Anyone reading this column over the last two plus years knows I have never voted Republican and don’t intend to unless science finds a way to clone a candidate out of the recovered DNA of Abe Lincoln. But I am changing my registration to Republican and advise all Democrats to do the same. Here is why:
As former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers recently shared with the Washington Post, the best economic models are no more than 75-80% accurate in describing the future. Economic prediction is further complicated by the potency of self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether the prestigious Congressional Budget Office predicts boom or bust could have a lot to say about whether boom or bust actually happens. But if a duck pulls away her foot 10 times in a row when you tickle it, you can bet that she will do so the 11th time as well. Every time our country has had unemployment below 4% and inflation above 4%, there has been a recession within two years.
A simple spiral explains why this is true. Low unemployment means more employers chasing fewer workers and having to pay them more. This results in more circulating dollars which, due to the lingering effects of Covid and related supply-chain issues, are chasing fewer goods. That creates more inflation and even more pressure to increase wages to meet it. The conditions for a recession would then be in place.
The recession can have two sources. One is a natural rebalancing of the economy. Prices get so high that demand starts to recede. As the market for goods and services weakens, unemployment starts to rise, workers become unable to pay their debts, and the whole economy suffers. The demand for gasoline has already softened slightly even now in peak driving season because of sky-high prices at the pump. That effect is temporarily being offset by the supply of vacation dollars saved during the forced immobility of covid.
A recession can also be generated by monetary policy from the semi-independent Federal Reserve. Chairman Powell has announced a series of interest rate hikes to slow inflation. Interest hikes are potent medicine and it’s easy to apply the wrong dosage. If the Fed overdoes it, they could cause a recession. They might even intentionally cause what they hope will be a modest and brief recession in the interest of preventing another Great Recession in the future. This is the economic equivalent of a National Forest Service “controlled burn” in the hope of preventing a major forest fire. We all now know how badly that can turn out. If a recession hits during the Biden administration, it becomes a virtual certainty that the next president will be a Republican. This makes a vote in the Republican presidential primary infinitely more valuable than its Democratic equivalent.
Even if we give the Democrats a chance in 2024, the type of candidate that will emerge from their primary process is already known. They are not going to nominate someone from the progressive wing because they know the nation has no stomach for racially-based reparations or draconian climate change policies that would negatively impact our standard of living in the short run. Nor can they completely abandon the progressive agenda with a Joe Manchin type of candidate or half their supporters would boycott the polls. The Democrats will end up with a moderate like Joe Biden, whether that person is named Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, Booker, or something else.
The really interesting action, and the likely next president, are going to come from the Republicans and the Republican candidate is not preordained to be a moderate non-ideological technocrat. One option is a Trump-like populist with or without the personal presence of former President Trump. This umbrella must fit over the radical isolationist tendencies of Rand Paul, the concept that immigration policy is largely a matter of criminal justice, the conviction that a fertilized egg that can only be seen through a microscope has the full rights of a human being, and the belief that everybody has an unlimited right to possess automatic weapons even if that right ensures the periodic slaughter of our children.
I realize that a large proportion of the voters of the state of Texas and an even larger proportion of the voters of the Panhandle counties do not consider the mindset I just sketched to be in any way unusual or sinister. The constant daily pounding away by conservative media has convinced many around here that these views are simply the nexus of commonsense, patriotism, and appropriate self-interest.
This type of thinking represents a minority of our nation, but a minority that, depending on the issue, is not that far from 50 percent. Those from outside the conservative media bubble who reject this package don’t regard it simply as wrong, but as dangerous lunacy that puts our country at risk of losing its status as a great nation and perhaps even nationhood itself. But under the American system of democracy, whether you consider your neighbor to be simply a little astray in his logic or a zombified menace to society, you still get only two chances to vote and neutralize his error. They are the primary and the general election. Democrats should strongly consider making both votes count by registering Republican.
Dr. Richard Rose is the program director for instructional design and technology at West Texas A&M University. The comments here represent his own opinions and not those of WTAMU.
This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Richard Rose why Democrats should consider registering Republican