Red, Blue & You: Power to People’s Pocketbooks
The economy tops the list of voters’ concerns and Democrats must convey a compelling message about reversing decades of income inequality.
It’s the economy, stupid.
The saying has reverberated throughout politics for the last 30 years. It’s one coined by Bill Clinton advisor James Carville back in 1992.
It was one of three core themes in Clinton’s first campaign for president, a campaign that resulted in him winning 370 electoral votes to George H.W. Bush’s 168, one of the biggest blowouts in modern history. By seizing on voter fears about the recession and pinning the blame on Bush, Clinton was able to cruise to victory.
Not much has changed since then. In almost every survey of voter opinions, the economy tops the list of concerns, often by double or even triple as much as the next highly rated issue. What voters think of the economy and which party they believe is best suited to make it stronger are good predictors for electoral success.
Today, inflation is running rampant throughout the country. 2022 has marked rates of inflation that are the highest in 40 years. People have felt that pain at the gas pump, at the grocery store and in the housing market.
The middle class is shrinking and struggling while wealth is more concentrated among the wealthiest 1% of families in the United States. They hold about 40% of all wealth and the bottom 90% of families hold less than one-quarter of all wealth. Georgia is doing even worse.
According to the California-based World Population Review, a nonpolitical organization that aims to present data in understandable terms, Georgia ranks 7th in the nation for income inequality. That’s comparable to countries such as Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela in terms of how wealth is divided.
We have one of the lowest minimum wages and among the fewest protections for workers. All of these factors are contributing to the financial pain of Georgians and can be directly attributed to conservative fiscal policies.
However, as we have seen time and time again, it does not matter what precipitated that pain. Electorally speaking, all that matters is who is in charge when that pain is felt.
Right now, that happens to be President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party who have struggled to offer a cohesive message about how to get inflation under control and protect people’s pocketbooks. While it is not too late to find the right path, time is ticking down to the 2022 midterms and Georgia’s statewide races.
It is up to the Democrats running in Georgia to create their own message and offer their own solutions, ones that will be all the more necessary if control of either chamber of Congress is lost to Republicans this year.
There are fights on many fronts – a woman’s right to choose, LGBTQ+ equality and even our ability to stop white nationalist domestic terrorism are all on the line this year. While we can and should make our case on those issues, we have to come back to our core message: It’s the economy, stupid.
We have to make a clear and convincing case for how our state can become not just the best place to run a business but to work in one.
We have to gear our policies towards rebuilding a broken middle class and then talk about those policies again and again and again.
So far, the only concrete step that our conservative state leadership has taken has been suspending the gas tax, which is like throwing a band-aid over a bullet wound. We need broad policies that will help reverse the decades of growing inequality that have reduced Georgian’s buying power year after year.
This pain has gone on long enough and will only get worse if something doesn’t change. No political party can control inflation (that lies in the domain of price-gouging companies, many of which are reaping record profits throughout this crisis) but what we can do is return power back to the people.
Not just a few of the people, all of them. If we can’t make a case for that, we’ll lose our nascently purple Georgia in 2022.
And we’ll deserve it