In November of 2008, Americans in record numbers voted for dubious terms such as “hope” and “change.” In doing so, we’re told, those who elected Barack Obama as the 43rd president of the United States (Grover Cleveland served twice—should we really count that as two?) declared eight years under George W. Bush an utter failure. But was it? What if we were to ask ourselves that infamous question from the Ghost of Elections Past: “Am I better off today than I was eight years ago?”
When Bill Clinton took the walk of shame in 2001, most Americans didn’t have a cell phone. Today, not only does every family have one, but nearly every grade schooler has a cellular appendage, and our mobile phones are now used to browse the Internet, play movies, and for your teen to send risqué pictures of his girlfriend to the entire senior class. When the dust had finally settled from Al Gore’s post-recount Ben & Jerry’s binge, most Americans’ web access consisted of a shrieking dial tone connecting them to something called Geocities.com or Yahoo.com. Today, we connect wirelessly to Google, Facebook, Youtube, and we twit at an alarming rate.
George Bush’s presidency was a relatively safe one for Americans, both at home and abroad. This after enduring regular militant terrorist attacks during Bill Clinton’s rambunctious tenure, ranging from attacks at the first World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings to the embassies in Africa, and from Mogadishu to the U.S.S. Cole. September 11th, 2001 marked the only major attack on U.S. soil. From that time to present, the American intelligence community has thwarted attacks on Los Angeles and Fort Dix among the cases of which we are aware, and reduced the number of international terrorist attacks on Americans to almost zero.
Bush’s actions deposed of two oppressive regimes, one of which was responsible for the genocide of hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Today, Iraq is the lone Arab democracy in the Mid-East, and subsequent iterations of the Bush Doctrine have sent shivers down the spines of terrorist harboring nations world-wide. As a result, Libya, Pakistan and Syria have all made attempts to join the international community, making Americans safer.
Eight years of George Bush abated the coming calamity of global warming. Despite the success of Hollywood and Captain Planet in convincing Americans that the debate is over regarding man-made global warming, the planet has apparently missed the memo, as the global temperature has actually cooled since 1998 and parts of the northern U.S. are in 2009 expected to experience a year “without summer.” Someone should tell the polar bears.
All the while, Americans enjoyed an average unemployment rate well below the average rate under Clinton. The middle class today is smaller than it was in 2001—as the result of an expanded upper class, not because those middle class Americans became poorer. Bush inherited a recession exacerbated by the events of 9-11, and our Nation, stimulated by tax cuts, did not experience another for seven years. Even after a financial crisis, caused largely by government intervention, today the Dow Jones Index stands only slightly lower than the peak of the Internet bubble. In January 2001, unemployment stood at a higher rate than when Bush left office, as 2 million jobs were created (many more may have been “saved”). Under Bush, even standardized test scores of American students have improved against their peers in other countries.
There are certainly areas of American society which have gotten worse. The flood of illegal immigrants and chain migration has continued to balkanize parts of the south-west. Our government has edged even closer to bankrupting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The U.S. Treasury isn’t far behind. Industry continues to be strangled by the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, and the national debt ballooned under George Bush as a percentage of GDP. These problems are all to be exacerbated in order to obtain Obama’s hope and change.
Liberals like Obama claim to want to make the U.S. more like the “older, wiser nations” of Europe (neglecting that the U.S. is governed by the oldest of constitutions). This means turning the entire nation into one with very little growth and an expansive social safety net . Yet, here in America, even the average poverty-stricken American has a better standard of living than the average European. American per capita individual consumption dwarfs that of the EU-15 by nearly 50%. Remind me again why we should be more like Europe (the birthplace of communism, socialism, and fascism)? In states where liberals have dominated for decades we have witnessed the not so subtle foreshadowing of America’s future: In California, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, for starters—and New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana for clinchers.
In November, many people never asked the question—am I better off today than I was eight years ago? Apparently more people should have asked that question, because in eight years, they may not like the answer quite as much as they would today.
David Teesdale works for the bloated bureaucracy of government and milks the sweet nectar of taxpayer dollars on a daily basis. He is also a classic self-loather. Add comments here to contact him.