Ignoring it will not make the elephant in the room go away.
The Economic Elephant in the Room
Glaringly absent from NPR’s list of seven crucial questions ahead of the upcoming Democratic primary debate, is any mention whatsoever about the strength of the U.S. economy.
Since the last debates, critics have been vocally condemning the Democratic candidates for their collective failure to address the U.S. economy, or jobs, among the many topics discussed.
Democrats have failed to respond. Members of the press and debate moderators have failed to press them on this issue.
But by continuing to ignore the economy, Democrats and their sympathizers in the press risk exposing themselves as deeply out-of-touch elites; people who care more about pandering to the latest progressive cause du jour than whether working-class people can afford to keep their electricity on and food on the table.
Part of this seeming failure of compassion is a direct result of President Donald Trump; drawing attention to the robust economy might be construed as giving Trump credit during a time when it is extremely unpopular and unpalatable on the left to do so.
Ignoring the economy, however, is a terrible mistake as U.S. voters will not be ignoring it.
Democratic candidates, NPR, and every other media outlet sympathetic to the Democratic cause and/or getting rid of Donald Trump can ignore the economy, job gains, wage gains, historically low unemployment rates, even for those often left out of rising economic tides. They can even ignore the surging consumer confidence index.
But voters have and will notice the burgeoning economy whether Democrats and the media tell them to or not.
Someone who didn’t have a job will notice that they now have a job, and their friends and family are likely to notice, too. The money they spend in their respective communities will be noticed as well.
People who benefitted from wage gains will notice they are taking home more money on a paycheck to paycheck basis. The businesses they have likely patronized with their newfound net income have likely noticed as well.
Working-class people keep records about this sort of thing, budgets. It’s kind of important to wage-earners, business owners, and just about everyone else who uses money, needs money, earns money, or spends money and isn’t insulated from it by a team of qualified financial professionals.
And since these historically low unemployment rates and wage gains have benefitted earners at the lower end of the income scale more than the those at the higher end, the people who have benefitted are especially likely to notice.
Someone making $200,000 a year might not have noticed a little extra so much, though their fully-funded 401Ks, portfolios, and investment funds are likely looking quite a bit rosier.
But when your ends aren’t meeting, you notice. When they are barely meeting, you notice. When they start meeting a little easier, you certainly notice that, too.
Not that working-class voters of every political stripe will need reminding from personal experience about the robust U.S. economy, anyway.
Trump understands the working-class far better than his Democratic counterparts. The Trump campaign is going to relentlessly hammer the point home that working-class people are better off today than they were three years ago.
And that the only thing Democrats have promised to do is undo all that.
The Trump campaign will link continued economic growth to his reelection, bringing the credit home again and again to Donald Trump. With Democrats continuing to stay mum about the economy and economic growth, there is no message to counterbalance this.
Continuing to ignore the economy, jobs, and wage gains, is imperiling the campaign of every single Democrat currently running for president. This is a strategy which reveals no understanding of the working-class and no understanding of the tactics of Donald Trump.
It is based on the lie that if Democrats don’t talk about the robust economy, voters won’t notice it. And that lie is predicated on an even bigger lie; that the Trump campaign won’t talk- and relentlessly- about it.
On the contrary, the Trump campaign is never going to shut up about wage gains, economic growth and historically low unemployment on Trump’s watch. Democrats better get competing with that message.
Because right now Democrats are way behind in economic talking points.
And Donald Trump is out-talking them 100,000 words to none.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)