Democrats have gone from a state of denial about inflation to just plain ignorance of inflation’s impact on the American public.
This is according to Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), a single mother of three. She has a better idea about the impact of inflation than most of the Democrats in Congress. But she’s finding it difficult if not impossible to make the hardship real to her fellow Democrats.
They just don’t get it. This is why, more than any other reason, they are going to be in for a shellacking in November.
For Porter, the episode revealed how much work Democrats still need to do to assure voters they understand everyday anxieties, particularly inflation’s strain on family budgets. She’s not alone: Some Democrats have warned for months their party is falling short when it comes to communicating to an increasingly exasperated public.
And the same challenge of effective messaging exists on a very different issue, now that Roe v. Wade could fall at the Supreme Court within weeks. That threat to abortion rights is existential enough for many Democratic voters that it could drive midterm turnout, if the party can stay attuned to its base’s fierce energy.
This mirage is likely to persist until election day. The “fierce energy” of the radicals is nothing compared to the rage felt by ordinary Democratic and Republican voters about prices.
Inflation is robbery and the voters know it. And no one likes to be robbed. The abortion issue will settle down by November. Those who choose to see it will realize that it’s not the end of the world. But inflation threatens the middle class like nothing else. It makes a joke of saving for the future and smashes the dreams of everyone from students to retirees.
And the Democrats don’t see it.
“Conveying is part of it. But first, you have to see it. Voters are very quick to be able to sense when something is hollow rhetoric,” Porter said. “It’s not about just switching up your talking points. It’s about seeing the issues.”
Democrats have worked feverishly on more plans to tackle record price hikes: Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing to vote on a gas-prices package before Memorial Day. Members are holding town halls to tout their work on a manufacturing bill to help supply chain snags. State officials have proposed rebate checks for gas and slashing grocery taxes.
High gas prices are a symptom of what’s wrong. Bribing people by paying their gas bills won’t address the underlying problem. Everything — literally everything — is going up in price. Cable bills, wireless bills, interest on credit cards — everything.
It took three years of terrible economic pain in the early 1980s to wring inflation out of the economy. Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long today.