With the exception of the battle over Social Security privatization, the Republicans are finding weak resistance to their greed-driven legislative agenda, the disastrous bankruptcy bill being the most recent example. Yet, opinion polls indicate a solid majority of Americans want strong leadership for economic reforms that benefit working people. Writing in the Boston Globe, columnist Robert Kuttner, also co-editor of The American Prospect, notes that 63 percent of respondents in a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week felt that President Bush “had different economic priorities than those of most Americans.”
Kuttner explains that some Democrats’ timidity in challenging the white house economic agenda derives from five factors — corporate contributions, fear of being labled ‘populists,’ lapdog media eating out of Bush’s hand, cultural conservatism and the war in Iraq. But he argues that the hefty majority for economic reforms reflected in recent polls offers Dems an opportunity to reverse the GOP’s recent string of victories without alienating the Democratic base — if they can find the courage:
Democrats need to challenge Bush on the best strategies to keep Americans safe, but they are not maximizing their advantage on the pocketbook issues where they should be eating Bush’s lunch. The one happy exception is Social Security, where Democrats have managed more unity than usual, and they may prevail. There’s surely a lesson here.
As Kuttner says, “Bush’s economic program harms ordinary people. And a majority of voters notice.” And when Democrats stand up and fight for economic justice, they win needed reforms for their constituents and electoral victories for themselves.