Obama is second FDR, not second Carter

2012-11-16T09:00:00Z Obama is second FDR, not second CarterBy DR. MARK W. HENDRICKSON The Times and Democrat
November 16, 2012 9:00 am  • 

I’ve thought a lot over the last few years about an axiom attributed to Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” The question to me was whether the presidency of Barack Obama would “rhyme” with that of Jimmy Carter or Franklin Roosevelt. Given the 2012 election results, FDR might be the more apt precedent.

For a while, it appeared that the 2012 presidential election would parallel the 1980 election between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Like today, in 1980 the economy — and particularly the job market — had been sluggish for years. Then, as now, there was an uneasy sense of American decline on the world stage.

Under Carter, the Soviets seemed ascendant; today, militant Islam poses the greatest challenge to our interests. In both cases, the first-term Democratic incumbent seemed tentative and constitutionally incapable of admitting that “the other side” was ruthlessly aggressive and expansionist — a true threat to individual rights and international peace. Carter pulled the rug out from under the shah and in effect surrendered Iran to control of the mullahs; Obama did essentially the same to Mubarak and left Egypt to the tender mercies of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Surely, I thought, Americans would reject this trajectory of decline and turn to a leader with a more positive vision — a vision of economic vigor and a resolve to face up to a militant tyrannical ideology. Surely Americans would repudiate Obama as they did Carter.

I and many others were wrong. We’ve changed over the last 32 years. The majority that prevailed then has gone. The demographics have shifted, another generation has passed through our deficient educational system, and a lot more people are dependent on government support and will vote for the party that will keep the spigot turned on.

As it turned out, the 2012 election echoes the 1936 election rather than the 1980 election. In 1936, at the end of FDR’s first term, the economy remained mired in the depression that Roosevelt had inherited from Hoover. As historian Burton Folsom showed in his masterful book, “New Deal or Raw Deal?,” many voters could see that the economy hadn’t returned to a healthy state under the incumbent, but so many of them had been on the receiving end of FDR’s massive New Deal spending binge that they voted for FDR to keep the handouts heading their way instead of risking change. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason they voted for FDR, but it was undeniably a major factor. (For the record, 1936 was a landslide, and 2012 was not.)

Now that Obama has won re-election, the parallels that I have drawn in the past to him and FDR seem stronger than ever. In terms of government spending, George W. Bush’s second term can now be viewed as Herbert Hoover redux, and Obama’s additional ramping up of the Bush spending explosion eerily mimics FDR’s post-Hoover strategy. Perhaps the most breathtaking parallel between FDR’s and Obama’s Big Government agendas is this: In his first five years in office, FDR spent more than the previous 31 presidents combined; in eight years as president, Obama will have doubled the national debt accumulated by all 43 of his predecessors (unless, of course, Uncle Sam’s farcical finances blow up before then).

Obama adopted the cynical strategy of the opportunistic politician—his campaign was directed to various special interest groups to line up their votes. Romney was more the statesman, campaigning primarily on the more idealistic theme of fixing a broken country. We can see which strategy prevailed. Perhaps the Curley strategy has now succeeded on a national level, with a majority of the American people willing to trade a thriving economy for government security.

It seems possible that Romney was the Republicans’ last best hope for a long time to come — that Obama’s victory will, like FDR’s in 1936, represent the start of a long period of Democratic dominance. Think about it: If Romney couldn’t win, who could? Romney had extraordinary qualifications to be president — telegenic, articulate, likable, knowledgeable, achievements in several fields on a large stage, as squeaky clean and admirable a personal life as one could imagine. He also had the drive, commitment and executive vision to organize a multiyear campaign, and yet, it wasn’t enough.

The 2012 election was indeed pivotal. Like Roosevelt’s victory in 1936, it may indicate that Big Government will remain the regnant ideology for many more years.

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. A version of this article first appeared at Forbes.com.

Copyright 2015 The Times and Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. truthorjustice
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    truthorjustice - November 23, 2012 7:30 pm
    3 days. Amazing.

    OTC, anyone?
  2. TaxPayer59
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    TaxPayer59 - November 21, 2012 11:14 pm
    Easy, there's nothing FACTUAL about your posts. But, you do have an unhealthy dose of hate for Democrats, Liberals, and President Obama. It's scary.

    Try and forget about President Obama for ONE day and enjoy your Thanksgiving....
  3. TaxPayer59
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    TaxPayer59 - November 21, 2012 11:11 pm
    Did you survey the audience or were they separated in blue & red sections? SMH at the absurdity.
  4. GatorGirl
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    GatorGirl - November 19, 2012 4:44 pm
    Wow! There are a lot of whites who are also on the gravy train.
  5. mackyboy1983
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    mackyboy1983 - November 19, 2012 2:25 pm
    And today, Lord, we thank Thee for Thy provision of the twenty-second amendment. Amen.
  6. Easy
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    Easy - November 19, 2012 10:32 am
    Kelster, you confuse FACT with 'hate'. Everything I posted below is documented FACT. You Liberals are either ignorant or pathetic. Like with Rice, a bunch of women Liberals held a press conference to declare pointing out that Ambassador Rice either LIED or gave false information provided to her by the White House about Benghazi is somehow 'sexist' & 'racist'. Why don't you just declare ANY CRITICISM of a Liberal is 'racist', 'sexist; &/or make it Illegal by Executive Order?! LOL!
  7. dirtpoor
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    dirtpoor - November 18, 2012 3:35 pm
    We saw Lincoln this weekend. Worth watching.

    The Democrats booed the entire film with the exception of the scene at Ford Theater, whereas the Republicans cheered and booed at the scene at Ford Theater.
  8. dirtpoor
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    dirtpoor - November 18, 2012 9:55 am
    Easy: No president was as bad as Carter !!!!!! As,much as I dislike Obama's policies. At least he acted!!! Most failed but some succeeded!!!

    Carter did NOTHING !! Except go on T.V. and say w "have a crisis in conscience." And, Carter had a Democratic Congress. And, Carter had a greater recession than Obama(1977- 1982) while the recession we had was from 2007- June, 2009.
  9. abattiste
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    abattiste - November 17, 2012 12:49 am
    Sounds like tinman has a serious problem, too. Perhaps he and Easy are twins.
  10. tinman737
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    tinman737 - November 16, 2012 9:36 pm
    waaaaaa,waaaaaaa...get the "black"chip off your shoulder..enough already,your ppl have a gravy train with biscuit wheels,and still cry for more...pathetic
  11. tinman737
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    tinman737 - November 16, 2012 9:31 pm
    please keep posting the TRUTH easy,maybe one day these halfbrained liberals will realize how they contributed to the fall of this once great country...btw,watch this=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LAAoMJnEHo
  12. kelster
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    kelster - November 16, 2012 8:13 pm
    easy is nothing but an alex jones wannabe.....nobody who is sane can spew that much hate....
  13. TaxPayer59
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    TaxPayer59 - November 16, 2012 4:37 pm
    @abattiste --- You have to overlook Easy. He can't help it. He has an intense, bizaare, and obsessive hatred for President Obama as demonstrated by his nonstop rants about him. Easy appears to be a very unhinged individual. His opinions are probably based on some deep-seated bigotry, as you suggested.
    It really doesn't matter how people like "Easy" view President Obama. History will view him as one of the BEST & most popular Presidents in modern history. That's all the REALLY matters.
  14. abattiste
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    abattiste - November 16, 2012 3:43 pm
    How short your memory is. You forget that Bush, who is without a doubt the worst president in all of history, left this country with two unfunded wars, spent all of the surplus left by Clinton, created a deficit with his tax cuts, that left this country in a terrible shape. He decided it wasn't worth his while to search for bin Laden after he allowed the bin Laden Family to leave the country after 9/11. To you, President Obama is the worst president simply because he is Black.
  15. Easy
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    Easy - November 16, 2012 3:11 pm
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