Daily Beast Writer: GOP’s ‘Messianic Tax-Cutting,’ Opposition to Gay Marriage Could Be ‘Liberal Wedge Issues’

A recent Gallup poll found that 31 percent of Americans self-identify as social liberals, and that an equal percentage call themselves social conservatives -- the first time since Gallup began conducting such surveys in 1999 that conservatives haven’t outnumbered liberals. On Tuesday, Daily Beast pundit Michael Tomasky seized on this development as an indication that Republicans no longer will be able to use so-called wedge issues to gain Democratic crossover votes, but that maybe now Dems can win away GOPers who aren’t thrilled with their party’s stands on matters like gay marriage.

Tomasky added that any Democratic wedge issues would have a different “psychic ingredient” than those that Republicans have pressed, given that the GOP has relied on “fear-mongering…Conservatives are much better at this than liberals are, and in any case, if liberals tried this it just wouldn’t make sense or work. Everybody knows that the anti-same-sex-marriage side is losing fast.”

From Tomasky’s column (bolding added):

…[W]edge issues are…cultural politics issues used in elections by the right—and always only the right—to drive a wedge into the liberal coalition. Nixon did it expertly, even though the phrase wasn’t in use back then. Reagan did it well, cleaving so many working-class white ethnics away from the Democratic Party. George H.W. Bush and Jim Baker did it—remember Willie Horton (race was the original wedge issue). And Bush the younger and Karl Rove expanded it out to include guns and gays.

And now…the era of the wedge issue may be over.

But wait! Why should it be over? Maybe it’s time for some liberal wedge issues!...

Gay marriage was a great wedge issue for Dubya and Rove in 2004…

Well, in 2016, same-sex marriage can be a wedge issue again, but this time, for our team. The numbers are now so decisive that surely in the key swing states with the bushels of electoral votes, the likely Democratic candidate can cast shame upon the head of her opponent…

How could Hillary Clinton and her party use this, exactly? That gets a little harder to say. The thing that makes a wedge issue a wedge issue is that, historically anyway, it’s been about fear…

The crucial psychic element of fear-mongering is that you have to persuade the majority that some minority is “taking over” and they, your majority, will soon be the trampled minority unless they act…Conservatives are much better at this than liberals are, and in any case, if liberals tried this it just wouldn’t make sense or work. Everybody knows that the anti-same-sex-marriage side is losing fast…

No, the psychic ingredient of the liberal wedge campaign has to be something else…So, what are people (not just liberals, but average, quasi-informed people) thinking about conservatives right now? I’d suggest it’s that they’re just out of it. Out of touch with the times. Holding us back.

…One issue I’d really love to see Clinton and the Democrats plop down smack in the middle of the table this election is the way conservatism today just strangles opportunity for middle-class people, and for young people in particular, in the name of their messianic tax-cutting...

…Republicans send their kids to college too. Yes, they like their tax cuts. But I would assume that they don’t like whopping tuition hikes, or their kids having to drop out of college altogether, any more than Democrats or independents do. If the Democrats can connect these dots in the right way—on this and a whole range of Warrenesque “household economics” issues—they can peel off a decent chunk of voters who have been traditionally Republican.

Republicans will still roll out their wedge issues, but it seems that the pickings are pretty slim. Fear just isn’t selling.

Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential 2016 Congressional Culture/Society Economy Taxes Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Homosexuality Same-sex marriage The Daily Beast Michael Tomasky


Sponsored Links