Remember when 2016 was supposed to be about the economy?
I’ll admit that “5% unemployment and $38 oil will bring about our nastiest politics” wasn’t my expectation in 2011-12.
— Conor Sen (@conorsen) December 7, 2015
The American economy, while certainly not perfect, is at least performing better than most expected. (Remember when Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent by 2016?)
In fact, the very existence of our economy also flies in the face of Republican forecasts about Obama’s tyrannical rule of America. Here’s a brief refresher of what the GOP predicted a couple of years ago:
- Obamacare will “destroy our economy…It’s going to push us into a total economic collapse.”
- The 2009 stimulus bill is “affirmatively job killing” and “about to get worse.”
- The US is about to go through “the Great Depression times 100.”
Clearly, none of those statements were 1) true and 2) ever came to transpire. So, it should come as a surprise to no one that the GOP has pivoted from the economy as the “central issue” of the 2016 election and now gone full terrorism-mode. Donald Trump and his dire rhetoric has dragged his competition down to his level (or the base’s level). Therefore, Republican candidates have been forced to talk non-stop about the threat of terrorism, in order to appear “presidential.” As a result, economic discussions have largely been thrown to the wayside.
Unfortunately, the GOP’s incessant chatter on the subject of terrorism has greatly impacted the American psyche. According to a recent Gallup survey, Americans now see terrorism as the number one problem facing the country. As Politico notes:
The share of Americans worried about terrorism has not been this high since the mid-2000s, when 19 percent said it was the most important issue after the 2004 Madrid train bombings and 17 percent in the wake of the 2005 London bus and subway bombings.
Notably, the survey showed that the economy’s importance in the minds of Americans has fallen to an eight year low.
9 percent of Americans named the economy in general as the most pressing issue facing the country, while 21 percent mentioned some aspect related to the economy, the lowest share for those issues since 2007.
This survey goes to show that Republicans have so far been successful in diverting our attention away from the economy. Will this last? I doubt it. Don’t be surprised when Hillary Clinton, like her husband, reminds the American people that 2016 is all about the economy, stupid.