John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


What Is This Election All About?

Posted on September 6, 2016

What is the 2016 Presidential election about?

In 1932, in the face of the Great Depression, voters wanted a new deal so they voted for Franklin Roosevelt.

In 1960, after 8 years of the blandness exuded by Ike, they wanted to vote for a new generation of leadership, so they voted for a Jack Kennedy.

In 1968, after rioting in the streets and the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the American people wanted law and order and so they voted for the one candidate who explicitly promised it.

In 1980, as America seemingly buckled under a stagflation, the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets and the Iran hostage crisis, the voters voted for change because they didn’t think they were better off today than they were four years before.  They voted for the guy who promised peace through strength and had a plan to grow the economy.

In 1992, the recession was tops on the minds of the voters and so they voted for the candidate who told them and themselves that it was the economy, stupid.

In 2008, after a disastrous war in Iraq and in the face of the Great Recession, the voters took a flyer on a relatively unknown candidate who promised hope and change.

And now, we are here in 2016.

We have one candidate who simultaneously makes the case for policy continuity while offering that she is a candidate of historic change, by dint of her gender.

We have another candidate who believes that American is not as great as it once was and needs dramatic change to recapture lost glory.

Where are the voters on these questions?

Do they want to make history by voting in the first female President?

Or are they more worried that America might soon be history if it doesn’t change course?

Are they satisfied with the status quo on the economy?  Do they feel that they have a brighter future ahead of them?

Are they happy with the political class?  Do they feel that politicians listen to their concerns or to the concerns of their biggest donors?

What impresses the voters more, a politician who is able to raise a tremendous amount of money from a small group of donors…like a Jeb Bush or a Hillary Clinton…or a non-politician who promises to match any small donation with his own contribution?

What angers the voters more, somebody who makes millions of the political system or somebody who made millions by driving hard bargains and sometimes unfair bargains in the private sector?

The political system, especially the campaign financing system, is fundamentally broken.  Who will fix it, a lifelong politician or somebody who has never run for office before?

When it comes to international affairs, in the aftermath of the Iraq war, one candidate is getting the endorsement of all those “thinkers” who plotted out that war.  The other candidate may or may not have endorsed it in its run-up, but has gone all-in to now say that he was opposed from the very beginning.  He is getting the tepid endorsement of the former Vice President who argued for the invasion.

Hillary voted for the war and among her endorsers are neo-conservatives who helped to push the Administration into invading Iraq in the first place.  Those neo-conservatives don’t think Trump has the temperament and that Hillary does have it.

Trump has called for tougher immigration policies while Clinton has pushed to give citizenship to all new arrivals.  What position is more popular with the voters at this time in history?

Trump’s experience in international affairs has centered mostly on his efforts to build his hotels in far-flung locations.  Hillary’s experience at the State Department includes the Libya debacle.  Which plays better with the voters?

Trump refuses to release his tax returns, but meets with the press all of the time.  Hillary refuses to do a press conference, but released her tax returns, which is good for us because we learned that about 90% of her charitable contributions went to the Clinton Foundation.

The Clinton Foundation should be an asset for Team Clinton, but it has turned out to be a political disaster.  Why?  Simple.  Voters think it became a cesspool of corruption, and they think that Hillary is a corrupt part of that cesspool.  That’s not good for her.

What is this election about?

Is it about cleaning house, standing strong, growing the economy, putting experience to work or getting a new deal for America’s working class?  Is it about electing the first woman or the first President to be married three times?

Is it about making America Great Again or is about making America stronger together?

My son has an orthodontist appointment in two months.  The next time he meets with his orthodontist, we will know the answers to all of these questions.  Stay tuned.