At the end of Frank Rich’s column, he describes a “moral values” voter:
…people like Cary and Tara Leslie, archetypal Ohio evangelical “Bush votes come to life” apotheosized by The Washington Post right after Election Day. The Leslies swear by “moral absolutes,” support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and mostly watch Fox News. Mr. Leslie has also watched his income drop from $55,000 to $35,000 since 2001, forcing himself, his wife and his three young children into the ranks of what he calls the “working poor.” Maybe by 2008 some Democrat will figure out how to persuade him that it might be a higher moral value to worry about the future of his own family than some gay family he hasn’t even met.
There are two issues here that are interrelated:
1) how to persuade him to vote based on economic issues
2) how will the Democrats actually increase his income
While Kerry throughout the campaign kept repeating over and over that employment and the economy were bad, he never said what he would do about it. By the same token, the Democrats have not formulated an economic recovery program. How would they increase Mr. Leslie’s salary? I don’t see how Democrats, as long as we (I hate lumping myself in with Shrum et al.) keep running away from government intervention and government job creation (except for farm aid and defense spending in primarily Republican districts). There are a lot of steps between balancing the budget and increasing Mr. Leslie’s income (if there’s a link at all). Right now, I really don’t think balancing the federal budget is a priority for the Leslie family.
Now that I’m on this jag: has ever occurred to anyone that emphasizing balanced budgets is like trickle-down economics–it doesn’t help middle class people in the short term. I understand why the Democrats had to embrace this policy to try to stop Republican birth taxes (“tax cuts”). Yet one more step in the Democratic political Long March…