The mid-term election will be here before we know it. The administration has taken to calling those who do not fall into lockstep with the decision to go to war in Iraq fascists. Nice. The last time that I checked I live in America. Under my Constitution, I have a right to an opinion even if it does not agree with the government. I do not agree with anything this administration has done but they are permitted to speak. I would defend that right. While Bushie and company are putting our Constitution in the shredder, outsourcing jobs and blowing through a budget surplus faster than a teenager with daddy's credit card, what are the Democrats doing? Engaging in a verbal dance about whether they represent the poor black people or middle class white folks.
Are you kidding me?
During the recent housing boom, Mr. & Mrs. Middle America bought more house because the interest rates were so low. Or worse they think they got more for their money because of ARMs. The fast-talking mortgage brokers glossed over the fine print. But predatory lending only happens to "those" people.
Winter is fast approaching which means increased energy usage. More house, more energy. I don't know about you but I haven't seen a decrease from my energy supplier in the 20 years that I have been paying my bills.
If Mr. & Mrs. America admit it, they are one paycheck away from being one of "those" people. A day doesn't go by that it is reported that Americans are not saving. ANYTHING. To compound the problem, Americans are spending more than they are taking in. White-collar raises are not keeping pace with the cost of living increases.
How are they taking care of the bills? Credit cards. The average person doesn't read the fine print on the credit card solicitation with any greater care than the mortgage. Nor have they been reading the fine print associated with the tax cuts that this administration has insisted upon. I am all for tax breaks, but I do not spend more than I take in. Eventually, you and I will have to pay our home and government's bills.
I forgot, bad things only happen to "those" people. Oh, the list is endless: from being "lazy" to "lack of desire." Bullshit.
Many of the jobs that provide a living wage are gone. I doubt that the seniors who are bagging groceries in the yuppie grocery store are doing it just to get out of the house. I suspect they are there because the corporations did not fund the pensions. Those people worked for corporations 20-30 years, helped them make a lot of money for the shareholders for the promise of retiring with a pension. When it was time for the corporations to deliver on their end of the promise they change the rules, with the government's permission. The ERISA statute was shredded before the Constitution.
The Dems have assumed that poverty only exists in the colored community and that the only leaders in the minority community are Jesse, Julian and Al. These assumptions have made the poor white people and religious middle class blacks easy prey for the Republican party.
The Republicans appeal to the average American's ego. The average American is more inclined to think he or she will become rich versus becoming one of those poor people. The fear and disillusion are palatable. The Republicans frame their message in plainspeak. Why? Because it works. The Democratic leadership refuses to speak so that they are heard. The result is that traditional Democrats have left the party - or simply stay home on election day.
One of my sales reps is a thirty-something father of three whose wife has the privilege of not working outside the home.
He was the first member in his card-carrying Catholic family to get a four-year degree. He is a registered Republican. Knowing his roots, I ask him why. "Because I want to be like them," was his explanation. I almost fell out of my chair. THEM? "Who is 'them'?" I challenged.
"Them" are rich, have nice homes, cars and send their kids to the best schools.
He wants to be rich. His wife has a master's degree in education, but insists that she stay home. This is his version of the American dream. As he pursues this dream, terror of not making his numbers and losing his job is everpresent. Fear is what drives him. He wants to be affiliated with a winner. The Republicans win. He pays more attention to the sports section than the opinion page. When he bothers to vote, he votes for the Republicans because the Democrats remind him of where he came from, not where he is going. To not make the six figures he is making is to consider himself a loser. Hmmmm.
The Dems have an opportunity to save themselves and the country if they have a clear concise, positive message that includes the poor and working-class, and the middle class, too - what is left of it.