The competing visions of how to win in 2012 grew sharper over the Thanksgiving holiday. For an example of the first, outgoing Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour dropped this wisdom last night on the Republican Party of Sarasota County, Florida:
“This election is about policy, it’s about jobs and the economy and how they are affected by taxes, and spending, deficits, debt. Are you for or against Obama’s health care bill? Do you think his energy policy of driving up the cost of energy is good policy? If the election is decided on those grounds, we’ll have a Republican president.”
In other words, that’s statement A from the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (pdf) extracted above in a Democratic strategy memo posted by Politico (pdf). Governor Barbour is arguing that Republican can win in 2012 by continuing to argue that government is too big, spends too much, etc. FWIW, he also cautioned the party against turning the nomination into a contest over who’s more conservative.
The second vision, the Democratic one, centers on income inequality and how voters understand what’s going on around them. That’s statement B, above. From a New York Times interview with Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York):
“Jobs and income inequality are going to be the No. 1 issue” in 2012, he said. “Simply cutting government isn’t going to work.”
That’s where Occupy Wall Street wins, or part of it: Shifting the debate to income inequality. One side is saying, with factual facts, that our country is experiencing a yawning gap between rich and poor, and they’re out in the streets over it. The second, as we saw with Senator Jon Kyle (R-Arizona), says Congress should cut taxes for the rich and raise them for families. Watch this week for Democrats to begin forcing their Republican colleagues to vote on that idea.