To prevail in a civil case, a plaintiff must generally prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s behavior satisfies the elements of a particular cause of action. The most common civil claim (think car accidents, scalding coffee) is negligence. To prevail on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove (1) that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty, (2) the defendant breached the duty by his actions or omissions, (3) the defendant caused the plaintiff some measurable harm; and (4) the plaintiff suffered actual, corresponding harm for which the defendant is responsible.
In the coming months, the GOP nominee will be bringing a case against President Obama’s stewardship of the economy. The nominee’s task will be to convince the American electorate that President Obama’s actions render him liable for the country’s present economic woes, and therefore unfit for another term. This should not be a difficult argument, but in case the GOP candidates are too busy explaining YouTube videos or addressing fifteen year old sexual harassment allegations, the argument should go something like this.
First, simply by virtue of his office, President Obama owed the American people a duty to effectively manage the economy as a reasonable president would. This means President Obama was under an obligation to take reasonable steps to promote economic growth, and avoid actions that he knew, or reasonably should have known, would exacerbate the economic challenges he inherited.
Second, the next issue is whether President Obama breached that duty by his actions or inactions, and subsequently damaged the economy and nation. The definitive verdict will not be rendered for another year, but now is an opportune time to discover the available evidence for the coming trial.