That Won’t Be Their Strategy

by Dave Schuler on May 12, 2014

If this, reported by E. J. Dionne, is the pitch that Democrats deploy in the fall:

More than anyone, President Obama can expound on how much better things are now than they were when the economy was near collapse in 2009. But a campaign speech he offered at a Democratic fundraiser last week in La Jolla, Calif., nicely captured the party’s two-track argument.

Yes, he began by accentuating the positive. “When I came into office, the American economy was in a freefall that people don’t still fully appreciate,” Obama said. “And by most measures, what we’ve accomplished together as a country over the last five years has been significant: 9.2 million new jobs, an auto industry that has come roaring back, a financial system that’s stabilized, trillions of dollars of wealth recovered and restored because housing came back and people’s 401 pensions bounced back.”

it presents a significant problem. Just about everyone has a family member, neighbor, or friend who’s been out of a job for years. Car sales are still lower than they were in 2008.

The financial system has perhaps stabilized somewhat. Just how much we’ll know when the next cyclic downturn occurs as it will eventually. However, wealth has not so much been recovered as transferred. Wealth in the form of home equity has decreased over the last 7 years while wealth in the form of equities has risen. That’s a transfer from ordinary people to the financial sector rather than restoration. It’s a bit hard to complain about income inequality while praising policies that have produced more income inequality.

Finally, only 15% of Americans have 401Ks and those are mostly the richest Americans. That’s not a winning strategy for Democrats.

Consequently, that won’t be their strategy.

My own view is that Democrats should avoid a national strategy and concentrate on the head-to-head contests in the hope that their candidates are better than their Republican opponents. It’s a wild idea but it just might work.

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