I have a message for all of you who voted for Barak Obama in 2008. It’s OK, we all make mistakes. Been there, done that.
Like most of my generation in Oklahoma, I grew up in a family of Yellow Dog Democrats. That’s a Democrat who’d votefor a Yellow Dog before he’d vote for a Republican. Republicans were token opposition. Whoever won the Democratic primary in any race in Oklahoma won the election 99% of the time. My Yellow Dog Democrat grandfather was elected to Congress when Franklin D. Roosevelt succeeded in turning most of America into Yellow Dog Democrats in the 1930s.
Being a contrarian by nature, I voted for Libertarian candidate John Hospers in my first presidential election in 1972. I couldn’t have told you the difference between a Libertarian, a Republican or a Democrat back then but anything sounded better than Richard Nixon and George McGovern. Of course, all I knew was what I heard on the radio, watched on TV or read in the papers. And you know how unbiased they are.
Gerald Ford was the Republican candidate in 1976, but Richard Nixon’s shadow followed him and every other Republican candidate into the election. I was an idealistic senior at Oklahoma State University when, much to my parent’s relief, I returned to the Democratic fold and proudly cast my vote for Jimmy Carter, a fresh-faced, Southern Baptist peanut farmer from Georgia. He promised to be a new kind of politician — someone like Barak Obama.
I went to work for the Ralston Purina Company upon graduation and that’s when my education really began. Jimmy Carter taught me all about being a Democrat.
I learned about the misery index which was calculated by adding the inflation rate to the unemployment rate. Under Jimmy Carter it was 22%. In addition to that there were double digit interest rates. Buying a home was becoming the impossible dream. Consumer borrowing doubled while Carter was in office. Food and gasoline prices skyrocketed.
Public union membership experienced unprecedented growth under Carter. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees grew from 680,000 members in 1975 to well over a million by the end of his presidency. It mattered not that the country was mired in the worst recession since the Great Depression union employees demanded higher wages.
President Carter created two new bureaucracies, the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. Both of which have done nothing but damage to education and energy. Other bureaucracies flexed their regulatory muscle and cracked their whips over businesses already struggling in a recession that worsened daily under the management of a Democrat controlled house, senate and presidency..
By 1980, America had dropped from number 1 to 7th in standard of living among all nations and the rest of the world viewed us as weak-kneed has beens. The scenes we’re watching on the news today at the U.S. Embassy in Libya and around the rest of the Arab world look like reruns of the Carter years. In fact, everything about the Obama administration looks like a rerun of the Carter administration.
In the months leading up to the 1980 election, Jimmy Carter complained that Americans were selfish and short-sighted. Ronald Reagan said, if elected, he would lower taxes, get the government off our backs and rebuild our military. I became the first person in my family to register Republican, much to the chagrin of my parents. I voted for Ronald Reagan and when he was elected in 1980 I was struggling to make a living. By the time he left office in 1988 I owned my own business.
If elected, it’s impossible to know if Mitt Romney will turn out to be another Ronald Reagan. But after nearly four years of Barak Obama we know he is another Jimmy Carter.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I learned my lesson. I voted for Jimmy Carter — once. He was the last Democrat I ever voted for. Yes, yellow dogs can learn new tricks.
(Jim Whitt is a noted speaker, consultant, author, and unapologetic people provoker. Visit his blog at Purpose Unlimited.)