With their focus solidly on the gay marriage amendment and estate tax repeal, the conservative movement is busy rearranging deck chairs on…well, not quite the Titanic, but on a rotting ship of state.
Polls reveal that these issues are not resonant with people outside of the far right (re gays) of the very rich (re the estate tax–according to the NYT, “18 of the wealthiest families in the country” have spent $200 million lobbying for repeal).  

My favorite poll result right now is one from this poll  showing that by a ratio of 3.6/1 respondents would rather that Congress provided health insurance for uninsured Americans than repeal the estate tax (pg. 6).

It’s a great example of how the YOYOs, stuck in their ideological prisons, are unable to address what people care most about right now.

The pessimism and defeatism of their economic agenda is becoming glaringly clear.  

Once you take universal health coverage of the table, you’re left with “Health Savings Accounts,” — the “attention, health care shoppers” approach to solving the crisis of the uninsured that is going over about as well as their Social Security privatization gambit.

Once you stake your claim that the economy is doing just fine, and it’s your problem if can’t get ahead, you’ve created deep cognitive dissonance between yourselves and the millions of working families who wonder why we just had the best GDP quarter in over two years yet many of us are feeling pinched.

Once you’ve identified that the only tool in your policy toolbox are tax cuts on the estates of multi-millionaires, with no regard for future deficits, you’ve signaled that the bottom 99% are on their own.

When you argue that your tax cuts are “working,” ignoring the fact that job growth has decelerated since March and the chair of the Federal reserve warns that a “…softening in the pace of overall economic activity that seems to be under way”, well…people have a right to ask what do you mean by “working?”

So what’s in our toolbox?  

If our platform amounts to: “We’re not them,” than I’m afraid the answer is “not much.”

What’s needed is an agenda that unambiguously connects to the things most people care most about.  

Red- and blue-staters alike are yearning for their leaders to stop this nonsense about gay marriage and estate-tax cuts, and get real about what’s really troubling them: the middle-class squeeze, saving for college, and the seemingly inexorable increase in economic inequality.  The candidate/party that puts aside both dissonant cheerleading and opposition-bashing in favor of communicating how they will restore competency to government in will have a huge leg up.  

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