How Barack Obama Wins The Middle.
Face it — the message is not there yet,
For McCain we have the 2000 McCain being trumped by the 2008 model, trying to synch with the very people he despised in 2000. Giving little sign that he cares much about any position he takes, rather than about its current traction.
For Barack it is a case of feast AND famine. He has issues and positions knocked, as any visitor to this page can grasp by clicking on the issues links below. But people still can’t tell who he is and whether he will be an ineffective liberal, even if he has a majority, or an artful creator of a progressive centrism which can actually bring about significant change.
This page is concerned with the Obama problem. We know, if we listen, that Barack’s priorities are health care, addressing climate change amd winding down the war in Iraq. But that does not cut it.
The reason is that we do not have a CODE down. What should that code be?
Safe streets, successful marriages, cultural solidarity and vibrant religious and civic institutions make working-class Americans more likely to be wealthy, healthy and upwardly mobile. Public disorder, family disintegration, cultural fragmentation and civic and religious disaffection, on the other hand, breed downward mobility and financial strain — which in turn breeds further social dislocation, in a vicious cycle that threatens to transform a working class into an underclass. SOURCE
Barack needs to cast everything he says into this rhetorical frame, with UPWARD FAMILY MOBILITY the goal. With making neighborhoods secure and safe. With strengtening marriages — an argument for equalizing salaries between men and women. With strengthening of cultural and religious institutions. With reducing financial strain BECAUSE it enables families to look forward with confidence, etc.
Don’t confuse “being pro-market with being pro-business, … failing to distinguish between spending that fosters dependency and spending that fosters independence and upward mobility, and by shrinking from the admittedly difficult task of reforming the welfare state so that it serves the interests of the working class rather than the affluent.” SOURCE
This is delicate. The goal is to show how Barack’s pay-as-you-go programs, with liberal use of tax credits and incentives, is NOT some wasteful boondoggle, but an economic policy that aims at making families more independent, not HELPING but rather giving a hand up, investing in the future, putting government at the side of families. Working to strengthen markets in order to strengthen families.
MAKING PROGRESS WORK FOR EVERYONE As with the quotes above, I am drawing from Norman Ornstein’s review of GRAND NEW PARTY How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream. By Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam. 244 pp. Doubleday. $23.95.
They advocate a family-friendly tax reform that vastly expands the child tax credit and provides both pension credits for household labor and tuition credits for years spent rearing children. They call for improving the stock of affordable housing and also for “progressive cost-sharing,” so that more out-of-pocket health costs are paid by the well-to-do. They want a reduction in payroll taxes for lower-income workers in return for means-testing Social Security benefits, along with wage subsidies for low-income workers to make less-educated single male workers more desirable marriage partners. They draw ideas from the Brookings Institution’s neoliberal Hamilton Project and from the Clinton administration (adding “thousands of new police officers” sounds suspiciously like the Clintonian promise of 100,000 new cops on the street that drew ridicule from Republicans in the 1990s).
Their remedies are meant to be suggestions rather than concrete proposals. But most of these ideas will resonate more with progressive pragmatists like Ron Wyden and Barney Frank and eclectic Republicans like Chuck Hagel and Arnold Schwarzenegger than with conservative Republican leaders like John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. SOURCE
The Roosevelt majority helped save the ideal of a self-sufficient working class, which had been central to American life from the beginning. And it did so by mixing economic liberalism with social conservatism, a potent political combination that raised America’s working class, our democracy’s natural political majority, to heights of security and self-confidence unseen before and since.SOURCE
Maternalist thinkers — Jane Addams, Josephine Baker, Julia Lathrop, Florence Kelley, and Frances Kellor, among several others — devised a highly original ideological synthesis to address the threat that industrialization posed to the working class. Addams’s famous Hull House defended the interests of women and children by attacking poverty’s roots in social atomization, and the network of Settlement Houses that imitated Hull House’s success were incubators for policy innovation on a national scale. Their founders pushed for child labor laws, for public schools that taught homemaking as well as bookkeeping, for campaigns to reduce infant and maternal mortality, and for symbolic statements like the establishment of Mother’s Day. They tugged at the heartstrings of American voters, framing their cause as a simple matter of “baby-saving.” As Lillian Wald, founder of the Henry Street Settlement, put it, “If the government can have a department to take such an interest in the cotton crop, why can’t it have a bureau to look after the nation’s child crop?” SOURCE
This is food for thought for the framing of a centrist-progressive message for Barack Obama, one that will resonate with the bitter and suspicious middle. One that has the consistency and simplicity of a three point message, where the issues and policies are referred to as means to the end, not ends in themselves.
The ends in themselves would be:
FAMILIES MADE MORE SECURE
A MARKET THAT WORKS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE — GIVING A HAND UP, NOT A HAND OUT
GOING FORWARD NOT BACKWARD — PROGRESS FOR ALL
RANDI RHODES MAKES SENSE AS USUAL
HUSSEIN NAME CHANGES NOTED IN NYTIMES.
YESTERDAY: Are FISA Hissy Fits Premature? (Plus) GROVER NORQUIST PLAYS THE RACE CARD WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT, PREFIGURING REPUBLICAN ELECTION STANCE and MCCAIN ON OFFSHORE DRILLING (Video) and MCCAIN DEALS WITH THE AGE QUESTION AND CALLS QUESTIONER A LITTLE JERK (Video) and MCCAIN COVERS UP POW INFORMATION, VETS TESTIFY (Video) For specific campaign-related and other topics, please use the SEARCH BLOG field to your upper left. LABELS
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