Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Joel Kotkin's Warning to the GOP ( The Party That Blows Its Own Toes Off) -Stick up for the Middle Class

. . . under the first African-American president the employment rate for black men now sits at a record low since the government started measuring the statistic four decades ago.

This recovery has been particularly parlous to the middle class, of all races. Despite the massive stimulus, small businesses — the traditional engines of job growth and upward mobility — have barely gotten off the matt. Indeed, according to a recent National Federation of Independent Business survey, they are now more likely to reduce payrolls than expand them.

Many blue-collar and middle-class Americans are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the future and their children’s chances for achieving their level of well-being. Middle-age college graduates, who supported Obama previously, increasingly have shifted from the administration. Even the young seem to have lost their once fervent enthusiasm. After all, they are seeing their prospects dim dramatically.

In Wisconsin the GOP tried an idiotic dodge to stack the Primaries with Plants and had their asses handed to them. The GOP treats victory like so many Lotto winners - they are broke and worse off after the Big Win.

President Obama has proven himself to be the back-bencher empty suit that many Americans suspected him to be, yet, the GOP is running against President Obama and not for the people his endlessly haughty ineptitudes have harmed.

Instead of treating the patient for skin cancer, Doc Elephant orders a hip replacement. Working to solve the economic undertow destroying the American Middle Class should be the only concern of any Presidential Candidate. Instead, GOP candidates play parlor tricks with social issues. Worse,like the dummies in the Wisconsin GOP, they take pages out of the Progressive Playbook. SEIU/ACORN idiocies should not be a two-way street.

I have been reading Joel Kotkin for years. The guy is a smart and sober observer of social, demographic and political trends. Today in Forbes, Mr. Kotkin offers a stern warning to the Party that Blow Off Its Own Toes:

Of course, not all the blame belongs to the White House. The formerly Democrat-controlled Congress largely ignored the middle class’ concerns over the economy and jobs. Instead they focused on health care — which, according to the Pew Foundation survey, ranks as only a middling concern among voters — and climate change, which ranked dead last among the top 20 issues for the electorate.

Even with the Main Street economy grasping for air, Congress chose to impose new regulations and taxes on the entrepreneurial class. Meanwhile Washington has given huge government support to often marginal green ventures such as Tesla, which is building $80,000 plus electric cars. Such assistance was not extended to the struggling garment-maker or semiconductor plant forced to compete globally largely on their own.

Of course Democrats resort to stirring up class resentments, but their credibility is thin. After all it’s New York Sen. Charles Schumer, not some fat-cat Republican, who remains the financial industry’s designated hitter on the Hill. Instead of chastising the big financial institutions, the administration has largely coddled them. Despite the obvious abuses behind the financial crisis, there have been virtually no prosecutions against what Theodore Roosevelt once identified as “the malefactors of great wealth.”

This has created a class divide large enough to propel a Republican sweep next year. Some Republicans, like former Bush aide Ryan Streeter, understand this opportunity. Streeter argues for the GOP to become more economically populist approach. He calls for an “aspiration agenda” based on policies to spark private sector economic growth and a wide range of entrepreneurial ventures. To succeed, the GOP needs a viable alternative to middle and working class voters who are losing faith in Obama-style crony capitalism but who do not want to replace it with policies focused on enhancing the bottom-lines of the top 1% of the population.

Yet at a time when people are worried primarily about paying their bills and prospects for their children, many Republicans seem determined to campaign on social fundamentalism, something that is already distressingly evident in the Iowa primary race. This may have worked in the past, in generally more prosperous times. Right now what sane person thinks gay marriage is the biggest issue facing the nation?

Neither right-wing ideology nor mindless support for corporate needs constitute a winning strategy in a nation plagued by a sense that the system works only for the rich and well-connected. Only by focusing on working and middle class concerns can the GOP permanently separate the people from the party which pretends to represent them.

Listen hard. Right now, President Obama looks like a lock for a second term.

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