We used to know better...didn't we?
At any level, in any organization however large or small, weaponizing resentment not only closes minds, it works against cooperation and problem-solving. Republican talking points in the 2022 mid-terms are almost wretchedly illustrative.
It’s pivotally important to self-appointed “thought leaders” on the right to pin the current inflationary spiral on Uncle Joe. And to be fair, it’s a tempting target — rendered all the more irresistible by Joe’s reluctance at self-advocacy on this issue. If he were a little less shameless, his opponents might find it a little less attractive issue.
Suggesting inflation is the current president’s fault ignores the “minor” details of the inherently inflationary effects of COVID-19, the unmanageable snafu that the global supply chain has become in the pandemic’s wake and the multi-faceted effects of the war in Ukraine.
However little comfort we may derive from this little factoid, it’s worse by orders of magnitude in many places globally. Investment Monitor reports that, out of 171 countries analyzed, over half the world is experiencing double digit inflation. And much of the developed world has inflation rates greater than the U.S. Which isn’t to say that inflation is good or that we should do nothing about it.
But laying whole can of worms at the current administration’s door, is myopic if not transparently deceptive. It demonstrates (at best) an adolescent appreciation of the degree to which world markets, production and distribution disruptions drive our own economic realities.
The notion that the President, Congress, or the Fed can regulate them out of our lives is demonstrably false. It also ignores the degree to which corporations are leveraging the current situation to price gouge. As the Economic Policy Institute notes in their April 2022 analysis of inflation:
“Strikingly, over half of this increase [to inflation] (53.9%) can be attributed to fatter profit margins, with labor costs contributing less than 8% of this increase.”
The outrage over the “invasion” at the border is understandable. Who is happy about the images of what looks for all the world like a cattle stampede? The barely managed chaos at the border can’t be making thoughtful citizens happy. But blaming it on the current administration in general or Biden in particular ignores pressures we don’t control. Climate change and political/criminal churn down south is only part of it.
And while the response may not meet our lofty standards for order and security, there are international laws governing asylum to which civilized societies must (or at least should) adhere. Nor is it unfair to point out that the immigration system in the United States has been broken for decades.
Rather than weaponizing immigration as an issue for the midterms, would it not make more sense if both political parties worked together to solve it? Blaming one administration or even one party for the ineffectiveness of our immigration system today ignores decades of neglect by both parties.
Should it be fixed? Sure. But border walls aren’t going to do the job. What might help are sensible policies most Americans can get behind. Policies balancing security, humanity, and our continuing need for regulated immigration into the U.S. With unemployment as low as it is, we need more workers than are currently available, across a broad spectrum of sophistication and skills.
While I’m not particularly impressed with Democrats’ handling of immigration, McCarthy’s “Commitment to America” isn’t an answer. Beneath gassy rhetoric about “fully funding effective border enforcement strategies,” and “ending catch and release” policies, there’s no actionable alternative plan.
And it is in the details that effective policy lies. Precisely the thing Republicans have in recent years repeatedly shown themselves to be unwilling to tackle.
Is crime “up?” Yep. And the crime statistics the Republican House Minority Leader has been decrying are both real and illustrative. But what House Minority Leader McCarthy hopes we overlook is that, despite his attribution to the rise in crime in “Democrat-run” cities, the truth is a bit more convoluted.
Let’s start with the fact that over time, crime rates have been trending down since 1991. Which isn’t to suggest that a rise isn’t something that should concern us. Perspective, however, might make sense.
It’s also probably worth noting that despite McCarthy’s claims that crime is worst in “Democrat-run” cities, in fact the per capita rate of violent crime which gets most of the attention is higher in Republican-run states. Alaska, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Arkansas, for example, all have higher per capita violent crime rates than either California or New York, long Republican bugaboos as examples of “Democrat-run” cities/states.
And Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas and Arizona, (listing just the Republican-run “A”states) — have higher per capita property crime rates than either California or New York. So, while Mr. McCarthy is correct in noting that crime is up, , the statistical realities make it hard to buy the notion that electing Republicans will do anything to lower it.
Nobody asked me, but...
Weaponizing statistics and resentment is something of a tradition in American politics, so it would be an exercise in futility for me or the Dems to cry foul. That’s how politics in America have been played as long as I’ve been old enough to follow them. But thoughtful citizens should not be taken in or swayed by them.
And while the first two years of unified Democratic governance have not been perfect, it has succeeded in getting us through the pandemic, taming COVID-19, restarting the economy post-pandemic, and enacting historic climate change mitigation legislation to mention just four significant achievements. Compared to Republicans’ record during the previous administration I’ll roll with the flawed governance of the Democratic Party any day. But by all means, if paying more of your taxes on a percentage basis than CEO’s floats your boat, vote Republican.
And if you needed a final reason to vote Democratic in this election, listen to the nearly three hundred Republican election deniers running this year, some promising Republicans will never lose another election in their state if they win. If you would like your vote to count in the next election, you know what to do this year.
What’s on the ballot this year, along with thoughtful policy aimed at responsible governance is the right to throw the louses out, when necessary. Reporting for Reuters, Linda So, Peter Eisler & Jason Szep write:
“Election workers in Arizona’s most fiercely contested county faced more than 100 violent threats and intimidating communications in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterms, most of them based on election conspiracy theories promoted by former President Donald Trump and his allies.”
And that, perhaps more than any other factor, should make us all cringe at the thought of Republicans taking over.
D.B. Sayers is a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel, former corporate trainer turned published author with six books in print. He is also a former Republican turned Independent who above all other things, believes in balanced, centrist government.