The success of our Democracy depends upon healthy debate. The US has been able to maintain the fast-paced yet steady progress to success, by veering slightly left, then veering slightly right. History shows that this allows the US to maintain balance.
We had conservative President Hoover in the 1930’s leaning right, followed by Roosevelt/ Truman who leaned left. Then Eisenhower right, Kennedy/Johnson left. Then Nixon/Ford right, Carter left. Reagan/Bush right. Clinton left. Bush right, then Obama leaned extremely left. And now Trump is a right-leaning center-of -the-roader.
By historical standards the US growth has been stunning. It took only about a hundred and fifty years, for the US to become the biggest, strongest and by far the most prosperous nation on earth.
While there are a number of reasons for this stunning success, the most basic is that the US was established based on the principles of democracy, while building on a foundation of freedom, individual responsibility and as well as social responsibility.
It is, in fact, the relationship between individual and social responsibility that usually determines how far to the right or left the country leans during the appropriate administration. It is the healthy debate that the US has historically relied upon to keep the country from drifting too far off course.
For that reason it is critical that the country maintain two strong, logical and well-positioned political parties who can provide healthy debate to the opposing view. There is a fear that the Democratic party is about to self-destruct.
In 2008, the country was indeed ready for a change. Although President Bush leaned more compassionately to the right, his unpopularity gave opportunity to a candidate who was prepared to lean farther left than any president before. Many may argue the very left leaning President Obama went too far.
President Obama’s highest priorities were to cure perceived social injustices. He reasoned that it was an injustice that every American did not have health insurance. It was an injustice that Americans are polluting the environment. It is an injustice that some people have so much while others have so little.
As a result of Obama’s far-left leaning agenda and his desire to “fundamentally change America” huge burdens were placed on economic growth. Obama re-distributed income away from those that earned it and toward those, who for whatever reason, did not earn it.
This re-distribution discouraged high achievers from contributing more. In addition, Obama’s regulations designed to fix environmental problems, put additional burdens on economic growth. The result was that Obama became the first president in US history to serve in office without having at least one year where economic growth was at least 3%.
Obama also convinced the Democrats that the entire party should take a far-left leaning position. While Obama’s strong personal appeal got him re-elected in 2012, the rest of the Democratic Party got shellacked.
It happened in states across the country. Currently, about two-thirds of states now have Republican Governors and/or Republican Legislatures. The Dems also lost control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. And they lost the Presidency.
At this point Democrats like Presidents John Kennedy or Bill Clinton would know what to do. They would propose bold new solutions consistent with the principles of freedom and democracy. Kennedy cut income taxes. Clinton cut the capital gains tax. By proposing new ideas to grow the economy, their appeal to voters increased enough to keep the Democratic Party meaningful.
The Democratic Party should study this history. Instead of offering new ideas to show Americans that the Dems are the ones to vote for, today’s Dems offer just resistance and negative information on President Trump. Maintaining this position will likely lead to losses so large that the future of the party may be in jeopardy.
Let’s fast forward to November. If Dems maintain their current position, they will lose seats in both the House and the Senate. We could see as many as 60 GOP senators.
The third quarter economic growth number will have been released just days before the election. It will show that for the second straight quarter, GDP growth exceeded 4%. Unemployment is at a record low. Americans are beginning to feel prosperity, something they really haven’t felt in nearly two decades. And not one Democrat voted for the tax cut that stimulated this growth.
Trump will have forced North Korea to really begin to de-nuclearize. Trump will have forced Congress to address key problems like immigration. The number of Americans who need government assistance will have fallen. People will generally feel good and will therefore not respond to negative messages about Republicans.
The special prosecutor’s investigation will have concluded and showed that Trump was not guilty of anything, in spite of the misdeeds that those formerly around him made have committed in prior years. In addition, the Dems may look really bad when the Inspector General’s entire report finally comes out.
Now is the time for the Dems to stop resisting, stop playing “gotcha” and start coming up with some fresh ideas to solve the key problems. Dems will keep leaning to the left, but if they don’t find balance they will need saving.
Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics. He has written Op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 35 years. @mbusler www.facebook.com/fundingdemocracy