Many commentators on the right — many I truly like and respect — are reading this election as a tipping point: Tocqueville’s nightmare come to life, when the voters realize they can use their franchise to pillage the public purse. Again: more takers than makers.
This might be true if the world were, in fact, divided into makers and takers. But, of course, it’s not. There is a group that far outnumbers either of these and it’s this group the Republicans have failed to reach: the workers.
For every entrepreneur who wonderfully creates six jobs, there are six guys and girls who set their alarms every morning and show up to do those jobs. They drive trucks, they hit keyboards, they make appointments, they lift boxes. When dynamic movers and shakers dynamically gather in the boardroom and act dynamic, they’re outside in the cubicles, or in the storeroom, or in the halls vacuuming the carpet. And they’re struggling. To raise children without a spouse. To keep their homes. To pay their bills.
In the old days, they had marriages and went to church and believed in the verities and could be reached by way of their values. But that is not so true anymore: a lot of them are not married and don’t go to church and have never even learned what the verities are. And, yes, that’s part of the reason they’re in trouble — and it’s something that must be addressed long term — but it doesn’t make their current difficulties any less and it doesn’t make them any less our neighbors, fellow citizens and children of God.
Now, before you say something in your comments you’ll regret — or should regret — this is not to endorse the freedom-killing and economy-destroying solutions of the left, which only create a nation of rulers and dependents. Barack Obama has been a disaster for the poor and the working class and, I believe, will continue to be so. But to pat a worker on the head with your cigar hand and say, basically, “Don’t worry, little man, an unfettered market lifts everyone,” is not going to win you his confidence or his vote. Reagan never did that. (Read the excellent WaPo piece by AEI’s Henry Olsen at the link.) Reagan always stood up and spoke up for the little guy. He identified with him and explained why his policies would help him. Many of today’s Republicans have lost that knack and given the game away in the process. That’s why the polls showed people shared Romney’s values but thought Obama cared about “people like me.”
It’s largely conservative policies that help the working guy and girl, but you have to let them know that and make sure they understand that government cares about them and will not abandon them if they fall off the bottom rung of the ladder. When one candidate is saying, “Tax the rich,” and the other is calling half the people moochers, both are wrong… but only one will win an election. We already know which one.