When Ronald Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter back in 1980, he asked the question that should be asked of the voters when any president is seeking reelection: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
Four years later, when Reagan ran for reelection, he implicitly asked and answered that same question in a campaign commercial titled "Morning in America," which listed the ways the country was better off than it had been four years earlier. Don't look for any "Morning in America" ads from Obama. "Mourning in America" might be more appropriate.
This election is a test, not just of the opposing candidates but of the voting public. If what they want are the hard facts about where the country is, and where it is heading, they cannot vote for more of the same for the next four years.
But, if what they want is emotionally satisfying rhetoric and a promise to give them something for nothing, to be paid for by taxing somebody else, then Obama is their man. This is not to say that the public will in fact get something for nothing or that rich people will just pay higher taxes, when it is easy for them to escape taxation by investing overseas -- creating jobs overseas.
Even if most Americans do not have their own taxes raised, that means little, if they end up paying other people's taxes in the higher prices of goods and services that pass along the higher taxes imposed on businesses.
There are no doubt voters who will vote on the basis of believing that Obama "cares" more about them. But that is a faith which passeth all understanding. The political mirage of something for nothing, from leaders who "care," has ruined many a nation.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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