In the final days of the 1980 presidential race, at the one and only debate between Republican nominee Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter, Reagan’s closing statement included the following rhetorical questions: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago?”
Although it’s been 44 years since Reagan delivered those famous lines, every single one of the questions he posed to the American electorate are as relevant today as they were in 1980.
Suffice to say, the past three years under the Biden administration have not exactly been the best of times for the American people. On the economic front in particular, Americans are definitely not better off than they were three years ago.
Over the past three years, the American people have struggled mightily to make ends meet due to one of the worst inflationary periods in recent history. As the House Budget Committee noted in late 2023, “Hardworking families are being crushed by President Biden’s inflation-inducing fiscal policies. Today, a family of four is paying $15,133 per year, or $1,261 per month, more to purchase the same goods and services compared to the day President Biden took office.”
Since Biden took office, the percentage of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck has reached an all-time high, approximately 20 million American households are behind on their utility bills, auto loan delinquencies have skyrocketed to a 30-year high, outstanding credit card balances surpassed $1 trillion for the first time ever, and the Gallup Economic Confidence Index survey has plummeted to the lowest level in more than a decade.
In other words, the vast majority of Americans are in a worse financial position today than they were on January 20, 2021.
Unfortunately, Americans’ financial situation is not the only thing heading in the wrong direction.
How about crime? Are you safer today than you were three years ago? Not likely.
According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association’s Violent Crime Survey, homicides are up 13 percent since 2020, rapes have increased 24 percent since 2020, and aggravated assaults are up 34 percent since 2020. What’s more, nine U.S. cities hit new homicide records in 2022, there was a 32 percent increase in police officers killed by gunfire compared to 2020, and even as crime skyrocketed in 2021, federal arrests actually decreased by 35 percent compared to 2020.
Of course, we cannot attribute the complete spike in crime solely to the Biden administration’s soft-on-crime posture. After all, the president and federal government are not responsible for keeping America’s rural areas, suburbs, and inner cities safe and crime-free—that task falls mostly to local government. However, from day one, the Biden administration has set forth a national tone that trivializes the menace of violent crime, excuses the actions of criminals, and ridicules anyone who promotes law and order, including the police. The bully pulpit is a powerful weapon and has been used to an extraordinary degree by those in the Biden administration to justify and downplay criminal wrongdoing and blatant lawbreaking throughout the nation.
What about the position of the United States abroad? Are we still the world’s sole superpower? Can we still use our military wherewithal to shape world events so that they align with the interests of the United States and our allies? Or, as Reagan would put it, are we as strong today as we were three years ago? In a nutshell, that would be a resounding no.
From the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan to his weak and tepid response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden has fallen woefully short in his role as commander in chief. Biden has emboldened our adversaries, like Iran, with naïve appeasement-like policies reminiscent of those peddled by Neville Chamberlin in the 1930s. Biden has cut U.S. energy independence off at the knees, once again making us dependent on foreign rivals for the lifeblood that powers our modern society. In short, Biden has made the United States weaker, at least in the eyes of our enemies, than just three years ago.
After Reagan asked the American people whether or not they were better off after four years of the Carter administration, he then stated, “This country doesn’t have to be in the shape that it is in. We do not have to go on sharing in scarcity with the country getting worse off…I would like to have a crusade today, and I would like to lead that crusade with your help. And it would be one to take Government off the backs of the great people of this country, and turn you loose again to do those things that I know you can do so well, because you did them and made this country great.”
We need another crusade. We need to rekindle the age-old American values of ingenuity, innovation, entrepreneurship, grit, and self-reliance. We need to unleash the forces of free enterprise. We need law and order. We need a strong military to achieve peace through strength. But, most of all, we need a cultural renaissance in which we re-embrace the American experiment and the American ethos of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Photo by Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0.