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Posts Tagged ‘2016 presidential campaign’

Saving the mythical middle class

In Economy, history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics on February 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGODuring the post-war euphoria of the 1950s, Americans were convinced of a concept that has carried through into the next century. The “middle class” was a figment of someone’s imagination – probably a politician – and sold to the public as the ideal life. But the idea of a middle class has become as mythological as the Leave It To Beaver universe that created it.

As the presidential election year kicks into high gear, saving the dying middle class will be the subject of countless speeches. But how do you preserve something that no longer exists, if it ever did at all? The truth is, you can’t.

But who is the middle class? As it turns out, there is no consistent definition of this mythical group. Depending on the source, the middle class can be defined in a number of ways, from economical status to age and race demographics. So when you hear a politician spout off the words, “middle class,” the context is vital, otherwise it’s meaningless.

According to CNNMoney.com, one definition by the Pew Research Center is based on income. It lists the middle class as those Americans who earn between $46,900 and $140,900. Another marker has to do with aspirations.

Most people who consider themselves middle class want to own a home, send their kids to college, have proper healthcare and investment savings, a car, vacations, and so on. Obviously, that means that the money has to exist to make any of that a possibility so we’re back to financial definitions once again.

Photo courtesy NBC News

Photo courtesy NBC News

The simple fact of it is the concept of the middle class is a myth; a myth we have all been trapped into believing to the point of mass hysteria. The American dream does exist, but it’s far less detailed than we’ve been taught over the last 70 years or so, and it’s not as tied to the middle class as once thought.

Between the American dream and the middle class, I’d much rather focus on the former; at least I know it’s ambiguous and depends on my own efforts, choices and aspirations. The American dream is different for each person.

Yours might be to own a bookstore while your neighbor’s may simply be to be healthy and happy in his or her own way. But trying to be part of the middle class has done countless families harm over the years, struggling to “keep up with the Joneses,” and fighting the never ending war to amass “stuff” so as to appear successful.

As a political hot button, the idea that the middle class is suffering provides unlimited opportunity to yank at the heartstrings of conservatives. Liberals don’t seem to care as much about it. It all goes back to that subliminal mental tie-in between the middle class and the American dream.

The question remains, how do politicians evoke emotion over a group that doesn’t actually exist? Or, stated more correctly, a group that encompasses so many different kinds of people as to eliminate any particular demographic. Actually, it’s easier than you might think.

If politicians can keep that apple pie imagery flowing and preach doom and gloom over its demise, people will flock to the polls to protect it by voting for them. It’ll have the same effect as the anti-communist films of the 1950s and 60s depicting a family on a nice summer picnic when suddenly the nuclear bombs start dropping. Destroy the middle class and America dies.

But, once again, it’s impossible to destroy what doesn’t exist. The middle class is defined by whoever wants to use it to their benefit, to push their agenda. Oddly, I’d say the middle class is more about a state of mind of the individual than actual numbers.

We all just want to be normal, average Americans in similar status to our neighbors so we can relate to each other. In the end, I think we all just want to be financially stable and happy with our lives.

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Public perception and the dusty GOP

In Economy, history, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on July 7, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

 

DIH LOGOIt seems the republican field of presidential candidacy is bursting at the seams, not to mention getting a little ridiculous. At the time of this writing, there are a dozen GOP candidates hoping to sway voters, and the RNC, before next year’s primary season, while only four democrats have officially tossed their hats into the ring.

At this point in the game, it’s anyone’s race. Until the democratic field shakes out, it’s unlikely there will be many republican endorsements. Before that can happen, supporters need to see is how their favorite conservative candidate stands up against the opposition.

Most early candidacies are a function of money – how much they have, how much is coming in and where to spend it for the best return on the investment. Media is critical to political perception, and expensive, but, at this point many of the candidates will have to spend time doing the old grip and grin just to introduce themselves to key voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa. It seems old school in a world of nonstop social media, but it’s necessary.

1280px-Republican_National_ConventionThere are too many GOP candidates with little to no name recognition and that will be an obstacle. Keep in mind, most of the country had no idea who Barack Obama was until the eleventh hour and, two terms later, he has repeatedly made history. But, can the Republican National Committee change the perception of the GOP as the tired, dusty party to something more progressive?

Dem forerunner Hillary Clinton has experience, but not in the same “boots on the ground” role as Jeb Bush or one of the other candidates who have been state governors. Still, just having been a governor isn’t enough to guarantee any sort of mileage in a presidential campaign, especially when accomplishments in office have been lackluster, to say the least.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, for example, has announced that he will officially launch his 2016 White House bid in late July. To hear Kasich describe it, he’s earned his seat at the table having been single handedly responsible for Ohio’s economic recovery following the recession. But, economists have been clear that Ohio’s recuperation is consistent with the rest of the country, resulting instead from federal stimulus packages, short term interest rate reductions and bail outs.

Assuming respectable advancement in the primaries, the candidates could experience secondary problems based on their choice of running mate. While the announcement comes much later in the game, everyone is thinking about it now and those interested in the job are quietly knocking on the door behind the scenes.

Hitching a ride on Kasich’s coat tails as a running mate would most likely be Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, an obvious choice for the short list. Although he served in congress for a time, DeWine’s name recognition is relatively useless beyond the borders of the Buckeye State.

If Kasich chooses DeWine, he would probably also have to deal with conservative backlash for the AG’s many liberal-leaning policies, the least of which is gun control, including his sponsorship of legislation against assault weapons and personal firearm ownership. Though carefully kept out of any published information, DeWine is also rumored to have been a democrat before changing sides in order to make a political name for himself in Ohio’s largely conservative Greene County. If true, that could further impede any national conservative support of a Kasich-DeWine ticket.

But even if the GOP candidacy field narrows, republicans are still stuck with the public perception as a “rich white guys club,” despite the fact there are two minorities on the list; an African American, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and a woman, former business exec Carly Fiorina. Historically, the GOP has great difficulty connecting with younger voters and minorities and, so far, nothing has happened to mitigate that problem.

Republicans are largely seen by young voters as bigoted, gun-happy, greedy and stuck in the1950s. Until one of the many conservative candidates manages to offer an alternative to that perception for a mass audience, Americans might be looking at another term under a democratic administration.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Clinton and the lesser of “who cares.”

In Economy, history, National News, Opinion, Politics on April 14, 2015 at 7:37 am

DIH LOGONow that Hillary Clinton has finally confirmed her run at the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, there is growing concern that the next election will be all about electing a woman, rather than choosing the right candidate for the job.

America’s political landscape has changed a great deal since Clinton’s first run at the Oval Office in 2008. After eight years with a Democrat in the White House, and with Barack Obama’s job approval numbers struggling to maintain a tepid 47-percent, the country may simply be ready for a change. But is a female president too much change?

Back in 1984, the Democrats put the first woman on a presidential ticket, selecting former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as the vice presidential candidate alongside former Vice President Walter Mondale.  Despite her strong political background and experience many saw her as somewhat of a publicity stunt, designed to appeal to women and a rising number of younger voters.

Ferraro’s albatross, however, turned out to be, not the indecisive voter, but Walter Mondale, a stale, crusty relic of the 1960s who really had no chance against an incredibly popular incumbent by the name of Ronald Regan. Many experts still suggest that the democrats might well have prevailed had the ticket been reversed, with Ferraro as the presidential candidate.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin suffered a similar problem having been anchored to old-guard republican, John McCain. But Palin also lacked Ferraro’s professionalism, legal education and political clout and she was often viewed as little more than a tactic to draw votes from Hillary Clinton.

clintonWomen always seem to be held back from being in the real fight. Vice president is obviously a great job – the photo ops, the ribbon cuttings, the pacifiers. But if anything is going to be accomplished in the name of social evolution, the female candidate is going to have to be strong enough to lead the ticket; a trait Hillary has certainly demonstrated in her various roles throughout the last couple of decades.

However, if the next election turns out to be all about social popularity, breaking the glass ceiling of the Oval Office and a long campaign of “he said,” “she said,” then the smartest thing the GOP could do to increase their chances of winning in 2016 is go out and find an African American republican woman with impeccable professional and personal credentials. Actually, they already have someone in their camp that fits all of those qualifications – Condoleezza Rice.

Former Secretary of State Rice is one of the few conservatives (male or female) who could potentially give Clinton a real challenge. A republican ticket led by Rice could very well offer conservative voters something besides the lesser of “who cares.”

Unfortunately, based on her previous statements, she would be unlikely to run at all and, from a public relations standpoint, she’s been out of the limelight for some time. With such a hard-hitting campaign expected, Rice would simply not have the time to help voters get reacquainted with her and her platform.

In the opinion of objective observers, President Obama may have achieved a few things, but his current approval demonstrates that he fell short in many ways. If a well-suited opponent ever surfaces from the conservative sea, Hillary Clinton will have a tough time convincing people another democrat can improve things further.

Sadly, if the voting public is true to their tunnel-versioned pattern, they will once again miss an incredible opportunity to elect the right person for the job, rather than simply pulling the lever to motivate an agenda. Regardless of how seriously Americans want social evolution, it will never be a good idea to vote for someone – to any office – solely because of race, gender, religious background or party affiliation.

For once, if politicians would speak honestly and if voters would take just a moment to consider qualifications, character, and intent, American politics might finally be productive, compassionate and properly serve the people. But, as long as human beings still act with more emotion than good sense, any change would be nothing less than a miracle and Hillary is a sure thing.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

 

Has Kasich set his sights on the Oval Office?

In Business, Economy, Education, Jobs, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Uncategorized on February 19, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

I am by no means one of the top political minds in the State of Ohio – far from it, in fact – nor do I hold any connections that would give me insight into what might be going on in the governor’s office right now. But, it seems to me (nod to fellow columnist Bill Taylor) that John Kasich has his eye on another chief executive office – the one with the oval-shaped room.

While most commentators are crediting the activity to Kasich’s bid for re-election, given the level of his high-handed agenda over the last two months, it is my belief that the governor is planning a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, or at least the vice-president’s spot on the ticket. A quick review of the governor’s public agenda clearly shows a noted increase in the number of high-profile policy and legislative initiatives, particularly in recent months.

It certainly seems as if he is doing just what a politician should do when he wants to win over both sides for a broader appeal. He’s riding the fence, trying to appease liberals as well as conservatives with nationally controversial legislative changes such as an increase in the minimum wage passed in December, but largely unpopular with republicans. Dangerous, since he is still vulnerable even in a re-bid for his job, but it’s a give and take.

According to political columnist, Chris Cillizz, a September Washington Post poll showed that the republican governor held a 50-percent approval rating. In December, a Quinnipiac University poll gave him a 42 percent overall job approval, with 35 percent disapproving, his highest marks in that poll since inauguration.

He is more popular than ever, possibly more so than his democratic predecessor, Ted Strickland. But, in the last half of his term, he is upping the ante to prove he can lead in tough times and get things done to improve Ohio’s economy even as Washington remains stymied.

Kasich still has a long way to go with a great many negatives on his desk, among them lackluster job numbers, which are currently below the national average. He also has some outspoken opposition to his “rough” demeanor.

In a recent Dayton Daily News report, Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Rob Scott, a Kasich supporter, admitted that the governor sometimes has a harsh approach.

“I think what Gov. Kasich has brought to Ohio is that he’s up front and honest: this is what we need to do and this is how we get there,” Scott said. “And he may run over a couple people, but sometimes to get things done, and to do what’s right, you’ve got to do that.”

If there is a possibility that Kasich is looking towards 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then the question is, does he have what it takes first to get the attention of a splintered GOP and second, to win over the disheartened voters from both sides of the aisle? At the moment the only conservative frontrunner for the presidential nomination is former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Once an unknown, Ryan had the national stage, often upstaging his running mate with his more down-to-earth demeanor and likeability among the younger voters.

Kasich is getting national attention for his aggressive policies and growing poll numbers, but he’s still not well known outside Ohio and far too conservative even for moderate democrats. But, he might at least get credit for adding some new Ohio jobs in the near future, beginning with Ford’s pending announcement about a new engine plant to be located near Cleveland. The $200 million upgrade will add about 450 jobs to a plant which currently employs approximately 1,300 hourly and salaried workers.

This announcement comes on the heels of Kasich’s State of the State address in which he outlined even bolder plans to achieve his vision for the state. It remains to be seen if he can get legislators to go along with radical changes in taxes and school funding. If he manages to do half of what he’s set out to, he might just have a shot at the big chair in the Oval Office sooner than later.