The Dem Problem. They Don't Do Mojo Any More

If you look back on recent presidential campaigns you can see that there was always a bigger question than just “the economy” or “four more years” or “time for a change.”

In 2008, it was the magic of electing America's First Black President. In 2004 it was Reporting for Duty after the outrage of 9/11.

In 2012 it was simply that Americans weren't quite ready to give up on President Obama.

But now, the bigger question is “how do we get our mojo back?”

It's pretty obvious why. Obamacare. Sluggish growth. Weaponizing the government against Republicans. Foreign policy folly. Ginned-up race conflict. In Bill Clinton's immortal words: everything that should be up is down, and everything that should be down is up.

For conservatives, the answers to America's problems are obvious: cut spending, repeal ObamaCare, stop green energy, reform entitlements, stop the student debt madness, end attempts to game the housing market, simplify the tax system with lower marginal rates, restore welfare reform. Then watch the economy zoom.

But a presidential candidate can't say that all out loud, because humans are not just social animals; we are also freeloaders. We love a bargain; we love to shop with coupons at Kohl's, and we love our free money from the government. Everything that Republicans want to do will cut somebody's free stuff.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Democrats are going to have a real problem selling voters on their mojo.

First, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are all ageing baby-boomers. Any voter that isn't ready to tell us baby boomers to “get lost” has a screw loose. Baby boomers are past their sell-by date: we are the same-old same-old. You can't escape that feeling when you listen to Hillary Clinton reprising the old Clinton dodges and reminding us of 20-year-old squabbles and still going on about the vast right-wing conspiracy.

And when Hillary Clinton tells us that voters don't care about her emails, I've got a counter. I was lunching with a non-political woman friend in her mid-60s last week and she volunteered that she didn't like the sound of Mrs. Clinton's voice. And she didn't like the email thing either.

Clinton's problem with her email scandal is that it is something that we voters can relate to, like the House Bank and Post Office scandals of the early 1990s. Voters know that they couldn't get away with violating work rules about emails. They probably know someone who was in the military and has plenty to say about what happens to ordinary GI Joes and Janes that don't obey the classification rules to the letter.

And then there's Bernie Sanders. A couple of days ago in Seattle I saw my first Bernie bumper-sticker. What model of car do you think it was on? If you said Prius go stand in the corner; Prius is so 2000s, darling. No, this enthusiastic Bernie supporter was driving a Nissan Leaf!

The problem with Bernie is the dueling symbolism of the Nissan Leaf and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. On the one hand liberals are spending money on themselves with huge subsidies for fancy “green” automobiles and billions for crony green capitalists. On the other hand the black inner cities are still cratered with fatherless children, jobless men, and not-married mothers six years after the glorious dawn of America's First Black President.

Something has to change if America is to get its mojo back.

But where are Hillary and Bernie and Joe and Liz going to find that mojo? Everything about them says same-old same-old. Same old Clinton scandals, same old worn-out lefty programs, same old hair plugs, same old poisonous race politics. That stuff won't get America's mojo back. It can't. The entire point of Democratic Party politics is about driving people apart and piling them to mojo-killing free stuff.

Hey kids! Here's Hillary's affordable college plan!

Americans are angry. They want their mojo back, and they are looking outside the ranks of conventional politicians. No wonder the prospects for 2016 are completely fluid and unpredictable.

Americans are starting to wonder about something.  They are starting to wonder about their ruling class. Is it just incompetent? Is it just corrupt? Maybe it just doesn't like America?

I was reading the obituary of historian Robert Conquest, author of The Great Terror about the 1930s Stalin purges and The Harvest of Sorrow about the 1930s Ukraine famine.

[Conquest] was one of the first to grasp the weakness of post-Stalinist Russia, and the ineptitude of its leadership which, he told a Senate committee in Washington in 1970, was “intellectually third-rate and likely to commit blunders”.

Isn't that exactly the problem with America's liberal ruling class in 2015?

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on U.S. government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

If you look back on recent presidential campaigns you can see that there was always a bigger question than just “the economy” or “four more years” or “time for a change.”

In 2008, it was the magic of electing America's First Black President. In 2004 it was Reporting for Duty after the outrage of 9/11.

In 2012 it was simply that Americans weren't quite ready to give up on President Obama.

But now, the bigger question is “how do we get our mojo back?”

It's pretty obvious why. Obamacare. Sluggish growth. Weaponizing the government against Republicans. Foreign policy folly. Ginned-up race conflict. In Bill Clinton's immortal words: everything that should be up is down, and everything that should be down is up.

For conservatives, the answers to America's problems are obvious: cut spending, repeal ObamaCare, stop green energy, reform entitlements, stop the student debt madness, end attempts to game the housing market, simplify the tax system with lower marginal rates, restore welfare reform. Then watch the economy zoom.

But a presidential candidate can't say that all out loud, because humans are not just social animals; we are also freeloaders. We love a bargain; we love to shop with coupons at Kohl's, and we love our free money from the government. Everything that Republicans want to do will cut somebody's free stuff.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Democrats are going to have a real problem selling voters on their mojo.

First, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are all ageing baby-boomers. Any voter that isn't ready to tell us baby boomers to “get lost” has a screw loose. Baby boomers are past their sell-by date: we are the same-old same-old. You can't escape that feeling when you listen to Hillary Clinton reprising the old Clinton dodges and reminding us of 20-year-old squabbles and still going on about the vast right-wing conspiracy.

And when Hillary Clinton tells us that voters don't care about her emails, I've got a counter. I was lunching with a non-political woman friend in her mid-60s last week and she volunteered that she didn't like the sound of Mrs. Clinton's voice. And she didn't like the email thing either.

Clinton's problem with her email scandal is that it is something that we voters can relate to, like the House Bank and Post Office scandals of the early 1990s. Voters know that they couldn't get away with violating work rules about emails. They probably know someone who was in the military and has plenty to say about what happens to ordinary GI Joes and Janes that don't obey the classification rules to the letter.

And then there's Bernie Sanders. A couple of days ago in Seattle I saw my first Bernie bumper-sticker. What model of car do you think it was on? If you said Prius go stand in the corner; Prius is so 2000s, darling. No, this enthusiastic Bernie supporter was driving a Nissan Leaf!

The problem with Bernie is the dueling symbolism of the Nissan Leaf and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. On the one hand liberals are spending money on themselves with huge subsidies for fancy “green” automobiles and billions for crony green capitalists. On the other hand the black inner cities are still cratered with fatherless children, jobless men, and not-married mothers six years after the glorious dawn of America's First Black President.

Something has to change if America is to get its mojo back.

But where are Hillary and Bernie and Joe and Liz going to find that mojo? Everything about them says same-old same-old. Same old Clinton scandals, same old worn-out lefty programs, same old hair plugs, same old poisonous race politics. That stuff won't get America's mojo back. It can't. The entire point of Democratic Party politics is about driving people apart and piling them to mojo-killing free stuff.

Hey kids! Here's Hillary's affordable college plan!

Americans are angry. They want their mojo back, and they are looking outside the ranks of conventional politicians. No wonder the prospects for 2016 are completely fluid and unpredictable.

Americans are starting to wonder about something.  They are starting to wonder about their ruling class. Is it just incompetent? Is it just corrupt? Maybe it just doesn't like America?

I was reading the obituary of historian Robert Conquest, author of The Great Terror about the 1930s Stalin purges and The Harvest of Sorrow about the 1930s Ukraine famine.

[Conquest] was one of the first to grasp the weakness of post-Stalinist Russia, and the ineptitude of its leadership which, he told a Senate committee in Washington in 1970, was “intellectually third-rate and likely to commit blunders”.

Isn't that exactly the problem with America's liberal ruling class in 2015?

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on U.S. government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.