The Democrats retake the House of Representatives. That was the headlines on Nov 7, 2018. The Left was jubilant. The talk show pundits that had cried on National TV two years earlier had nothing but smiles now. The message from the Progressives was that massive change was already in the works and the injustice of the 2016 election could now be addressed. And right then, the pendulum started swinging back.
The Schizophrenic Personality of America
This Country is constantly shifting between a Liberal and Conservative personality, in what I believe to be, a search for its soul. Ask the majority about their Politics and they are likely to classify themselves as Fiscally Conservative and Socially Liberal. That is due to the fact that most people work to support themselves and their family, and yet our compassion dictates that we share our abundance with those unable to give a full measure.
Our history is replete with elections that were landslides for one party or the other. This resulted in the Punditry definitively stating that the opposition party was dead. This was, of course, until the next election when the Opposition Party was brought back into power.
We have also seen split reactions of the Presidency going to one party while the Congress went to the other. This is usually a byproduct of the electorate being enamored by the vision of the Elected Leader but having a concern for their stated policy.
The dual governance model is one of the brilliant concepts of our Founders, who understood that too much power for any political philosophy would lead to chaos and corruption. By forcing differing points of view into the governing model, this Country has been able to overcome bad policy and civil unrest.
Examples like France, Greece, Venezuela, and even the Soviet Union show what happens when Government Policy is blamed for creating undesirable living conditions. Don’t forget that we, too, went through a sifting of Political Philosophy which resulted in a Civil War. Luckily, we survived that split of this Nation and I believe the memory of that division keeps political discourse from spiraling out of control today.
Currently, we are seeing a Congress controlled by Democrats, that is giving much more attention to their new Liberal voices. Some of these Representatives are very activist in nature and very loud in presentation. These Democratic Socialists, as they have labeled themselves, are touting policies that speak to a philosophy in which Government steps in to solve all this Country’s woes. Their solutions require a radical agenda, but they think Americans are ready for change.
Passion That Dulls The Senses
The most recent Election gave the law creation power to a Liberal majority while keeping the Law approval power with Conservatives. This division of Legislative houses creates a stand-off between parties, which seems to be fine with the American Electorate. According to this article by Professor Adam Bonica of the Economist, the reality is that the majority of Democratic Socialist candidates lost in the last Election leading him to the conclusion that we are still a centrist Country.
If that’s the case, why is Democrat Leadership allowing voices like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be so loud? Just like the election of Barack Obama and his Liberal Agenda gave rise to the Tea Party, Representative Cortez speaks to the impassioned voice of the Millennials and the far Left. Unfortunately, dominate Public Figures on either the Right or Left can cause the Independents in the middle to drift away from that party.
Most people in this country are level headed and moderate in all things political. When they hear doomsday prophecies or too-good-to-be-true promises, more often than not they recognize this as political hyperbole. In addition, with the current disfunction on display over funding the Government and National Security, we are starting to see movement away from progressivism in the way people categorize themselves
This should be a wake-up call to all the new Freshman Representatives that just took office. The American People have real needs that they want you to solve. If you waste time with useless pursuits like shutting down the Government, countless investigations, and seeking to impeach the President, the voting majority will be frustrated. If you are perceived as problem creators instead of solving the problems, you will be turned out in 2020 and America will try again.
What Should Government Be Focused On?
According to this report from the Pew Research Center the Top 10 Priorities (in order) are the Economy, Health Care Costs, Education, Terrorism, Social Security, Medicare, Poor and Needy, Environment, Immigration and Jobs. This is an interesting mix of needs that identify the passion points of different constituents and play to the focus areas of both parties.
For instance, issues like the Economy, Health Care Costs, Education, and Jobs are still challenges the working class must deal with. Even with the historic economic growth that we are beginning to enjoy, these areas of dissatisfaction are red flags that the Republicans lest not overlook. Their failure to solve the Health Care Cost issue left many of their constituents apathetic about returning them to office and ushered in Democrats who promised to solve the issue.
Democrats should see their return to power, not so much as a mandate, but as a test by the voters to see if they can truly deliver on their promise. The fact that their first action was to pick a fight with the President and bring Government to a stand still in order to make political points with their base, does not bode well for the way Independents see them.
The Terrorism, National Security, and Immigration issues are a positive for the President, given the current Border Crisis debate. Once again, Republican’s failure to act while they had control was frustrating to their base. Democrats have an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership and vision by authoring Legislation to begin to address National Security and the broken Immigration System. They need to understand that Security is a top 10 priority for more than 60% of the Country. If they are serious about leading, they need to demonstrate that they care more for our safety than the talking points of their party.
If Professor Bonica is right and we are still a centrist Country, that means that the solutions to the pressing issues are seen by the voters as something between the two-party extremes. The only way for Politicians to get to the ideas that we feel are acceptable is to work with those that have opposite points of view and try to craft solutions that the majority will approve of.
Unfortunately, both sides are fairly entrenched which is why I believe the President continues to offer compromises to the Democrats. So far, that has been met with stoic refusal to negotiate by their Leadership. It will be very frustrating to the Democrat’s constituents if the President gives up on trying to be fair and uses other tools to get his job done. That will leave the Democrats with nothing to show for their time in office and will preview continued Congressional dysfunction.
Voting by Demographics
The other factor that the Lawmakers need to keep in mind is that the voting demographics are shifting. We are seeing more activity in elections by both the oldest and youngest voters than ever before. This used to be a strong suit for the Democrats who owned Senior issues like Social Security and Medicare and Young People’s Issues with the help of Academia.
After President Obama raided Medicare to fund Obamacare, Congress raided Social Security to fund Social Programs, and Democrats began to attack social norms, many Seniors (The Silent Generation) switched party affiliation. With the violence and vitriol associated with the Left, Young People are rethinking their allegiance.
As a Baby Boomer and part of the largest voting block in America, I was not surprised to see Social Security and Medicare rise to the top 5 categories. Politicians should be aware that as we are retiring, we are living longer, and we vote. We want more stability in these programs that we paid into our entire working life. We were made a promise as Government took money out of each paycheck and we expect that promise to be kept.
We are also keenly aware of the National Debt and that the Obama Administration wasted more money than all the previous Presidents combined, increasing the National debt to $21 Trillion Dollars. Given our $3.5 Trillion Annual Budget, if we spent money on nothing but the debt, we still wouldn’t make a dent. This means our children are going to inherit this responsibility and that makes us angry.
We have also seen the diminution of the things we grew up with like National Pride, Faith, respect for one another, the value of Life, and common decency. These topics seem to be offensive to most Liberals. Their constant drum beat against the values that we grew up with, and that we think made America Great put the majority of Baby Boomers at odds with the Democrat Party.
For Millennials and X Gens the education, environmental, poor and needy, and jobs topics are strongly representative of their wants from Government. They have a more Socialist bent due to media and academia influence and want more Government involvement in their lives. While this speaks to the traditional Democratic platform, these young voters are also much more impatient than their elders. They have no problem throwing out elected officials with 20 years of experience for a new firebrand that speaks to their passion points.
Millennials have struggled because of an economy that tanked as they came of age. The lack of a robust recovery left many of them dependent on Government for Social Programs or on their Boomer parents. Many of this age group that attended College, left with massive debt that they will be servicing for many years to come. They are also the ones most likely to suffer the Vietnam Syndrome as we have been at war most of their adult life and they want peace.
This group has become a target for the Progressive Politicians who offer Free Everything and paint a rosy picture of a Socialist Government that will take care of all their needs. Since Millennials are just now getting real jobs and discovering taxes, they don’t realize that this “Nirvana” is simply another lie from unprincipled Politicians.
Nothing in life is free! Everything must be paid for by somebody. The irony is that If Democrats regain control of Government and implement these ideas, the group that will be most impacted will be the Gen Xers and the Millennials as they represent the largest Tax Base now.
Finally, a group that is just coming into focus is the Gen Z population. They saw the struggles that their older siblings experienced and are doing things different. For instance, they are avoiding College Debt, they are just as likely to pursue a trade craft as a four-year degree, and they don’t depend on the Mainstream Media for their information. They depend on the Internet for information and they tend to reject the diatribe from teachers that try to use the classroom as a platform. Interestingly, though, they are likely to craft their homework to match the teachers bias when it is obvious because they realize that’s what gets them the best grades.
They are saving at a much higher rate than the previous two generations, so they have a vested interest in the economy, and they are paying attention. They watch activist groups associated with the Left like Antifa, the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, etc. who tout vitriolic slogans and scream at the sky and see no attraction.
Their top issues are: Economy, Education, Terrorism, Poor and Needy, Environment, and Jobs. Notice they have both Conservative and Liberal concerns and they tend to feel passionately about all of them.
The Top 10 issues had a greater than 50% response rate which means these are issues that the majority of the country cares about. The party that is able to craft a solution to these issues and present their ideas in the most understandable and acceptable manner will usually win the day. Both parties have policy that addresses these issues with the difference between Republicans and Democrats leaning towards either a fiscal or social based solution.
Reality Is A Harsh Mistress
Here is a hard truth for anyone running for political office. The greatest percentage of the populace continues to view you as a necessary evil. Most of the time we wish you had a hippocratic oath like Doctors: First, do no harm.
We have chosen to bequeath you power but never forget that what can be given, can also be taken away. If you don’t solve issues to problems, that you often create in the first place, we will replace you during the next election cycle.
With the transparency created by the Social Media and the Internet, Politicians need to understand that we see you better than ever before. This transparency is also convicting traditional Media each and every day. News Organizations can be instantly fact checked and exposed when they make up stories to suit their agenda. The people of this Country are becoming much less forgiving and much more aware.
We will hold you responsible for the job you do, no matter what party you align with. We believe in checks and balances and have faith that if you convince us to vote for you with lies and deception, you will not be able to do anything that can’t be undone in the future. This allows us to take a flyer on change with the understanding that all positions are temporary and if you don’t keep your promises, we will try someone else.
We are still not a Socialist Country. We believe in tenants like fairness and justice. If you don’t contribute whatever you are able, we will only support you for a time. We are a compassionate Country, however, so we are willing to contribute our blood and treasure to those who are truly needy. You would do well to remember that and strive to make policy that protects us from evil, rewards the diligent, and cares for those who are truly in need.
Written by Russ Hicks
I want the best Country possible for my children.
Russ Hicks is a 62 year old Vietnam era Veteran with strong opinions and a humorous take on life.
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