It’s probably true that you can’t convince someone the economy is good. Citing facts and figures, no matter how objective and relevant, isn’t going to make someone believe differently about the price of milk, gas or whatever else might be bothering them. If they’re not doing well, then that only makes it worse that other people are prospering. So, John Austin is probably right when he writes that  “You can’t persuade people the economy is better, with the fact that it is—all you can say is “If you are not feeling it—I’m not done!””

I basically agree with the entirely of Austin’s essay, and it’s a variation on themes I’ve been hitting since at least 2015. Most of politics is convincing people you’re on their side. Trump is really good at this. There are communities all across this country that are 85 percent convinced Trump is their fucking champion even though it’s hard to find a single thing he’s done for them in a policy field.

The Biden administration has been working overtime to help these communities, as Austin notes:

Leaders working to tackle big problems—closing economic divides in our neglected heartland regions, tackling climate change with green transformation, rebuilding infrastructure, or closing digital skills divides with education and training—offer substantive solutions, not just angry rhetoric.

This is what Biden has been doing. The inward investment policies enacted by the White House and Congress—specifically, the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, potentially worth some $3.8 trillion are the most significant heartland place-focused investments and incentives in American history. These regional investments dwarf previous large-scale historic place-focused investment programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority under President Roosevelt and the Appalachian Regional Commission under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

Send that to your Crazy Trump-Loving Uncle Charlie. The problem is that the heartland voter in FDR’s time wasn’t subjected to non-stop propaganda trying to convince him that billionaires were on his side. But you can’t get anywhere with Uncle Charlie by telling him he’s stupid, gullible and deplorable.

Maybe Austin is right that the Democrats need to start preaching an “aspirational gospel” about a new economy for small towns, rural areas and Appalachia. Maybe a new hymn book is needed. I wish we had a smooth-talking and energetic candidate to pitch it, but maybe the solution lies in numbers.

Anyway, his piece is worth reading. Somebody has to get out there on the road, like Saul of Tarsus, and sell this shit. Thursday night’s State of the Union is a good place to start.

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