On her MSNBC program Rachel Maddow explained how Democrats have become the party of values like paying your fair share, and making sure that gas pipelines don’t explode.
Here is the video from MSNBC:
After discussing Rand Paul’s hold on gas pipeline regulation that everyone supports, Maddow said, “Rand Paul is the one solid U.S. senator who’s willing to stand up and block gas pipeline safety for the whole country. He says it’s on principle. President Obama is now squaring off against Republicans like he has never done before in his presidency. Drawing out the contrast between himself and Republicans. Between, he says, the whole country and Republicans on issues like that principle.”
Maddow played a clip from Obama’s jobs address then said, “To put it more succinctly and without the applause lines, government equals bad. Not an answer to America’s problems, and when one of America’s problems is exploding gas pipelines, a certain junior senator from Kentucky may have picked a fight against fixing those pipelines on principle, but the people on the other side of that fight are fighting on principle, too, and doing it out loud. The president’s campaign for his jobs bill is happening alongside the beginnings of his campaign for re-election, and to make both cases for his re-election and for his jobs bill, the president is talking more and more now about principles, about values, more than ever he seems very happy to contrast his values and what he argues are American values with the values that the Republican Party is showing right now.”
Rachel Maddow aired a clip of Obama in Colorado saying that being called a class warrior is a badge of honor then explained, “You want to know why the president says he is willing to wear that charge? The charge of being a class warrior as a badge of honor? A warrior for the working class, a warrior for the middle class? It’s because in this country what he’s describing, what he is doing, what he is fighting for in these speeches is a very, very popular thing. A poll out this week from Public Policy Polling shows 73% of Americans agree with the president on the Warren Buffett rule that the president just laid out. Changing the tax code so people who make more than 1 million bucks a year pay at least the same tax rates as people who make less than that. You should not have your taxes lower than everybody else because you’re a zillionaire. 73% of Americans support that. 73% of Americans don’t support the idea of puppies. That’s a very, very popular idea, a mainstream idea.”
She continued, “Conservatives like this. When you pull out Republicans from the polling here, you have 66% for the Buffett rule. 66% of republicans are with the president on this one. Social conservatives are always talking about wanting to make elections values elections. What they mean is that they want the election to be about gay rights and abortion and stuff like that. Turns out it is Democrats this year who want this to be a values election except the values they want to talk about are things like rich people shouldn’t get special treatment and bridges shouldn’t be left to rot and fall down. Also gas pipeline explosions, bad. It’s not as catchy as guns, god and gays, but it is something.”
The Republican Party does have values. Their problem is that their values, like Ron Paul’s stance against preventing gas pipelines from exploding, are based on ideological principle instead of the collective good. When Republicans argue that the rich should pay less and everyone else should pay more, this notion goes against the American sense of fairness. This country is supposed to be based on justice and equality for all, so why are we being told that there is a special class of people who are above the rest of us?
The idea of an economic caste system based on acquired wealth flies in the face of American values, and at a visceral level it rubs many Americans the wrong way. For too long, Republicans have defined values in terms of social conservatism. To be considered to have values a person had to hold such positions as anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-religion, and pro-prayer in school. After 9/11 Republicans redefined values as a sort unquestioning pro-war hyper-patriotism. In this modern political lexicon fairness was redefined to mean fairness for those at the top. Equality meant doing away with New Deal era ideas and the Civil Rights era’s notion of racial equality.
For 30 years our values dictionary was redefined through a conservative lens, and there was no sustained push back from the left or the population at large.
The turning point came after America found itself mired in a GOP values induced economic collapse and subsequent recession. With the economy at its lowest point, and more Americans needing action and aid from their government, Republicans said no. Republican values had evolved from peeping into your bedroom to keeping you unemployed.
The 2012 election will be about values, because the debate over how to revive the American economy centers around contrasting priorities and choices. Republicans are preaching one set of ideological values, while Democrats have countered with appeals to moral values. Because Republicans could care less about the moral implications of their ideological positions, Obama and the Democrats have stepped into the void to appeal to the heart of America.
Democrats have rediscovered their liberal values, and if they have their way the 2012 battlefield will be one of economic instead of social morality.
The right wing culture warriors are being confronted by an army whose battle cry is economic fairness. The Democratic Party has always had economic values, and for the first time since the Clinton presidency, they aren’t afraid to shout them out loud.