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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Had my First Centrist Thought Today

And I got a chill...

So, as you know, I just finished reading the Power of the Vote by Doug Schoen. Doug Schoen, for those of you haven't been following along is the political pollster of Penn, Schoen & Berland, the Democratic political polling and strategy outfit that advised, Koch, Clinton, Corzine and Bloomberg.

He makes a lot of points in the closing chapter about how Democrats should position themselves in the 2008 race. This book was written before the race started, and makes no mention of Obama or HC. One of them that actually makes sense to me is this: Doug is a centrist. And he feels that one reason the Dems lost touch with the electorate is that they failed to appeal to the middle class. The Dems had considered their base the lowerclasses and so their messages had been spun toward them. In fact, he claims that the middle class does not identify with messages of public welfare at all. And why not, under the tax schematic of the last ten years, the middleclass has paid for the brunt of welfare, social security, medicare and medicaid. It doesn't matter that these services are there for them if they fall below the line. But I think that this will matter more now. For ten long years the Middle has strove to hang on, with wages actually slipping below the rate of inflation. And they've done it by living on good credit. With the mortgage meltdown--those turkeys are coming home to roost. Troubled banks are calling in their loans, trying to raise capital for their mistakes, forcing more and more people in the economic median to the edges. Regardless, the middleclass doesn't consider itself the lowerclass. In fact, they pride themselves on where they are. They're educated, extremely hardworking, and feel themselves to be positive roll models for their children. They don't want a handout, but they do want help. They want more of their own income. They want help repaying their loans--they don't like to be in debt and are not necessarily comfortable with it. So when Doug Schoen says the Dems have to position themselves for this, he makes a sound point. The Democrats have to be the party of fiscal responsibility. That means promising a balanced budget, but it doesn't mean wealth redistrubition.

That was my big centrist thought. When I read an article about the convention this morning, and I heard those sorts of ideas being bandied about, it suddenly occurred to me that the man is absolutely right. Look--I hate the fact that certain executives live in an entire different stratosphere from the rest of us. But can I really espouse taking their money away? Well--in some cases I can. The Bush tax cuts NEED to go. And the Clinton tax, needs to be made stronger to help the middle and not shield the uberrich. However, in general, I want to make money too. It's a betting against the house, I know, but in every American there is that seed of hope that one day, they might make it to that top 1%. People revere Warren Beatty, and Mike Bloomberg like they're some sort of god. This is the convoluted logic that the Republicans have relied on for years. You and your spouse can bring in under 50Gs together, but if you work hard, and believe in the American Dream, you too can live like a King. And the unbelievable credit market showed that it could indeed happen to a guy like you. And now its gone.

The populist rhetoric is important to me--but appealing to the middleclass is of the highest importance for this race.

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