit increases, fraud is rife, and a solid majority continue to oppose the law.
- The government is incapable of operating effectively in the cyber environment. The Chinese hacking of 22 million Office of Personnel Management records - Social Security numbers; background checks; personal health records - will be a personal disaster for many, and is incomprehensible to a generation which has grown up with technology. At least the president has started to fire grossly deficient department heads.
- The Veterans Administration's abject failure to serve the basic health needs of those who the average American would consider to be the most deserving resulted in the eventual firing of the director, and pending legislation to make it possible to fire non-performing workers. but stories continue to abound of thousands dying while still on waiting lists.
2. The administration's Middle East policies are a disaster.
- The JV's rolled through Syria and Iraq in 2013 and continue to expand their influence across North Africa.
- Pick a country - Yemen; Libya; Nigeria; Somalia - the story is about the same.
3. Almost seven years after the financial collapse nobody has gone to jail, the "too big to fail" banks have become larger, hedge fund managers continue to have their incomes taxed at lower capital gains rates, and lending to small businesses continues to be strangled by regulations. The leaders of both parties are prisoners of Wall Street - with Hillary in the lead.
4. Greece is largely Europe's problem, but it is in the consciousness of the American "man in the street." Excessive government debt, excessive public employee pensions, socialism run amok even by the standards of Europe, no faith in the tax collection system. Our parallels are obvious. (In response to Obama's politicization of the IRS, Republicans have reduced funding to the detriment of customer service and enforcement.)
The Millenial generation has grown into adulthood amid the failure of Hope and Change in an era of partisan gridlock. As a result, a record 50% view themselves as "Independent", and their voting rate in the 2012 election was almost 20% below the 68% national average. The old saw that "If you are not a liberal at 25 you have no heart; if you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain" suggests a relative advantage for Republicans, at least until the Millenials grow into middle age.
This is not to say that the 2016 Republican nominee will have a walk in the park, given demographic trends, but it is to say that the lurch to the left led by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid has been followed by Republican capture of the House, the Senate, most governorships, and most state legislatures, and that the "known knowns" of Barack Obama's presidency should bode well for a candidate who has proven that he or she can manage and who can articulate how a stronger America will make a safer world.
This week's video is a supportive explanation of the deal with Iran. The problems: verification; limited duration; the fiction of a "snapback" of sanctions with violations; and the enhanced ability of Iran to support proxy groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.
bill bowen - 7/17/15