Abandoning the working class is hurting progressives worldwide.
Unless something unforeseen happens, Italy has just elected its first female Prime Minister in history.
Giorgia Meloni ran on an unapologetically conservative platform of “God, Family, and Country,” to the usual media chorus accusing the right-leaning politician of racism, fascism, nationalism and a laundry list of other names.
Her election, U.S. President Joe Biden tells us, is a threat to democracy.
For her part, Meloni seems even more than impervious to the name-calling: She seems to consider it a badge of honor.
In defending herself, Ms. Meloni doesn’t hold back her criticism or contempt for the ruling elites of Europe. They have not delivered for the working class of Italy, contends Meloni.
For the working classes in Italy, as in other parts of the world, the worst excesses of globalization have resulted in more income inequality- not less. Instead of sharing the gifts of global capitalism, wealthy corporations, political parties and individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the working classes through exploitation and profiteering.
Even improperly-managed immigration- a hot-button issue for the Meloni campaign- is a direct result of the exploitative colonialist practices of nations like France, which have forced so many people to flee.
Whatever global elites think of Giorgia Meloni, the appeal of political conservatives, rising worldwide, must give them a pause.
Instead of attacking Meloni and politicians like her, and wondering openly why any right-thinking person would find appeal in conservatives, perhaps progressive politicians are asking the wrong questions and taking the wrong approach.
It may not be that voters are that enthusiastic about Meloni, the right, or Republicans who sound a great deal like Giorgia Meloni in the United States, such as Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake or recently-elected Texas Congresswoman Maya Flores.
But working class voters are willing to vote against policies which are making their lives unlivable.
“Voters do not think much of Democratic management of the economy,” warned “The Liberal Patriot” Ruy Teixeira on Substack in September.
“Despite considerable legislative activity that impacts the economy and a very tight labor market, Republicans are consistently preferred to Democrats on handling the economy,” Teixeira wrote. “In the most recent NBC poll, Republicans have a 19 point lead over Democrats on dealing with the economy, the largest lead for the GOP ever recorded by this poll.”
“Start with the fact that climate change, while having very, very high salience for Democratic elites, has low salience for ordinary voters, particularly working class voters,” he advised before complaining U.S. Democrats, like their progressive counterparts worldwide, lack an “Abundance Agenda.”
Progressives aren’t even promising their policies will lead to better economic prospects for the working class; and it shows.
“America’s aching economy is forcing tough choices,” admitted USA Today on Friday. “How people are ‘barely making it’ work.”
“Americans are paying higher prices for everything from groceries to gas,” observed the authors of the piece. “The consumer price index, which measures what consumers spend on goods and services, rose 8.3% in August from a year ago.”
Splitting rhetorical hairs and arguing semantics about exactly what constitutes a recession is counter-productive. To the working class, it can also seem insulting.
The laundry list of higher prices squeezing the working class is something Americans are seeing every day with their own eyes. Whatever the media is willing to report about the financial crisis already afflicting lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, the truth is being printed in black and white at the bottom of every grocery receipt and gas purchase.
Retirees are grimly watching their fixed incomes reduced to a fraction. Near-retirees are postponing retirement in order to, hopefully, recoup some of the catastrophic losses their investments have suffered over the past two years.
The well-meaning but misguided policies of progressives aren’t just proving a minor inconvenience to middle class families and the wealthier upper classes: Inflation is driving up world hunger.
Mass starvation, a problem with which humanity has not had to seriously grapple since technology improved weather prediction models over a decade ago, is rearing its ugly head again.
In 2022, famine is on its way back with a vengeance.
Meanwhile in America, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, working-class parents struggled to get their kids back in school this year between backpacks, clothes, school supplies, and fees.
Unless progressives are willing to admit the financial devastation some of their policies have inflicted on the working classes, from the U.S. to Italy and beyond, the drift of voters to conservatives will continue.
Until progressives pledge to actually do something about runaway inflation and skyrocketing fuel costs- instead of denying, ignoring, or downplaying them- anyone else offering a solution will have the ear of the working public and ordinary voters.
Counting on media outlets to gloss over the problem is a mistake. Name-calling, though it has often been an effective strategy in the past, is losing its effectiveness.
Politicians like Giorgia Meloni, Kari Lake, and Maya Flores can easily ignore and disdain those ill-intended barbs.
Especially when they win.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)