Populism is what Barack Obama is selling. Will Americans buy it?
Having traveled considerably in third world countries and having lived in one for the last twenty years, I know a little bit about populism. When the vast majority in a country are truly have-nots, populism is an easy sell. ironically, when an economic crisis grips the world, there are two classes of people who are unaffected by it: the very, very rich and the very, very poor. For the very, very poor things can’t get worse. When an economy collapses, they don’t even notice because they were never part of the economy in the first place.
The poor in the United States are not even close to being poor by third world standards. But, that doesn’t matter. Being poor is relative. My experience tells me that for a populus movement to win there must at least be a majority of people who consider themselves have-nots. Also, the have-nots must believe that the reason they are have-nots is due to those that have. Do we have such a situation in the US today? I don’t think so. Although nearly 50% of families pay no federal income tax, I don’t believe that those who fall short of earning enough to have to income tax consider themselves as have-nots.
So, how does Obama and his radical left supporters expect to win with a populist approach? Victor Davis Hanson says:
If Obama can cobble together disaffected young people, greens, women, minorities, and the poor — who all believe some nefarious “they” have crushed their dreams — then massive debt and deficits, high unemployment, sluggish growth, and spiraling gas prices won’t decide the election.
Greg Sargent says:
Obama’s challenge is to argue that combatting inequality and tax fairness are all about promoting opportunity and mobility — that the two are connected, and that the Republican argument is premised on a false choice between the two. He will argue that addressing those inequities is the only way to ensure that government can continue investing in the country’s economic future and in shoring up the middle class.
We know that this election like all elections will be determined by the so-called swing voters. Ari Berman takes issue with the centrist Democrat group Third Way:
The centrist Democratic group Third Way has a new report out about “Swing Independents,” who they claim are the Soccer Moms/Reagan Democrats/Rockefeller Republicans of 2012
These Swing Independents, according to Third Way, make up 15 percent of the electorate and currently favor Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 44 percent to 38 percent. But despite their soft pro-Obama leanings, Third Way argues that Obama’s populist message of economic fairness is turning these voters off. Swing Independents care about “opportunity,” not fairness, prioritize cutting the deficit over reducing income inequality, don’t believe the US economy is skewed to favor the wealthy and “consider themselves to be haves, not part of the have nots,” according to the report.
This week a new ABC News/Washington Post poll asked voters: “what do you think is the bigger problem in this country—unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy, or over-regulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity?” Fifty-two percent answered “unfairness,” while only “37 percent” mentioned “over-regulation.” A December 2011 Pew poll found that 61 percent of Americans believe the US economic system “favors the wealthy,” with 36 percent saying it was “generally fair.” In a November 2011 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 61 percent of the public said the federal government should “pursue policies that try to reduce the gap between wealthy and less-well-off Americans,” with 35 percent saying it should not. So much for the canard that income inequality is an issue the public doesn’t care about.
It can’t be any more clear as to the strategy of Obama and the left. It will be divide and conquer. The man who was elected in 2008 on a platform of unity and hope and change will now run as the Marxist-populist he always was. After a century of moving America to the left a bit at a time, Obama believes America is ready for the big and final push. Will his divide and conquer strategy work? The voters will decide in November. More correctly, the independent voters will decide. I’m betting that the Third Way’s analysis of the independent voters is correct. I’m betting that Obama is wrong. If Romney and company can resist the trap of going on defense and stay on the offense with a positive plan for America, I believe the American voters will make the RIGHT choice even if it is not a great choice.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?