Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago?
Republicans, take a lesson from Ronald Reagan: just plaster the country with the question, "Are you better off than you were four years ago, when the Democrats took control of Congress?" (And don't miss Roger Kimball's "The Magical Thinking of Barack Obama.")
September 21, 2010 - 12:06 am
I’ll never forget that campaign slogan: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” As a presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan first employed that phrase against Jimmy Carter during the 1980 debates to devastating effect, as US News & World Report notes, albeit somewhat grudgingly:
Coming just one week before the election, the encounter gave Carter little time to recover from a stumble. That night, Carter displayed a mastery of detail, Reagan a mastery of stagecraft. He dismissed Carter’s critique of his views on Medicare with a mocking “There you go again.” In his final statement, Reagan delivered a knockout punch: “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment … than there was four years ago?” Reagan’s rhetorical questions, carefully rehearsed but delivered with his characteristic power, pierced Carter’s presidency and helped cement Reagan’s legacy as the Great Communicator. “Certainly no one remembers what the hell Carter said that night,” says Rick Shenkman, a presidential historian at George Mason University. “It was Reagan’s debate.” A week later, it was Reagan’s election.
Having talked the talk, by 1984, President Reagan could walk the walk, as they say. In that short time, America had returned from groveling-in-the-dirt, Democrat-induced “malaise” to the land of prosperity and the promise of more to come.
That simple question reached right into my heart of hearts and transformed me from a poppycock-believing, hippie liberal to patriotic conservative in one fell swoop.
Reagan’s oh-so-easy-to-answer question had that effect on such a vast swath of Americans that he won reelection in one of the biggest landslides in U.S. history. His Democratic opponent, Walter Mondale, took only the District of Columbia and his home state of Minnesota, which gave Reagan 525 electoral votes, the highest any candidate has ever received — before or since.
So if I were a Republican candidate right now, I would start putting that same slogan on every billboard and on every post in every town square in America. I would print millions of those “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” posters for folks to put in their front yards. I would make a gazillion bumper stickers and T-shirts and coffee mugs and I would open every single speech on the campaign trail with that question.
Because as we sadly know well, the only people in America who will answer that they are better off now than they were four years ago are the fat-cat, tax-cheating, lying Democrat corruptocrats, who took over control of the U.S. Congress the same four years ago. They’ll be joined by their small, favored circle of oligarchs from big business and the hedge fund operators. Running alongside them with open-hands frenzy will be the tiny cadre of thieving thugs running the labor unions, the ones living in the lap of luxury while their members bleed jobs and depend on pensions that wreck the economies of the very cities where they live. But every single Main Street voter — the vast majority of Americans — will answer with a deafening: “No! We’re not better off!”
Democrats, under the directorship of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, took majority control of Congress in 2006.
They spent the first year declaring the Iraq war a lost cause, even though the vast majority of those Democrats in office in 2003 had willingly voted to send our men and women to war there. The Democrats spent millions and millions of dollars holding witch-hunt hearings against our generals and accusing our valiant military of callous murder. Then Senators Obama and Clinton accused General Petraeus of lying under oath, especially when he said there was a strong al-Qaeda operation in Iraq. Democrat Pete Stark stood on the once-august floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and claimed that Republicans had sent America’s bravest to fight in Iraq and “get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.” Harry Reid stood on the front steps of the Capitol — while hundreds of thousands of our finest youth were in harm’s way — and declared, “This war is lost,” in a clear and unprovoked comfort to our own enemy. Well, our bravest did win in Iraq and now the Democrats are in full-swing retreat as Iran prepares to turn that hard-won victory into its own military satellite. Iraq is quickly becoming like the South Vietnam Democrats deserted nearly 40 years ago.
Americans don’t like to go to war; that’s a fact. But if we do, then we want to win and we don’t want lily-livered politicians using our flesh-and-blood soldiers for political cannon fodder.
On the home front, Democrats fought every Republican effort to clean up the impending Fannie-Freddie catastrophe with their standard class-warfare rhetoric and racist sliming. The Democrats had a field day fighting off Republican attempts to reform Fannie-Freddie before it brought the mortgage business to full-blown crisis. Then, when the whole thing exploded in all our faces — bringing the cascading collapse to banks and every other industry in America — the Democrats turned right around in the blink of an eye and wagged their dirty little fingers at Republicans as though none of the citizenry would be the wiser. The Democrats weren’t worried. They presumed that once they got control of the Congress, they could bury their own malfeasance and incompetence under the rug of majority rule. And that is precisely what they have done. No investigations. No hearings. Democrat rulers think the public is still in the dark ages — before the internet.
What a bunch of puffed-up ninnies these Democrat rulers are.
They have used their majority status to ram through mountains of anti-business, regulatory legalese that literally shackles the recovery they disingenuously proclaim. Even as Democrats have run around the country all summer like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off, yelling “Recovery!” at the top of their little lungs, the recovery isn’t happening on Main Street and they are the very reason why it isn’t. They won election with their crass gospel of envy, bashing the job creators at every turn and then shake their heads with wonder at why these same small businesses have the life too scared out of them to hire people.
These Democrats openly admit they haven’t even read the bills they’ve passed and then ponder why the citizenry is upset with them. They act as though the U.S. Constitution is nothing more than a doormat that they can step upon as they enter the halls of taxpayer-funded, personal enrichment. They’ve turned the words “public servant” into a synonym for lying thief.
Ever since wresting control of Congress, the Democrat rulers have done all in their power to finagle their way to bureaucratic tyranny, all the while blaming the out-of-power Republicans for having the temerity to say “No,” as strongly as their puny numbers will allow them.
With an unemployment rate still hovering just below double digits, Democrats have the unprecedented arrogance to go around the country blaming everyone but themselves. As an old Mom, I recognize this con job with piercing acuity. It’s the kid caught with his hand in your cookie jar, willing to look you square in the face and tell you his brother did it.
And believe me, it does not take a degree from Harvard for any Mom in this position to know she is being had by an incorrigible, too-big-for-his-breeches brat. Which is precisely what these Democrats have become. Incorrigible brats.
So, Republicans, take a lesson from a seasoned mom and her hero, Ronald Reagan. Just plaster the country with the question:
Are you better off than you were four years ago — when the Democrats took control of Congress?
And on Election Day, all of us common-sense moms and dads, Main Street dwellers from coast to coast and everywhere in between, will hand you a landslide the likes of which haven’t been seen since 1984.