Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do We Really Want to Be "Better Off?"

Seaira Christian-Daniels (Athens,OH)

  Political camps from the left and right battle over a short phrase that has wiggled its way into the election spotlight: “Are you better off?” It’s a phrase that both President Barack Obama and Commander-in-Chief hopeful Mitt Romney compete to answer. Both say a presidency under their lead will make Americans “better off,” and carry them further ahead  out of Bush—or Obama—policies of old. Ironically, that phrase comes from Ronald Regan’s  campaign from 1980, says NPR’s Mark Memmott.  Should a slowly antiquating phrase be the center of such progressive plans?

            NPR news surveyed 2,852 of their audience; sixty- seven percent of NPR.com survey participants state that they are better off than they were four years ago, and nearly 15 percent say their situation has not changed.  So, are we really concerned solely with being better off? Or, is there a deeper concern that has been terribly misstated and overstated time and again this election season?  If many people are either better off or the same as they were before Obama became President, the larger issue, as stated by NPR’s “The Morning Edition” host Mara Liasson,  is whether or not Barak Obama can make the economy progress as fast as he inspired voters to believe he could in 2008.

Change in 2008

            Obama’s 2008 campaign tag-words , “Hope” and “Change” excited politically inactive Americans everywhere last election. Young voters headed en masse to voting centers incited by celebrities urging Americans to “Respect their Votes.” Many followed, but seemingly few actually understood the changes their ballots would make amid the starry dreams.  In a four-year span, President Obama removed our troops from Iraq, reformed health care, bailed out the auto industry, and dethroned Osama Bin Laden. Those were big changes, to say the least. But when the smoke cleared and tragedies quelled,  voters, once again, wanted to know not only if they were "better off"--or more wealthy than they were when Obama took office--but can they trust his way of fixing their economic problems?
            Here is the truth. In our free market economy, the unemployment rate will never be zero percent. Some people will struggle, and inevitably, monetary income will limit the opportunities of some Americans.   The matter at hand is now: Can Obama keep making us hope? Or are we ready to try someone else’s vision on for size?

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