January 28, 2015

WELL, LOOK AT HOW THEY TREAT THE TEA PARTY, WHICH IS A VERY MIDDLE-CLASS MOVEMENT: Why are Republicans so weirdly hesitant to talk about America’s middle class?

The paucity of “middle” mentions is bizarre. The story of this anemic economic recovery — and really of the entire 2000s — is how poorly America’s broad middle has done. Countless news stories and research reports have highlighted the middle class’ financial struggles. Clearly, Democrats have gone long on “middle class” for 2016. In his recent State of the Union speech, President Obama coined a new term for his policy agenda: “middle-class economics.” And the Center for American Progress, the “ready for Hillary” think tank, recently produced a lengthy report devoted to solutions for middle-class woes.

But weirdly, much of the GOP is reluctant to explicitly target the middle, either with rhetoric or ideas. It’s not necessarily that Republicans don’t care about the 99 percent. They just think their way is better than the Democrats’ way, even if it’s less obviously and directly helpful to the middle class. This is the party that believes “a rising tide lifts all boats,” that faster economic growth is the best path to shared prosperity. To concede otherwise is to challenge one of the modern party’s first principles. Moreover, many think mentioning the “middle class” by name — much less pushing policies to directly help it — smacks of “class warfare” and uses the language of Karl Marx. As Rick Santorum, one GOPer who has actually focused on the middle, has put it, “since when in America do we have classes? Since when in America are people stuck in areas or defined places called a class? That’s Marxism talk.”

Neither party in this country really wants the middle class to wake up and seize control. Dems can talk about it because they know they won’t rouse it. Republicans can’t talk about it for fear that they will.

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