There are two meanings of the word “performance,” and America’s two political parties have each embraced one of them.
One definition is “to perform a task”–in this case, to govern. Like President Biden, most contemporary Democrats have concentrated on that definition. I have previously posted about the effectiveness–the performance– of what Republicans dismissively label “Bidenomics,” and others are beginning to report on those positive outcomes as well.
Robert Hubbell quoted the New York Times for news that direct investment in manufacturing had doubled between 2014 and 2021. Also, “per the report, foreign direct investment “in the computer and electronics sector rose from $17 million in 2021 to $54 billion in 2022.”
Jennifer Rubin noted that the President has begun running ads touting the effects of his economic policies.
Respondents keep telling pollsters they are pessimistic about the economy and think we are in a recession, perhaps a reflection of the incessantly negative media coverage. However, as the mainstream media catches up with economic reality (admitting we likely will avoid a recession) and as public and private investment running in the hundreds of billions of dollars works its way through the economy, Biden stands ready to explain how his agenda — “Bidenomics” — brought us from fears of a pandemic recession to recovery. With unemployment and inflation in decline and wages rising, the public finally might be more amenable to hearing an uplifting message.
Performance=doing the job.
Then there’s the other meaning of “performance”– “to act for an audience.” That’s the definition chosen by virtually every Republican candidate for public office. The audience they are performing for is the MAGA cult that has replaced what used to be a political party.
Performance in that latter sense ignores the hard work of policymaking , instead appealing to the grievances of the intended audience–and dismissing the policy preferences of the wider American polity.
I didn’t watch the first GOP debate, but I’ve read about the candidates’ embrace of positions held by a distinct minority of Americans. As Robert Hubbell summed it up, in addition to pledging support for Trump if he is the eventual nominee, even if convicted,
the candidates espoused other outrageous positions: climate change is a hoax, support for a national abortion ban, blaming teacher unions and single mothers for the problems in education, proposing invading Mexico with US special forces, and cutting aid to Ukraine. None of the candidates provided an actual proposal for America’s future, other than Ramaswamy’s line, “Drill, frack, burn coal, embrace nuclear.”
I’m bemused by voters who support candidates having no obvious experience with– or understanding of– government, as though the skill of managing the enormous complexities of that task can just be picked up on the job. If we needed any proof of the wrongheadedness of that belief, the ongoing performance (in both senses of the word) of the GOP’s looney-tunes culture warriors should provide it.
Perhaps instead of “debates,” we should hold public examinations of candidates for public office. We could focus on whether they understand what the duties of those offices are–and aren’t. (Here in Indianapolis, the Republican candidate for mayor seems to think he’s running for sheriff–his ads give no indication that he understands there are other dimensions of the job.)
Take a look at the positions embraced by that pathetic crew of presidential candidates–positions that disclose their utter ignorance of the proper role of government and the daunting complexity of many issues presidents face. Their lack of intellectual integrity is appalling enough, but their willingness to ignore international law and medical science, disrespect teachers, and deny the reality of climate change disqualifies every one of them for any public office.
As Rubin reminds us, it’s a fearful worldview.
We have become so used to Republicans railing about elites, critical race theory, transgender kids, immigrants, IRS stormtroopers, the FBI and more that we become acclimated to a terribly dark, frightful view of America.
That “dark, frightful view” runs from local politics (our Republican mayoral candidate’s ads describe my city–which is actually pretty vibrant–as a dystopian hellhole) to federal candidates assuring the MAGA cult that they can return America to an imagined “yesteryear,” when–glory!!– men were men and women were barefoot and pregnant.
Hubbell reminds us that GOP performance has an upside: most Americans reject the party’s few positions (on abortion and climate change, by twenty to thirty percentage points). These positions ought to render them unelectable in a general election.
Democrats should convert every negative, destructive, mean-spirited notion espoused on the debate stage into a positive, productive, forward-looking message about Democratic accomplishments over the last three years.
The key, as always, is turnout: the GOP cannot win a national election–if the rest of us vote.