Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's not the economy, stupid

Have you heard: right now there is a "struggle for the heart of the Republican Party." The call has gone out for a Moderate Messiah, and the Republican establishment is pushing Jeb Bush hard. The messiah's ostensible mission: Forget the social issues and focus on the economy!

The reality is the Republican version of social issue politics and economic politics will fail at the ballot box.

Ladies and gentlemen of the calculatorless establishment: we have an electoral college, and the social issues are liabilities in every important electoral state except Texas. They are such liabilities that the mere whiff of a pro-life bent automatically disqualifies you. Though they don't realize it and gleefully mock Red Staters for their steadfast commitment to social issues, left-leaning US voters are just as much culture war/single issue voters as Republicans.* You hear progressives talking "social justice" more often than you hear them mentioning fiscal issues. 

And for progressives, especially today's young ones, it isn't enough for the culture to morph towards a flavor that accommodates their predilections. "Social justice" isn't justice until it is sanctified by the government (don't look for a movement, even a fake one, touting "live and let live" progressivism), which denudes any crossover with faux "libertarian" Republicans; including semi-genuine ones like Rand Paul. Today young people endorse live and let long as you live the way they tell you you can live, and as long as the state gives it a tax-laden thumbs up! The state is all too happy to do this.

But wait, isn't it all about "jobs, jobs, jobs?" No it isn't. The fiscal conservatism pitch about creating jobs through reduced regulation and taxes has a .08% chance of resonating with young voters. Many of today's young voters have never had steady jobs and expect the government to rectify this through increased laws and spending.** They feel they're owed home ownership, student loan relief, etc. They don't expect to become the Steve Jobs heirs apparent Paul Ryan pinched his dimples about. Progressives/young people associate the economy with the government. Telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps is just north of pointless. The Republican strategy of instructing voters to emulate "our most productive citizens," by which they mean the wealthier, also isn't going to stir young voter hearts.

If Republicans try to capture these voters by campaigning in favor of more activist government, it will merely brand them as slightly more "socially conservative" Democrats (which is actually what they are now). Who are young people and progressive-leaning independents going to trust in such an scenario?

As for old people: they don't care about jobs; they care about being able to retire from jobs. They feel no guilt about sticking someone else with the bill.

Saying "Focus on the economy, it's a no-brainer" could only be said by a no-brainer.

*This isn't my Republican Party!...not shocking that when there is a movement to shift the party leftward on social issues the media can't get enough of "rebellious Republicans." When there was a chorus of anti-Iraq invasion/anti-War on Terror conservatives, the media was strangely uninterested in hearing them out.

**Extended adolescence combined with scant real world experience only increases one's zealotry for fundamentalist social justice religion.

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