Democrats have made sure that Americans are angry. Despite their open-armed populism, they have excluded the middle class from the benefits of the targeted spending passed off as a recovery. The strategy has its advantages. Democrats have successfully sold big government dependence and instilled fear in the middle class by keeping the number of unemployed at record levels. They have managed to maintain support for an agenda they claim will save us from exactly the type of recklessness the president is selling on the campaign trail. Special interests have been kept on the back burner, waiting for everything from gay marriage to legalizing illegal immigrants. All they have to do is offer their dollars and votes one more time.
The president has shamelessly repackaged his failures for resale to the middle class:
It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society’s problems. It is a view that says in America we are greater together — when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share.¹
Democratic inclusion has become little more than a tired illusion sold by telling the middle class they are not getting a fair shake from the Republicans. The truth is that Democrats have taken steps to make it easier for foreign students and entrepreneurs to compete with Americans attending college, starting businesses, and looking for work (see: Competitiveness Means Making a Buck Off of Foreign Students). Businesses have been scared away from hiring because of new laws like the Affordable Care Act, regulations that threaten to weigh owners down with red tape, and unending threats directed at corporate America.
Inclusion is easy for Democrats because everyone has come to expect it from them and they run their mouths tirelessly about it every chance they get. The bad news for the middle class is that Democrats have done little to make it happen. Real inclusion is a problem because it ignores the “special” in special interests. If the president has accomplished one thing since 2009, he has made sure that special interests have gained at the expense of the middle class while the number of unemployed continues to argue against his claims of success at job creation.
Exclusion should be easy for the Republicans. They have already been tried and found guilty of exclusion by Democrats who refer to the president’s reelection quest as a “make or break moment” for the middle class. Republicans are being handed quite an opportunity to shift the emphasis of their 2012 election strategy. Do they see it?
Americans are angry and have every right and reason to stay that way. Trying to compete with a litany of half-baked claims about Barack Obama’s successes, and selling policies and projects like the Keystone Pipeline that speak to partisan differences only earns votes from those who would vote Republican anyway. Instead of telling voters what they are going to spend on and who will benefit, the GOP should try telling them who they are not going to spend on and who will stop receiving the benefits of our tax dollars. Angry, unemployed Americans need to be convinced that their futures have been stolen by unions, government workers, legal and illegal immigrants, failing clean energy companies, and every other special interest lucky enough to be swept into the embrace of the Democratic Party at the expense of the middle class.
Democrats have sold America down the river, but they still manage to ensure that Americans are angry at Republican economic policies portrayed as handing our future to banks and the wealthy. House Republicans put an end to the special interest feeding frenzy, but it is going to take a lot more than defensive tit for tat responses to campaign trail accusations to prevail in November. Anger and negativity are useful, volatile tools the Republicans need to harness and point in the direction of those who created the problems the GOP is being blamed for.