To judge from the Democratic convention last week, America in 2008 is a nation of sad sacks. We’re just barely getting by, one setback away from disaster. We need the government to rescue us, or at least take pity on us.
That’s not the country where we live. In our country, there are of course people who are down on their luck and worried, who need to be taken care of. But this country is also full of people with plans and goals. They are not passive victims waiting for a government handout. They are frustrated with a government that does not work for them.
It’s this America that John McCain, Sarah Palin, and their party should be addressing this week. On energy, health care, and taxes, they need to show that they will fight for reforms that serve middle-class interests.
Republicans are in a strong position on energy. Their call for increased production is proving popular. People who used to oppose drilling in ANWR now support it. We hope that by the end of the week, after talking it over with Gov. Palin, Sen. McCain becomes one of those people.
McCain has a solid plan on health care — but his campaign has made it a well-kept secret. That ought to change, this week. McCain’s plan promises to increase the number of people with insurance, cut its cost, and make it easier for people to own their policies. It should also raise wages. It imposes no new taxes on small business and does not threaten increased federal meddling with care, unlike Obama’s plan. Republicans do not, perhaps, need to rebut every attack on this plan that the Democrats have made. But they need to publicize its merits.
Republicans do not yet have a compelling message on taxes, which is a risky position for them to be in. In 1994, Republicans promised to cut middle-class taxes by creating a child tax credit. In 2000, George W. Bush promised to expand that credit. Democrats have had to acquiesce to those tax cuts, which is a testament to their popularity. McCain has plenty of examples of success to learn from.
Most Americans are not about to lose their jobs, and they are not worried about the prospect. What concerns them most is the rising cost of living. If McCain stands for cheap energy, affordable health care, and fatter pocketbooks, he can cut into Obama’s edge on economics — and maybe deliver the middle class from its would-be helpers.