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With Huck Out, Will GOP Lose the Middle Class?

May 16th, 2011 at 1:03 pm David Frum | 77 Comments |

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This Saturday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announced that he would not run for the 2012 Republican party’s nomination. As my latest column for CNN.com notes, for all his political flaws Huckabee understood the economic concerns of the middle class.

The exit of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee from the 2012 presidential race opens a huge void in the Republican field.

Who now will speak to the concerns of middle-class American families?

There were many flaws in [Mike] Huckabee’s 2008 candidacy. His cultural message was too reactionary. His so-called Fair Tax was an ill-considered gimmick. His foreign policy background was too thin.

But of all the candidates in that year of economic crisis, Huckabee was unequaled in showing understanding and regard for those families getting by on incomes of five figures and not six, seven, eight or nine.

Now in 2011, the Republican candidates have wandered even further from middle-class concerns.

You hear more from this field about imaginary threats to the Constitution than about real threats to middle-class wages. More about the gold standard than about educational standards. More about eliminating Planned Parenthood than about improving health care coverage.

Meanwhile the American middle class faces its harshest challenge since the Great Depression. …

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77 Comments so far ↓

  • Levedi

    The question implies that they haven’t already forgotten us. They have.

  • Rob_654

    Republicans forgot about the Middle Class long ago – the problem is that lots of folks in the middle class never got the memo and still think that the Republican Party is there for them on anything but Social Issues.

  • OldMojo

    The Republicans long ago gave up on the middle class, but many people will still continue to vote against their best interests. It boogles my mind to no end, but many are more concerned about Sharia Law than middle class wages being stagnant for 30 years. Go Figure!

  • KellyRek

    I do not trust either the Republican party or the Democrat party. We need a constitutional convention to address the needs of ordinary Americans.

    The unholy alliance of Big Government and Big Business is destroying the middle class. The Democrats use identity politics to divide and conquer; the Republicans use the culture wars to divide and conquer; the corporate elites use money and lobbyists aimed at both parties as their form of divide and conquer.

    Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan is a perfect example of divide and conquer. He is pitting the baby boomers born 1956 and earlier against the boomers born 1957 and later. The one group gets full Medicare benifits; the other group gets thrown into the arms of the insurance cartel.

  • Graychin

    As the first three commenters have already pointed out, the Republican Party gave up on the middle class a long time ago.

    After getting rid of Obama, the Party’s highest priority is more tax cuts for Americans with the highest incomes. Jobs? Not so much. The esteemed Speaker’s reaction to job losses in pursuit of these other goals: “So be it.”

  • Hunter01

    The problem with the middle class is they are a class of whiners, if Levedi, Rob_654, OldMojo, KellyRek and DF are any indication. The rich don’t whine (unless it’s a useful tactic) — they scheme, manipulate, plot, bribe, threaten, bully, organize, strategize, and otherwise make things happen. That is the American way, and that is why the US middle class is destined for the tar pits of history. Good riddance.

    Some say that democracy needs a middle class to thrive. Wishful thinking. Representative democracy only needs a few good sitcoms and theatrical preachers to keep the middle class distracted and forgetful. The business of America takes place in other venues, and the middle class (soon to merge with the “underclass”) are not partners in the American enterprise — hell, they are not even observers.

    • elizajane

      Hunter, I would like to think that you forgot some sarc tags here. It’s hard to bribe when you have, relatively speaking, no extra cash on hand; it’s hard to bully when you’ve been effectively disempowered; and it’s hard to strategize when the other guy holds all the cards, including control of the media and the messaging. It’s hard to manipulate when lying has become the accepted MO of the people who want you to shut up and be tame and compliant.

      Democracy as now developing in America may not need a middle class, but a functional society and a strong economy actually do need one.

      • Hunter01

        ElizaJane — power is the obverse of dependency. The American upper class no longer needs the middle class to function and prosper; hence, the middle class has lost its power. Its time has come and gone. We are fast moving into a new era akin to an 18th century oligarchy, but rather than a closed system based on lineage, ours will be an aristocracy based on a closed system of wealth, privilege and opportunity. It’s the natural outcome of capitalist evolution.

        • SFTor1

          OK, I like this.

          Hunter has no illusions, and is surely no Randian either. This is class struggle, nothing else, and the rich won, on the coattails of globalization, according to Hunter.

          The weakness in the analysis is the obvious failure to take into account the counter-forces— the middle class and its voting- and economic power. If the corporations and the out-of-sight rich are about to win, the middle class can even the playing field with income redistribution and other useful legislation, say campaign finance reform, and de-personification of the corporation.

          Let’s rephrase that: they can, and they must even the playing field with taxation and legislation on international corporations for American democracy to survive. I suspect that even Hunter agrees that democracy has intrinsic worth that is worth preserving. If he does not, he is a fascist.

          It is also important to realize that Hunter writes as if we live in an economy. We don’t; we live in a society. Economic forces are very important in shaping our lives, but the social counterweight is political. There are ways to rein in the robber barons, if you want to. If you are a communist you would line them up against a wall and gun them down like dogs. If you are some kind of democratic player you tax, and limit company size under the guise of avoiding the “too big to fail” problem. The latter is preferable for economic continuity, although the middle class often has chosen the former.

          All the middle class needs is appropriate leadership, and it will assert its supremacy and self-interest.

          Apart from that I like Hunter’s candid observation that representative democracy may be losing ground as of now.

          If you want to keep it, use it.

    • ottovbvs

      That is the American way, and that is why the US middle class is destined for the tar pits of history. Good riddance

      Hunter obviously believes South American oligarchal societies to be a much more efficient economic model.

    • forgetn

      Hunter01:

      Harsh dude, very very harsh!

  • Frumplestiltskin

    I dunno about this, I think Romney, while lacking every element of the common touch, is motivated by the spirit of noblis oblige and would act in what he thinks is in the best interests of the people. At least this is what I think he would do based on Romneycare and his own traditions, however his own ambition might preclude this and he really is driven by nothing more than getting to the top and staying there no matter the cost. T-Paw is worse than Romney, a truly small man seeking a big office, and the rest are pretty damn crazy. (I leave Huntsman off of this since I think he has no shot now and is looking more towards 2016)

  • ottovbvs

    Since when has the GOP been interested in the middle classes? My father and grandfather who were staunch upper middle class Republicans explained to me long ago (sometime in the early 50′s) that the main purpose of the Republican party was to protect the interests of big business and the top 10% of tax payers. Since these goals aligned exactly with what they perceived to be their personal interests they were solid Republicans. It’s as simple as that.

    • Cforchange

      Otto what has changed is that the top 10% make eons more income as a percentage than the middle class who they USED to employ. Employees USED to be loyal and grateful for their employment and there were alot of benefits to being well employed. It’s a different day.

      So are the business people associated with the GOP. They are pizza guys, sports bar guys, preachers, wanna be preachers and the old guard defense and energy guys. Little of the new industries dependent on intellectual property have migrated to the GOP and so goes the intellect…

  • msmilack

    My guess is that whoever wins the nomination (probably Romney) will pick a v.p. candidate who appeals to the tea partiers (e.g. Bachmann which will repeat McCain’s mistake in choosing Palin, the reason many voters rejected the whole ticket).

    • Watusie

      I’d be shocked if Romney could be talking into having a female VP. Unless he’s changed. People I know in Massachusetts who worked with him when he was governor all say he gets even more frozen and alien-like whenever there is a woman around. Michele Bachman likes to show a lot of skin. She’d drive him mental.

      • Pavonis

        The GOP has already been burned by choosing Sarah Palin. I doubt they will pick a radical lightweight like her again. They’re probably going to make some other big mistake, though, to destroy their chances. I have no confidence in the current batch of GOPers.

  • DFL

    The Democrats love the people. The Republicans hate the people. It’s as simple as that.

    • ottovbvs

      The Republicans hate the people.

      These Manichean terms are a gross exaggeration of reality. The people are useful to Republican ends so they don’t hate them they just use them.

  • Katechon

    Isn’t Mitch DANIELS a champion of the comman man ??

    • ottovbvs

      Isn’t Mitch DANIELS a champion of the comman man ??

      For about as long as it takes to get elected. Then amnesia takes over.

    • Cforchange

      Maybe the common man – but thanks to Govenor Daniels, the common woman no longer has access to low cost female health care.

      It takes a majority of women to win an election. Do you think most women are going to believe that Planned Parenthood funding is a significant part of the budget. No more likley they will see it as a ideological witch hunt.

      Packaging Daniels as a moderate isn’t going to work. Actions do speak louder than words.

  • KellyRek

    I used to think the same way as “DFL,” that the Democrats are the good guys representing the ordinary folks, whereas the Republicans are the bad guys representing rich people. What changed my perception was the year-long Obamacare debate amongst the “big boys” in Washington D.C. Also what contributed to my disillusionment (with the Democrat Party) was Obama’s numerous broken promises.

    In many ways, the Republicans and the Democrats are merely two sides of the same coin. The healthcare reform that Obama signed into law was actually a Republican bill opposed by Republicans and supported by Democrats. Obama demonized the insurance industry when in fact he is their best friend. Romney claims to oppose Obamacare, when in fact Obamacare is the national version of the Romneycare of Massachusetts. Paul Ryan opposes Obamacare but espouses Ryancare which has similarities to Obamacare. This is comical.

    As for Hunter referring me, Levedi, Rob_654, OldMojo and DF as whiners … we all become whiners if we allow ourselves to become serfs, dependent on Big Government for our sustenance. That’s why I oppose socialism. And that’s why we must fight for our freedom.

    • balconesfault

      KellyRek – while I’ll agree that the final bill was a very insurance friendly HC”R” bill – it fit Obama’s primary purpose, which is very “ordinary folk” friendly.

      Obama came into office determined to make it so that the working poor in America – those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, those who don’t have jobs that provide insurance, and who can’t really fit $15K/year into their budgets to buy insurance for their families because that would be half their income – would be covered.

      I have no doubt that had he and his staff read the tea leaves and decided that this could have been accomplished via a public option/Medicare buy-in type program, we’d have that right now. I think that thanks to Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh, plus 40 GOP Senators, there was no way in hell that was going to happen – and Obama trying to twist arms to get there would have just cause the whole thing to fail.

      People tend to forget how tenuous the whole thing was, particularly after Brown got elected. The GOP wanted the charade of tearing up the whole bill and starting over … or other words, to just kill it outright. At which point we’d probably be waiting for another 15 years or so for another chance to get subsidized insurance for the working poor.

      Yes, it was a deal with the devil (Big Insurance). But it’s a deal that will have very positive benefits for an awful lot of Americans. The “ordinary” Americans you spoke of. Without Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and a Democratic President, that wouldn’t have happened. All you have to so is see how hard the representatives of the wealthy are working to try to roll back the ACA in order to see that it’s not just some giveaway to the rich.

    • ottovbvs

      That’s why I oppose socialism. And that’s why we must fight for our freedom

      Yes you sound like the typical Obama supporter.

  • DFL

    KellyRek, I was engaging in sarcasm. Sorry. However, I do agree with much of Otto’s assertion that the Republican Party’s main objective is the defense of business, capital and the top 10 % of wage earners.

  • balconesfault

    BTW – I get Hunter. Although he/she’s getting perilously close to demonstrating that Poe’s Law can be extrapolated to National Review type thinking as well.

    Poe’s Law?

    Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.

    I could easily see Lowry or someone from Heritage or AEI or the George Mason Economics Department publishing on op ed that would say essentially what Hunter says.

    • Hunter01

      That would be Edgar Allan, right?

      Think “[The Middle Class] Descent Into The [Capitalist] Maelström”

      • balconesfault

        Huh – I could see some good stuff coming out of this:

        Shifting of American jobs to China – “The Mask of the Red Death of the US Economy”

        The 2008 economic collapse – “Fall of the House of Busher”

        GOP states cutting medicaid budgets – “The Pittance and the Pendulum”

        The GOP proposals during the healthcare debate “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether”

        The proposed Ryan Budget: “The Tell-Tale Heartlessness”

  • seeker656

    I am by nature an optimist but in recent months I have been questioning the rationality of my attitude because of my concern about our challenges and the growing inequality of income and wealth in our nation.

    Timothy Noah, a journalist and senior writer for Slate magazine won the 2011 Sidney Hilman Prize that is given for exemplary reporting fostering social justice. He won the award for his ten part series in Slate in September 2010 titled The United States of Inequality.

    He reports that we have for three decades seen a growing disparity in income and wealth that has not reached these levels since that that existed just prior to the Great Depression. At that time the top 10 percent of our people received nearly 50 percent of total income. During the depression and World War II there was a Great Compression during which the inequality decreased steadily to 33 percent. It remained in that range until the seventies when what Paul Krugman labels the Great Divergence began and income inequality grew back to 50 percent in 2007. During that time the top 10 percent captured an inordinately large share of the growing income while the middle class remained stagnant.

    Noah identifies 8 possible causes for this growing inequality:

    1. Race and gender disparities.
    2. Immigration
    3. Computers and technology
    4. Tax policies
    5. Decline of union membership
    6. International Trade
    7. Executive Compensation
    8. Decline in educational achievement

    Of those he finds neither that race and gender income inequalities or computers and technology are factors.

    He attributes 5 percent of the problem each to Immigration and tax policy. Trade accounts for another 10 percent.

    The decline of labor unions contributes 20 percent.

    Executive compensation contributes 30 percent to the problem.

    Failures in our educational system are responsible for the remaining 30 percent.

    In summary he attributes 80 percent of the Growing Diversion to the decline of labor unions, excesses in executive salaries, and our underperforming educational system and asserts that the government and by extension we the voters greatly influence these developments.

    Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning economist, in the May issue of Vanity Fair magazine in an essay titled Of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1% covers some of the same ground but goes on to identify the long term threats to our democracy of this increasing income inequality.

    Space doesn’t permit me to go into details but that article is worth a close read. In summary Stiglitz cites the consequent decrease in opportunity, the growing inefficiency of the economy, and our inability to adequately invest in critical infrastructure and education as threatening the future for our children and grandchildren.

    Interestingly there seems to be general agreement on the evidence supporting the idea of the Growing Diversion. However there is a stark difference of opinion between the two political parties as to the meaning of this development.

    This difference was exemplified by a recent discussion between Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, and Bob McConnell the Republican Governor of Virginia.

    Sachs was pointing out the dangers of the growing inequality while the governor saw it as a positive development that we should be celebrating.

    That difference is clearly evident as we look at the Ryan budget recently passed in the House that reduces spending for social programs and infrastructure while further lowering the taxes on the wealthy.

    As Joseph Stigliz has written, our democracy is in trouble. For the first time in my lifetime, it seems that the generations following us will have fewer opportunities than we have benefited from.

    But when I find myself slipping into pessimism I am reminded of my two grandsons who are members of the one percent of our population who make up the military forces and families who are fighting and bearing the burdens of our wars. I am humbled by the sacrifices they are making for our nation.

    Now is not the time for pessimism, apathy, or despair at home.

    Now is the time for activism. Now is the time to actively support policies that will lead us into a better future for our posterity.

    2012 will be a critical election year. We cannot sit back and let the angry and discouraged carry the day. We can embody the true meaning of citizenship and patriotism and fight for a better future a future that can be a positive example for those around the world who are just capturing the spirit of democracy.

    • think4yourself

      I read the Stiglitz article (from a link from FF). I don’t neccessarily agree with his, Krugman’s and Robert Reich’s solutions. Labor Unions were a counter to executive power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (to Hunter, when things get really out of balance, an opposing force will come in so don’t count your Oligarchic dominating chickens before they hatch). Labor Unions overreach in the 20th century in the private sector was part of the reason for their demise (and partly responsible for the demise of the industries they represented when their answer to global business was protectionism which failed) and is becoming part of the reason for their demise in the governmental sector in the 21st century.

      The GOP does not meet the financial needs of the middle class now (and not so much in the past either). They do try and meet some emotional needs (lower taxes must be better for you) and meet the percieved needs of white Christians, most of whom vote Conservative on social isssues. The Dems don’t meet the middle class either, but both sides pander to them by offering tax cuts which would be better used in shoring up the gov’t budget.

      I do think executive compensation is a serious problem, but there don’t seem to be good options to deal with it. It’s a problem because it rewards executives for short term stock gains which is generally bad for both that company long term and the country’s citizens long term. If the average employee makes $50K per year and the CEO makes 50 million, that means the CEO is making a thousand times more than the basic employee. Our capitalist society says that is okay so it’s tough to make a law against it and shareholders are willing to let them get away with it for short term stock gains. The only time I’ve seen that to be beneficial is the TARP bailout meant executives couldn’t earn outsized pay until they paid off the bailout – it’s amazing how fast those companies turned around.

  • Primrose

    KellyRek, while no body is all good and few all bad, you are overstating Obama’s disappointments. That we got any healthcare bill in that environment amazes me.

    As for Hunter01, if the class system is as closed system it is perforce based on lineage.

    Assuming you are not a troll, (though your radical vision and language, and the peticular off the cuff way of throwing it out there suggests otherwise), I challenge you to find a thriving democracy, in which the social inequality is getting worse but the future is looking better. You can’t of course draw from Europe during the enlightenment because inequality was decreasing, institutions of power were being dissembled, and movement was towards more not less egalitarianism . Even turn of the century America, had a strong (and winning) movement against oligarchy. Too much social inequality is inherently unstable and must be quelled with fear and force. Yes, Rome had bread and circus’s, or more specifically dreadful, gladiatorial bloodfests, but it also had an army.

    As for your contention that the rich don’t whine, their very call for tax breaks is whining. Oh me or my, I might have to contribute more to society because I’ve received more from it. Spoiled ungrateful brats. The middle class does grumble but it is usually too busy working for all the machinations you describe. That’s admirable and necessary.

    Only the truly stupid think we do without those who do, and subside on those who take. So such rants are insincere excuses to exploit.

    We don’t have time for them.

  • WillyP

    Goodbye to the biggest Nannystate “Republican” after Mike Bloomberg.

  • NRA Liberal

    Hunter said:

    “…The problem with the middle class is they are a class of whiners, if Levedi, Rob_654, OldMojo, KellyRek and DF are any indication. The rich don’t whine (unless it’s a useful tactic) — they scheme, manipulate, plot, bribe, threaten, bully, organize, strategize, and otherwise make things happen. That is the American way, and that is why the US middle class is destined for the tar pits of history. Good riddance….”

    This isn’t entirely wrong. It was once the role of UNIONS to scheme, bully, organize, and generally do what needed to be done to make things happen for the middle class.

    Indeed, the American middle class is a lock stock and barrel creation of the labor movement.

    When the unions died, the writing was on the wall for the middle class.

    • Hunter01

      The current Republican assault on teacher and public employee unions is a mop-up action, the demolition of the few remaining middle class supports. Once that is accomplished, and it won’t take long, the professions (medicine, law) will be the next target. It will begin with “deregulation” of their monopolies and licensure and will end with “demystification” of the entire notion of professional expertise. Victory will be signified by the collapse of professional fee schedules. The working poor and the remaining elements of the middle class will actually celebrate.

      So to the answer the question of why the middle class in incapable of fighting back — simple, American working folk are suffused with envy and shot through with self-hatred. And the rich find this tragic drama very entertaining to watch.

      • Traveler

        Plus they’re brain dead. Prime result of the poor educational system. But so long as they drive SUVs, they continue to complain about gas prices. Go figure. I enjoy the way you confront reality. I peeped your irony at your first post, so keep it up.

  • nhthinker

    “The Democratic Party responds to those social challenges by offering more government, more regulation and more taxes. These are not Republican answers, obviously.

    But what are the Republican answers? And who will offer them?”

    And what are David Frum’s answers?

    David is the ultimate stone-thrower… But now he only throws stones at Republicans and collects paychecks from CNN for each hit piece.

    • TerryF98

      When you have encapsulated yourself in the Fox bubble I guess the truth hurts. As you are a liar of the first order even you might find that ironic.

      • nhthinker

        Liar? So Frum is not throwing stones at Republicans? He still attacks Democrats? Pray tell where?

        Terry, You’re completely irrational.

  • balconesfault

    American working folk are suffused with envy and shot through with self-hatred.

    The total percentage of financial wealth owned by the bottom 80% of Americans has shrunk to below 7%, down from around 9% in 2000. And yet, a significant portion of that 80% continue to support politicians who seem dedicated to driving that percentage of wealth they hold even lower.

    Self-hatred is certainly one plausible explanation. Envy works also. There’s a pretty big dollop of economic ignorance to mix in as well.

  • indy

    So to the answer the question of why the middle class in incapable of fighting back — simple, American working folk are suffused with envy and shot through with self-hatred. And the rich find this tragic drama very entertaining to watch.

    I frequently muse about how useful middle class values are as a form of self-enslavement.

  • valkayec

    John Greenwald has an interesting article in The Fiscal Times today in which he expounds on the changes which have occurred in the current GOP as depicted by the battle over the budget.

    Most of the change he ascribes to the GOP being more influenced by Libertarism than in previous eras. He quotes Daniel T. Rodgers, Princeton historian and author of a new book, Age of Fracture,

    “The battles over the federal budget and the debt ceiling, he says, represent a dramatic outgrowth of the political, economic and intellectual transformations of the last quarter of the 20th century. His book chronicles the unraveling of ideas of community and social responsibility that were common in the United States in the middle of the last century; replacing them, says Rodgers, is a far more atomistic, everyone-for-themselves mentality that stresses the rights of the individual over the interdependence of citizens and their role in society.

    The rise of libertarian thought within the Republican party, says Rodgers, has polarized public debate and forged a political weapon out of the threat of national insolvency through a refusal to lift the debt ceiling. The issue, says Rodgers, is the proper role of government in American society. He calls the notion of government that lies at the heart of GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal “reductive, simplistic, and not very helpful.” At stake is the country’s very vision of itself, says Rodgers.”

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/05/09/After-bin-Laden-Back-to-the-Budget-Busting-Talks.aspx

    I tend to agree with this assessment. During times of severe economic stress, people tend to be more focused on themselves and their own problems. Libertarian philosophy plays into that phenomena and provides that natural selfishness with a perfect justification. Under normal circumstances, most people would laugh at libertarian and Ayn Rand ideas, realizing that we live in a society in which we are all interdependent. As many early economics philosophers wrote, the health of the commonweal was considered an important societal construct from which all gained benefit. Gradually, as mankind gained more wealth and education, the nature or definition of the commonweal grew to include concern for the aged, the poor, the disabled.

    This definition of the commonweal is under attack today because of fear and frustration of which the promoters of libertarianism have taken advantage. As one of the senior person at Cato wrote, there are producers (owners & wealthy) and parasites by which one can assume is everyone else. If that is how libertarinans think, and the philosophy they want for the commonweal, then, yes, th GOP no longer cares about the middle class.

    The problem, though, is how to change the GOP? Or will it die of irrelevance or attrition as the economy revives or people become disillusioned with the mantra of selfishness and egotism?

  • Hunter01

    Valkayec — we Republicans believe in community, ardently so — the community of the Haves and the servants of the Haves. And while you’re pining away for that communal sense of “we,” the Haves will have reduced you to penury. But despair not for we told that the End Times are here (priority seating assigned to the Haves). Oh well. Maybe there will be standing room where you might catch a glimpse of the Rapture.

    • Pavonis

      Hunter01 has got to be parody troll… or else I am frightened by his extreme ignorance of everything Christianity stands for (or is it opposite day?). Sigh. Another example of Poe’s Law in action…

      • valkayec

        I suspect from the content of Hunter’s posts that he is parodying. However, I’ve run into more than a few who do actually believe what Hunter parodies. It’s downright scary.

        • LFC

          I think Hunter is one of the most interesting and amusing writers here, including the actual authors of the posts. Sarcasm isn’t always easy to pull off. I hope he/she sticks around for a long time.

    • bibs

      Hunter01 is quite entertaining.

      Smarg – this is how you troll. Read and learn.

      • ottovbvs

        Hunter01 is quite entertaining.

        Actually he’s a comedian with one joke. When you’ve heard it three times it begins to pall. And Charles Dickens did it so much better.

        • bibs

          otto – too bad your father and grandfather didn’t give you advice about having a sense of humor.

        • ottovbvs

          They didn’t like hearing the same joke three times either. Obviously you like your humor to have a masochistic quality.

  • anniemargret

    The GOP does not have a wide appeal to today’s voters. Remember, there is an entire new class of voters, the 20 and 30 somethings who find today’s GOP reactionary and non-progressive. They are living in a new, dynamic, global community. They are non-traditional, and while many still are seeking some type of spiritual aspect to life, are non-religious.

    This puts the GOP in a loggerhead with this voting bloc. Huckabee was typical. The evangelical voter, the ‘values’ voter, the traditional white Christian America voter now has lost their champion. Huckabee would never have appealed to anyone outside of a white, rural Christian America, and certainly not anyone living in the large metro cities on the coasts or Chicago.

    The GOP appeals to three blocs: the military wing, the Christian/religious wing, and the wealthy. They are fast losing the military wing. America is exhausted militarily, both in spirit and in finances/resources. They are losing the Christian wing, since who’s left to fill that void for them? Huck? Gone. Palin? Loser. Bachmann? Fringy. Gingrich? More fringy. Would the Christians vote for Romney? only in desperation.

    So the only people left to vote Republican and like it are the wealthy….where they always have been and always will.

    There’s an awful big chunk of America the GOP loses out to: minorities/gays/non-religious/educated ‘elites’ from the big cities/ the young vote.

  • Chris Balsz

    Seems to me if you really liked the middle class, you’d promote the suburban, commuter lifestyle. Allowing the working-class American to put his tools in his own vehicle, and hire out to any homeowner in a hundred-mile radius, with that homeowner being able to obtain financing for home improvements as boosting a bank investment, has been an awesome vehicle for “wealth distribution” unknown for the first 150 years of our national existence. (And then there’s the auto manufacturing and repair industry, too.)

    To the extent the Democratic party wails about urban sprawl, too many cars and the death of the American downtown, it is against this prosperity.

    • ottovbvs

      The latest explanation from our resident economic expert for thirty years of declining middle class incomes. It’s all because the Democrats are against urban sprawl.

      • indy

        How anybody can assert that working out of a truck in a ‘hundred mile radius’ is preferable to owning a hardware store downtown, I’ll never know.

        • LFC

          Indy, always go for the simplest explanation first. In this case, it’s stupidity.

        • Chris Balsz

          Well don’t settle for telling ME about it. Recruit the commuting laborers! Tell the next guy you see with a truck full of tools, that he’s being stupid.

        • Chris Balsz

          I’m in Southern California. Of course many of us would prefer to OWN downtown real estate, but apart from a few dozen thousand heirs, that’s not something you walk into after high school.

          If you like working with your hands, and don’t mind driving, and like being your own boss, what’s not to like about working in your own truck?

      • Chris Balsz

        Who said anything about “thirty years of declining incomes” (really, no progress during 8 years of Clinton even?)

        • valkayec

          Chris, aside from the Clinton years, statistics do show stagnate or declining incomes from many segments of the middle class. It started in the late ’70s & ’80s. During Reagan’s Admin, he became concerned about the loss of manufacturing his admin saw. He tried to address this issue but his program was ended when GHW Bush came into office. And of course, the loss of manufacturing only accelerated after NAFTA, in particular was signed. Please don’t say I’m against free trade. I’m not. However, NAFTA and other trade agreements made it easier for businesses to move their manufacturing elsewhere where costs are lower. To remain price competitive and provide a good return on investments, businesses naturally look for cost savings. Employee costs traditionally have been amongst the largest portion on a balance sheet. Thus with globalization came even more income stagnation as businesses sought to reduce costs even more to compete.

          Unions, too, played a role in the loss of manufacturing. They overplayed their hand and demanded too much, costing businesses to much which then caused those businesses to move elsewhere for lower costs. Even the federal government and both parties played a role via the tax code.

          If you accept the notion that the US is in decline, a la Britain, or the idea that “the producers” are the people who must be protected, then worker incomes may stay stagnate. However, neither of those ideas solve the problem of high unemployment or income stagnation. And both parties need to work together to resolve the issues that have been thirty years in the making. Right now, I don’t see either party making a good faith effort to do so. They’re playing politics and that is not good for the country.

  • kevin47

    “The Republicans long ago gave up on the middle class, but many people will still continue to vote against their best interests.”

    Has it occurred to you that many in the middle class have a different idea of what constitutes their best interest? Has it occurred to you that some (full disclosure: me included) find contemptuous the notion that you and your ilk understand what’s best for the middle class?

    I mean, I’ve read your posts for a couple of years now, and you have hardly slayed me with your economic wherewithal. You more or less cut and paste talking points from the whirlpool of left-wing anger sites, and find comfort in the affirmations of a small handful of your ilk.

    Let me put it this way. My well being is not founded in the affirmations of your small handful of ilk.

    Be about the business of explaining why we middle class Republicans have an interest in progressive policies (don’t worry… I won’t ask you to defend farm subsidies) and maybe you can make some headway.

    I mean, Glenn Beck is going off the air and, with Huckabee off the stage, God is incommunicado. I don’t know what to think, and I wouldn’t want to fill my pretty little head with third-party ideas, so ostensibly, you have an opportunity.

    Fire away, sir.

    • indy

      Has it occurred to you that many in the middle class have a different idea of what constitutes their best interest?

      Let me ask you then, if you don’t mind, in general which Republican economic policy positions do you think are most helpful to the middle class, long term, and which do you believe are least helpful?

  • balconesfault

    Let me ask you then, if you don’t mind, in general which Republican economic policy positions do you think are most helpful to the middle class, long term,

    Well, for starters, the GOP supports the idea of the middle class not paying any taxes on unearned income or multi-million dollar inheritances!

  • Candy83

    Dear Mr. Frum,

    You still believe we have a “Middle Class”?

  • OldMojo

    “The Republicans long ago gave up on the middle class, but many people will still continue to vote against their best interests.”

    The tax cuts to the top Income tax rates and capital gains have essentially transferred the cost of operating the country to working and middle class tax payers. And because these classes do not have enough money for our three wars and empire building the government borrowed the money from the wealthy, here and abroad, instead of taking it with taxation.

    Another Republican policy is to discontinued tuition grants to lower and middle class students funded by taxing the wealthy and replaced the grants with loans owned by the wealthy. .

    These policies were designed and implemented in order to reduce the aggregate wealth of the lower classes and to insure a larger gap in power, exclusivity and privilege for the uber class. They have worked very well.
    .

  • kevin47

    “Let me ask you then, if you don’t mind, in general which Republican economic policy positions do you think are most helpful to the middle class, long term, and which do you believe are least helpful?”

    The most helpful positions restructure Medicare and Social Security. Of course, I support any pledge to repeal Obamacare, which was an idiotic idea to begin with.

    Of course, judicial philosophy, the role of the executive and attitudes toward States’ rights have an impact on economic issues. If the courts can simply decide where businesses can and cannot expand, that affects the middle class.

    • indy

      I was genuinely curious as to how middle class Republicans believe they benefit from Republican economic policies. I’m afraid this answer doesn’t help me understand that connection any better but perhaps my question wasn’t phrased very well. I appreciate the response in any case.

  • kevin47

    “The tax cuts to the top Income tax rates and capital gains have essentially transferred the cost of operating the country to working and middle class tax payers.”

    That’s ridiculous. The vast majority of taxes are paid by the upper class.

    “And because these classes do not have enough money for our three wars and empire building the government borrowed the money from the wealthy, here and abroad, instead of taking it with taxation.”

    This is simply ignorant.

    “Another Republican policy is to discontinued tuition grants to lower and middle class students funded by taxing the wealthy and replaced the grants with loans owned by the wealthy.”

    Any federal funding of college education invariably inures to the upper classes. The best schools will refuse to admit students who do not come from preferred secondary institutions, unless they meet race quota requirements.

    Colleges use our tax dollars to fund projects that help them remain competitive with other colleges. Why should we be funding this pissing match? Have you ever considered that question?

    “These policies were designed and implemented in order to reduce the aggregate wealth of the lower classes and to insure a larger gap in power, exclusivity and privilege for the uber class.”

    No, you have not considered that question. Well done.

  • balconesfault

    The best schools will refuse to admit students who do not come from preferred secondary institutions, unless they meet race quota requirements.

    As an alumnus of an Ivy League institution (which is annually ranked 1st or 2nd in the nation for undergraduate education) who graduated from a public high school, and who is on the local recruiting committee for said institution – I can tell you that you do not know what you’re talking about here.

    • indy

      And as someone from a lower middle class background and an academically challenged public high school that attended a top 3 engineering college on full scholarship, I would have to agree he does not know what he is talking about.

      I guess middle class republicans haven’t received the memo that free markets and capitalism can only yield a perfect meritocracy and not a privileged class to whom societal benefits accrue disproportionately.

      Upward mobility was America’s true exceptionalism and the source of its vigor. It seems in serious danger of extinction from where I stand.

      • Chris Balsz

        He would be talking about the sort of “diversity” programs that universities have fought to the Supreme Court to be permitted to do. Like, the University of Michigan.

        http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-241.ZO.html

        You know, the policies that let them use race as a factor, to turn away applicants that would make their campus “less diverse”.

        • indy

          Yes, I’m aware of what he meant by the last phrase of the sentences:

          Any federal funding of college education invariably inures to the upper classes. The best schools will refuse to admit students who do not come from preferred secondary institutions, unless they meet race quota requirements.

          But both sentences are demonstrably false (invariably means in every case), as I am an exception to both and I hardly think I am the only one. If the intended meaning was that upper classes profit more from any federal funding of colleges in general than lower classes do, I probably would agree with that but it is, it seems, an argument for progressive taxes more than anything else.

  • OldMojo

    There will 30 percent of the population that will vote Republican no matter what. The republican party can cut their wages, take away governmewnt services and program that effect them and they will blindly follow. I think I just saw an example of that.

  • Steve D

    It’s not just economics.
    1. If someone breaks into my home and hurts himself, he should not be able to sue me.
    2. If I defend myself against a criminal and injure him, he should not be able to sue me.
    3. If someone sues me and loses, he should have to reimburse me for my expenses.
    4. It is not to my benefit to have a society that insulates people from the consequences of their own bad decisions.
    5. I should not be prevented from going someplace or buying a product because someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing has hurt himself.
    6. It is not to my benefit to have a society that divorces benefits from responsible behavior.
    Who’s more likely to advance these policies? Democrats or Republicans?

  • balconesfault

    3. If someone sues me and loses, he should have to reimburse me for my expenses.

    Ahh … so, you’re fine with it if you ever have reason to sue a major corporation, they can hire a firm to defend them that logs 1000 hours billing $350/hr, and if you lose you’re now on the hook for $350K?

    You have significantly more faith in our civil courts to always come to a fair and equitable decision than I do.