Democrats Follow Obama Down the Low Road

It is not good for our country when a president of the United States singles out one group and tries to get the public to blame that group for the terrible problems facing us.  Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much politically.  These days, we can't even agree on the basic proposition that scapegoating is destructive.  Scapegoating tears a country apart.  It distracts us with false solutions when we are facing an economic emergency and have no time to waste.  And it raises the specter of violence -- actual physical violence, with businesses destroyed and people hurt and killed.  Yet Democrats applaud President Obama's scapegoating rhetoric.

On a recent visit to the East Coast, I was told by dear friends and relatives who know I'm a Tea Party Republican that Republicans are selfish (three times), moronic (four times), crazy (once), and racist (twice).  I witnessed friends and family scared about lost jobs, failing businesses, losing their homes, their retirement money, friends with college grads who can't get a job and are living at home.  Every day of my visit, I witnessed these people who are so dear to me rant on and on, faces contorted with angry enthusiasm, against "The Rich."

What if instead of "The Rich," we called them the Jews, or the lawyers, or the bourgeoisie?  Why is it so comfortable to blame one group of citizens for our enormous and complex problems when we call them The Rich?  Scapegoating is evil, whatever the group targeted.  This is a form of hate-mongering Republicans can't stop -- Democrats have to speak out and stop it. 

It is not politics as usual.  It has never existed in our lifetimes in America.  Why are Democrats cheering the president on instead of saying, no, this is not okay, even if it plays well in the polls?  We are not going to scapegoat a class of people for the country's problems.  We don't target anger on groups of fellow citizens in America.

Here is another reason why Democrats should care.  A leader scapegoats for one purpose: to deflect public attention away from how the public is being screwed by said leader.  Our federal government is spending at a rate the country cannot afford.  Obama wants his followers to think we can afford it, if only the top 1% of earners would give a little bit more.  This is a lie.  It may be a comfortable lie for Democrats, but it is one that none of us can afford to believe.

One liberal friend told me that she can't stand hearing any more about our debt-to-GDP ratio.  None of us can stand hearing about it.  It is terrifying.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal debt will rise to 101% of GDP in ten years.  That's Greece territory.

The Rich don't have enough  money to pay for $4,000,000,000,000 (that's  trillions) a year in government spending -- not even if the government confiscated 100% of their income every year.  Yes, that is every penny they earn.

Democrats could vote to take every penny of the income of families who make $100,000, and it still doesn't pay for our yearly federal budget.  Why?  They earn only $3.4 trillion in taxable income.  Our president has spent $3.6 trillion this year, we are in debt for 15 trillion, and the looming Social Security deficit is over $50 billion this year -- and $500 billion in a decade (again via the CBO).  And still the Democrats are asking for more.  The money isn't there.

Either our government -- that means both parties -- faces reality and makes actual spending cuts, or we are finished as a prosperous nation.  If we don't curb our spending, our economy will sink into something that made the Depression look like child's play. 

Note that this disaster is completely bipartisan.  The ballooning federal government has been created over decades by Republican and Democrat presidents and Congresses.  There are big forces of history at play -- to name two of the biggest, longer lives and medical miracles are bankrupting Social Security, and China's unfair trade practices have gutted our industrial sector.  Democrats and Republicans have failed to cope with these challenges. 

The long-term problems aren't Obama's personal creation.  But he and his loyal base are responsible for how they choose to meet these challenges.  The summer debate on raising the debt ceiling focused the public's attention for the first time on where we stand: right at the edge of the abyss.  Everyone is scared.  Fear gives rise to anger.  Obama's poll numbers plummeted.  This is when scapegoating became the policy of choice for Democrats. 

Obama's pollsters told him that his chance of being re-elected on his record was zero.  But they had good news for him: Obama didn't have to do anything as hard as tackling our economic problems.  He didn't have to pivot to the middle and find bipartisan solutions as Bill Clinton did.  Obama didn't need to change his budget proposal, which still calls for increased spending.  He didn't need to respect the Tea Party's grassroots demand for budget responsibility.  All he had to do was make speeches about how the rich are too greedy to pay their fair share. 

So that's what we've had since the Martha's Vineyard vacation: three months of nonstop Blame Game.  It's gone on and on because Obama's loyal followers like it.  They think it's strong leadership. 

Obama was advised to scare people about Social Security, make them think Republicans are greedy, evil, moronic, "you're on your own" extremists.   The liberal media and pundits are working overtime on the same message.  They are thrilled that Obama has changed the topic from the need to lower government spending to the unfairness of income inequality.  Of course, Obama promises Democrats that he will raise taxes on only Other People, the undeserving millionaires and billionaires.  No one has to do anything hard -- the millionaires and billionaires will pay for it all.  Nothing has to be cut.  Nothing has to change.

I can't help but smile as I write this.  Obama's ploy is so childish, even ridiculous -- and yet it works!  I heard each and every talking point coming out of my liberal friends' mouths.  This is the power of leadership.  My smile doesn't last.  It hurt me to see a friend's love for her handicapped child abused, turned into gut-wrenching fear of Republicans -- and then to see her gentle face all blurry and distorted with anger, a few inches from mine, as she yells into my face that Republicans want to abandon her child because we're not willing to pay taxes.  In that moment, the potential violence of the OWS crowd became chillingly real.

We are getting toxic leadership from this White House.  Obama doesn't have the power to destroy my old friendship.  But he does have the power to destroy our country.  Only Democrats can stop him.

It is not good for our country when a president of the United States singles out one group and tries to get the public to blame that group for the terrible problems facing us.  Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much politically.  These days, we can't even agree on the basic proposition that scapegoating is destructive.  Scapegoating tears a country apart.  It distracts us with false solutions when we are facing an economic emergency and have no time to waste.  And it raises the specter of violence -- actual physical violence, with businesses destroyed and people hurt and killed.  Yet Democrats applaud President Obama's scapegoating rhetoric.

On a recent visit to the East Coast, I was told by dear friends and relatives who know I'm a Tea Party Republican that Republicans are selfish (three times), moronic (four times), crazy (once), and racist (twice).  I witnessed friends and family scared about lost jobs, failing businesses, losing their homes, their retirement money, friends with college grads who can't get a job and are living at home.  Every day of my visit, I witnessed these people who are so dear to me rant on and on, faces contorted with angry enthusiasm, against "The Rich."

What if instead of "The Rich," we called them the Jews, or the lawyers, or the bourgeoisie?  Why is it so comfortable to blame one group of citizens for our enormous and complex problems when we call them The Rich?  Scapegoating is evil, whatever the group targeted.  This is a form of hate-mongering Republicans can't stop -- Democrats have to speak out and stop it. 

It is not politics as usual.  It has never existed in our lifetimes in America.  Why are Democrats cheering the president on instead of saying, no, this is not okay, even if it plays well in the polls?  We are not going to scapegoat a class of people for the country's problems.  We don't target anger on groups of fellow citizens in America.

Here is another reason why Democrats should care.  A leader scapegoats for one purpose: to deflect public attention away from how the public is being screwed by said leader.  Our federal government is spending at a rate the country cannot afford.  Obama wants his followers to think we can afford it, if only the top 1% of earners would give a little bit more.  This is a lie.  It may be a comfortable lie for Democrats, but it is one that none of us can afford to believe.

One liberal friend told me that she can't stand hearing any more about our debt-to-GDP ratio.  None of us can stand hearing about it.  It is terrifying.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal debt will rise to 101% of GDP in ten years.  That's Greece territory.

The Rich don't have enough  money to pay for $4,000,000,000,000 (that's  trillions) a year in government spending -- not even if the government confiscated 100% of their income every year.  Yes, that is every penny they earn.

Democrats could vote to take every penny of the income of families who make $100,000, and it still doesn't pay for our yearly federal budget.  Why?  They earn only $3.4 trillion in taxable income.  Our president has spent $3.6 trillion this year, we are in debt for 15 trillion, and the looming Social Security deficit is over $50 billion this year -- and $500 billion in a decade (again via the CBO).  And still the Democrats are asking for more.  The money isn't there.

Either our government -- that means both parties -- faces reality and makes actual spending cuts, or we are finished as a prosperous nation.  If we don't curb our spending, our economy will sink into something that made the Depression look like child's play. 

Note that this disaster is completely bipartisan.  The ballooning federal government has been created over decades by Republican and Democrat presidents and Congresses.  There are big forces of history at play -- to name two of the biggest, longer lives and medical miracles are bankrupting Social Security, and China's unfair trade practices have gutted our industrial sector.  Democrats and Republicans have failed to cope with these challenges. 

The long-term problems aren't Obama's personal creation.  But he and his loyal base are responsible for how they choose to meet these challenges.  The summer debate on raising the debt ceiling focused the public's attention for the first time on where we stand: right at the edge of the abyss.  Everyone is scared.  Fear gives rise to anger.  Obama's poll numbers plummeted.  This is when scapegoating became the policy of choice for Democrats. 

Obama's pollsters told him that his chance of being re-elected on his record was zero.  But they had good news for him: Obama didn't have to do anything as hard as tackling our economic problems.  He didn't have to pivot to the middle and find bipartisan solutions as Bill Clinton did.  Obama didn't need to change his budget proposal, which still calls for increased spending.  He didn't need to respect the Tea Party's grassroots demand for budget responsibility.  All he had to do was make speeches about how the rich are too greedy to pay their fair share. 

So that's what we've had since the Martha's Vineyard vacation: three months of nonstop Blame Game.  It's gone on and on because Obama's loyal followers like it.  They think it's strong leadership. 

Obama was advised to scare people about Social Security, make them think Republicans are greedy, evil, moronic, "you're on your own" extremists.   The liberal media and pundits are working overtime on the same message.  They are thrilled that Obama has changed the topic from the need to lower government spending to the unfairness of income inequality.  Of course, Obama promises Democrats that he will raise taxes on only Other People, the undeserving millionaires and billionaires.  No one has to do anything hard -- the millionaires and billionaires will pay for it all.  Nothing has to be cut.  Nothing has to change.

I can't help but smile as I write this.  Obama's ploy is so childish, even ridiculous -- and yet it works!  I heard each and every talking point coming out of my liberal friends' mouths.  This is the power of leadership.  My smile doesn't last.  It hurt me to see a friend's love for her handicapped child abused, turned into gut-wrenching fear of Republicans -- and then to see her gentle face all blurry and distorted with anger, a few inches from mine, as she yells into my face that Republicans want to abandon her child because we're not willing to pay taxes.  In that moment, the potential violence of the OWS crowd became chillingly real.

We are getting toxic leadership from this White House.  Obama doesn't have the power to destroy my old friendship.  But he does have the power to destroy our country.  Only Democrats can stop him.