Midterm battle lines: Wall St vs Main St; special interest vs American interest

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We’ve been inundated with the politics of class warfare and populism in the era of Obama, but it could be business interests on both sides have had enough. According Politico, “Just a few months ago, it looked like 2014 would be the year of the populist, with Democrats running on economic inequality, Tea party Republicans bashing banks and newly minted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledging to soak the rich with higher taxes. That was so January. The terrain is now shifting fast as the one percent fights back hard and the effectiveness of the populist approach comes into question.”

We reported recently on President Obama’s fundraising trip to New York City and the interesting paradox it presented considering his budget once again included a plan to raise taxes on Wall Street. Politico says, “but no one took it seriously.” Even the self-declared progressive socialist NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio is getting a beatdown from New York Democrat Governor Mario Cuomo.

Politico reports that wealthy Republicans see the pendulum swinging back. “I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

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The Democratic power elite now believe that appeals to raise the minimum wage and extend unemployment insurance are not enough to overcome Obama’s deep unpopularity and frustration with the president’s signature health care law. They fear that unless Democrats shift footing to a more hopeful, growth-based message, the party could lose the Senate and drop double-digit seats in the House. “Reducing inequality is good, but it’s 50 times better to do it by lifting those up who are low than by tearing those down who are high,” said Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary whose bid to become Fed chair got derailed by the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. “The politics of envy are the wrong politics in America. The better politics are the politics of inclusion where everyone shares in economic growth.”

Hmm, a very different perspective from the liberal progressive socialists, like de Blasio and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), who currently own the Democrat party.

But there are still delusional Democrats on Wall Street who don’t see themselves as “useful idiots.” Politico quotes a Wall Streeter at the New York fundraiser who said “The energy in the party may be with progressives, but Obama is still the same cool, pragmatic guy he’s always been. He’s got liberal values, but he’d always like to cut a deal.” Yep, I’m laughing hard at that one!

But there is potential seismic shift on the Republican side as well.

A former Washington lobbyist — of all people — just won the critical special House election in Florida. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) recently pledged to “crush” tea party challengers around the country. Politico thinks “the party’s elite establishment believes the nomination for 2016 will ultimately go to a less polarizing figure such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, should either decide to run.

It’s almost like Star Wars Episode V, “The Empire Strikes Back” is playing out on the political stage of America. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party joined forces? Nah, Occupy Wall Street was just a theatrical politicized movement.

But what happens to all the liberal progressive true believers when they see Democrats being sold out to evil big business interest? After all, Langone is now head of a group called Republicans for Cuomo. The growing consensus in New York is that while de Blasio ran a great campaign, Cuomo is now schooling him politically.

Isn’t that the same Cuomo who told certain people there was no place for them in New York?

Can “establishment” Republicans win without a committed grassroots movement? Shall Wall Street or Main Street prevail?

And meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, let us never forget the enemy has a vote. Our political infighting and apparent weakness serve only to embolden America’s enemies.

Stay tuned: the midterm elections and beyond are going to be interesting. Which way do you see it going?

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