During the 1980 presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and the incumbent President, Jimmy Carter, Reagan closed the debate by asking Americans just one question – “Are you better off today than four years ago?”
Most political scholars believe that this single question posed by Reagan was the knockout punch for President Carter.
At the time, the answer to that question was clearly “no”, and this really moved the needle towards Reagan and ultimately led him to an Electoral College victory several months later.
For the past forty years, this question has come to be known as the Reagan Test.
It is the question that all Americans should be asking themselves every four years as they go to the polls – as a nation, are we better off today than we were four years ago?
Five months out from the 2020 presidential election, the answer to this question has to be a resounding “no”.
Four years ago, the unemployment rate was 4.1%.
Today the unemployment rate is above 14% and we have more than 43 million Americans out of work.
Four years ago we were adding at least 250K jobs per month.
Today we are shedding millions of jobs each month.
Four years ago we did not have a childhood hunger problem in America. Today an incredible 1-in-4 American children are going hungry.
Four years ago we didn’t have civil unrest occurring in virtually every American city.
Today we have cities burning to the ground from coast-to-coast.
On top of that we have 100K+ dead from Covid-19 and account for more than 30% of all Covid-19 deaths on earth despite accounting for less than 13% of the world’s population.
Any way you slice it, as a nation we are significantly worse off today than we were four years ago. In fact, most logical thinking individuals would view our nation as nothing short of an epic mess at this time.
Have their been unforeseen challenges over the past six months or so?
But true leaders overcome challenges and take their constituents to a better place.
That has clearly not occurred in America.
So the question then becomes – what do we do about it?
President Trump obviously fails the Reagan test, we all know that. But do we even care?
Do we vote for leadership change in November, as Reagan had suggested we should if we are worse off today than four years ago, or do we keep our current leadership in place despite being significantly worse off as a nation?
The choice is yours, America.
But we all know what the great Ronald Reagan would say…