I can still hear the James Carvell orchestrated mantra of the Clinton campaign in 1992, drilling it into all our thick heads that the economy was the only issue that mattered that year. In his own, inimitable way, he summarized the three points of that campaign as being, “change vs. more of the same,” “The economy, stupid” and “Don’t forget health care.” It is refreshing to know that with all the hyperbole about change, that some things actually never do change . . . like Democrats and elections.
It is easy to understand why Hillary would rely on those three successful points to hang her campaign on since they were prominently posted at the Clinton headquarters in 1992 as a constant reminder to employ the KISS method of political strategy . . . Keep It Simple Stupid. But, that doesn’t explain why Obama has adopted exactly the same three points, not straying off subject to even feign originality.
There are a few very interesting points about the two democratic contenders, who are using pages from the old Clinton playbook as though nothing has changed in 16 years. One is that in 1992, Clinton won with less than 43% of the vote and did just four points better in 1996, never, ever getting a full majority, or “mandate for leadership,” as they like to say. When Clinton benefited from the dot com boom, inspite of having raised taxes, the assumption was that he was doing something to stimulate the economy. That’s like taking credit for the rain just because you got wet. And when Bush came to office, not only did he inherit a recession, but less than nine months later he presided over one of the most horrific attacks on US soil in our history. He still refused to raise taxes as a result of it, and saw eight years of stable and consistent economic growth, a robust stockmarket, and a real estate bubble that was bound to burst as things always readjust to natural levels.
If you dust off the old script that was disseminated to the mainstream media in 1992, it is almost a verbatim argument for voting for the Democrats today and throwing the Republicans out. Even though, at the end of Clinton’s 8 years, with a recession, they weren’t clamoring to throw out the Democrats and elect the Republicans, so it can’t really be the “economy stupid.” And even up until election day of 1992, the talking heads were shaking theirs, so concerned that if the Democrats did not regain control of the White House, it would be certain economic disaster for the country. Sound familiar? The only problem is . . . if you go back and check the newspaper headlines the days leading up to the election, you will find the term “faltering economy” over and over. But if you look up the headlines just a few days after the election, there is not a mention of the economy. It is as though it miraculously healed itself overnight. And oddly, it did, because it was only bent, not broken, and the constant drum beat of impending economic doom was silenced because the political battle had been won.
It is called a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you are told over and over, and believe that you are going to fail, or you will get sick, or something horrible will happen to you, that idea begins to control your actions until you define yourself by that statement. If people hear over and over that the economy is bad, a recession is coming, housing prices are falling, even it is to adjust for an outrageous spike in prices, then they will be on edge about the calamity hitting them. That is not to say there aren’t people who are hurting financially. I know people who have been hurting financially through 6 presidents from both parties. But statistics show that more people today are earning more, owning homes, starting small businesses, investing in the stock market and using their tax cuts to stimulate the economy by purchasing goods and services.
The reality of a discussion about an economic slowdown is that first of all . . . there are no experts on the subject. It is all total speculation based on several moving parts that rely mostly on human behavior. And if that behavior is driven by fear and apprehension, then not only are you able to recognize it, you can actually manipulate it. And that is what we are seeing in the 2008 elections. But the big difference is that liberals who deny that the economy really was totally broken under Carter, refuse to acknowledge normal adjustments and fluctuations that occur when several factors are in play . . . the least of which is not telling people daily, that the economic world as we know it, is coming to a screeching halt. Will someone please get a memo to Starbucks . . . . encourage your customers to save that $5 they are splurging on a latte, to put one more gallon of gas in their car.
For most people, according to polls, if you ask them if they are doing OK, they will answer in the affirmative and then tell you how they are concerned about those less fortunate. But those less fortunate are always with us, even when the economy is booming, the stock market is soaring, housing is skyrocketing and things look rosy for everyone, except those few who are forgotten in the years between elections.
It is interesting to note though, that as the Democrats insist the economy is tanking. . . they have magically been able to come up with millions and millions and millions of dollars to see either Hillary or Barack win the election. And if you look at the leaders of the Democrats, especially, Bill and Hillary Clinton, you will discover that they have made over $100 million dollars in the eight years since Bush has been in office. Wow, that’s pretty cool. Even Bush and Cheney didn’t come close to making the same amount while the Clintons were in office. It is still a little confusing as to how with just one salary of about $200,000 while he was President, that they were able to buy the multi-million dollar house in New York without ever even owning a home before. I wonder if it was one of those risky sub-prime loans. And going from being a Whitehousewife for 8 years, to being a US Senator, now worth millions and millions of dollars, it is no surprise that Hillary wants to parlay those earnings into greater earnings by being president . . . again.
So, Bill and Hillary, Obama, John Edwards, Al Gore and all the other wealthy Democrats have gotten very rich under Republicans, yet they want change. That doesn’t make sense. They should want to keep Republicans in office, keep taxes down, keep the Capital Gains Tax capped . . . or even eliminate it, and consider a flat tax. That way, they can continue to get wealthy, fly around in private jets, ride in limos, buy their huge mansions that the rest of the country only dreams of, and try and convince all Americans that they are not better off than they were 8 years ago. That dog just won’t hunt any more, and the tune is getting old.
The reason people are at the malls on Monday and the gym on Tuesday and continuing to cause long lines at most restaurants, sold out screenings of movies and packed stadiums is because they wink and nod at the economic figures knowing it is that season again. It’s that time every four years when they are supposed to appear concerned, but really they just want to get their vente caramel machiata, jump in their SUV and head off to play racket ball. It’s not really the economy stupid . . . it’s the stupid economy that takes on a life of its own every four years, only to readjust naturally, the day after everyone stops telling them . . . “It’s the economy stupid.”
Nina May is the producer/director of the award-winning documentary, Emancipation Revelation Revolution (www.ERRVideo.com).