I haven’t yet commented on Barack Obama’s statement about small town Americans, the one in which he said that they cling to guns and religion because the government isn’t doing anything about the economy. According to Obama, because they’ve given up on the government to help them with the important things, such as jobs and wages, they resign themselves to vote with the Republicans on other (presumably less vital) issues, such as gun rights, religion, a pro-life stance on abortion, and traditional marriage.
First of all, Obama is assuming that Republican governance has hurt the economy, while Democratic proposals will help it. He makes the same assumption as Thomas Frank in his classic, What’s the Matter with Kansas? Frank’s book asks how Kansans can vote with the Republicans when Republican economic policies so obviously hurt them. He says that they do so over issues like gun rights, abortion, and traditional marriage.
But who says that Democratic proposals are the answer? High taxes will help the economy? Trade protectionism will help the economy? More government spending on inefficient projects will help the economy?
“But the economy was good under Clinton.” True, but Clinton didn’t get everything he wanted. Liberals (and others) complain about all the spending on the Iraq War. Well, imagine how much the government would be spending if Clinton successfully got his government health care bureaucracies off the ground. Moreover, Clinton pushed proposals that are rather, well, Republican. He cut the capital gains tax, and he promoted the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“But the economy is bad under Bush.” Well, Bush should get credit for all of the economic growth that had occurred under his Administration. The economy is going down after having gone up. As far as the gas crisis goes, that could be alleviated if the Democrats didn’t block oil exploration in America.
So Obama and Frank assume too much when they say that Republican policies have obviously hurt Americans. But they’re Democrats, so I wouldn’t expect them to praise the Republicans all that much.
What strikes me about Obama’s statement is not just that it is elitist. It is that it treats the government as if it’s God. In Obama’s scenario, here are small town Americans, praying to Big Government to alleviate their misery. And when it doesn’t, they turn to some “God” to find a sense of comfort.
And Hillary’s no different. Remember her Christmas commercial, in which she was preparing to give out all these “gifts” to the American people, such as pre-kindergarten education? She treats government as if it’s Santa Clause. Or she presumes that it should be the provider of the American people. “The State is my shepherd, I shall not want.” That should be her motto whenever she speaks at churches!
I don’t often listen to Sean Hannity, but I happened to have him on while I was cooking myself some hamburgers. He said that he doesn’t like Hillary’s outlook on the American people, which assumes that they are grovelling at the feet of the government for sustenance. That contradicts Hannity’s vision of Americans as entrepreneurs, independent and rugged people who go out and create their own destinies. I don’t go as far as Hannity does, for I realize that we all need help every now and then. But he’s right about Hillary’s outlook. She acts as if we’re praying to her that she might take care of us.
Obama has criticized John McCain for not offering proposals on how to address the economy. If that is indeed the case, then perhaps that’s a plus for John McCain. Maybe the government tinkering with the economy is not what the economy needs. McCain reminds me of Arnold Vinick, the Republican candidate for President on the West Wing (played by Alan Alda). Jimmy Smits played the Democratic candidate, Matthew Santos, who always appeared shocked whenever Vinick said that he (Vinick) had no education plan, or that the government is not responsible to create jobs (since that’s the private sector’s role). I thought to myself, “If only the real-life Republicans talked like that.” Well, could that be what McCain is doing?
I know that I’m a hypocrite on some level, since I have received federal student loans. But Obama’s comments assume the liberal party line on economic policy, and they act as if Americans should look to the state as a divine entity.