Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blacklisting the Middle Class

I admit it. Sometimes I'm slow to see the obvious.

I've mentioned here a few times that the purpose of some Republican talking points is preemptive strike: to defuse the power of accusations that they expect from the left. They expect these accusations because they know they are already engaging in the behavior they will be accused of.

For example, accuse liberals of undermining family values knowing you are having an affair. Compare Obama to Hitler to hide your own similarities. Mislabel end-of-life counseling as "death panels" to dilute the power of that term when it's correctly used to describe de facto operations of insurance companies.

I knew constant cries of "socialism" were preemptive strikes, but I could never figure out what they were trying to undermine. What were they worried about? I mean, who in their right mind looks at Stalin's reign and wants to emulate it?

It finally clicked when someone on Twitter was talking about redistribution of wealth, specifically how Reaganomics has sent wealth upstream from the middle class to the top 2% for about 30 years. I suspect that most Russians didn't consider the subtler points of political theory when they overthrew royal rule. They simply wanted a more equitable distribution of capital.

No wonder Republicans are worried.

I don't think that a revolution is the best way to redistribute wealth back to the middle classes. I don't think it's even in the top ten.

But isn't it interesting that Republicans seem to think so?

This is the bigger picture that I missed until now: not just favoring the rich, but relabeling a healthy middle class as socialism. Rushing toward plutocracy despite the fact that plutocracy has been shown to reduce quality of life for even the elite class.

No wonder they are afraid we may act irrationally--they already are.

And certainly it casts the tea parties in a new light. Certainly some of these people are just racist, and some are protecting their wealth. But some have legitimate unfocused anger about economic conditions. "Their America" that they want back is the one with a healthy middle class.

These people have been lured in by tea party rhetoric and an easy target for their anger: the government. They now believe that taxes are responsible for 30 years of slouching toward plutocracy.

Taxation is one of the more powerful and less violent tools to redistribute capital. Yet ignorant citizens have been programmed to protest even taxes that help them. (They are useful idiots, a term for political pawns coined by Hitler and recently resurrected by Republicans in Congress in another preemptive strike.)

Republicans have been effective with their "reeducation campaign" redefining pluralism as socialism and all tax and regulation, the tools of economic balance, as bad. But there are gaps. After the market crash, even free marketers have wondered if maybe regulation can have a positive impact.

Democrats made a start at winning the hearts of voters in 2008, but the biggest reason they won is because none of them was George Bush. Plenty of poor and middle class voters still believe that conservative politics is their best way to wealth, and it's not.

Before we can get any real change, we have to get more people behind the idea that a healthy middle class is good for everyone, and that the tools of wealth redistribution--regulation, taxation, and so on--are tools for nationwide good, not just social good, but economic good as well.

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