by John F. Di Leo
From union slogans to candidate speeches, from underlying themes in our children’s schoolbooks at the beginning of our lives to the message of the AARP as they warn us of the approaching end, the American left has successfully infected our politics with the theme that the Republicans may be the party of the rich and the businessman, but the Democrats are most certainly the party of the working man. Every election, the Republicans must try, somehow, to counter this meme. The fact is that the Democratic Party is the enemy of the American worker… but explaining this to the voting public can be a difficult battle, as the economic causes of factory migration, wide ranges of wage scales, inflation, business cycles, and the crippling burdens of governmental regulations don’t fit neatly into a thirty-second spot on television or radio.
In 2012, however, it might be different.
Presidents at a Comfortable Distance
Ever since our nation’s foundation, there have been government workers, serving at the president’s pleasure. George Washington appointed a few people, John Adams appointed a few people; even Thomas Jefferson appointed a few people. Government was small then, limited in both size and scope by a Constitution still fresh in the public mind. If the new president fired a few of his predecessor’s appointees, it wasn’t a shock, and those few job losses weren’t even a statistical rounding error to the economy at large.
The most people who could say they were fired by a president were the air traffic controllers fired by Ronald Reagan when the illegal PATCO strike jeopardized air travel. Many of them probably held it against him when he ran for reelection in 1984, but they too wouldn’t even have been noticed in the labor statistics of a nation of over 250 million.
Whether the policies of a White House were helpful or unhelpful to the nation’s economy, hardly anyone could ever tie their personal unemployment directly to the president. The president might blame Congress; Congress might blame the Fed, the newspapers might blame currency exchange rates or European debt. There has always been plenty of blame to go around, and a savvy president is adept at ensuring it doesn’t stick to the White House.
But everything changes in 2012.
The President and the Pink Slip
Unemployment and underemployment are high, possibly higher than ever, depending on how you look at it. When counting the forcibly retired, the part-timers who’d rather be full-time, the grossly under-employed, and those no longer included in the calculation due to fraudulent accounting, unemployment is well over 20% of the willing workforce. Will they all vote? Will they understand the causes of their problems? Will they fall for the Democrat line that evil businesses are to blame, rather than the evil policies emanating from Washington, D.C.? Will they blame the president himself?
Here is the change for 2012. Never before have so many of the unemployed owed their job loss, not indirectly at all, but quite obviously directly, to the intentional, conscious directives of their president and his direct appointees, the czars and cabinet secretaries who have launched a direct frontal assault on industry after industry ever since their appointments. Consider:
Car Dealers: In 2009, though everyone knew that the problems dooming Chrysler and General Motors were their enormous property and property tax obligations caused by too big, too old, factories, and their utterly unsupportable labor and pension costs, Barack Obama ordered the closure of over 3000 auto dealerships. Now, maybe many of those dealers were good Republicans, but what of their mechanics, their salesmen, their janitors, their accountants and finance experts? These were probably a normal cross-section of the country – equal parts Republican, Democrat, and independent. And they all know that they were fired by Barack Obama.
Auto Vendors: As another direct result of the forced reconstructions of Chrysler and GM, hundreds of vendors, large and small, were denied their outstanding receivables as part of the non-bankruptcy approach personally mandated by the president. Those vendors know the cause was not the economy in general, or bad luck, or other normal customer problems… it was the president’s personal decision to choose them to suffer so that the UAW wouldn’t have to. And at least some of their employees will remember as well.
Light-bulb and Showerhead Factories: Americans had lost some light-bulb manufacturing to China in recent years, but we still made plenty of them here as well. But no more. Environmentalist lunatics have won out at Energy and the EPA, and recent regulations have shuttered many factories that used to make incandescent bulbs and >2.5gpm showerheads. Where are the new, wacko-compliant replacements being made? In China, for the most part. Do the newly unemployed assembly-line workers, customer-service reps, engineers, buyers, and salesmen who used to handle these American-made products know that they owe their joblessness directly to the Pelosireidian appointees at Energy and the EPA, appointed and empowered by the Obama Administration? You betcha.
Gulf of Mexico Oil Rigs: Barack Obama campaigned on policies based on hatred of the petroleum industry, but few anticipated the lengths he would go to destroy it. He took advantage of a single freak accident at an oil rig in the Gulf to issue a drilling moratorium that ground exploration to a halt and has severely curtailed domestic supply ever since that summer of 2009. Thousands of roughnecks (the workers on the rigs themselves) and the huge vendor base dependent on them – from restaurants, hotels, banks, and shops on shore, to the ferry services that take them to and from their rigs – are fully aware that the destruction of their industry, now in its third year, is entirely the intentional policy of the president. Obama hasn’t even given them reason to give him the benefit of the doubt; he has unconstitutionally thwarted Congressional efforts and disobeyed federal court orders, in his single-minded zeal to keep the people of the gulf states unemployed.
Energy elsewhere: While pursuing his battle to shove overpriced and underperforming green energy down America’s throat, the Obama Administration has also refused new permits for coal mining, oil drilling, shale oil extraction, hydraulic fracturing (frakking) of both oil and natural gas, even the simple building of pipelines for Canadian oil. Every such denial raises the cost of energy to the economy as a whole, making us more dependent on distant enemy suppliers like Hugo Chavez and the islamists. This hurts everyone. But most directly, these denials keep millions unemployed, by banning the creation of the new jobs needed to do that digging, mining, drilling, frakking, building, transporting, and servicing. These aren’t all typical Republican specialties; Obama and his czars are attacking Democrat and independent workers by these assaults. If you’re an unemployed energy worker in the Dakotas, you know exactly who – personally – put you on relief.
Healthcare: The healthcare sector is far larger than it’s usually given credit for. Hospitals and clinics, doctors and nurses, medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers – this much is obvious. But think also of the architects and builders who build new hospital wings, of the laundry and cafeteria services that cater to the hospital staffs and patients, of the insurance companies with a healthcare division alongside auto, life, and property. Obamacare has attacked all of the above, causing hospital and clinic shutdowns, particularly in rural areas, all over the country, even now, in anticipation of its upcoming implementation. Rural hospitals are closing, insurance agencies are running screaming from the healthcare product, medical device manufacturers are moving production abroad. And the vendors supporting all of the above are suffering the loss or impoverishment of their key customers. Most of these – perhaps not all, but most – are fully aware that this president is in many ways personally responsible for their plight; after all, his name’s on the law.
Businesses in the Cross-Hairs: There are almost countless other businesses and communities that have been targeted by the Obama Administration during its first (and hopefully only) term. Boeing, attacked for building a plant in South Carolina by a politicized NLRB… Gibson Guitars, attacked for using wood to make their guitars without satisfactory obeisance to the newly beatified Lacey Act… Las Vegas hotels and casinos, attacked as wasteful entertainment destinations (how DARE companies and associations have the audacity to hold conferences in a popular destination?!)… politicizing the Ex-Im Bank to add a green test to export finance programs such as Wisconsin’s mining machinery… the list may well be endless, because in the end, it is the entire American private sector that this administration despises, not just one or two “offensive” industries. Not all will remember, but many of the unemployed will indeed have the newspaper headlines and company memos emblazoned in their memories, so they don’t soon forget.
Doing his rivals’ job for them
In every election, each side tells people why their policies are better and their opponents’ policies are worse. Every two years, we watch as Democrats demonize the conservatives, and the Republicans fall short in their need to educate the electorate on matters economic, though admittedly, it’s difficult to teach fundamental economics in a radio commercial or a door hanger card.
In 2012, it will be different. Barack Obama personally put hundreds of thousands, millions even, out of work, through his own executive orders and the actions of his secretaries, his czars, and his other appointees. And even if not all of them know it, the vast majority certainly do. The GOP has certainly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory before, but this is an unprecedented development in presidential politics.
As America is a mix of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, of white and black, old and young, urban and rural, so too is the American electorate on the first Tuesday in November.
What’s new in 2012 is that so many of the unemployed will be united in their recognition of who cost them their jobs – and the fact that that very person will appear on their ballots, asking – nay, arrogantly demanding – that they vote for him anyway.
Copyright 2011 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance lecturer. A former county chairman of the Milwaukee Republican Party, he has now been a recovering politician for over fourteen years.
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