Fighting for the Middle Class
Our country, and our Commonwealth, are only as strong as our middle class. This is not a complicated idea, and it transcends party or ideology. Our children should know the government is working to make the future is bright and full of opportunity for self-improvement. That basic principle should underlie both federal and state government.
In Virginia, we’ve always prided ourselves on sound fiscal management and a state economy that avoids the volatility and unemployment waves that swamp other states. While this approach generally has been valuable, recent data shows an alarming trend, and the need for action, rather than complacency.
If you aren’t already familiar with the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, check them out. They provide analysis of economic issues as they impact low- and moderate-income folks in Virginia. The Commonwealth Institute recently released a report stating that the gap between the rich and the poor in Virginia is the third widest in the nation, and the widest in 30 years.
The problem of a disappearing middle class is compounded by the fact that these folks often don’t have representation in politics and legislation. Dave Mills, the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, has a strong recent piece up on Vivian Paige’s blog, All Politics is Local. Dave writes:
As more Virginians struggle to make ends meet, we cannot afford to sit by and watch the middle class evaporate. In the upcoming elections Virginians will choose between a party focused on creating real opportunity for working families and one that seems intent on kicking the middle class when they’re down by cutting investments that empower them to succeed.
Dave makes the case for the Democratic legislative approach, focused on investment and empowerment, rather than short-term posturing for political gain. As he notes, Virginia Democrats successfully fought short-sighted cuts in K-12 education, with an eye toward their long-term benefits for a middle class.
The same could be said of policies that support innovation and reform. This is a restless, future-driven approach that aims to grow the pie rather than just slice it up. Or, to change up the food metaphor, that aims to teach folks to fish, rather than just take them to the market.
Yes, Virginia is the home of sound fiscal management, and yes, Virginia is pro-business. And Virginia also is — or should be — a proud home for a strengthening middle class and for hard-working families. The middle class needs passionate advocates — and today, they’re finding more friends in the Democratic Party.