Today, April 25, 2012 could just as easily have been April 25, 2007, at least as far as the U.S. stock market is concerned. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 13,090.72 today, five years ago it closed at 13,089.89. That's an annualized return of 0.001268%, or zero if you prefer to deal in round numbers.
Of course, zero sounds boring and the last five years in the stock market have been anything but that. It's not a pretty picture:
The picture is even more dramatic when you look back at the last ten years:
Or the last forty years:
The problem for the Democrats is twofold. The first is that they want to talk about much better things are now, even though unemployment remains high, but that only works if they start telling the story at the bottom in March 2009. In many people's minds the story starts at the top, in 2007, when the Pelosi-Reid Congress took office on a promise of bringing home troops and getting budget deficits under control, it's hard to make the Democratic Party the hero of that story.
The second problem is deeper. A fundamental tenet of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama Democratic Party for the last six years has been that Americans would be happier with a little less overall if what we have was more evenly distributed. From curbing climate change to health care to wage levels to regulation to the Occupy movement, that tenet underlies everything the Democratic Party has come to stand for under the Pelosi-Reid-Obama leadership. An appeal to equality always resonates in the American mind, but now America has had five years to find out for itself that less is not more, that less does not ennoble the spirit, that less does not make America a better, fairer place.
I will say for myself that I believe the Bush administration bungled the Iraq war, bungled the evacuation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, ran up way too much debt, and bungled their oversight responsibility in the lead up to the September 2008 financial system collapse. I looked at the fall 2008 losses in my 401(k) account, and took a solemn oath I wouldn't vote for another reckless Republican until I got that money back. But the Pelosi-Reid Congress shares that responsibility too.
If Barack Obama's Presidency remains anchored to Pelosi-Reid, a rising tide will swamp his boat. And, if the Dow crosses the 14,000 mark this summer or fall, I will be released from my vow.