Nor did the election reflect satisfaction with the paltry economic growth that President Obama’s abusive regulatory approach has produced. Voters are rightly unhappy with the anemic growth in gross domestic product the past four years; the average, just 1.5 percent, is less than half of our historic average since World War II, but 53 percent of voters believed the economy was George W. Bush’s fault.
Why did voters believe that? Obama repeated it relentlessly, and Republicans never responded.
First you win the argument, then you win the vote, Margaret Thatcher famously admonished. Republicans did neither.
Nothing better illustrates that failure than “47 percent.” Not the comment itself nor the good and decent person who uttered it, but, rather, the overall narrative of Republicans. Voters were convinced that the GOP is the party of “the rich” and that Democrats are the party of everybody else.
That characterization is false, but as long as a majority of Americans believe that Republican policies do not benefit them, Republicans will continue to lose.
And far too many Republicans believe it as well.
So let me suggest an alternative course: opportunity conservatism. Republicans should conceptualize and articulate every domestic policy with a single-minded focus on easing the ascent up the economic ladder.
We should assess policy with a Rawlsian lens, asking how it affects those least well-off among us. We should champion the 47 percent.
That does not mean adopting the wealth-redistribution policies of the left. Among other problems, collectivist approaches to our economy simply do not work. They fail to produce economic prosperity or to improve the material conditions of the populace. And they lead to bankruptcy and economic collapse, as Europe demonstrates daily.
Why do millions of people from all over the world come to the United States? Because no other nation has offered such opportunity. Nowhere else can so many come with nothing and achieve anything.
And yet, as Democrats work to move the United States further toward the failed economic policies of European social democracies, our economic mobility has diminished. Without fail, when government controls the economy, opportunity dries up.
Whenever entrepreneurs and small businesses suffer, those struggling to improve their economic conditions are hurt the worst. Under the Obama administration, the unemployment rate climbed above 10 percent among Hispanics last year and to 14 percent among African Americans. Yet Republicans never talked about this.