Sunday :: Nov 9, 2014

Letting the GOP Steal Populism

by Deacon Blues

In Salon today, Thomas Frank makes a crucial point about what just happened in the midterm elections: Once the GOP money class scared Democrats away from running a populist campaign on economic grounds against GOP obstructionism, it left that argument wide open for those same GOP plutocrats to steal it and beat the Democrats over the head with it. And it worked.

Frank notes that the Koch brothers and Karl Rove ran a populist campaign against Democrats, using some of the same arguments that Democratic incumbents should have used against their corporate GOP challengers, and did it with the advantage of unlimited and untraceable corporate cash thanks to the treason foisted upon us with Citizens United. Democrats could have run this same campaign against the GOP, focusing largely on economic issues and how the GOP obstructionism of these last six years has cost middle America, younger voters, and yes, immigrants of economic opportunity. Instead, as I argued earlier this week, the party ran on cultural issues and never even talked about kitchen-table issues in an election where the electorate doesn't want to hear about anything except security and dollars and cents.

As Frank notes, Democrats fell victim to their own narrative that they've become so good at data mining and turnout operations that they can overcome GOP advantages with their base electorate and win elections regardless. But numbers are numbers, and the Democrats' base electorate doesn't vote consistently like the GOP's does. This managerial class of Democrats that feels they can accomplish anything because Obama's campaign team won two national elections has now been slaughtered in two midterm elections because they have simply forgot what James Carville told them 22 years ago: "It's the economy, stupid."

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