Home 2024 Elections Are We Better Off Now Than We Were Four Years Ago? Uhhhh…Yes!

Are We Better Off Now Than We Were Four Years Ago? Uhhhh…Yes!

In stark contrast to the disastrous Trump administration, almost every metric is looking up under President Biden!

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One of the most famous questions in U.S. politics is by Ronald Reagan – “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?

In the final week of the 1980 presidential campaign between Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican nominee Ronald Reagan, the two candidates held their only debate. Going into the Oct. 28 event, Carter had managed to turn a dismal summer into a close race for a second term. And then, during the debate, Reagan posed what has become one of the most important campaign questions of all time: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Carter’s answer was a resounding “NO,” and in the final, crucial days of the campaign, his numbers tanked. On Election Day, Reagan won a huge popular vote and electoral victory. The “better off” question has been with us ever since. Its simple common sense makes it a great way to think about elections. And yet the answers are rarely simple.

Now, of course, many factors go into making you actually better or worse off, including many that are completely unrelated to national politics – the health of your loved ones or yourself, for instance. Also, it’s very much worth pointing out that there can be, and often is, a disconnect between objective reality and people’s subjective perceptions. For instance, nowadays, we often hear about how there’s some sort of “vibescession,” in which people say they don’t think things are going well nationally, yet they themselves are doing very well. Also, today we’ve got some of the best macroeconomic statistics arguably in U.S. history, yet the media’s relentless negativity (e.g., the NY Times literally spins every positive economic story with a “BUT…things could still go downhill” or “BUT…there’s still uncertainty!!!” addendum, for absolutely no good reason other than “clickbait” and/or maliciously crafting a negative narrative about the economy under a Democratic president). Last but not least, as the superb book “Democracy for Realists” explains in voluminous detail:

“the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters—even those who are well informed and politically engaged—mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents’ control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly.”

In short, voters often don’t know who did what exactly, who should get credit/blame for whatever’s happening in the country (or state), etc. And since they don’t know these basic things, how can they possibly reward/punish appropriately? The answer, per “Democracy for Realists,” is that they can’t. Which is depressing, but the evidence strongly backs it up unfortunately.

Anyway, with that in mind, the question will certainly be raised in the 2024 presidential campaign as to whether or not we’re better off than we were four years ago. Undoubtely, Trump and his Republican allies will try to spin everything as HORRIBLE, the WORST EVER, etc, but of course these are not people arguing in good faith, and in general they have minimal if any credibility. Instead, how about we just look at some hard, cold data, statistics, evidence – aka, FACTS – about how things are going compared to four years ago, and you be the judge of how we’re doing.

First, per Axios (not exactly a friend to Democrats):

So that’s all looking very strong, certainly compared to where we were heading into the 2020 election, with the COVID pandemic raging (it began in the US in January 2020, with hundreds of thousands of deaths in 2020 alone – in part thanks to the Trump administration’s wildly botched response – with life mostly back to “normal” now), unemployment at 6.8% in October (it had been as high as 14.8% in April 2020), etc. Oh, and violent crime also spiked in 2020, as you can see in the following graphics, before fallikng off after Trump left office.

Now, here are some more accomplishments the past three years – “over 14 million jobs added,” “historically low unemployment,” “three of the strongest years ever for small-business creation,” massive investment in U.S. infrastructure, the most aggressive action on clean energy and in U.S. history, and much more – see below.

Yep,we’ve got the “best job market since 1960s, best recovery in G7”; inflation back at the Fed target level after working through COVID pandemic “supply-chain” issues and massively pent-up consumer demand post-pandemic; etc.

And yes, wages have been growing faster than inflation, which as the above graphic indicates, is well under control at this point.

Heck, The Economist even called the U.S. economy a “marvel to behold,” writing: “American pre-eminence is clear. America’s $25.5trn in gdp last year represented 25% of the world’s total—almost the same share as it had in 1990.” Not too shabby!

Other than the economy, we’re also doing GREAT when it comes to U.S. energy production – certainly when compared to during the Trump administration. This is even more striking, given the repeated Republican L-I-E that Democrats are supposedly waging some sort of “war on American energy,” blah blah blah. In fact, statistics from the US Energy Information Administration (see below) and others show that we are at record energy production levels, with the U.S. now a significant net EXPORTER of energy.

Want some more good news? How about:

Plus, of course, NATO is *much* stronger today than it was under Trump, who was a severe threat to our international alliances in general, and NATO specifically, while cozying up to some of the worst dictators in the world. And, of course, the U.S. under President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, reengaging with the rest of the world on efforts to combat the climate crisis.

We could really go on all day with these statistics and other facts, but this is a pretty good sampling. Now, of course, none of this is meant to argue that things are perfect in our country – they never have been and never will be. But, arguably, we are in MUCH better shape today than we were four years ago, in 2020 on a wide variety of quantitative measures. Then there are the qualitative factors, such as no longer having a president in the White House who “conspired to overturn an election on the basis of a lie to stay in power, contrary to the constitution and the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power, resulting in an attack on the US Capitol by his supporters”; who talked about how there were “very fine people on both sides” of the white supremacist rally and counter-protests in Charlottesville in August 2017; who has clearly stated that he wants to be a dictator and to exact retribution/revenge on anyone he views as an enemy; and who…well, check out these 170 reasons not to vote for Trump.

So, bottom line: yes, today we are far, FAR better off than we were under Trump, and it’s not even a close call. In fact, one could argue that the 2024 election will be the biggest “no brainer” in U.S. history, with a super-easy choice to vote for another four years of the Biden-Harris administration, while voting AGAINST the destruction of our democracy, environment, rule of law, reproductive rights, you name it.  So the big question really is, who in their right mind would vote for Trump this fall, and how could that scumbag (a rapist, among many other bad things) get any votes at all?!?

 

 

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