One of the reasons it’s good the new issue of the Washington Monthly is out so close to Election Day is obvious: the presidential cycle begins Wednesday, and without an incumbent on the ballot, both parties will need to present a more complex economic message than a retroactive interpretation of what’s just happened. Discussing inequality and what to do about it is an obvious Democratic imperative, and even Republicans need to pay some attention to the evidence of a worsening problem, even if they can’t take it seriously as having macroeconomic consequences.
But there’s another reason it’s useful to be thinking about inequality on Election Day: we could well see millions of voters tomorrow who are disgruntled with the economy in no small part because it’s stopped producing real income gains for low-to-moderate income Americans nonetheless vote for Republicans or simply stay home. And that’s in part because many progressives are struggling to present an overall economic viewpoint that’s more comprehensive than the signals sent by supporting higher minimum wages and gender pay equality.
Making connections between the economic interests of working people and the direction of the economy as a whole continues to be strangely elusive for many progressives. So we need to talk about it, and certainly Heather Boushey’s introductory essay on that connection, with the good news that fresh research shows that greater equality is conducive to growth, is a very good place to start.