Consider the Democratic Primary races. Clinton and Obama both took the “hatred of successful people” sensibilities to new high’s (or new “lows,” depending on how you view it). This was especially odd for Hillary Clinton, who, along with her husband, spent the entire previous decade positioning herself as a “New Democrat” and “Centrist,” and the kind of Democrat who can embrace free trade, upwardly mobile voters, and so forth.
But you would have never known that listening to Hillary and Obama earlier this year. When campaigning in the rust belt states where factory jobs have declined, Obama and Clinton blamed free trade for people’s pain, and vowed to “review” - - that is, deconstruct - - N.A.F.T.A. - - as though eliminating free trade would be the one thing needed to pacify people’s whining.
Obama and Clinton have also both spent a good bit of this year lashing out at “corporate America,” and “fat cat executives” - - another sure indication of whining in America. Why would anybody who wasn’t a whiner be obsessed with the salary of a CEO? And why would anyone at all be offended that a corporation earned a profit?
Corporate profits keep millions of Americans employed and line the retirement portfolios of millions of investors, and executives who manage such corporations deserve the compensation that the corporations’ board of directors have determined as “fair.” But don’t try to tell that to the presidential candidates. There’s to much political gain to be enjoyed by promising to “reign-in executive pay,” and to “tax corporations” even further.
So what if a presidential candidate shot back at this nonsense with some seriously insensitive but painfully truthful “straight talk?” To his credit, McCain has done this to some degree. Even while rebuking Gramm in the economically challenged state of Michigan last week, McCain still had the courage that he believes in the benefits of free trade, despite how unpopular that position might be.
That’s a good start. Now let’s imagine McCain rebuking Obama more succinctly. When Obama laments “rich greedy corporations” (oil corporations or any other), how about challenging Obama on the relative merits of a corporation that continually loses money (can someone say “General Motors?”)? And when Obama vows to get tough on “greedy” and “unscrupulous” mortgage lenders, and to “protect homeowners,” what if somebody - - McCain or someone else - - stood up and sated the obvious: Americans need to be better stewards of their own money! Americans who borrowed more than they should have, should not now look to the government to “fix their problem.” Oh, and by the way, 95% of us homeowners are paying our bills on time, so let’s not limit the scope of opportunity for 95% of us, just so we can coddle the other 5%.
I’d love to hear some of these ideas from Mr. McCain. But they would likely beget more whining.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.