A Party Like It’s 2012

Tea Party Symbol
The symbol of the Tea Party

In last week’s “A Party Like It’s 1964 – Is history repeating itself?” my friend Jeremy Haber (OG) argued that the trajectory of the Republican replica watches Party’s 2012 presidential nominee could end up looking a lot like Barry Goldwater’s path to defeat in 1964.

If he thinks this is so, then why the worry about the prospect of a Rick Perry presidency?  Heck, we’re still five months away from the first Republican primaries and over a year away from the general election.  There will be ECs who quit consulting to start businesses by that time!

I have a few ideas.  (But first, full disclosure: I happen to be one of those people Haber would label “unapologetically conservative” and “comfortably Christian.”  If that has you reaching for Pepto-Bismol, please know that I have no problem with you being snuggie-comfortable with whatever religion you practice, and I won’t lose any sleep tonight if you’ve never apologized for your political views.)

You’ll find the reason he’s concerned tucked in the last paragraph.  “President Obama’s well chronicled political problems are largely tied up in a persistently weak economy,” he wrote.

And Americans are holding Obama accountable for that persistent weakness.  A recent Gallup poll found that 21% of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, while 71% disapprove.  Let’s have a look at the U.S. economy and chronicle a few of the economic problems the President has worsened or failed to ameliorate.

It’s hard to grasp inside the HBS cocoon, but the nation’s unemployment rate is currently a depressing 9.1%.  The White House expects an average of 9% through 2012.  If this isn’t an admission of failed policies or just plain powerlessness, I don’t know what is.

Why won’t businesses, including many that are flush with cash, hire?  Here’s a short list: low consumer confidence, regulatory uncertainty related to Obama’s unpopular healthcare bill //www.replicaforbest.co.uk/replica-breitling-watches-sale-for-uk.html, EPA rules, and an anti-business NLRB, immigration laws that prevent skilled foreigners (even ones with Ivy League degrees – gasp!) from getting U.S. visas, and an uncompetitive corporate tax code.

Under the current administration, debt has increased by $4 trillion, as much as former president George W. Bush piled up in eight years.  What do we have to show for it?  Well, a credit rating downgrade for one thing.  Without the newly elected Republican congressmen, our debt would be higher and our credit rating lower.

Given all this, is it that much of a surprise that such expensive, ineffective and unpopular programs have sparked a populist wave against big government?

I attended a Tea Party rally last year.  I was intrigued by the movement and made a point to introduce myself to attendees and listen to them.  The people I met, the ones Haber and many others within “tolerant,” liberal communities loathe, are Americans concerned about the direction of country.  They aren’t “destructive” (Haber), “enemies” (Obama) or “terrorists” (Joe Biden).  And they aren’t alone.  A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 77% of voters believe the country is on the wrong track.

They view high unemployment, soaring deficits, huge future tax burdens, and massive, unfunded entitlement programs as direct threats to their children’s opportunities in life.  They reject politicians of all stripes – ask former Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah – who they believe have contributed to these problems.  They prefer leaders with real-world accomplishments to those with shiny academic records who believe they know what’s best for others.  Last fall, they elected representatives who they believed had better ideas for growing the economy and limiting the rapid growth of government.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson rode the late John F. Kennedy’s popularity to victory while Republicans foundered.  Today’s data seem to tell us a different story is unfolding.  The unpopular and unsuccessful incumbent should be Haber’s biggest worry.  The Democrats’ best plan would be to right their own ship, rather than close their eyes and hope the Republican’s runs aground.