We have no doubt voters will embrace an optimistic view of the American character and what Americans can achieve, as the president declared before the United Auto Workers: “[No] matter how tough times get, Americans are tougher. No matter how many punches we take, we don’t give up. We get up. We fight back. We move forward.” But the country is not ready for a Reagan-like “Morning in America.” In any case, a story that concludes with “America is back” contradicts the idea that “this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class.”
We believe that the second story and choice centered on the middle class is the much more powerful way to win this election and govern afterward. Above all, it is situated in the deep problems people believe will control whether they and the country succeed. Those were reflected in the president’s speech at Osawatomie, Kansas… A large majority of 54 percent says it makes them more likely to support Barack Obama and Democratic leaders—10 points above the Republican vote and equal to Obama’s 2008 vote for president. Intensity of support in a middle-class narrative is 8 points higher than any other narrative, Democratic or Republican.
When progressives offer this story, they do not need to argue with voters about their economic condition or whether we face uncertain headwinds in the period ahead. It is incontestably an election about the middle class and about America’s future. Within that story, voters will take the measure of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and decide who has the right priorities on how to rescue the middle class, build a strong American economy, and address our long-term deficits.
James We want this election because we need to smash this aberration of a Republican Party. That’s the main reason we want it so badly. This story gives the Democrats the best chance of winning in November. And it’s not just about winning—winning is always good, but it also means President Obama and the Democrats have a chance of governing and fixing this mess.
Need a daily dose of political wisdom and wit from James Carville and Stan Greenberg? SIGN UP HERE for a subscription to THE CARVILLE-GREENBERG MEMO, featuring exclusive video, original analysis, surveys, and much more. Powered by The National Memo and it’s totally free!
But we’re only going to get there if we raise the stakes and address the actual character of America. If we do that we can redefine the Republicans into obscurity for a generation, like FDR did in his campaign speech in 1932 when he championed the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid,” and in the 1936 State of the Union when he aligned the Republicans with the “resplendent economic autocracy” that fights to control government in order to achieve the “power for themselves, enslavement for the public.” FDR defined his opponents, then he consigned them to the margins where they belonged.
This is just such a time, we believe. Everything is on the line for the ordinary, hardworking people who have fallen victim to another resplendent economic autocracy that flushes their dreams away while incomes surge at the very top of that same pyramid as corporate lobbyists and their money dominate politics. It’s time to bring down this house of cards. If the election is not “just a matter of math” on how we pay for critical national goals but a referendum on whether we will be a middle-class country, the Republican Party can become an anachronism. They will own all of their inexplicable efforts to block affordable and universal education, to undermine our systems of retirement and health care for the middle class, and they’ll sit out there on the golden margins complaining with the richest people just how unfair life is.
Stan But we’ll be honest with you: Only if Obama and the Democrats run on the principle that “it’s the middle class, stupid!” do we have any chance as a country to address the state of the middle class and their dreams, expressed with some anguish and hope by people in this book. We owe it to them. The deep problems at the heart of this book have to be at the heart of our politics.
Copyright 2012 The National Memo