A Rabbi's Lament - The Old America Is Gone

Received via e-mail: While this post by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky refers to the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election it is just as poignant today as we head into the 2016 elections. Perhaps it's time we started paying attention.

The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo – for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress. They must enjoy gridlock, partisanship, incompetence, economic stagnation and avoidance of responsibility. And fewer people voted. As I write, with almost all the votes counted, President Obama has won fewer votes than John McCain won in 2008, and more than ten million off his own 2008 total.

But as we awake from the nightmare, it is important to eschew the facile explanations for the Romney defeat that will prevail among the chattering classes. Romney did not lose because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy that devastated this area, nor did he lose because he ran a poor campaign, nor did he lose because the Republicans could have chosen better candidates, nor did he lose because Obama benefited from a slight uptick in the economy due to the business cycle.

Romney lost because he didn’t get enough votes to win.

That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate. The notion of the “Reagan Democrat” is one cliché that should be permanently retired.

Ronald Reagan himself could not win an election in today’s America.

The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff. Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote; so too those who anticipate “free” health care, who expect the government to pay their mortgages, who look for the government to give them jobs. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.

Does anyone think that the lure of 'free stuff' is any less now than it was then? Haven't both Hillary and Bernie promised more 'free stuff'? Of course they still haven't come right out and told anyone who is actually going to pay for all that 'free stuff', but I'll give you a hint: It ain't gonna be the wealthy progressives, that's for sure. Instead it will be the working men and women still struggling to recover from the past six-and-a-half years of Obama's jobless recovery and broken promises (all of which turned out to have an expiration date).

To delve deeper into the rabbi's thinking on this, please Read The Whole Thing and take it to heed.