At this point, the presidential campaign has gotten a bit repetitious. The Mitt Romney camp charges that President Obama has failed to create jobs, and the Obama camp fires back that the American economy can’t possibly create jobs as quickly as Bain Capital destroys them—day in, day out, ad nauseam. We think it’s time for something fresh. And in the spirit of efficiency, rather than create whole new campaign issues, let’s bring back some of the oldies, like Communist mind control, free silver, and whether or not Edmund Muskie cried.
Communist Mind Control: One theory favored by the Right during much of the Cold War was that fluoridation of public drinking water, purportedly for the benefit of public health, was in fact a Communist conspiracy aimed at poisoning, weakening, or controlling the minds of Americans. It was a lot like the "death panel" outcry over Obama's health care reform, but far more plausible. Apparently the issue still resonates in Florida. And the question remains: Just why are the Chinese putting lead in our children’s toys?
Catholicism: David Axelrod, Obama's political strategist, announced in May that Republican challenger Romney’s Mormonism is “off the table,” but he didn’t say anything about Catholicism. The nation’s come a long way since 1960, when John F. Kennedy’s presidential run sparked fears that he was beholden to the Vatican. At this point, anything to get voters’ minds off the economy is a plus for Obama. Axelrod could put, say, the question of whether the church should stop saying Mass in the vernacular on the table. Because who knows how to say “double-dip recession” in Latin? (Duis demursis recessus?)
Free Silver: The question of whether or not silver should be admitted as currency was so resonant in 1896 that it catapulted underdog William Jennings Brian to the nomination at the Democratic National Convention. Now, thanks to GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, the gold standard is once again a hot topic. Romney could outflank Paul (it’s not clear from which direction) ahead of the nominating convention by coming out as pro-silver. Unfortunately, “you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of the full faith and credit of the United States government” just doesn’t have the same ring.
Secession: It’s not just for 1860 anymore. Texas Gov. Rick Perry threatened to do it in 2009. And frankly, it’s high time we started a national conversation about states we could maybe do without (we’re looking at you, Wyoming).
The Mexican-American War: The war, which began in 1846, was a huge setback for the Whig Party, which soon after faded into oblivion. We don’t advocate an actual invasion, but the Democratic Party could wring some last few political points out of the issue by merely raising the specter of war with Mexico. The Obama administration already stands accused of sending guns to Mexico, so they may as well own the issue by proposing to send guns with Marines attached. And as an added bonus, once you open up that can of worms, the notion of just stationing more guards at the border starts to seem quaint.
Whether or Not Edmund Muskie Cried: Edmund Muskie’s campaign for the 1972 Democratic nomination tanked when it was widely reported that he publicly cried over a newspaper’s personal attacks against his family. As it turns out, the attacks were orchestrated by the dirty tricksters of the Nixon campaign. What remains unclear is whether Muskie’s face was covered in tears or melted snow, and 2012 is the year the country ought to get to the bottom of it. Our polling suggests that, if Muskie did in fact cry, Virginia will break for Obama, but if he didn’t, the upper Midwest will be Romney’s for the taking.