Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Ronald Reagan posed that question to voters in 1980, and it helped propel him to victory over Jimmy Carter.
It???s the same question many Republicans hope voters will ask themselves this year as they consider the effects that Barack Obama???s presidency has had on their lives.
Millions of people???taxpayers, the jobless, homeowners, recent college graduates, people of faith, to name a few???are demonstrably worse off than they were when Obama took office nearly four years ago.
But it is an even greater indictment of Obama???s first term to contemplate the list of people and entities who could answer that question with a confident ???Yes.???
Many of America???s enemies are unquestionably better off. Sure, Osama bin Laden is dead, but many terrorist and Islamists have been emboldened by Obama???s feckless foreign policy. Iran is closer to achieving a nuclear capability. And its leaders know they have nothing to fear in Obama, who began his term refusing to speak up for Iran???s revolutionaries.
The Obama administration???s stumbling response to last week???s embassy attacks throughout the Middle East was emblematic of its impotence abroad. The attacks in Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya were quickly blamed on an obscure web video that is critical of Islam and Mohammad. But the attacks were a direct result of Obama’s weak foreign policy. Witnesses in Cairo say the crowd chanted ???Obama, Obama, we are all Osama now.???
Prior to the attack on the embassy in Cairo, the staff released a statement that condemned ???the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.??? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, ???The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.
What did these apologies bring? Nothing but more violence and bloodshed. By Thursday, the turmoil had spread to the U.S. embassy in Yemen, where hundreds of protestors attacked the American embassy. Others violent protests were reported at embassies across the Middle East.
Obama???s outreach to the Muslim world, his grand speech in Cairo, his letter to Iran???s leaders, his embrace of the Arab Spring — all of it has been naïve and ineffective. Clearly Obama???s ???outreach??? has not won us any friends or brought stability to the region.
Islamists in the Middle East aren???t the only ones better off under Obama. Russia is certainly better off after four years of Obama. The U.S. cancelled missile defense systems for fear that we???d offend Russia, leaving America???s traditional allies in Europe exposed.
After two years of study, a panel of leading scientists and military experts concluded last week that America???s missile defense has serious shortcomings and leaves the U.S. vulnerable to long range attacks. The report suggested that Obama discontinue his anti-missile strategy and expand the system started under George W. Bush.
Then there???s China, which holds more than $1 trillion of U.S. debt. Obama???s reckless spending could become a national security threat if the communist government uses its holdings as a financial weapon to pressure the U.S. militarily or politically.
Domestically, Obama has spent the last two years pandering to narrow constituencies whose support he feels he needs to secure reelection. Obama???s decision to suspend deportations of certain illegal immigrants, unilaterally rewriting the law, has made illegal immigrants better off than they were four years ago.
The gay rights movement is better off under Obama. Nearly every item on its agenda has been checked off by Obama, including repeal of the U.S. military???s Don???t Ask, Don???t Tell policy, the signing of a federal hate crimes law and Obama???s personal and public support for same sex marriage.
The abortion industry is better off too. Recent state level efforts have been successful in imposing more regulations on the abortion industry. And polls show the country is more pro-life today than it???s been in at least two decades.
But Obama has been a boon to the abortion industry. Under Obama, Planned Parenthood is still receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers. Since Obama signed an executive order rescinding the Mexico City policy in his first week in office, abortion groups have been able to receive taxpayer money to export abortion abroad.
And Obama and his congressional allies wrote Obamacare in collaboration with abortion industry leaders, specifically Planned Parenthood???s Cecile Richards, which is why the law forces religious groups to pay for their employees??? birth control and abortion-inducing drugs.
The federal government is better off than it was four years ago, at least as measured by its size and power over the American people. Spending as a share of the economy is up, the number of federal employees has exploded and more Americans rely on federal assistance than ever before.
The number of government regulations has spiked under Obama. Seventy five major new regulations were adopted in Obama???s first two years, compared to 120 during Bush???s eight years in office.
Two of the biggest new regulations are Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation reform bill. The latter law established a new regulatory agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which now has unprecedented authority over consumer financial products and services with little oversight from Congress.
This is a partial list, of course, but it paints a bleak picture. By most measures of well-being, the majority of Americans are worse off than they were four years ago. But it???s in reviewing the list of people and entities that are better off under Obama that one begins to understand how his presidency truly threatens American democracy.