Are You Better Off than You were Eight Years Ago?

Reagan used this phrase in the context of four years to great effect in 1980 and propelled himself into the White House despite his challenger trying to paint him as a dangerous, right-wing radical.  Trump, in some ways, is repeating the phrase and trying to generate his own phrase, but there is something off in it.  Isn’t it time that we coalesced around what we all agree on?

There are some simple facts which we cannot, as a nation, ignore.

First, and foremost, we are not safer here nor abroad than we were in 2008.  In fact, we have security threats, primarily from Mexico, that implicate our long-term future.

Second, our debt is more than double where it was.  What has been our net benefit from incurring that debt?  Has our government regulation of healthcare lowered costs and secured the medical needs of the underserved?

Have we secured peace in any particular nation where none existed prior?  Have we intervened in international diplomacy other than to surrender to the whims of North Korea, Iran, and Cuba, three of the most vile dictatorships still in existence?

Have race relations improved?  Is the color of a person’s skin absent from public discourse, or are we now facing whole sectors of the economy where people will be hired moving forward based upon their fit with national demographics?  Is immigration being viewed as a shared problem for the entire country or is it being cast into a racial polemic where neighbors distrust their neighbors?

Do States still have a working 10th Amendment, or is the Supreme Court gradually eroding the very core of Federalism, instead attempting to cast itself into an evolving judiciary with a sense of divine wisdom?

Is prayer allowed in the public square, or will it be banished unless accompanies by a pledge of loyalty to the platform of the group of individuals wielding the most coercive power?

The majority of us would like to restore Law and Order.  If someone does not like the law, change it through democratic process!  Or are we to relent and allow moving forward for all law to come from the Executive and Judicial branches?

Donald Trump has raised many points which tap into our anger.  Anger is powerful, but it is unwieldy and tends to transform itself into a cudgel which damages, rather than an optimistic emotion which allows us to move forward.  If we win in anger, we lose our agenda.  If we win in confidence, we carry our agenda.

In deference to Trump supporters, many are fearful and angry and trust no one other than Trump will deliver us out of this darkness.  And in deference to the other candidates, their supporters trust them.  Upon what we all agree is that we have had a failed presidency for nearly eight years.

How is it, that in the face of this utter failure, our President is still so popular, at least according to Gallup?  It is because we have groups of special interests all of whom benefit from the Executive and Judicial overreach.  We have large companies which receive billions to combat Climate Change.  We have huge sectors of the population fully employed to uphold compliance rules and laws.  We have citizens who sue bakers for refusing to violate their spiritual beliefs who get to collect large judgments.  We have cities that raise the minimum wage in order to kill off whole industries and force them to move elsewhere.

When the overreach runs out, there is a backlash, as there will inevitably be.  We cannot run the deficit at this rate and not feel the burn, pun intended.  We cannot resolve conflicts between a homosexual, transgender, female-born male without a Green Card and a lesbian, male-born female who is black.  The two of them will end up in a violent struggle for supremacy within the grievance hierarchy.

If our voters prefer Trump over others, and as a result, Clinton wins, we all lose.  Of this, I am sure.  My hope for us is that our nominated candidate take our message and project out optimism and a desire to debate the failed policies of this administration with a former member of this administration.  I believe that Trump, Cruz and Rubio are capable of this, although which Trump will show up is unclear.  Kasich might become Clinton’s running mate.  Or not.

Regardless of who our nominee is, we need to articulate the optimism of our principles in the Fall, if for no other reason than to place more principled conservatives in office.  We owe that to ourselves.  I am crossing my fingers that March 15th clarifies this race and brings us what we need to unify.