The campaign for President of the United States is starting to get into the issue definition mode. For President Obama it is clear that he can’t talk very effectively about job creation, so he is now touting tax cuts for the middle class and raising questions about fairness. Mitt Romney lost the battle over health care, so he talks almost exclusively about jobs achieved through economic growth and business stewardship.
What this narrowing of the issue landscape in the campaign does is create a political climate where voter choice is simplified. Sure there are other issues out there including the deficit, the war in Afghanistan, women’s health and big government, but candidates like to follow the ol James Carville slogan used during Bill Clinton’s first campaign – It’s the Economy, Stupid!
It is convenient for voters to have these narrow choices – one issue shopping, nothing to complicate matters. Of course our national issue agenda is not so simple. In fact the agenda is so long that it can boggle the mind. There is so much to do and so little time.
Now once the campaign really gets into high gear in September and debates are held, the laundry list issue agenda will be addressed by Obama and Romney, but their handlers have already agreed on a strategy that the American voters will either make their choice on taxes/fairness or jobs/growth.
The question thus becomes is such an issue divide providing you and I with the right choices come November? Are the next four years really about taxes and fairness, jobs and growth or have these two guys missed something along the way. I hear more people talk about the debt, government intrusion, the Chinese, illegal immigrants and congressional gridlock then about what they have to pay in taxes or whether their neighbor is unemployed.
It would appear that we voters are pretty much stuck with the tax/fairness versus jobs/growth mantra for the rest of the campaign. Not that these issues aren’t important and can lead to a powerful message from either candidate. It’s just that I am not so sure that these are the issues on the minds of the American people. In fact I know they are not the issues on the minds of the American people.