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WHY WE VOTE
The Night America Voted For Big Government
[Note: This essay is one in a continuing series by ICCFA executive director Bob Fells focusing on various issues in our federal government. Although the subjects are political in nature, the approach is bipartisan in outlook, at least so far as that is humanly possible. The goal of each essay is not to persuade the reader to adopt a particular political viewpoint or party, but to illustrate why a knowledge of the system is important to protect our businesses, our homes, and our families.]
This morning after a game-changing national election brings lots of second-guessing, armchair quarterbacking, and just plain “I told you so.” The fact that an incumbent President won a second term has happened many times before, and the re-election rate of Congressional incumbents of both parties still hovers at about 97 percent, thus making it one of the steadiest jobs in the world. So what’s so “historic” about the 2012 elections? It can’t be that we elected the first African- American President. We’ve been there, done that in 2008. It can’t be that states with a large population in labor unions voted Democrat or that states with a large percentage of workers employed by the government or private sector government contractors went for the Democrats. That’s old news too.
It seems beyond question that a historic shift in the electorate has reached critical mass and won’t be changing any time soon. Basically, last night we learned that American voters actually want Big Government. More specifically, Americans want assistance, benefits, and even jobs that only a big government that takes a huge chunk of the GNP (gross national product) is capable of providing. It would be easy to “blame” the liberals or the Democrats, but a clear-eyed review of yesterday’s voting trends show that the preference for big government cuts across party lines and political ideologies.
The term “Big Government” is no more derogatory than “Big Business” in the sense that everybody supposedly hates Big Business – until they are reminded to stop by Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. Nobody likes Big Government either, unless of course they are enjoying some benefits thereof. This anomaly was shown years ago when Ronald Reagan had the support of Americans to cut “wasteful” government programs – but, as it turned out, not “my programs.” Multiply this viewpoint by 300 million people, and government spending isn’t going to be reduced any time soon.
The election of 2012 provided Americans with a clear choice between two very different views of government. For once, we didn’t hear the usual complaint of there not being “a dime’s worth of difference” between the candidates. President Obama said the job of the federal government was to help people. Governor Romney said the federal government had grown too large and costly, obstructing the very people who create jobs and the country’s prosperity. We know what happened. A majority of yesterday’s voters treated Mitt Romney as though he were trying to sell ice cubes to Eskimos, or worse, bathing suits in Antarctica.
Not unreasonably, the Obama Administration is interpreting yesterday’s vote as a mandate for the federal government to continue spending on assistance programs, but did voters also agree to pay more taxes for those programs? This is less clear and the argument that we are burdening our children with massive debt seemed to have caused little concern in the voting booths. Likewise, yesterday’s vote seems a mandate for increasing the regulation of businesses by Congress and by the federal agencies. And this is where our Association comes in.
You don’t have to be a cynic to recognize that among the winners of the 2012 elections are lobbyists of all types. Whether one wants to ride the wave of increased regulation or try to stem the tide as it affects your own business, arbiters between the private sector and our government will be in greater demand than ever. ICCFA members can be assured that their Association’s Government Relations program will be geared to meet the challenges of a re-energized bureaucracy. But member support is the fuel in the tank of an effective Government Relations program in terms of talent, time and treasure.
By January, all ICCFA members will have received our biennial Congressional and Federal Networking Survey to determine who our members know in Congress and the federal agencies. If you do not know your Congressional representatives, then you are letting others provide the input that will influence how he or she votes. The ICCFA will be organizing its Washington Congressional visits whereby our members can gauge first-hand the issues that confront our legislators and renew – or establish – personal connections with the people who decide the laws we must obey. Will Rogers once observed that we should be grateful that we don’t get all the government we pay for. Today, we are getting more government than we pay for – and that’s the problem. When ICCFA calls for your help, please respond.