GOP: It’s the People, Stupid

The fiscal cliff has me thinking back to the first presidential election in which I was eligible to cast a vote. In doing so I’ve realized how vastly different the political discussion is today from what it was not so long ago during Bush-Gore in 2000. Unlike Obama who needed to use “Bubba” as a lifeline, President Clinton was toxic to Gore’s campaign. The economic boom of the 1990s waned as the recession set in. The tech bubble induced recession resembled what is considered growth today in the Obama economy.

Richard Baris is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @RichBaris

Richard Baris is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @RichBaris

My family had voted Democrat until President Reagan in 1980, was working class, and not particularly ideological. On the flip side, during the campaign I poisoned the dinner table more than once bringing up the forbidden conversation of politics. Somewhere between those dinner table conversations with my family and now, we have lost a story that needs retelling to the American people.

As a young man living in working class neighborhoods of New Jersey, I was privy to families who honestly needed safety net services and those who abused them. Despite the economic prosperity of the 1990s, the abusers far outweighed those truly in need. It quickly became clear that I was to the right on the issues. The Bush tax-cuts the Democrats furiously opposed were common sense economics and aimed to return power and prosperity back to where it belongs — the people. As a passionate lover of American history, freedom — especially economic freedom — was of foremost importance to me and I was on board.

After President Bush’s inauguration, I began working a second job at a coffee import company in New Jersey. I remember how my boss would come into the office at noon and again at three to turn off the radio when Rush and Hannity began. It was always a futile effort but I guess it made him feel good.

Then something funny happened: the Bush tax-cuts kicked in. I was shocked at the amount of tax relief someone in my lower tax bracket realized — considering Gore and the Democrats spent so much time selling it as tax-cuts for the rich — but I was not surprised when my liberal boss announced plans to purchase another roaster with the money to expand his business.

The company saw immense growth and became a true American success story. What began as a cold call operation in a basement grew to a several thousand square foot coffee roasting warehouse importing coffee and tea commodities daily. Inside the office hung a picture of then Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton who regularly purchased her favorite Chinese Silver Oolong Tea. It literally made me nauseous, but I guess it was payback for always turning talk radio back on.

Of course, people were needed to fill the new influx of orders. In fact, last I hear my good friend Al makes a decent living and provides for his family running that very same warehouse. As for me, I contributed to job creation at the company as well by leaving to start my own business. The additional money the Democrats told me I would never see was saved until I could purchase enough equipment of my own needed for the venture. Within a year, my company provided employment — for my brother who eventually became my partner — and neighbors needing work or a flexible boss while they went to school at the local community college.

Howard Dean is not someone I would normally reference when arguing a point, but at least he is one telling the truth about the fiscal cliff debate. As was the case in the debates between Bush and Gore in 2000, the Democrats never wanted to limit higher taxation to wealthy Americans. The idea that President Obama ever intended to solve the fiscal cliff is a complete obfuscation; but, so far every opinion poll shows Republicans are bearing the most blame for the paralysis in Washington.

So what does any of this have to do with my story? Yes, the mainstream media is corrupt, but both Reagan and G.W. Bush were successful under the same conditions. One of the biggest differences between now and then is the Republican brand.

The recent NBC/WSJ poll showing 53 percent of the American public viewing the party as “too extreme” compared to 43 percent who view us as mainstream is damning, folks. Just as recent as 2010, only 36 percent held that view compared to 58 percent who viewed the party as mainstream. The difference is not policy, it is approach.

Politics is not about policy, it is about people. The events in this story are real and demonstrate that in the real world, Republican policies help real people. Unfortunately, we focus too much on cold policy terms and too little on the people. This has hardened the stereotypes that surround our party.

If the Democrats were right, then neither enterprise would have got off the ground and out of the basement. Consequently, the jobs that were created would not have been available to my friend, Al, my brother, or members of our community. Notice my emphasis on humanizing people? Presidents Reagan and Bush understood that is how the argument is won because that is what is important — the people, not the policy.


  1. Michael Ruffing says:

    First hand experience such as yours is the best way to refute the socialism in sheeps clothing. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I appreciate that. Happy New Year! Let’s make it better in 2013 together

  3. Reblogged this on lauralee21's Blog and commented:
    Sometimes we too need constructive criticism


  1. […] GOP: It’s the People, Stupid ( — by Rich Baris […]

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