Washington, DC- During the final presidential debate of the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan, running against Jimmy Carter, turned to the camera and asked “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” The debate took place against a backdrop of spiraling inflation and rising unemployment. A week later, Reagan won the election by one of the largest margins in recent history. Now, with the 2008 presidential election just weeks away and the economy once again in turmoil, a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) updates the Reagan question by comparing economic indicators in 2008 and 2000, and finds that most indicators suggest that voters are worse off now than they were eight years ago.
Over the last two weeks my relatives have been sending out email to the informal family email groups relating to recent financial news. I was particularly shocked by one email which claimed that the Democrats had to be held responsible, since the original bank deregulation bill was the work of President Clinton. (Here’s President Clinton’s opinion on that issue.)
It’s a half truth at best because since that bill the Republican Party has had eight years to revise and regulate wherever necessary. They didn’t because they don’t believe in regulation on principal. That cannot really be argued. McCain has voted against the minimum wage as intrusive regulation at least 19 times (he voted for it a few years ago).
I keep thinking that information, like the Center for Economic Policy Research, is the key to convincing my larger family that their faith in markets is wrong. I am not sure that this will do any good. It seems to me that the issue here is similar to rooting for your team, not making a rational choice. I am not sure how much of the What’s Wrong with Kansas thesis I buy, but something strange is going on here.
Why would they consistently vote against their own economic interests? It sounds superficial, but at some point something happened that made many of family feel some connection to the Republicans, just like they might feel some connection to the New Orleans Saints or the UT Longhorns. They stick to it, no matter what happens; in fact, not sticking to your time when times are bad is disloyalty of the worst sort.