[The one percent] are very anxious about the decline in the stock market and feel that this may be just a hollow shell of a recovery, and we may see in the next few years that things really haven’t changed. They are afraid the critics are right and that inequality really is a driver of all this, and are afraid of what that means for them.
Even Republican Voters Concerned about Income Inequality.
67% of Americans are godless commies who hate capitalism and freedom. That is, if you use the metrics offered by rightwing media. If you tend to be more in line with mainstream thought, then the better take is that Americans are concerned about equality and fairness — just as we always have been. And the bad news for Republicans is that all those capitalism-hatin’ Marxists include a majority of their own voters.
In all, 54% of Republican voters told Gallup that they were either very or somewhat dissatisfied with “the way income and wealth is distributed in the US.” While this is way lower than the 67% of all Americans who answered likewise, there’s still a majority of Republican voters echoing these Occupy movement sentiments. And if you remove Republicans from the equation to keep them from dragging down the curve, roughly three-quarters of respondents would agree that income inequality is not good for America.
Gallup analysis shows an opportunity for leadership by the president:
Obama will almost certainly touch on inequality in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28. This will certainly resonate in a general sense with the majority of Americans who are dissatisfied with income and wealth distribution in the U.S. today. Members of the president’s party agree most strongly with the president that this is an issue, but majorities of Republicans and independents are at least somewhat dissatisfied as well.
Although Americans are more likely to be satisfied with the opportunity for people to get ahead through hard work, their satisfaction is well below where it was before the economic downturn. Accordingly, improvement in the U.S. economy could bring Americans’ views back to pre-recession levels.
Everyone knows that Democrats plan to make income inequality an election-year issue and this has already put Republicans on the defensive. Paul Ryan, for his part, is hoping people forget the “takers v. makers” messaging of the Romney-Ryan campaign, which basically argued that poverty in America is way too sweet a deal, and see him instead as completely and miraculously transformed into St. Paul Ryan, Blessed Defender of the Downtrodden and Acolyte to Pope Francis.
The problem of course is that Ryan’s merely repackaging the old “trickle-down” BS that Republicans can’t seem to pull themselves away from, despite the fact that it’s failed over and over again. The past three GOP presidents have tried it and it didn’t work for any of them — including the guy who introduced it to voters. So Ryan’s problem — and the Republican Party’s — is that all this new “friends of the poor” messaging sounds great, until you get into the mechanics. Then it sounds stupid.
So the only real effort to address poverty, income inequality, and unfair distribution of wealth is the old, tried-and-true, tested and proven progressive approach. Raise minimum wage, increase protections for workers, get the very wealthy to finally pay their fair share. Republicans will hate it, but they have nothing else to offer.
And that’s why income inequality will be a big issue for Democrats in the 2014 midterms — because Republicans’ only defense is BS that’s so worn out that only that gullible 45% of Republican voters will fall for it. You know, the same ones who think every word from Rush Limbaugh is Gospel; the dopes, the eternal chumps, the reliable pigeons always begging to be plucked. The ones who, for whatever reason, want to be fooled.
Whether the issue can turn an election remains to be seen. But if it isn’t a winner, it’ll be because Republicans successfully changed the subject. Which is why Democrats need to stick to their guns and stay on message.
This is a debate Republicans cannot win. So they’ll most likely try to avoid having it at all.
Here’s some welcome news. At his meeting with Democratic Senators last night, President Obama indicated that he is giving serious consideration to executive action designed to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors, according to one Senator who was present.
Proponents want to see this executive action happen on the merits — they believe it could impact as many as two million employees of federal contractors, and would help the economy. But they also believe such action could give a boost of momentum to the push for a minimum wage hike for all American workers, which obviously would require Congressional approval, but is currently facing Republican opposition.
Senator Bernie Sanders told me in an interview that the president took the idea very seriously when asked about it last night.
Republicans Mugging Republicans.
It’s been said that a Republican is just a liberal who’s been mugged. Of course, it tends to be Republicans who say this, since it makes very little sense. Being the victim of a crime may change your opinions about law enforcement or gun control, but why would being mugged make you oppose abortion or women’s rights or same sex marriage. Why would being mugged make you more accepting of the Wall Street corporate crime wave? Why would being mugged make you think that labor unions must be broken and the minimum wage left at a pittance? And why would being mugged make you decide that giving everything to the rich and nothing to the poor is a good idea? Is the argument that being mugged makes you stupid?
A truer take on that cliche might be that being mugged turns you Democrat — at least, when those muggers are Republicans.
ThinkProgress: On Tuesday, a potential agreement to extend benefits for those who have been out of work for six months or more fell apart over squabbling about procedural disagreements in the Senate. That fight came two and a half weeks after those checks stopped going out to millions of Americans, and it doesn’t look like it will be resolved in the next two weeks. Congress let the program lapse at the end of the year, which offered support to the jobless after their state benefits ran out, drying up a lifeline for those who are struggling to find a new job.
The people who have been left without that support are incensed, and the anger reaches across party lines. In an email to ThinkProgress, Peter LeClair, an out of work investment manager from New York, said he has been a lifelong Republican. But he “will never vote for a Republican, as long as I live” after watching them say that relying on unemployment benefits makes people dependent. “I am incensed with this Rand Paul,” he said, who has said extending the benefits would “do a disservice” to those who were relying on them. “He says I am lazy… I am not lazy, how dare he. He doesn’t even know me.”
LeClair says he has sent out over 2,000 resumes and been “rejected on a daily basis.” The benefits, which he pointed out he paid into while he worked for more than 20 years, were the only think keeping him “glued together financially.” He said he is “absolutely shocked and dismayed” with Republicans, reiterating, “I will never, so help me god, vote for a Republican again, period.”
Of course, LeClair’s not the only one. “I read these politicians’ opinions of the unemployed and am furious at the implication as it correlates to my situation,” says another. Yet another says she “was barely making ends meet with what little bit of benefits I was receiving. Now that they have expired, my children and I are literally homeless.”
Once you see what Republicans’ economic babble actually means to real people, once you become one of the many, many groups of Americans they tell lies about, the GOP doesn’t seem like a party with such great ideas anymore. Once Republicanism meets your personal reality, you find they just don’t mix.
Of course, the first clue should’ve been the glaring inconsistencies in GOP messaging; a rocky recovery and high unemployment are the fault of economic policies one minute, then they’re the fault of lazy, work-rejecting “takers” the next. It would be helpful if they made up their minds before they opened their mouths. Never mind that there are roughly three jobseekers for every job, if everyone just hunkers down and looks really, really hard and wishes with all their little heart, everyone can find work — because math is science and science is of the devil. In Republican World, three is not greater than one, three is equal to one; mostly because anything else would screw up their messaging on unemployment benefits.
As I wrote yesterday, the best Democratic recruiting tool is probably Republicans.
Here’s the problem with the conservative approach to problem-solving: when a Republican sees a problem, they immediately look for someone to punish. Oddly, that someone is usually the person suffering from the problem. So if you’re hungry, no food stamps. If you’re poor, no assistance. If you’re unemployed, no benefits. It’s like seeing someone on the side of the road with a flat, pulling over, and beating them with the tire iron — then driving away assuming you fixed their flat.
The only thing Republicans seem to think people in struggling families should get from anyone is bullets from Second Amendment Heroes standing their ground against them. Free rein for Wall Street; free bullets in the chest for working people.
You almost wish you could make everyone who votes Republican live the lives of the people Republicans attack, if only for a few days. But of course, this is a cruel wish. Just because a Republican who’s been mugged by their party becomes a Democrat, it’s no good reason to wish them a beating.
We’re better than that. After all, we aren’t Republicans.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons]