26 October 2015

Notes from Norm: Turn That Frown Upside Down

This past week President Obama compared the Republican presidential field to the popular internet feline, “Grumpycat.”

In an appearance before a loyal Democratic audience I have no doubt the President felt that his tongue-in-cheek criticism of Republican presidential candidates was clever, humorous and provocative.

Whatever his reasons, the President makes a point, and misses many more, in his comparison to the curmudgeonly cat.

With respect to the point he makes that has some merit about Republican candidates; is that what the country is hearing from them in too many cases are criticisms about their fellow Republican candidates.

Frankly, there is certainly plenty to criticize this Administration about on any given day without Republicans having to attack one another.

The size of the national debt currently stands at more than $18 trillion – nearly $8 trillion more since when the President took office.

In a nation of around 312 million people that figure means the average share of that debt for each of us is about $56,000.

While the unemployment rate is down, it is less a function of more jobs than it is a function of fewer people in the workforce.

Not since 1978 has the labor force participation rate been at the rate it is now – about 63%.

Roughly translated that means about 93 million Americans are not in the workforce. And, of the roughly 157 million who remain participating in the labor force, 148 million had a job – and about 8.6 million did not have a job.

Which means that despite a lower unemployment rate there are still 8.6 million Americans without a job.

Across the world the country is viewed as weaker and less committed to standing up for itself, or its allies.

The President’s outright unwillingness to make America a leader in the global battle for freedom and democracy has been an open invitation for the Russians to step into the void – not to promote freedom, democracy or the Rule of Law – but to sow seeds of division and discontent in regions of the world where that is simply throwing gasoline on an already raging fire.

Despite the best efforts of our nation’s military and the brave men and women who serve in it, the President’s policies with respect to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and the global war on terror have emboldened ISIS/ISIL and led to a resurgent Al Qaeda.

In a region of the world where the President has it somewhat right – the Asia-Pacific – his failed foreign policy has China openly challenging U.S. resolve at a level we’ve not seen in decades.

All of this has the nation in a sour mood.  Consistently polls have more than 60% of Americans believing the nation is headed in the wrong direction – which explains why the President’s current disapproval rate is around fifty percent.
Now, as it relates to the field of Republicans running for President.

I do believe that far too much of their time has been spent focusing on one another rather than the challenges facing America.

I’m not naïve and I do understand that there is a campaign for the Republican nomination for President and each candidate is trying to position themselves in a way that they believe will give the best hope for winning the necessary votes to secure that nomination.

While speaking to Republican activists is critically important, it is also equally important to talk to all of America.

Republicans have an opportunity to share their vision of an economy that lifts all Americans up – a federal government that lives within its means – and an approach to immigration that secures our borders, respects the Rule of Law and ensures that America remains a beacon of hope for millions from around the world seeking to become American citizens.

There’s an $18 trillion national debt that needs to be addressed– a need to restore trust and confidence in America’s standing in the world – and an imperative to strengthen our nation’s educational system, infrastructure and protect and preserve our nation’s natural resources.

All of these challenges – and opportunities – can be met and achieved by Republicans by presenting our ideas and vision for an America that is better, stronger, more vibrant, inclusive and unified.

However, all that gets lost against the backdrop of the drama in Washington, D.C. and a compliant one-party media all too eager to paint Republicans in disarray and in a state of constant chaos.

The President’s perspective and view of Republicans is a narrative that he and other Democrats will hope to present to the American people in the weeks and months ahead leading up to national elections in 2016.

Maybe it’s the optimist in me but I think there’s an opportunity for Republicans running for President, and Republicans in the Senate and the House, to challenge that perception.

It’s time for Republicans to turn that grumpy cat frown upside down.