Friday, December 31, 2004

Lessons for Democrats

E.J. Dionne is giving advice to the Democrats on how to win elections. I didn't understand why he included the following:
Bush and the Republicans condemn 'class warfare' -- and then play the class card with a vengeance. Bush has pushed through policies that, by any impartial reckoning, have transferred massive amounts of money to the wealthiest people in our country. Yet it is conservatives, Bush supporters, who trash the 'elites,' especially when it comes to culture. Class warfare is evil -- unless a conservative is playing the class card.

Somebody has to call this bluff. Why is it taboo to talk about a Wall Street 'elite' that has benefited from Bush's tax cuts and would win big-time from Social Security privatization? Why is it just terrible to point out that pharmaceutical industry and HMO 'elites' were paid off handsomely in the Medicare drug bill? Why is it so dreadfully radical to denounce corporate 'elites' when conservatives can denounce 'the Hollywood elite' with impunity?
As I recall, Kerry and Edwards did their utmost to turn the entire campaign into a referendum on precisely those sorts of issues. For example, this Kerry speech was utterly typical: "For four years, George W. Bush has made clear economic choices from tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas, to multimillionaire giveaways to Enron, pharmaceutical companies, and HMOs." That sentence alone hit several of Dionne's "taboo" topics, including corporate elites, pharmaceutical companies, and HMOs. And I recall that Kerry/Edwards constantly charged that Bush and Cheney were too close to corporate elites such as Halliburton and Enron. (A search for "Enron" on Kerry's website brings up 42 results.)

As for tax cuts, the constant refrain from Kerry/Edwards was that Bush's tax cuts "went to the top 1%."

So what makes Dionne think that Democrats were treating those subjects as "taboo," "just terrible" to talk about, and "dreadfully radical"?

Stuart Buck


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