It won’t work. Struggling voters don’t want to hear another round of the blame game; they want solutions.
“Why is trickle down economics still with us?” lamented Robert Reich for The Guardian last week.
It makes perfect sense that Reich, who is on par with economic prognosticator and philosopher Paul Krugman of the New York Times, would make such an argument this close to the upcoming U.S. election.
This close to November 8, nothing is about the election and everything is about the election. Even first-rate PR professionals and spin doctors of the highest order have trouble denying it, tripping over even the most intentionally bland dismissals that any elected politician ever would, ever could, campaign this close to the election.
Democrats are struggling this election cycle, and not just because the incumbent President’s party typically does poorly at the midterm. Inflation and the economy- far and away the top concerns of the vast majority of voters- are what undecideds and independents want to know about before they make a selection in the voting booth less than a month from now.
What went wrong with the U.S. economy? Beyond the blame shifting and finger pointing, Democrats facing dimming reelection prospects have even attempted, with help from the press but without much success, to downplay the growing economic concerns of struggling Americans.
The “things aren’t really that bad,” and, “take the bus,” arguments come across as unfeeling and elitist. The “inflation is transitory” narrative fell spectacularly apart. Even hopes the aggressive actions taken by the Fed over the past few months would cool blazing inflation seem to have been sadly misplaced.
Things are going from bad to worse. Those living paycheck to paycheck, a growing constituency, are coming to the grim conclusion- in spite of all the assurances from the media and politicians- the downward slide has not been suspended, let alone reversed.
Worried voters want to know what went wrong and how Democrats intend to fix it.
“Republicans,” Democrats insist in response, “don’t have a plan to fix the economy and inflation.”
That is perhaps true.
But Republicans don’t need a plan; they have a blueprint.
His abrasive personal style and Twitter personae aside, during his tenure President Donald Trump took the right advice from economists who didn’t propose ridiculous schemes like imposing price controls to bring down inflation or decry so-called “trickle down” economics.
Under Donald Trump, there were real wage gains for the working class- the first in decades. Unemployment reached historic lows across the board. Even progressive media outlets antagonistic to Donald Trump- of which there were and are no shortage- were forced to admit, when pressed, the Trump tax cuts benefitted those on the lowest rungs of the working class ladder.
Worse for Democrats- on the subject of improving the short-term economic prospects of the United States and which party voters trust to do it, anyway- is that Republicans can boast a more recent blueprint for economic success and reform than Donald Trump’s.
After all, Trump’s economy, however arguably rosy or not, never included COVID19 in the equation.
There is a certain very popular Republican Governor whose state economically outperformed during COVID19, and after: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
But with the new attention media figures are paying to the economy, after being forced to do so, they definitely needed a new talking point, a new boogey man; cue class warfare, corporate price controls, and taking aim at trickle down economics.
“See,” they are telling the U.S. electorate; “it’s not the fault of the Democratic Party if you’re poor and getting poorer: It’s the greedy corporations.
This is a difficult balancing act for the left at the best of times, see Occupy Wall Street. In these odd and difficult days, eating the rich has become a far less palatable prospect in the Democratic Party.
After all, some of the wealthiest billionaires on the planet are now Democrats. The Democratic Party controls 27 of the 30 wealthiest districts in the whole country. It shares equally with Republicans the 30 poorest. A decade ago, the opposite was true.
Democrats have lost a good portion of the working class to growing economic concerns and other factors.
Invoking the dread specter of class warfare is an impossible position for today’s Democratic Party for another reason, too.
On the non-negotiable and sacrosanct subjects of inequity and inequality, far left progressives are no longer allowing distinctions of class into the conversation.
To raise such an empirical and unassailable truth as the fact that poor people, of all descriptions, are one of the most marginalized groups in the world, in any discussion about equity in America is to commit an unforgivable sin of racism so heinous as to require an apology and immediate retraining.
Yet class distinctions, the disparity between the haves and the have-nots, the obscene wealth gap and the fact that the wealthiest 1% of the 1% have more money than everyone else on earth put together, underpin every aspect of our society.
Trotting out the argument of class warfare now, though certainly having nothing whatsoever to do with the upcoming election, of course- is tying the Democratic Party into a pretzel.
In so doing, Democrats are trying to blame inflation and the ailing economy on corporations which are, in turn, helping elect and reelect more Democrats.
Not only will this not work, the strategy completely misses the biggest opportunity Democrats have right now.
Working class voters aren’t as interested in who is to blame for our current economic misfortunes as they are with how Washington and state legislators intend to fix it.
Unless and until Democrats get this message front and center, the polling slides and dimming electoral prospects will continue apace.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)