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February 18, 2005

Some Help from Our "Friends"

If Class War Rhetoric is so Bad for Dems, Why Do Republicans Keep Advising Them to Avoid It?

You've got to wonder why conservatives are so solicitous for Democrats to regain power by avoiding such appeals. The latest installment is MSNBC commentator Lawrence Kudlow arguing that the middle class doesn't buy the rhetoric:

According to exit polls from last November's presidential election, middle-income voters showed no signs of supporting class-warfare policies. In the $50,000 to $75,000 income group, which comprised 23 percent of last year's electorate, Bush defeated Kerry 56 percent to 43 percent. Bush also won the next higher income bracket, the 14 percent of voters earning between $75,000 and $100,000, by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. All in all, exit polls showed that people earning $50,000 and above -- a group representing 55 percent of all voters -- went for Bush 56 percent to 43 percent.

It would appear that the middle class once more rejected a class-warfare, tax-the-rich platform.

It's interesting that Ludlow thinks these are the best statistics to support his point-- and they are -- since he can't find support in polls on actual policy items, where tax-the-wealthy and defend the working poor politics are incredibly popular. Let's list a few items:

  • More than two-thirds of voters think the wealthy should pay taxes on all their wages to bolster social security.
  • 80% of Americans think the financial malfeasance of Enron and WorldCom are widespread in corporate America, and 57% of Americans think white collor crime occurs "very often" in American businesses.
  • Roughly 80% of the population supports raising the minimum wage; 72% voted to do so just last fall in "red state" Florida.
  • Expanding health care is overwhelmingly popular; one poll found that 84% of the population agreed with the statement, "Health care should be provided equally to everyone, just as public education is."

    That's a pretty nice public opinion cushion for progressive politicians to build a populist politics built around holding the wealthy and corporate America accountable, making them pay their fair share of taxes, and helping working Americans with higher wages and health care.

    If progressives have political problems, it's due to fears generated by the Bush administration over terrorism and over social issues like abortion. But if the Democrats abandoned populist economic issues, they'd lose one of the key areas where they have strong built-in popularity. Which of course is the point of "friends" like Kudlow giving their advice.

    Posted by Nathan at February 18, 2005 08:35 AM