All the stuff you just mentioned, however, are abstractions that still do not address what Ramesh writes about: I really don't care about the auto bailout and the Union pensioners. What I see are jobs that still exist. Done deal.
I don't care about the failure of the companies that the gov't invested in. I see a lack of accountability and an inability to invest broadly in regulatory reform, small business incentives, and fair trade for American businesses.
It's hard for most kids to see the connection between student loans and price of college, and worse, hard to see what debt burdens do overall until after you're already 30K in debt (that is, before even getting a job, buying a car, etc.)
When you're a "liberal" you blame "conservatives" for all that stuff too. It works both ways and everyone assumes that the sky is falling.
Republicans, as Ramesh is saying, are doing a piss-poor job of making the direct connection between a conservative policy regimen, and the direct and tangible benefits that an individual, lower-middle class voter will experience. So who do they vote for? The people that promise a tangible benefit. Conservative talking points are all about Big Gov't, and for liberals its all about Big Business. But Democrats know how to reel it back in and talk about the little guy far better than Repubs, because when the time comes to talk about the little guy, Repubs cater to a lot of social fears that, frankly, we're all moving on from.
I, for one, am not concerned about let alone afraid of black people, lesbians, abortions, atheists, unions, hispanics or welfare moms. When the Repubs want to appeal to the little guy, they try to drum up fear about all of the above. Its not working, an that hidden agenda needs to be abandoned wholesale. It is, in fact, ridiculous and we're all moving on. Even an ultra-conservative family member of mine is "cool with gays and black people if they're Christian and willing to work hard." Bigoted though he may be, he sees the writing on the wall and knows to keep his bullshit opinions about people's status to himself. Repubs, on the other hand, still show a little of that backwards lining in their messsage. Bad move.
So much emphasis has been placed on trickle-down and "job creators" without actually outlining how the bloody hell that's going to play out for the individual. Yes, its far easier for liberal policy makers to promise someone "gov't has got you back with our new ABC123 entitlement program" but Repubs are doing the same by creating "tax braeks" for the upper level of the same pyramid. Its no different. Look at CVS here in RI. Its BS, and we all know it.. left right and center.
The reality is that most people understand that what's good for business is good for them, but that's totally abstract when there are no jobs worth applying for. If the good Conservative businessmen of the world proved there's deep moral value in hiring (and retaining!) employees in a down economy, people would feel warm and fuzzy about their "job creating" allegedly wealthy entrepreneur bosses.
But we're seeing the opposite. A lot of it. People pragmatically understand that they don't want to overtax and overregulate their own business, but when they see the boss doing just fine, and just watched their buddies get laid off while the company owner bought another house... they give a second thought to unions and to the Democratic narrative.
So, the problem is Conservative culture. Romney was perfectly indicative of that. The difference between Romney and Kerry? Kerry at least uses pandering language that claims to care (and his voting record backs it up) about unions, worker's rights, safe workplace regulations, blah blah. Both are wealthy, but one guy seems to be able to pretend to care, at the least, what its like to lose a hand in a machine, and so on.
Yet instead we see liberal media reports stuffed full of stories of CEOs saying "See? Because of Obama... Now I have to lay you off." More's the pity. Now would be the time for moral, wealthy Conservatives to suck it up and find a way to make a stand for employment, take a hit in pay and upper-echelon economic entitlement, and declare frugality for ALL, including themselves, and emphasize the puritan and conservative virtue of austerity for themselves as well.
But nope. Let's get a new Lexus and lay off the workers. That's what it looks like. Failure all around, and Democrats use it to their advantage.
The unfortunate truth there, too, is that the narrative about how conservatives are better for business hasn't been all that successful in reaching the lower and middle class either. One of the reasons, is the "I am special, I'm a job creator" way of approaching it.
Most good conservative people I know are making all kinds of sacrifices, but Repubs let those stories go unmentioned. When they do talk of sacrifice, its mor boo-hoo and way less "y'know, we're all in the same boat, and we all are taking these losses seriously. Let's work to make sure all our families and friends have a secure economic future. Here is, as a conservative, why I'm taking this serious pay cut down to worker's level pay for the next three years, and why I'm asking the Board to do the same. Here are the regulations that are preventing us from opening-up/keeping the new plant..." and so on.
No one is doing that... and in many ways, its the party's fault.
"I really don't care about the auto bailout and the Union pensioners"
You should because it cost you a lot of money and corrupted the normal and healthy bankruptcy process.
"I don't care about the failure of the companies that the gov't invested in."
You should because it cost you a lot of money and turned a non-zero-sum market economy into a zero-sum crony capitalist economy.
"fair trade for American businesses."
I don't know what this means. Is this a shot a China? They are our trading partner. We should stop abusing them based on crackpot economics like "currency manipulation."
"It's hard for most kids to see the connection between student loans and price of college, and worse, hard to see what debt burdens do overall until after you're already 30K in debt (that is, before even getting a job, buying a car, etc.)"
Kids don't vote, but their parents do. If they don't understand it, explain it to them. It's not complicated: government is driving up the cost of college and taking advantage of poor people by loaning them money they can't pay back.
"Republicans, as Ramesh is saying, are doing a piss-poor job of making the direct connection between a conservative policy regimen, and the direct and tangible benefits that an individual, lower-middle class voter will experience. So who do they vote for? The people that promise a tangible benefit."
That's my point exactly. Explain to them how government is stealing their tax dollars in real dollar amounts and wasting it or giving it to crony capitalists. Explain to them that central economic planning is inefficient, rewards political insiders, and leads to fewer jobs.