By Teresa Welsh |
Not only did the president lay out a winning, broadly popular agenda in his State of the Union address, but his vision stands in stark opposition to the extreme proposals of the Republican presidential candidates. While the GOP candidates pander to the Republican base in order to convince them of their "true conservative" credentials, the president is able to craft an appealing message based on strengthening the middle class that resonates with his base and with independents. Democratic pollster Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner conducted a swing state focus group last night for Democracy Corps. The group was evenly divided between Obama and McCain voters. Remarkably, given our highly charged and partisan climate, the response to the SOTU was not partisan. Democrats, Republicans, and independents all gave the speech high marks.
While Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul put forward tax plans that would actually ask less of wealthy Americans while raising taxes on the poor and middle class and say that they wouldn't accept a budget deal if it included $10 of spending cuts for every $1 of revenue increases, the president proposes a Buffett Rule that would ensure that the most fortunate among us pay their fair share.
On immigration, while Mitt Romney talks about self-deportation and a strict no-amnesty policy, the president combines a message of tough border security with comprehensive reform and allowing young people who want to "staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country" to "earn their citizenship."
While the Republican candidates' only plan for education seems to be to eliminate the Department of Education altogether, the president advocates turning community colleges into "community career centers."
While the GOP candidates are silent on our nation's crumbling infrastructure, the president advocates "nation-building at home" by creating good jobs for construction and investing in our future the way we did with the "Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge."
It's normal in politics to shift toward your base during primary season and back toward the center in the general election. However, the Republican primary electorate is so far out of the mainstream that the eventual nominee faces an insurmountable gulf between the positions of the GOP base and those of independent voters. The president, on the other hand, has crafted a winning message that inspires optimism and (dare I say it), hope.
About Krystal Ball MSNBC Contributor and Former Democratic Nominee for Congress in the First District of Virginia