Obama Steers the Ship but Most Candidates Say It Is Sinking

In the upcoming issue of America, I describe “15 Ways President Obama Has Changed the Direction of America,” building off the president's own seagoing metaphor from a 2015 interview with the podcaster Marc Maron: “Sometimes the task of the government is to make incremental improvements or try to steer the ocean liner two degrees north or south so that 10 years from now, we’re in a very different place than we were.” The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik was also taken by the imagery, and he makes a distinction between centrism and the president’s more ambitious style of governing: “Liberalism of the kind he practices…is the most truly radical of ideologies, inasmuch as it proposes a change, makes it happen, and then makes it last.”

But if each new president is an equal and opposite reaction to the outgoing chief excecutive, we may not be hearing any talk about two-degree improvements for a while. With one exception, all of the major candidates for president this year have depicted the United States as a ship taking on water, about to capsize if we make the wrong choice this fall. The exception is Democrat Hillary Clinton, who advocates a steady-as-we-go approach while Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are trying to get people onto lifeboats.

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Voters may be choosing their candidates accordingly. Politico recently reported on a web survey from March showing that 61 percent of Clinton supporters think the United States is heading “in the right direction,” compared with 37 percent of Sanders supporters and 23 percent of Trump supporters.

A Pew Research Center survey, also from March, found that only 22 percent of Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton feel that life in America is worse now than it was 50 years ago “for people like them”—not surprising, given Ms. Clinton’s strength among African-Americans and other groups who have benefited from civil rights legislation over the past few decades. What might be called the “worse for me” bloc was at 34 percent for Democrats backing Mr. Sanders and 75 percent for Republicans supporting Mr. Trump. Most Republicans who had backed Ted Cruz or John Kasich also felt that things were getting worse.

Ms. Clinton probably has the more accurate sense of how much change is advisable, or even possible with a Congress that will likely be closely divided and will certainly not be receptive to big-ticket proposals. But Mr. Trump’s promise that we can all jump on an America’s Cup yacht and sail our way to prosperity—or does he really mean all of us?—is going to tempt a lot of voters.

 

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J Cosgrove
1 year 5 months ago
Selena Zito says it the haters who will decide the election. http://bit.ly/1Tygzwe either by sitting out or as a new voter.
Chuck Kotlarz
1 year 5 months ago
If Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had instead been an economist, he would perhaps be remembered for saying, “I fear forty-years of billionaire tax cuts have awoken a sleeping giant (the left behind middle class) and filled it with a terrible resolve."
J Cosgrove
1 year 5 months ago
I am glad you are coming around to protesting all the billionaires that Democratic policies create. All that Quantitative easing that went into Wall Street pockets who then support Obama and Hillary. Wall Street is not about business any more, it is about money flow of which they take a small percentage cut but which adds up to trillions after awhile.
Chuck Kotlarz
1 year 5 months ago
Clearly the economy has become over billionaire-ized. The imbalance has compromised middle class vitality. Wall Street has a revolving door for both parties but no strong ties to Trump or Sanders. Ben Bernanke, former chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, initiated quantitative easing.
J Cosgrove
1 year 5 months ago
The imbalance has compromised middle class vitality.
You keep harping on billionaires. I am not particularly for them and neither are Republicans but this constant whining about them does nothing to say why they are bad, what allowed them to become billionaires and what would happen if all of sudden their wealth was confiscated. What is the source of the wealth of billionaires and how does this sap the vitality of the middle class? Make you case and see if it has any validity.
Chuck Kotlarz
1 year 4 months ago
Some cringe thinking of a “President Trump”. Suppose a billionaire cartel (perhaps headed by Trump) decides to make the world great again. What could go wrong? Median income stagnation began back in 1965 when the top federal income tax rate fell from 77% to 70%. In 1982, another cut from a 70% to a 50% began the billionaire bubble. The number of US billionaires more than quadrupled by 1988.
ed gleason
1 year 4 months ago
"What is the source of the wealth of billionaires and how does this sap the vitality of the middle class? Trump is begging for money because he can;t fire sale his fixed assets in order to build a real campaign structure, His self financing is a con lie... His big donor meeting today came out with no checks or as billionaires say.... bank wires.....He pays no income tax either ....he is a no- cash bluffer., which explains his four bankrupcies ... All to be revealed real soon.. ...Guys like you will be going Libertarian I guess. so sad.
J Cosgrove
1 year 5 months ago
Is this part of the sinking ship? http://apne.ws/1RqoedE Every time I see something like this, I say there is another 200,000 votes for Trump. Another couple and my wife and I were sitting in the bar of a restaurant waiting for our table when the news story came on about Trump being led in the back door of an auditorium in San Francisco because rioters were barricading the doors in front. We both said that seals the deal for Trump. And each of us are anti-Trump conservatives. The legacy of Obama is a very divided country. Is that the change he was promising? It was divided before he came on the scene but he has accelerated the division so I have to believe that was his objective.
Bill Mazzella
1 year 5 months ago
Votes for Trump. You mean the guy who makes fun of disabled people and blames McCain for being captured and who lies every day..contradicting what he said yesterday. https://www.google.com/search?q=disabled%20reporter%20trump&espv=2&tbm=isch&imgil=uwtPUL6DyDaD7M%253A%253Bv6nvhQcKk-HFxM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fktla.com%25252F2015%25252F11%25252F26%25252Ftrump-mocks-new-york-times-reporters-physical-disability%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=uwtPUL6DyDaD7M%253A%252Cv6nvhQcKk-HFxM%252C_&usg=__K1HsA5FeqMhzq669BYEdPvqChn8%3D#imgrc=uwtPUL6DyDaD7M%3A
William deHaas
1 year 5 months ago
Sorry - you, like many, confuse cause and effect. Evidence that has been substantiated proves that a divided country faced Obama from day one and Republicans deliberately and carefully tried to sabotague governance at every step and continue to do so. Sorry, we are a divided country but it is not Obama's legacy. He did promise change and he achieved more than one could reasonably expect given the vitriol and hatred from across the aisle. And your last line is a stretch by anyone's imagination - yep, you have to believe that his objective was to accelerate division. You really do watch and believe everything Fox News says. Sad.
J Cosgrove
1 year 5 months ago
Sad.
Thank you very much for supporting my comment. When someone makes ad hominem remarks, it is an admission that the other person is right. By the way is watching Fox News a negative? I watch it occasionally but usually see CNN more often because that is what is on in public places. I generally get my news from the internet. Again, thank you.
ed gleason
1 year 4 months ago
J Cosgrove... Public Watching TV? in bars or store windows? You must have missed Senator E. Warren kicking Trump butt. so sad. as you say..

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