Friday, October 26, 2007

Can the Dems Control the Issues?

The professor writes:

Rumors that Obama’s campaign is already floundering may either be true or only the result of successful media maneuvering by Hillary’s campaign. Certainly Obama hasn’t been helping himself out. Either way, most disturbing is how the campaign talk so far has not been driven by Democratic issues, despite the sorry lot of Republicans in the race, the persistent ineptitude and unpopularity of the Bush regime, and more importantly, Right-wing fears that Democrats might make income inequality the issue.

How scared are they? Well in the past two weeks the Wall Street Journal has published several articles and columns stating, respectively, that income inequality: is increasing and will prove a problem for Republicans, is increasing but is not much of problem because money is not what makes people happy, hasn’t increased at all but only reflects changes in the way income is reported.

Why all the worry? Well it’s because the WSJ editors know that if the Dems manage to stay on message about bread and butter democracy issues, then the Republicans don’t stand much of a chance. Ironically, all of the leading Democratic contenders have—if only modestly—proposals that address this issue, but I suspect that most would-be voters don’t know it, and probably won’t anytime soon because the candidates seem to feel it is more important to pander to so-called “values” voters than to define the key value—equality—that is the core of a democracy and the only way that Democratic candidates can make an electoral victory possible and meaningful.

And anyone who says that the only way to woo the black vote in South Carolina is to play the religion card by becoming a gospel music impresario should take a look at the South Carolina Labor Party, which, with only minimal resources, secured a statewide ballot line by gathering more than 16,500 signatures (only 10,000 were required) from working class black and white South Carolinians. What did the Labor Party say to these South Carolinians? We know you need living-wage jobs, effective schools, and universal health care, and we’re going to fight to get you those things. Black and white South Carolinians are quite capable of keeping two distinct ideas in mind: Jesus and democracy—without blurring the two needlessly. This is something the Obama campaign should have considered before inviting homophobic gospel singers to help them pander to the voters in SC.

1 comment:

the professor said...

Thanks Red Rabbit. As a follow up I should have added that, Robert Reich in Salon writes on this same issue, observing,

"If the Democrats stand for anything, it's a fair allocation of the responsibility for paying the costs of maintaining this nation. So far, neither the Democratic candidates for president nor the Senate Democrats have shown much eagerness to advocate this fundamental principle. It seems the rich have bought them out."

According to Reich, the Democrats are reluctant to change the tax code so that those super rich private equity and hedge fund managers, whose whopping earnings are contributing to income inequality, will have their earnings taxed as income rather than as capital gains as they are now. Why won't the Democrats come across for higher taxes on this segment of the super rich? It turns out that Democrats are getting more campaign contributions these days from hedge-fund and private-equity partners than are the Republicans. According to Reich, "In the run-up to the 2006 election, donations from hedge-fund employees were running better than 2-to-1 Democratic. The party doesn't want to bite the hands that feed.