Monday, November 05, 2018

It's the Economy, Stupid!

Will the Texas voters go left (Beto O'Roarke) or right (Ted Cruz)? (Express)
I have never commented on midterm elections. Not because they weren’t important. But because I didn’t think it mattered too much what I thought about them. Traditionally the opposition party usually makes gains and that ends up in congressional legislative gridlock. I am going to comment on it this time in an admittedly very partisan way.

This time things are different. The country has never been so divided. What’s worse is that we have never had a President that has been so responsible for those divisions. Not that they weren’t already there. But that the electorate has never been so angry about it.  I do not recall such vehemence coming from one party against the other. Not only by politicians of each party. But by voters.

The understandable animus against the President has trickled down into the actual ideals of each side. What was one respectful opposition to the ideals of their opponents has become angry and hateful. On both sides.

Even though I lean strongly conservative, I blame the President for this. His rhetoric and behavior has cast a shadow on many of my ideals. Ideals that he has forwarded. It’s kind of like guilt by association. I separate the man form his policies. But to the left, if Trump supports it, it must be evil. Anything the President supports must be opposed with unparalleled vehemence.

That is why this election is so important. It is in large part because conservative Republicans are the majority in both Houses of Congress that a lot of conservative legislation has been passed. It is also why the Supreme Court now has a conservative majority. Whose rulings will likely favor issues that are important to religious people. Of which observant Jews certainly qualify. Many core religious values are common to people of all faiths. Fixed values that are not relative to the evolving values of the times. Which is the province of the Left.

Then there is the issue of foreign policy. If you support Israel, the conservative Republicans have generally been far more supportive of Israel in recent years than have liberal Democrats. 

The mantra I keep hearing from the Left is that Democrats are upset by Israel’s current policies. If Israel wants bi-partisan support they have to toe the Democratic party line with respect to how they should govern with respect to Palestinians on the West Bank. It is because Israel does not do that that they are losing that support. 

Conservatives do not see it that way. They understand that Israel has to do what is in their best interests as determined by their current leadership. And that they have no business telling a democracy like Israel what to do. Conservative support is based on Israel’s strong democracy, on being a strategic ally, and on shared values.

One example of  this is the senate race in Texas between current Republican Senator Ted Cruz  and his Democratic opponent, the very charismatic Congressman Beto O’Rourke. O’Rourke was one of only 8 congressman that voted against funding Israel’s Iron Dome defense system - while Hamas was firing rockets from Gaza at Israel’s civilian population. The other 395 congressmen voted in favor of it. O’Rourke says that he has no regrets about that vote. 

O’Rourke was also one of the few Democrats in both houses of congress that boycotted Netanyahu when he was invited by then House Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of congress about the Iran deal. 

On that score the President has - with support of a conservative congress - abandoned that horrible deal and - again with support of a conservative congress - has instead implemented the strongest US sanctions on Iran thus far. And they are feeling it. Iran’s radical Islamic regime is being brought to its knees.

If liberal Democrats had their way, they would have honored that deal which allowed Iran to continue their ballistic missile programs; given them no reason to stop being the biggest state sponsor and exporter of terror in the world; and permission to eventually resume building a nuclear bomb – all while threatening to wipe the only democracy in the Middle East off the map.

But even if one leaves all this out there is one thing that should sway anyone voting in this election. Even Democrats: The Economy

If we want prosperity to continue we need to support legislators that will support an agenda that has accelerated that prosperity. That policy has created the best economy we’ve had in decades. Lower taxes and deregulation has resulted in more jobs;  lower unemployment; and more disposable income. US retailers are predicting one of the most successful holiday seasons in years.

It would take a lot of spin to deny that the economy is thriving under a conservative agenda. And I fully expect to hear that spin. But in my view the fact is that under 2 years of conservative economic policies we are thriving. Even as one must give credit to the previous administration for turning a bad economy around. I do not think that is even unarguable. 

That is why we must ignore the President himself and instead support the conservative policies his Presidency has implemented by voting for conservative candidates. That will best assure that those polices will continue under the new congress.

I realize that the polls are saying the the House will turn Democrat. Which will certainly hamper the passage of any further conservative legislation - and may slow down the economy. But polls have been wrong before. What these polls should be telling conservatives though is how important it is to vote in this election if they have any chance at all to retain the House (The Senate looks pretty safe).

That the President has not been emphasizing his biggest accomplishment – the economy – is unfortunately not a surprise. Nothing about this President surprises me. What he is doing instead is feeding his base red meat. Like his immigration policy. (Some suggestions of which are terrible and/or stupid.) 

That’s too bad. I believe he should listen instead to what a previous President said to his staff during his own Presidential campaign: It’s the economy, stupid!

I therefore urge conservatives who might not be inclined to vote in an off year election to do so this time. And perhaps more importantly I urge fellow observant Jews to vote for conservatives too, Because for us, it is not only the economy that is at risk. At risk are the very values we believe in.