Even if so, so what?
By John D. Turner
22 Dec 2015

President Obama recently claimed that Donald Trump, the current front runner for the Republican Presidential nomination, is “exploiting the resentment and anxieties of working-class men to boost his campaign.” I say, even if so, so what? This is something new in politics?

Democrats routinely exploit the resentment and anxieties of retirees in election campaigns. How many times have I heard Democratic candidates, speaking before crowds of retirees, tell them that Republicans want to take away their Social Security, dump them in the streets, and force them to eat dog food?

Anyone remember the “push granny off the cliff” ad released by the “Agenda Project Action Fund,” a progressive policy organization “dedicated to ensuring that public officials and the policies they implement serve regular people,” against Paul Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare back in 2011? And of course, the follow up ad they aired after Mitt Romney selected him as his running mate?

I can assure you Conservatives haven’t forgotten it, as is evidenced by this recent article in Conservativebyte.com.

True, the ad wasn’t funded by, produced by, or aired by the DNC; however neither did they repudiate it either. And it did support their political candidates and positions.

It isn’t as if Democrats themselves haven’t said pretty much the same thing over the years. Here is Fact Check on Joe Biden’s comments during the last Presidential election regarding the Romney Ryan ticket and Social Security/Medicare. Here are some more comments by persons other than Joe Biden back in the 2010 midterm elections.

As far back as I can remember, Democrats have been scaring elderly voters with this sort of rhetoric. Democrats of course say they are “just presenting the facts” and warning senior citizens of the dangers that await them if they vote Republican.

So what exactly did Mr. Trump say this time that got Mr. Obama so riled up? Not that you have to go far to find something that “The Donald” has said to rile up someone. Well, the article I read didn’t really say. Guess I was supposed to just know.

Digging a bit deeper, I found that what President Obama actually accused Trump of was “exploiting the fears of working-class Americans amid a stagnant and rapidly changing economy;” an economy that evidently Mr. Obama has no control over. He just happens to have the misfortune of being president at a time when “blue-collar workers [have] been crowded out of the economy by technological innovation and the financial crisis.”

Not Mr. Obama’s fault, despite the fact that it happened on his watch and he has had seven years to respond. Not Mr. Obama’s fault despite the fact that Democrats always point the finger at anything that happens when it is a Republican in the Oval Office, particularly as it relates to the economy, and claim that Republicans either caused the problem or didn’t do enough to fix it. Not Mr. Obama’s fault despite the claims of Democrats that fixing the economy and creating jobs is one of the government’s main purposes in life.

Not, apparently, Mr. Obama’s job. Or perhaps it is just beyond his capabilities.

Mr. Obama is quick to point to the unemployment numbers (supposedly at 5%) and the inflation numbers (supposedly below 0.5%) as a barometer of just how well his administration is doing on the economy and jobs front. How, pray tell, does he square that with his comment that the economy is “stagnant” and “rapidly changing,” crowding blue-collar workers out?

By his comment, Mr. Obama is obviously pointing the finger at George W. Bush (the financial crisis) and greedy rich Republican businessmen (technological innovation replacing blue-collar workers). Because let’s face it; seven years hasn’t been nearly enough for the community organizer from Chicago to fix what George Bush broke, and the only kind of businessmen that exist are rich, cruel, greedy Republicans, always plotting to find another way to squeeze just a little more out of the poor working folk.

When it comes to rhetoric, Democrats are always just presenting the “facts,” warning folks of the rapacious nature of Republicans, while Republicans are “exploiting the resentment and anxieties” of the common folk, caused by Republicans in the first place.

Of course, neither and both are true at the same time. Is Donald Trump “exploiting” the fears of working-class Americans? You could probably make that argument – it’s part of the process of being elected to office. And Democrats do exactly the same thing. Everyone running for office can be accused of this because guess what? Both sides disagree with what the other side is doing. They both have different solutions for the same problems or, solutions for things that one side sees as a problem while the other side does not. They disagree. What a novel concept! If they didn’t, what would be the purpose of an election?

What is Trump supposed to do when talking to “working Americans” about the problems they perceive with their jobs and the economy? Blame it on George Bush like the Democrats? How would that help his campaign? He is running as a Republican, not a Democrat. And what is a Democrat to do to explain the mess? Blame it on George Bush as usual? That explanation worked in 2008 and perhaps in 2010. It is getting a bit thin in 2016, eight years into a Democratic administration.

Harry Truman, a Democrat if I recall, famously said with regard to the Presidency, “the buck stops here.” That desk is now President Obama’s desk. Even if you believe that the economic crisis was George Bush’s baby, it has been, since 2009 when he took office, President Barack Obama’s job to fix. If it has been beyond his capacity to do such, then perhaps we elected the wrong person to the office in 2012.

We are talking about a president who, despite saying that our current economy is “stagnant,” and admitting that blue-collar workers have fears about their jobs (if they didn’t there wouldn’t be anything there for Donald Trump to “exploit”), is still not focused on fixing these problems, probably because he doesn’t actually see them as problems. He has plenty of money, why should he care about a stagnant economy?

No, he has stated that instead, his administration is going to be focused during the last year of his presidency on global climate change and gun control; because he sees those as the two greatest problems facing Americans today. To President Obama, a stagnant economy is a good thing; it decreases your carbon footprint and helps protect the environment. What you need to understand is that there is nothing to “fix;” you simply need to lower your economic expectations.

So instead, the President chooses to accuse Trump of “exploiting” your fears; like it is something that only Republicans do and Democrats never do. And why do you have these fears in the first place? What have the Democrats done to cause such fears and conversely, what are they doing to allay them?

Is Trump a blowhard? Yes. Does he pop off without engaging his brain first? Sometimes; but so does our current President. In that regard they are not dissimilar.

Trump has tapped into something that resonates in the Republican electorate, much as Mr. Obama did with the Democrats eight years ago. Obama turned that into victory in the general election, bringing votes from independents and Republicans alike. Can Mr. Trump do the same if he is the Republican nominee? We will have to wait and see what transpires.

In many regards the two are frighteningly similar. Trump strikes me as the Republican version of Obama; certainly the Republican electorate is reacting to Trump in a manner similar to the way the Democratic electorate reacted to Obama (minus the swooning women in the crowds).

Trump appears to also, much to the horror of the MSM and Democrats alike, to be resonating with independents, and core democrat constituencies as well, at least to a certain degree. I have seen and heard rumblings lately that support for Trump is running 20+ percent among the African American community. If so, this could be a disaster for Democrats in November, should Trump be the Republican nominee.

I personally am not a Trump supporter; he doesn’t strike me as particularly Conservative and I have absolutely no idea what he might do if he wins the election. If I were to pick someone who is not a politician, I would pick Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina over Trump as both are conservative, smart, and I have a pretty good idea how they would govern. In fact, a Carson/Fiorina or Fiorina/Carson ticket would be fine by me.

Having said that, if Trump is the nominee, I will support him in the general election as I see him as infinitely preferable to another four or eight years of what we have now.

Back to President Obama’s assertion that Trump is “exploiting fear,” again I say, so what? One man’s “exploitation” is another man’s assertion that what is being done today isn’t working and a different approach is needed. One could as easily say that mere disagreement with a position is “exploitation.” Should we then ban all disagreement with positions held by the current administration on that basis?

Why do the fears exist in the first place? The administrations assertion with regard to that seems to be that the American people (many of whom voted for him) are simply ignorant. No need to fear ISIS, they are not an existential threat to the nation. You may lose your life in some “random incident of violence unrelated to the Religion of Peace,” but not to worry; the country will survive. No need to worry about your job or your standard of living. The government has a program to help you in the event you lose your job, and as for your standard of living, well, you do understand that you need to lower your expectations with regard to that don’t you, for the good of the planet? Your standard of living is unsustainable; get over it!

Just take it easy (as the President is doing in Hawaii for the next two weeks); President Obama has your back. All is well. He is in control. He is taking care of it all; just enjoy “winter holiday,” watch football, call your loved ones on your Obama phone, and let your betters handle the problems.

And quit watching Fox News, reading the Drudge Report, and listening to Trump exploit the fears you shouldn’t be having in the first place.