There’s not a person in this country – Right, Left or In Between – who doesn’t understand the importance of a good economy. That’s a given. If you can’t feed your kids or pay the rent, it’s pretty hard to get all worked up about global warming and whether or not gays can marry. The smaller picture of day-to-day life takes precedence over bigger ones involving foreign policy and melting glaciers when money’s too tight to mention. And when the economy is bad, money’s too tight for a whole lot of people to mention.
“It’s the economy, stupid.”
Originally coined by James Carville (in truncated form: “The economy, stupid!”) during the 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, the phrase has became a clever reduction of all the country’s woes into three short words (or four, depending on which phrase you prefer). It’s been used many times since – often with condescending spin – to make the point that, regardless of anything and everything else in the political conversation, the real – maybe only – true concern of most citizens in this country is the economy… stupid.
Or is it?
Certainly Republicans would have the country filter all other concerns – environmental protections, healthcare reform, wars, military budgets, a fair immigration policy, veterans’ affairs, civil rights issues, separation of church and state, women’s reproductive freedoms, LGBT rights, entitlement programs, etc. – through the tunneled prism of the economy, particularly if the economy is struggling and we have a Democratic administration, as we do now. Republicans live by – and actively promote – the distortion that the economy has not improved under Obama (though it has: Economic Growth Excellent In Third Quarter by Justin Acuff or Are We Better Off Than 4 Years Ago? Let’s Go To The Charts!….by Henry Blodget), and that anyone but Obama could have worked far greater miracles in these four years than he has. In fact, Mitt Romney is flogging the theory that despite the gross distortion of his own platforms and policies during this campaign, despite his extreme fundamentalism on social issues; despite his profound lack of wisdom, experience and actual knowledge on global and foreign policy issues, HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN FIX THE ECONOMY. And he’s betting you’ll ignore all actual facts to embrace this thesis and elect him president.
The most incomprehensible element of this Wizard of Oz dissembling is that people are actually falling for it. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” seems like sensible advise but polls indicate the warning is not dissuasive to those so myopic about money, so spellbound by smoke and mirrors, that (to keep with the fairy tale analogy) the Emperor Who Has No Clothes can strut the campaign catwalk without 45-50% of the crowd (depending on the poll) hollering, “Hey, that mother’s naked!!”
Case in point:
In a jaw-dropping piece in the Huffington Post, “bestselling author and owner, SheerBalance.com,” Brett Blumenthal writes in, Why This Liberal Woman is Voting for Mitt Romney that, despite her purported Liberal views – she claims to be “Pro-choice, pro-Gay/Lesbian Rights and Marriage, Pro-Environment and Pro-Renewal Energy” – she’s going to vote for Romney because:
Voting for Barack Obama solely to achieve the above pro “issues” is a reversal of priorities like putting the cart before the horse.
She’s so noble as to eschew her Liberalism, sacrifice these social issues for the more “prioritized” issues of “economic stability” and “national security,” because:
These facts (economic stability and national security) are far too serious to occupy second place. They need to be prioritized. In looking at the horse and cart analogy above, imagine our civil liberties are in the cart. In order to move forward and thrive as a nation, we need to put a horse in place first — which is to stabilize and grow our economy, and ensure the security of our nation. Without these two priorities, our freedoms… our choices… our liberties… our beliefs are moot.
So difficult as it is for her, she’s going to vote for Mitt Romney. Not sure if he’s the cart, the horse, or the horse’s –– anyway; three things to point out here:
- ALL PEOPLE, even bone fide Liberals who actually hold dear Blumenthal’s thrown-in-front-of-the-bus “Liberal views,” prioritize the economy and national security. The Right’s – and her – condescending implication that Liberals back-burner either is morally repugnant and glaringly inaccurate.
- Dealing with the social issues in the Democratic wheelhouse – the environment, civil rights, healthcare reform, immigration, etc. – would all contribute greatly to the economy in terms of creating jobs, controlling costs, reassigning budgets, paying taxes, raising spending, (how’s this for ironic?: Gay Marriage Could Give The Economy A Much-Needed Boost), and cutting waste. While the Right – and their new spokesperson, Ms. Blumenthal – clamor on about what they’d do better than Obama to fix the economy, the very real and economy-boosting elements found in the synergy between these “Liberal” social platforms and economic improvement is ignored and/or dismissed to focus, instead, on big business protections, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and continuing to flog a discredited “trickle-down theory” of job creation.
- As for “national security”: compassionately caring for our veterans, cutting the considerable bloat – and corruption – out of the military, and being cautious, diplomatic, and well-educated in dealing with global and foreign policy issues (unlike the previous administration and impossible to imagine in a Romney one), IS the Democratic, Obama, platform. Not the Right. Not Romney.
So when pseudo “Liberals” like Brett Blumenthal or Buzz Bissinger self-servingly publicize and defend their defections from the Left to the Right with these disingenuous and self-serving justifications, let’s be sure the rest of us are very, very clear about exactly what’s being said, what’s being implied, and where the truth lies in all of it.
Dismissing and denying the economic importance of the social issues of the Democratic party to leap into bed with a candidate who has blithely and dispassionately announced his plans – should he become president – to dismiss, “get rid of,” repeal, turn back, destroy, etc., legislation, rights, protections, and regulations that protect women, gays, veterans, the uninsured, the environment, immigrants, the poor, the elderly, the middle class, etc. – and then write off those defections as being noble, as displaying “more concern about the economy and national security than Obama and the Democrats” (I’m paraphrasing but that’s the gist!), is calculated and insulting. It reeks of cowardice (just say you’re a damn Republican now and quit trying to gussy it up!), arrogance (poor li’l Dems, all hung-up on the small stuff while we superior sorts take on the world), and tremendous condescension (at least we’ve got OUR priorities straight!).
And it’s wrong.
Because it is the economy…and the economy lives or dies by the people living in the country. And the people living in the country do well, or don’t, depending on whether or not their health and their families are protected, their civil rights are assured, they’re equally paid, their planet is cared for, their laws are enforced, their religions (all of them) are protected and not imposed, their leaders are ethical, their military is wisely led, the prevention of war is a priority, and personal rights remain personal.
We are the economy. And anyone who thinks otherwise is…stupid.