For too long Democrats have been derided as economically clueless tax-and-spenders. No wonder Americans so often vote against their own common interests.
We should know better. And now we do.
Alan S. Blinder, in The New York Times, drew recently (9.30.08) from Unequal Democracy, a new book by Princeton political science professor Larry M. Bartels. His takeaway could be a game-changer:
Over the last six decades, whether rich or poor, everyone has done better with Democrats in the White House.
And that is just the non-divisive, universal note that Barack Obama needs to hit and keep hitting, in response to the RNC, and in debates and in the press. So let's tell our McCain-leaning friends and family about this -- and also encourage the Obama campaign to make sure this message gets heard. It's easy; just fill out this form. (See below for the note I myself sent, which you can use as you wish.)
Among the most striking points:
> From 1948 to 2007 the average annual growth of real gross national product was 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats. Put another way, real per capita GNP grew 69.5 percent faster under the Democrats.
> Blinder notes that this 1.14-point difference over eight years would yield 9.33 percent more income per person -- and that's a lot more than most of us could expect from a tax cut.
> The best-off families (the 95th percentile) fared almost as well under Republican as under Democratic presidents (1.90 percent growth per year, versus 2.12 percent).
> Families at the 20th percentile (the poorest) did significantly better under Democrats than under Republicans. (2.64 percent versus 0.43 percent). Consider this: Eight years of a 0.43 percent annual rate of growth increases a family's income by 3.5 percent; but eight years at 2.64 percent raises it by 23.2 percent!
> Income inequality in the United States has been rising for about three decades, especially in recent years. Over the entire 60-year period, writes Blinder, "income inequality trended substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats, thus accounting for the widening income gaps over all."
Now is the time to bury forever the false portrayal of the Democrats' economic record and replace it with these hopeful facts.
[Here now is my own email to the Obama campaign. Please feel free to cut and paste it into the Obama website's feedback form.]
To Senator Obama and his campaign staff:
As you head into these crucial final weeks of your presidential campaign, you will face many challenges from those who would like to perpetuate the notion that the Democratic Party's economic policies serve "Big Government" and not We The People.
A new book, Unequal Democracy by Larry M. Bartels, puts this false characterization to rest. I hope you will not only take a look at this summary in The Huffington Post [ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frances-moore-lappe/send-this-to-your-republi_b_123270.html ] but take these points up as your own -- doing so may be one of the simplest and most effective ways to make people see the stark, historically documented differences between the economic stagnation and division that the GOP consistently offers and the revitalization and greater fairness that the Democrats almost invariably deliver.
Frances Moore Lappe of the Small Planet Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the author of sixteen books, most recently Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad.