By JIM MORFORD
Dec. 3, 2012
In 1966, Dick Tuck, a political prankster, ran as a Democrat for the California State Senate. When he lost he gave what is probably the most sincere and heartfelt concession speech ever made in the history of political campaigns when he said, “The people have spoken, the bastards.”
A few weeks ago, on November 6, the people, in a divided nation also spoke. In doing so they returned to office Barak Obama, added to the Democratic majority in the Senate and, while not gaining control, picked up a couple of seats in the House of Representatives. A look at the electoral map indicates how deeply divided the nation really is. The results show pretty clearly that the liberal northeast states west to the Great Lakes states, the left coast states and Florida – all states with the greatest population density - dominate the Electoral College vote while most of the rest of the country appears to lean conservative.
Shortly after the election Mitt Romney stated that he attributed his defeat in part to what he called big policy “gifts” that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.
That tactic was discussed in a recent column I wrote about how the liberal/progressives use and abuse select segments of the population to promote victim status and make promises on which they seldom deliver.
Several leading Republicans including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker among others immediately attacked Romney’s observations and condemned those in the GOP who classify voters based on income, race or age. Jindal said, "We have got to stop dividing the American voters."
It’s not the Republicans who are dividing the American voters, Governor Jindal. The views of Jindal, Rubio and Walker demonstrate a political naivety that strongly suggests they, and those Republicans who think like them, are not ready to take on the Democrats for national leadership.
The Republican challenge is to educate the electorate in all demographic groups that the best way to achieve the American Dream is under a government that respects individual liberty and promotes an economy that encourages opportunity and that rewards effort and initiative. It will be a tough sell to a population that for over half a century has been seduced by the promises of big government.
A school teacher in Tennessee made a significant discovery when deciding to provide her 3rd grade class with a lesson in democracy by having an election for class president. In choosing nominees, they discussed what kinds of characteristics the candidates should have. They nominated Jamie and Olivia both good students.
The day arrived for the candidates to give their speeches and Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make the class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Everyone applauded and he sat down.
Now it was Olivia’s turn. Her speech was concise. She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down.
The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream." She surely would say more, but she did not.
A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. But no one pursued that question. They took her at her word. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it? She didn't know.
The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream.
Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a landslide.
The lesson is pretty simple. When candidate rhetoric is not challenged by an inquisitive media and an informed electorate, voters will react like nine year olds. Ice cream will win every time.
In a recent column, Thomas Sowell observed that because so few people bothered to check the facts, Barak Obama got away with statements about how “tax cuts for the rich” have “cost” the government money that needs to be recaptured. Such statements, according to Sowell, “not only promote class warfare, they also distract attention from his (Obama’s) own runaway spending behind unprecedented trillion dollar deficits.”
It would be well to remember that the government cannot give anything to anyone that it has not first taken away from someone else.
Did you vote for the ice cream?
Jim Morford is former Associate Director of Government Relations for the NJ Education Association, former VP and chief lobbyist for the NJ State Chamber of Commerce, former President of the NJ Food Council and is Executive Director Emeritus of the NJ Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED). He is a partner in the Trenton-based consulting firm of Morford-Drulis Associates, LLC. The opinions expressed in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any clients or associates.
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