As pointed out by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine, some prominent Republicans are now worrying that the Obama campaign's Economic messaging has "dystopian" undertones--and that these undertones are uncomfortably effective in the current economic climate.
Obviously, campaigns always strive to convey confidence, with even the slightest hints of pessimism seen as potentially unleashing a self-defeating cycle of doom.In a political season augured in by the striking popularity of The Hunger Games, a stark exposition of a warped and imbalanced economic future, this admission by the head of the GOP's favorite "independent" SuperPAC is a tacit acknowledgement that America has reached a tipping point where the politics of populism may finally have struck a chord with the American people.
So this admission, from [Steven J. Law] the director of the Karl Rove–affiliated Republican Super-PAC “American Crossroads,” is unusual and telling:
Mr. Law said, Crossroads research suggests that Mr. Obama’s campaign has started to gain traction among critical swing voters by arguing that Republicans, including Mr. Romney, favor an “economic plutocracy” in which middle-class voters can no longer count on financial security, even though they work hard and play by the rules.
“His argument is: ‘The reason you feel bad is not because I’ve been an inadequate president but because the rules of the game are stacked against you,’ ” Mr. Law said. Calling it a “dystopian vision,” he added, “that narrative has some gravitational pull.”
By definition, one man's comfortable reality can be another man's "dystopia." The fact that income inequality has reached staggering levels in his country, leaving even the most educated American citizens scratching for subsistence while still mired in debt may indeed be fairly characterized as "dystopian." A so-called representative form of government that showers rewards on its wealthiest members but cannot or will not provide adequate health care for its citizens can certainly be characterized as "dystopian." It certainly feels "dystopian" enough for those experiencing it. So it's easy to see why Obama's approach resonates, particularly since it is directed towards a Republican party that has actively worked to sabotage any economic recovery, any expansion of health care, any efforts whatsoever to provide for the well-being of most Americans. As Chait points out, the new attraction of Obama's populist tone is in stark contrast to the hollow tenets of Democratic "centrism:"
It's also an interesting concession for what it tells us about the debate within the Democratic Party. The centrist, pro-business wing is always warning Democrats away from any hint of economic populism. "Third Way" is the current representation of this view, and has spent months cheerfully ignoring the fact that Obama's approval ratings hit their bottom when he was desperately pursuing Third Way's recommended strategy of pleading for a deficit deal with Republicans, and has recovered since he abandoned that and started framing the choice in populist terms.If the head of Mitt Romney's SuperPAC is looking for signs of "dystopia," he should start by looking in the mirror:
Crossroads’ planned intervention affirms predictions that the general election campaign will be fought in large part by proxy, via the super PACs, which have been emboldened by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 that helped pave the way for their creation.* * *
American Crossroads and its affiliated Crossroads GPS raised $51 million last year, according to federal election filings, much of it from the conservative financier Harold C. Simmons and other wealthy donors with interests in coal, real estate and finance.It's Republican policies, abetted by the Conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court who created the "dystopia" that has led to this newfound "concern" by Mr. Law and others. That their Supreme Court-sanctioned, millionaire-funded "SuperPAC" is actively working to "shift the debate away from wealth inequality" is probably the most ironic demonstration imaginable of the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party.
These groups will be formidable allies for Mr. Romney’s campaign. Though they are legally prohibited from coordinating with his strategists, they are working on the same mission, to shift the debate away from issues of wealth inequality — terrain that appears to favor Mr. Obama — and toward what Stuart Stevens, a senior Romney strategist, said would be a referendum on the president and his promise to of economic recovery.
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