- - Wednesday, October 31, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Liberals are creating an ideal juxtaposition for President Trump: Jobs versus mobs. The president would be strong with the “Peace and Prosperity” mantle he can legitimately claim, but is even more so against the left’s confrontation and stagnation. In their blind rage against him, liberals cannot see that they are widening the gulf they must cross to get to him in 2020.

The president’s economic variables are almost too many to mention and too good to be believed. When he took office, unemployment was 4.8 percent. Less than two years later, it was 3.7 percent last month.

In its most recent quarter, America’s economy grew 3.5 percent. In its previous one it grew 4.2 percent. Both came after what was already solid growth.

In eight years, Barack Obama had just four quarters that equaled or exceeded 4.2 percent. Of those, three came directly after negative growth quarters, rebound inflating their performance. The lone one that did not, 2009’s Q4, was just one quarter removed from the financial crisis’ three consecutive negative quarters.

While Mr. Trump has earned the economy, liberals have gifted him their anarchy. If the president has taken people off the street looking for work, the left have put people on the street looking for trouble. Mr. Obama, America’s most liberal president, made the left likeable; now they have made themselves threatening.

Unquestionably, Mr. Trump also has earned himself a portion of “peace.” The defanging of ISIS, if not the destruction, and rapprochement with North Korea for the first time — the press would have lauded both had Mr. Obama achieved them.

However, the left have given Mr. Trump an even bigger share of peace by embracing civil disturbance.

Americans unfortunate enough to be around civil disturbance are immediately alienated by it. Those luckier, experiencing it only on television, sympathize with those threatened and inconvenienced by it, not those perpetrating it.

Important as peace abroad is, peace at home is where America lives. By threatening domestic peace, liberals have cast Mr. Trump as seemingly standing between America and unrest.

This acute comparison is decidedly positive for the president. He has provided America with what it wants — and lacked for years — jobs. Liberals have provided America with what it does not want — and has not experienced, to this degree, for years, and always abhorred — mobs.

“Peace and prosperity” are every administration’s goal, because they are every Americans’ expectation. Not only have liberals given Mr. Trump a clear path to the claim, they have upped the ante with a peak and valley comparison.

Mr. Trump’s economy is well above Mr. Obama‘s. Only the left would argue this point; for the rest of America, it is an open and shut case. Liberals’ association with civil disturbance, has left them well below Mr. Obama’s standing with the nation.

The distance between Mr. Trump and the left is therefore wider than it would otherwise be. The president would be benefitting from either comparison; thanks to the left, he benefits from both.

The effect of this “peace and prosperity peak and valley” may be muted this November. Mr. Trump has been in office less than two years. The economy has not been this strong — and the disturbances have not been going on — that long. Also, congressional Republicans are not the president himself.

In two years, all that could change. Sustained economic growth over an entire first term would thoroughly punctuate the point between the Trump and Obama presidencies’ prosperity performance. Nor is there any reason to believe that the left’s penchant for disturbance will dissipate.

Instead, it could well intensify worse as liberal frustration continues to mount over two more years and the left see themselves falling further behind. In such a case, it is possible liberals reach the conclusion they did not go far enough and raise the stakes.

And of course in two years, Mr. Trump will be on the ballot — and not by proxy. This will personify the comparison for America’s benefit, and likely for the left’s detriment. Peace and prosperity make for a powerful presidential resume; they are even stronger when juxtaposed to social anarchy and economic ennui.

• J.T. Young served in the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department.


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