Sunday, January 15, 2006

When I read in this New York Times Magazine story that so far there have been 134 victories in municipal and statewide campaigns to raise the minimum wage to a "living wage," that "a hypothetical state ballot measure [on the issue] typically generates support of around 70 percent," that a living wage measure got 71% of the vote in Jeb Bush's Florida in 2004 (even as Jeb's brother got 52%), and that "over the years there has been anywhere from a 2 to 5 percent increase in voter turnout specifically correlated with wage measures," particularly among "the kind of voters who are difficult to engage in other ways: younger voters, infrequent voters, low-income urban voters," I have to ask: Why the hell don't more Democrats run on economic populism?

Did you read the Slate article this past week in which John Dickerson argues that Bush actually wants hearings on warrantless spying because he thinks the public will come down on the GOP's side? Well, running against Bush's GOP with a message of economic populism would be a way to do the same thing back to the Republicans, because Bush, in particular, looks at the GDP numbers and the Dow Jones industrial average and thinks the economy is just hunky-dory -- and just doesn't get that the average American, faced with stagnant wages, rising medical costs, rising energy costs, and permanent job insecurity, strenuously disagrees.

I think John Edwards gets all this, but does any other Democrat of national stature? And why not?

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