Throughout history, Presidential elections have again and again come down to a single question. In 1994, Bill Clinton swept into the White House on the strength of one simple phrase: "it's the economy, stupid." In 1980, Ronald Reagan asked "are you better off than you were four years ago." Now, after a long and bloody nomination process, the Republicans seem no closer to crystallizing their pitch to the American people than when they started. It's clear that the major issue in the election will be the economy, but we're still waiting for Republicans to frame the issue in terms that everyone can understand.
With that in mind, here's the question that I think could sweep Republicans into control of the government: are your children better off now than they were six years ago?
The question is not hypothetical.
The American dream is to work hard and give your children a chance at a better situation than you had. But thanks to the Great Obama Depression, that dream is dying. One out of every two college graduates this year will not have a job when they graduate in May, and the fifty percent that have found work are not employed in a job that requires a college degree. Even those with jobs are seeing a slide in their salaries. Compare this to where we were six years ago: for the classes of 2006 and 2007, the employment rate following graduation was 90%!
What is the difference? It is the Great Obama Depression.
The economy is the most crucial issue of this election, and the numbers are staggering. Few, other than hard-core liberals, believe the unemployment rate is really 8.2 percent. If the unemployment statistics were calculated the way they were during the Great Depression, the unemployment rate would be over 16 percent! Not only are our children not inheriting an America that is better than the one our parents gave us, in many cases they aren't even being given a shot to prove themselves in the job market. What we are facing is an America where our children are forced to live with us until they are 25 or 30 because they cannot find a job and make their way in the world. But this is not just a question of lost opportunities or a temporary downturn: the very future of this country's political and economic system is at stake.
There is a reason why Obama wants to keep children on their parents insurance until they are 26. There is a reason why unemployment helps him. In fact, every time an American gives up on the idea that he or she can succeed in life by virtue of hard work and discipline, Obama wins. Why? Because his entire ideology and political strategy rests on the idea that when Americans lose faith in themselves, they will turn to the government for help. As Obama's attack dog Rahm Emanuel famously put it, "you never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Only when they lose everything do Americans give up their freedom and turn to the government to manage their lives.
This, in a nutshell explains why things have become so bad since Obama took over. It's not a question of destroying the economy for its own sake; it's about getting Americans to renounce their famous self-reliance. Because once he and his Democrat allies create a generation totally dependent on the government, liberty dies. Ben Franklin said that those who trade liberty for security get neither, and this is perhaps more true in economics than anywhere else. Once we give up our economic freedom for government dependence, our entire system becomes oriented around a government that controls everything. Then, when what remains of the private economy withers away, the government collapses in a pile of debt. If you want a taste of this future, just look at the anarchy taking place in Greece where the endgame of government dependence is playing itself out in riots, chaos and anarchy.
This is the Obama dream for America.
It should not be difficult to make this election a referendum on this vision, but sadly the Republicans are proving incapable of communicating what is at stake this year. Effectively communicated, this is the message that crushes the Democrats; certainly it resonates with anyone who loves freedom, can't find a job, has kids in college, or wants their children to inherit a strong future. In other words, most Americans. Everyone is feeling the pain of the Obama economy, so it's just a matter of framing the issue. And as with so many elections throughout history, this challenge comes down to a single, pointed question:
So are your kids better off now than they were six years ago?