Saturday, July 7, 2018

Full Employment

A specter is haunting Democrats in the United States--the specter of full employment.

Elections are won because of the economy, stupid, but Democrats console themselves, thinking the economy is too good to be true. Maybe things will turn bad.

This is a losing strategy.

2017 and 2018--Full employment.
The strategy puts Democrats on the side of cheering against the home team. It looks disloyal and pessimistic because it is disloyal and pessimistic. 

Trump won by saying America was in the pits, but could be great again. Obama spoke of hope and change. These are messages of optimism.  Optimism wins election.

Democrats in 2013 to 2016 were afraid to talk up the economy because they didn't want to appear satisfied with "pretty good." Meanwhile Trump and Fox said the economy was a disaster, the recovery phony, that statistics showed unemployment was lowering only because people had dropped out of the work force in despair. Don't believe those fake statistics, they said. 

On inauguration day, Trump said the economy was "carnage." A month later, Trump said it was great, witness the low unemployment rate statistics. Look what I did! Trump inherited a trend. The job recovery had ran for seven years under Obama, but Trump claims the recovery entirely for himself, and Democrats let him do it.

Click. The Atlantic
Democrats--including Trump skeptics, serious journalism, and economists--suggest that the economy is a house of cards. The fear is of full employment but hope is that the economy will turn bad exactly when we need it to be, in 2020. We have the preconditions for problems. After all, Trump started a trade war with the world. The tax bill just passed increased deficits at precisely the wrong time in the business cycle. The yield curve has flattened, portending a recession. Banks are being set free to repeat prior disasters. The Fed is raising rates. Gasoline prices are going way up.

Democratic strategy is dead wrong. For one thing, the economy is strong in 2018, and Democrats need an election victory this year, to signal the political weakness of Trump, but they conceded the strong economy message to Trump. Voters unhappy with Trump can console themselves with the thought that even though the experts all disagree, "He must be doing something right, because the economy is so good."  If the GOP maintains majorities in the House and Senate it will be read as a vindication of Trump.

What about 2020? Surely, by 2020 the chickens will come home to roost. No recovery lasts forever. Democrats will get their recession, or gas lines, or headlines about trade-war job losses. Something bad will surely happen by then.

Yes. But it won't necessarily help Democrats. Democrats are positioned as the nay-saying opposition. Trump is being handed his message: Democrats sabotaged the economy, and we are in recession because they got in Trump's way. Trump will sell that message and he will have bits and pieces of evidence to point to, because, after all, the Democratic message is one of resistance.The border wall will be unfinished. There will still be immigrants here illegally. Gasoline prices are high because of environmental regulations.

Trump will have his story and message--blame the Democrats--and he will have started from the premise that the recovery of 2017-2018 was due to him. Trump can win the message war.

All is not lost, for Democrats.

The economy could, once again, crash and burn. The disaster was so profound in October, 2008, just prior to the election that the abject failure of George W. Bush was undeniable, so undeniable that Obama carried Indiana. Trump can sell himself out of the hole of "disappointment" but not of utter disaster. That could happen.

Click: 40 Seconds. Sometimes you have to hit back.
American troops in a foreign war. NATO notwithstanding, Americans don't care one bit about Estonia or eastern Ukraine any other part of Europe, nor do they care about Afghanistan or Iraq or Gaza or either Korea. And certainly not Venezuela. We don't mind bombing them--what do we care--but we don't want Americans dying there. Trump is probably less likely to make that mistake than would Hillary have been, but Trump surprises people and is impetuous and could do this.

Democrats could nominate someone who presents as strong as Trump, and who sells a message as unwaveringly. Liberal, Democratic readers of this blog are put off by authoritarian demeanor of Trump. They think it is undemocratic and dangerous. They think it hurts Trump. No. It helps Trump. His self confident selfishness is attractive to people who have become impatient with legislative gridlock and democratic process. His base likes it when he insults Democrats and gets away with it.

I include the 40 second video of the chubby boy being hit and pushed around by the aggressive bully. Democrats are the chubby boy. They need to decide what to do. Watch the video.

Democrats who get insulted and who say they won't stoop to Trump-type behavior appear weak. Democrats might find--or develop--a candidate who refuses to be demeaned. That would change everything.

I will return to this theme in future blog posts.


Rick Millward said...

You call him "chubby"...I'd say "beefy", and the other kid..oh, I don't know..."dumb"? This illustrates a fundamental principle of strength; if you never demonstrate it, it can seem like weakness. I'm sorry the big kid had to hurt the little kid, the metaphor would have held true if the big kid had picked up the trash can and tossed it across the yard, but it looks like he lost his temper and the little kid suffered a lesson in hubris.

So if the big kid is Democrats and the little kid is Trump what are the big kids supposed to do? I would suggest that tempers are growing shorter and the little kid may get a surprise. Trump does behave like a wise-a** teenager, with his juvenile taunts, and his cult is no more mature. Sooner or later bullies get their due, and it's my guess it will be a bipartisan body slam.

Not if, but when.

Up Close: Road to the White House said...


I received the following email, which I am inserting here as a "Comment." The author shares my view that Trump--notwithstanding behavior many people find vulgar and crude and haphazard--has been winning in the message battle:

"Trump has the high road. He argues that we are being taken advantage by NATO countries(many like Germany have not paid their share). That we have been out maneuvered by Russia,China, North Korea. Art of the deal. D’s are being out marketed with words. Socialist (deadly word) D’s, Minorities, Gangs, jobs,Pro-Life(who can we argue life?), SCOTUS selections, Tariffs (protecting the middle class) - R U getting tired of winning, yet? Only hope is Mueller."

ljbb said...

I would invite you to dig down a little deeper on this. It's one thing to operate on a TV/Twitter level with Trump, but when Trump's Trade War makes your job disappear, and you can't afford to buy a car, and you can't even buy that six-pack of beer in those aluminum cans because you can no longer afford it, we'll see how voters react. We are hearing LOTS of dissatisfaction amongst Republicans and Dems in our District 2 already as McLeod-Skinners common sense and practical economic message resonates while Walden's actions against his own constituents is in full view. See the impact on Oregon from this article in the Register Guard, Eugene.

And the full Chamber of Commerce report summary and links: