This year, Democrats will rely on class warfare in order to hold on to the White House. Up to this point, using George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans as scapegoats has kept the Obama Administration afloat, but fewer Americans are accepting these trite excuses. They are beginning to realize that great speeches, soaring rhetoric and catchy campaign slogans do not guarantee results.
No one will deny that the president inherited a tough situation, but for two years his administration had huge majorities in Congress, yet his only major legislative accomplishment is an unpopular and possibly unconstitutional health care bill that he would barely mention in last monthâ€™s State of the Union Address. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has gone up from 7.6 percent in January 2009 to 8.3 percent in January 2012 and the national debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to over $15 trillion since he took office.
The presidentâ€™s only real success has been in national security with the elimination of Osama Bin Laden. But even that is problematic for a president who campaigned vehemently against the Bush Administrationâ€™s terror policies, especially since the presidentâ€™s own CIA Director admitted publicly that those controversial interrogation tactics ultimately led us to Bin Laden. While the president is certainly not weak on national security, he cannot base his reelection on the issue.
Enter Mitt Romney: a Harvard educated and articulate Republican businessman who governed one of the most liberal states in the country. The likely GOP nominee is also enormously wealthy from his time at the private equity firm Bain Capital. Gov. Romney plays perfectly into the reelection strategy of an administration that has embraced the Occupy movement, touted the â€œBuffet Rule,â€ and decried fiscal conservatism as â€œyouâ€™re on your own economics.â€
Romney will be demonized as a wealthy corporate tycoon who heartlessly fires working class people in order to turn a profit. However, this strategy represents something much deeper and darker than simply setting the 99 percent against the 1 percent for the purposes of a campaign. Itâ€™s about inspiring resentment between all socioeconomic classes: the 90 percent vs. the 10 percent, the 75 percent vs. the 25 percent and the 50 percent vs. the 50 percent.
Itâ€™s about getting people to believe their success has to come at someone elseâ€™s expense. In economic terms, they want people to believe prosperity is a zero-sum game.
It is only natural for us to envy those who have more than we do. What makes capitalism work and America great is that we take that envy and use it as motivation for our own success. It drives us to find our comparative advantage and use it to create value in society.
Unfortunately, the left wants to turn that envy into jealousy in order to garner support for the redistribution of wealth. The endgame is that people believe they canâ€™t succeed without the government and they elect politicians who promise to remedy every economic inequality that exists. The result is more government jobs, programs, and entitlements.
Margaret Thatcher noted that the problem with these policies is that you eventually run out of other peopleâ€™s money to spend. Just look at what has happened in Greece, a modern European welfare state that is in default because its debt rose to 126% of its GDP.
As of December 2011 Americaâ€™s public debt is already an alarming 60% of its GDP. However, a report by the CATO Institute tabulates that future unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will actually total over $59 trillion, more than 412% of our GDP. Think the 1 percent can save us? Considering Forbes Magazine estimates that Americaâ€™s 400 billionaires have total assets worth only about $1.3 trillion, I donâ€™t think so. Unlike Greece, there will be no one left to bail us out.
The politics of jealousy are easy these days, particularly as millions across the country are suffering through a prolonged economic recovery. However, our path to prosperity is not through class warfare and more government. It is through truly free-markets and real reform to entitlements, the tax code and government spending.
Christian Corrigan is a columnist for the University Daily Kansan.