Obama Dragged Down By Chaos At Home And Abroad, Not By The Economy

Photo credit: Barack Obama (Flickr)

“Why do you think President Obama’s job rating is falling, even though the economy is recovering?” the interviewer asked.

It’s a fair question, even though the economy declined 2.9 percent in the first quarter, even though most jobs created in June were part-time, and even though labor force participation remains low.

The fact is that the economy is growing, however slowly; jobs are being created, and the unemployment rate is heading down toward what economists consider full employment. And still, the president’s job rating languishes.

What’s wrong with the question is an assumption embedded within it, that what voters seek most from government and political officeholders is economic growth. I think there’s something they value even more: the maintenance of order.

This isn’t what I was taught in political science classes. Political scientists who had grown up in the 1930s Depression taught that politics was about “who gets what, when, and how.”

Operating on that assumption, political scientists developed rules that explained past election outcomes as a function of economic variables — how much the economy grew in the second quarter of the election year, for example.

Those rules generally worked pretty well at predicting future elections — until they didn’t.

What they don’t explain very well are the political upheavals that come when voters perceive that the nation and the world are in disarray. Americans, blessed with a mostly happy history, tend to take fundamental order for granted. They recoil and rebel when things spin out of control.

Example: The political scientists taught that the big shift toward Democrats in 1874 was a response to the financial panic of 1873. Sort of like the Great Depression.

But further study convinces me it was a rebellion against Ulysses Grant’s military occupation of the South to protect blacks’ rights. Voters tired of violence voted for the anti-black Democrats, who held House majorities for 14 of the next 20 years and won the popular vote for president in five of six presidential elections in those years.

Or consider Republicans’ “back to normalcy” victory in 1920. This was a response to disorder at home (dizzying inflation and depression, waves of strikes, terrorist bombings) and abroad (Communist revolutions, continued fighting in Russia and the Middle East, rejection of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations).

Closer to our times, Jimmy Carter was rejected in 1980 as the nation faced not only stagflation (inflation-plus-recession) at home but also an “arc of instability” abroad.

Americans, unlike voters in many other countries, demand the maintenance of order in the world as well in their own nation. From the early days of the republic, there has been an unspoken awareness that what happens in the world affects their own lives.

In the 19th century, American merchants went out into the Mediterranean, American whalers to the Pacific, and American missionaries to China and the Middle East.

American troops followed. The Navy and Marines went after the Barbary pirates on the shores of Tripoli. American gunboats opened Japan to the world in 1854 and were stationed on rivers in China from the 1840s to the 1930s.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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Comments

  1. Linda A. says:

    I don't consider the economy growing when it is mostly part time work and you can't pay your living expenses. As long as this illegal POS is occupying our white house and his failed policies that are Fundamentally Transforming America into another 3rd world nation of poverty, open borders, I don't see any real recovery

    • Edwardkoziol says:

      You don't see it Linda is because there is none.Sambo has wrecked this country so bad that even little countries don't look up to America.This POS has got to be stopped but you can't count on republicans.There are only a few that would be willing to do something.

      • Linda A. says:

        Hi Edward,
        I agree with your point, it is sad that we can NOT count on the republicans to stop this maniac from wrecking the Country. We are seeing his true face, he does NOT care, all he is good for is to go on vacations, paid by the taxpayers, playing golf, hanging out with his celebrities friends and fundraising

        He does NOT care about the Country and he is not a shame to show it and as long as this illegal POS is in our white house he will continue to do more damage, may God help us

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