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Ron Radosh

How Conservatives Must Address the Issue of Income Inequality

October 28th, 2011 - 3:02 am

The problem today is a lack of confidence that opportunities still exist, and will be there in the future. The next election will be fought over these competing visions. Ryan points out that Obama “is barnstorming swing states, pushing a divisive message that pits one group of Americans against another on the basis of class.” As a result of this dishonest argument, Obama’s popularity is slowly rising. Meanwhile, the Republican nominees are fighting each other and leaving a void that Obama can fill. Republicans, following Ryan’s example, have to start addressing the serious problems Americans are facing. They must emphasize, as Ryan does, what has made us exceptional in the past, and then present a clear picture of how to get back on the path to prosperity.

As Ryan says: “We know all too well that too many Americans are hurting today.” It is in these periods, when times are tough, “when the pie is shrinking, when businesses are closing, and when workers are losing their jobs,” that the American idea is tested. To deal with these problems, President Obama engages in disingenuous arguments based on the concept of class warfare and the emphasis on egging on those in trouble to try and deal with their problems by squeezing the rich. As Ryan points out:

Nearly three years into his presidency, look at where we are now:

  • Petty and trivial? Just last week, the president told a crowd in North Carolina that Republicans are in favor of “dirtier air, dirtier water, and less people with health insurance.” Can you think of a pettier way to describe sincere disagreements between the two parties on regulation and health care?
  • Chronic avoidance of tough decisions? The president still has not put forward a credible plan to tackle the threat of ever-rising spending and debt, and it’s been over 900 days since his party passed a budget in the Senate.
  • A preference for scoring cheap political points instead of consensus-building? This is the same president who is currently campaigning against a do-nothing Congress, when in fact, the House of Representatives has passed over a dozen bills to help get the economy moving and deal with the debt, only to see the president’s party kill those bills in the do-nothing Senate.

The essence of the president’s approach, Ryan argues, is that “instead of working together where we agree, the president has opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past. He is going from town to town, impugning the motives of Republicans, setting up straw men and scapegoats, and engaging in intellectually lazy arguments as he tries to build support for punitive tax hikes on job creators.”

Ryan, better than any other Republican, articulates what every candidate should emphasize: the way to prosperity and to create opportunity for all is to promote economic growth combined with fiscal restraint in a manner that benefits all Americans, including those hurting today. But instead of doing this, what the president is doing in his lurch to the far left is to argue on behalf of the failed social-democratic and socialist policies of many of the European states, today verging on collapse.

All of this means the 2012 election is the Republicans’ chance to win. But unless all the candidates do what Paul Ryan has managed to explain in one speech, we may see the class warfare approach of Michael Moore and President Obama gaining support. Ryan concludes:

Given that the president’s policies have moved us closer to the European model, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that his class-based rhetoric has followed suit.

We shouldn’t be surprised … but we have every right to be disappointed. Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy, and resentment.

Ryan points out that we must stand against “corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless.” Put in this way, we have a winning argument that appeals to those who are suffering with the promise of restoring equality of opportunity, rather than mandating equality of results, which will make us all much poorer.

What Congressman Ryan had managed is to vividly point to the difference in approach between socialists and liberals, and conservatives. He has done so in a way that prevents our opponents from demonizing us as enemies of the poor and the middle class.

Ryan for vice president, anyone?

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