It’s pretty clear that the issue of economic inequality is not going away as long as we’re being pounded with it every day by the political left in the middle of a presidential campaign. And why not? Several recent polls show that majorities actually favor government balancing of incomes to correct inequality. And a 2014 poll by the Reason Foundation of the generation called the Millenials revealed that 42% of them favor socialism over capitalism. This seems nutty until you realize that we have an administration with a bully pulpit that has, from the beginning of the Obama campaign for President, valued equality of outcomes over economic growth. In fact, he recently referred to successful Americans as nothing more than “lottery winners” in suggesting that they should be willing to “invest” more in programs that benefit the less affluent. This kind of talk from the left over the years is not unusual, but, in the hands of Obama and more lately Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, has now taken on a much different tone, for it implies a much larger role for government and industrial policy in the private sector than has been suggested by leaders of either party in many years.
I believe that this move to the left is dangerous, but is essentially a top-down phenomenon, not primarily bottom-up, because the politics of envy hasn’t historically played very well with Americans, provided they felt they were being treated fairly. And the debate that should dominate the upcoming campaign should be an open discussion of the importance of economic growth, the return of entrepreneurship, and the proper role of the government in facilitating these things. Properly understood and boldly articulated, this should be a winning issue for Republicans because the Obama administration has been such a miserable failure in economic policy, but the leftist demagoguery will be pretty thick and the GOP must demand that its candidate is up to the task to be the messenger-in-chief on the issue, one which should be of the highest priority. I’m concerned that we are not yet having that discussion in sufficient depth.