Yesterday I wrote a post titled Why Is This Election Close? which has gotten considerable attention and comment. I want to expand on that post by making explicit one of its implicit themes.
Ordinarily, as I wrote yesterday, a president with a record on the economy as disastrous as Obama’s wouldn’t have chance at re-election. But in a perverse way, Obama’s failures may be working in his favor, politically.
Because Obama’s policies have suppressed economic growth, the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed have grown steadily. As unemployment benefits have finally run out, the long-term unemployed have, by the millions, declared themselves to be permanently and totally disabled. Millions of Americans have come to be dependent on government largesse as a result of the economic folly of the Obama administration. So how are those people going to vote? One might think that, angry at the government policies that have robbed them of their ability to be self-supporting, they would vote Republican. No doubt some will. But many more will cling to the only life raft in sight, and will vote for the party that promises the never-ending continuation and expansion of government benefits.
A second factor is also at work. The Obama economic disaster has spawned widespread hopelessness. Many millions of Americans are convinced that things aren’t going to get better; that stagnant growth, high unemployment, and few if any opportunities in the private sector are the “new normal.” Perversely, that very hopelessness works in Obama’s favor as well. If the underemployed and the “disabled” thought that recovery is just around the corner, given halfway-decent government policies, they would vote Obama out so they can get back to work. Again, there are some in this category. I received a DM on Twitter a few minutes ago that said, “John, this food stamp family intends to vote for Romney so that we can get a job and GET OFF FOOD STAMPS!!!” That is of course the right attitude. But those who are hopeless won’t think that way. They can see no future except one of dependence on the government, and most of them will vote for the party of dependence, the Democrats.
So the sad fact is that Barack Obama’s economic illiteracy, and the consequent debacle that we have lived through for the past four years, hurts him with some voters but benefits him with others. Hopelessness: a cynical politician can turn that to his advantage!
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