The key insight of Tom Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? was that rural, conservative voters were inexplicably voting for a party — the Republicans — who went against their economic interest. Frank thought it absurd that these poor people would vote for a party that, when you really looked at their record, was mostly about environmental deregulation and tax cuts for billionaires.
Well, it’s not that surprising, that, in relatively little time, a candidate has come along to untie that gordian knot:
But as Huckabee now mounts his closing argument for the Iowa caucuses, he has moved full bore into the rhetoric of economic populism. “I am out to change the Republican Party. It needs changing. It needs to be inclusive of all those people across America for whom this party should stand,” he said Sunday, on CBS’s Face The Nation. On the trail, he speaks regularly of challenging the “Washington to Wall Street power axis.” He frankly acknowledges the suffering of the stagnating middle class, and even offers up government as a part of the solution. “The President ought to be aware that the people struggle,” he said in Muscatine on Friday morning. “He ought to be aware every time a decision is made — whether [or not] it’s to raise taxes — how it’s going to hurt the family out there, who can barely pay the grocery bill as it is.”
What’s really interesting is how the press plays Huckabee’s populism as natural and proper, but Edwards’ version of the same thing is somehow considered phony.