Lacking Facts and Logic, Democrats Manipulate Emotions
Let us start with a simple premise: It is one thing to emote to an ideology, yet it is quite another to live out its reality. Generally, liberals tend to rely upon emotion to push their agenda, while conservatives tend to rely more on pragmatism. Raising the minimum wage to theoretically provide a "living wage" to the poor sounds good, but the reality has generally been higher unemployment of the lower-wage-earners.
A prime example is California. For many years, California governance has been based upon utopian liberal concepts to the point of going beyond emotion almost to the point of fanaticism. Higher taxes and more and more regulations have had a devastating effect on California's economy. Businesses and wealth understandably have been fleeing the state. In January, Governor Brown estimated that the state's deficit would be $9.2 billion, but on May 21, 2012, he said instead that it would be $15.7 billion. Last week, the independent Legislative Analyst said it would be $17 billion[i]. And that figure included a rich share of anticipated Facebook IPO capital gains.
California's liberal utopian agenda of taxing the rich to cover massive government spending failed to provide the revenues needed to cover said overspending, despite the intense belief that such would be the case. This despite more than adequate history to the effect that tax increases more often than not result in lower tax revenues. California, desperate for revenue, now is taxing people who make as little as $48,000 a year at a rate of 9.3% on a state level, in addition to federal taxes. The reality, looking through a pragmatic lens rather than an emotional one, should have been predictable. Sadly, Maryland is learning a similar tax lesson the hard way [ii].
The president's re-election strategy is another example. Normally, an incumbent seeks re-election based upon his record and accomplishments. Not this time, apparently. Instead, the focus is to tap into people's emotions by trying to portray Gov. Romney as a cold-hearted businessman who enjoys firing people. The ads to this effect have thus far been based upon the emotional outpourings from former workers at one particular steel plant who lost their jobs under Bain Capital management when the steel plant went bankrupt. The reality is that Gov. Romney left Bain to oversee the Olympics two years before the bankruptcy in question; further, the facts are clear that Bain, under Romney, invested private funds in other steel companies that have thrived, even to this day. Even some liberals have come out in defense of Bain and private equity firms in general. Bain Capital's function was to make money for its investors and shareholders, not specifically to create jobs, and overall, the people at Bain did a good job of both. As in the private sector, there are sometimes companies and positions that just are not economically feasible to retain, and the same is likely very true of our bloated federal government. If Romney were president, the people would in effect be his investors and shareholders, and he should look at the government structure the same way. Upon which portrayal should voters view Romney: one based on limited emotional outpourings or a more complete, realistic review of the bigger picture?
This emotional portrayal of Gov. Romney is also a major campaign point, arguing that being a highly successful businessman is no qualification for being president. Gov. Romney, of course, also has executive experience as governor of a major state. The private sector is what drives our economy, and private-sector experience is logically a valuable asset. Yet if anyone dares to point out the reality that president Obama had lesser qualifications and no private-sector experience when elected in 2008 -- his qualifications consisting of having been a community organizer in perhaps America's most corrupt city, state legislator in one of the most corrupt states, and a less than a one-term U.S. senator -- such a person or entity is attacked as being focused on the past, hateful, or even racist.
Perhaps an even better insight into the tendency to use emotion as a political tool can be found in the political rhetoric based on focus groups. Words and phrases are chosen that are designed to appeal to people's emotions rather than their logic. For example, liberals no longer use the phrase "government spending," instead now calling it "investment." Instead of saying a budget proposal will raise taxes, they say it will be revenue-positive. In effect, revenue has become liberal code for taxes. This is part of an organized effort to disguise the reality of something most people oppose on a pragmatic level and make it more attractive on an emotional level. Is this just politics as usual? Yes, but it is essentially dishonest to the point of causing serious damage to our nation's economy.
To be fair, there is an area where both liberals and conservatives are being dishonest with the American people, and this will likely surface in the coming months when Congress again addresses raising the debt ceiling. They will talk about requiring spending cuts equal to or exceeding the increase in the debt ceiling. On its face, this sounds somewhat logical, but closer examination shows the inherent dishonesty of it. Raising the debt ceiling permits immediate spending, but the spending cuts they talk about are usually over the next several to ten years. We as a people should insist that spending cuts take place in the same real time as does the increased spending. Those of us in the private sector and as individuals know that to have extra money to spend now requires simultaneous spending cuts. Add to this logical disconnect the fact that a sitting Congress cannot bind a future Congress, and the façade of it all is obvious. Further adding to this is baseline budgeting, which is quite deceptive by design. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services has a built-in 10% increase of its budget under this act. This means that if their budget this year is $100, then next year's budget will be $110, with no further action by Congress. If Congress says it will cut HHS's budget by 3%, there still will be an increase of 7%. Baseline budgeting should be eliminated, and any increases be passed or denied on their merits.
President Obama recently had embarrassing results in primaries in Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia, with a prison inmate getting 41% of the Democrat vote in West Virginia, a previously unknown Tennessee lawyer getting 41% in Arkansas, and 42% of Democrats voting "uncommitted" in Kentucky. Already the emotional spin machine is pumping out the highly charged tag of racism as the explanation. The Washington Post suggested that Appalachian and Southern states have long been hostile to Obama [iii]. Did the people at the Post ever consider that it is not Obama's race, but his politics that these voters may not like? While Herman Cain dropped out of the Republican race before these states, he nonetheless did well in other states -- notably in the South, where his plain, honest talk struck a positive chord with voters. Sadly, the reality of such frequent cries of racism to explain virtually any opposition to Obama is serving only to lessen the impact of the word.
Is it not it time that we had honest political discourse? What is wrong with basing our national decisions on informed logic as opposed to emotional obfuscation? If an idea, or even an ideology, is worthy of adoption, then the naked truth of the reality of its implementation needs to see the light of day and be part of an honest debate. Enough of government spending/investment, increasing taxes/revenue positive, pork barrel spending/congressionally directed funds, terrorist attack/man-made contingency, and the like. Whatever happened to Honesty is Always the Best Policy?
[i] "Notable and Quotable: Mark Landsbaum on California Governor Jerry Brown's plan to increase annual education spending by $5 billion-in times of supposed 'austerity.'", Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2012
[ii] "O'Malley's Tutorial," Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2012
[iii] "Kentucky, Arkansas primaries: is it racism," Washington Post, May 23, 2012.