Opinion: Columnists

Noemie Emery: The right states of mind

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Barack Obama gave a fine speech Sunday night to a stunned and shocked nation. He is a born orator backed by a flawless machine, whose personal rise from a difficult childhood is a true inspiration, and whose achievement in breaking the ultimate color barrier is gift to us all.

People like the idea that Obama is president. As a politician and president, he has only one failing -- he is the wrong man at the wrong time to be leading this country. He is out of sync with his age and its crises. There is more proof every day -- here and abroad, in nation-states, states and even some cities -- that his political theories will lead to disaster, and do so every time they are tried.

Some arguments are based on theory, as when politicians say they think their ideas will work well in practice, whereas their opponents' will work out poorly. Then there are arguments based on proven and practical facts. The fact today is that what Walter Russell Mead calls the "blue social model" -- high taxes, much regulation, strong unions and a fairly high level of government services -- is in deep trouble wherever tested. The red model -- low taxes, low spending, more business-friendly policies -- is still thriving.

Take Western Europe, which has found that its pensions are no longer affordable. Take Greece, wholly unable to function; take the United States, where The One is opposed by 30 Republican governors, engaged in a more peaceful War of the Roses, where the conflicting ideas are thrashed out.

Take California, whose government is careening to bankruptcy, even as it splurges on light rail and gorges itself on higher taxes. Take Illinois, which is in much the same pickle. Take the basket case called Detroit ("Look," said George Will, "if you can without wincing"), where the state government has passed a right-to-work measure in an effort to remain alive.

The writing is on the wall. Between 2000 and 2010, the population in the eight states without income taxes grew by 18 percent, while all others grew by 8 percent; the (then) 22 states with right-to-work laws grew by 15 percent; the others grew by 6 percent. Population flowed from north to south, with warm sun and friendly Republican governors. Florida grew by 17.6 percent, Texas by 20.6 percent ... and New York by 2.1 percent. (As it grew bluer, it became less important. It has no more electoral votes than does Florida, and it now trails Texas by nine.)

Obama has stated that he prioritizes "fairness" over growth (as he told Joe the Plumber), but it seems he is getting neither. Blue states with green regulations drive down the stock of affordable housing. The blue states' bluest cities, whose traffic he ties up when he flies in for fundraisers, have staggering chasms of income disparity, with the estates that are home to his donors in close proximity to ghettos and slums.

Not so in the red states. Liberals are shocked at their lower level of benefits, but the people who are rushing to move there don't seem to mind it at all. It seems that they'd rather have jobs.

Americans, who voted twice for Obama for president, have also voted with their feet against his agenda, fleeing California for places like Texas; vacating the states that give him huge margins for those that are purple or red. Mysteriously, Republicans have failed to tie these together. They have not explained that California is Obama's agenda, and that if his policies come through to fruition, California is what we will have.

Republicans should run on the facts, and against the proven failures that Obama's ideas produce when put into effect.

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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