My father was a practicing Catholic, Notre Dame grad and conservative Republican. I still remember the dark days of Jimmy Carter and Jerry Faust and the somber Saturday dinners they caused us. Like many veterans of "The Greatest Generation", he kept his beliefs close to home and taught me the rule; Don't talk politics or religion in public.
After last night's debate (an event quite good on several levels imo), I feel a slight bending of the rule is in order. Unlike recent past elections, it was difficult to determine what the "theme" of this contest is/will be about. Immigration policy was knocked from center stage in the last cycle by a little ditty called the Financial Crisis. Although an important policy concern -more for political party recruiting than economics - it is difficult to envision this as Issue #1 for most Americans.
The threat of war is different from the actuality and a marginal expansion is hardly a recession. Dramatic oratory on the evils of debt and deficit failed to emerge last night. As we said during the Romney campaign, no one has ever won an election harping about the debt. Just ask President Ross Perot, oh wait. Sometime soon, a POTUS hopeful is going to have to toss up an ort of an idea on economic policy. Remarkably, this topic never emerged last night. Thus far, the only suggestion has been H. Clinton's mouth fart on capital gains rates, another topic John Q wakes up everyday worried about, amirite?
I don't have a dog in the fight but I was impressed with Kasich and Rubio. I like moderate pragmatists and Kasich morphs in that form. Rubio was serious and polished and wore his more conservative stripes believably. My opinion of Jeb is he's in the race only to foment Bush/Clinton fatigue while Hilary slides toward crowning. Trump's negative view will flame out given the economic reality. I was in college when Reagan won. I graduated 2 years later into a world of 3.4% inflation, 11.5% Bond yields (unreal isn't it?) and 10.4% unemployment. Reagan's message was still aspirational and positive.
The civil unrest, police force and racial tension in today's news is more common in economic times mentioned above then present. The trouble with prosperity, even QE prosperity, is it allows us to focus on the innocuous and lose the big picture. As the long slog to the White House progresses, I hope someone embraces both a positive vision for America and the gravitas of economic policy that supports it.
Sorry about breaking your rule dad, miss ya.