An article on the front page of the Boston Sunday Globe of January 12, 2014 reported on a survey of American college students and recent grads. The survey was conducted by Harvard University and was overall indicative of these young, educated American’s feelings of betrayal by their government. The article mainly focused on how these people were disappointed in President Obama and the fact that the America they believed would change after his election in 2008 and then in 2012 has not changed. We are still the F-d up country we were when George W. Bush was the decider, and we are not much changed from the days of Bill Clinton and invention of the no sex blow job. Before that George H. W., possibly the owner of the best resume ever to serve as President, was too overwhelmed by the actual changes introduced by his predecessor to use all that resume experience. By the time he became President, his resume was out of date. Sorry, George.
Ronald Reagan began his presidency in 1980 with much the same promises as Barack Obama in 2008. Both campaigned on platforms of Hope and Change. Reagan wanted to heal the wounds of Viet Nam and Watergate. Stop the cultural shift of Women’s Liberation and arrest the emerging Gay Rights movement, rid the country of the scourge of drugs and restore the invincibility of the American Military after the embarrassing loss in Viet Nam. Economically he ushered in an era where the economic policy decisions would be made with the input of business, and if they believed the US economy would best be served by finally ending whatever remnants remained of the War on Poverty and weakening the power of the worker then that would be the policy followed.
In bringing upon the US, what I call the Reagan Devolution, he put America on a downward spiral culminating in the crash of 2008. The crash came after both parties had selected their candidates. The Primary process concentrated on selecting candidates based on two issues. Stalemate in DC, and the Wars in Mid East. The Republicans chose McCain, the War Hawk who had a reputation of being able to work with both parties. Obama was chosen by the Democrats, not opposed to war, but much more selective about it, while also promising to unite the two parties. He also did not realize the roots that the Devolution put in place, and that it would be necessary to tear out those roots in order to effect change.
Then the economy disintegrated. The years of tax cuts, reckless wartime spending, abandoning the poor to ever shrinking supports, allowing the escalating costs of an education to be borne solely by the student and her parents, runaway inflation of healthcare expenses, and trade policies that almost seem designed to weaken the bargaining position of American workers; finally took its toll. Since this all started unraveling just before the election, the victory of Barack Obama, was certain. The crises had happened under a Republican and McCain did not come across as very competent on economic issues.
The world that Barack Obama thought he would be entering into as President, was very different. On the campaign trail, there was time to modify the message to fit the circumstances, to try out alternate proposals, but this all happened too late. He was forced to revert to what last worked. The people and the plan that solved the last economic crises. The Clinton Team. Unfortunately, these individuals worked their “magic” with two big advantages. First was Y2k, which was a business initiated and funded economic stimulus; and second, toward the end of Clinton’s 2nd term, the final straws of dismantling the banking regulations that kept the bad players at bay, were removed. This created two successive bubbles, the first, the dot com boom was investor driven so when it burst most people were not hurt. The real estate bubble followed that putting every home owner at risk.
The reporter of the article failed to report if these students understood the history of what brought us to this impasse. He seemed more intent on pointing out that these people now feel that the Democrats failed them, and that it was mainly the president’s fault. There was no reporting on what their expectations were, and I somehow doubt the survey asked those questions.
But it does bring me to my point, Democrats MUST understand what the young voters of America want. The Democrats cannot tell the young voters what can or cannot be accomplished. If the Democrats want to win, they much change the conversation. The rhetoric and accepted truths that came into vogue during the Reagan Devolution have run past their lifespan. Democrats cannot just say they want to lower or eliminate college debt and raise the minimum wage to something that will allow young Americans to move from their parent’s home. The Democrats also have to do something, everything, about the environment. And most important of all, stop asking business leaders for their opinions. They will advise only what is best for themselves, and that is what got us in this mess. If the government makes it easier for all people to prosper, then successful businesses will ensue.
The bills to accomplish these things must be introduced now, let the all the people know exactly what laws will be introduced by a Democratic Congress. The may not pass this session. But at least people will know exactly what the 2015 agenda will be.