Savvy politicos make sure their bosses know what the current price of items like milk and gas are, because every once in a while someone will deliver a little pop quiz to the candidate, and the last thing a politician wants is to appear "out of touch" with ordinary people, like the kind of guy who doesn't buy his own groceries. I've always thought those kind of quizzes are silly -- in my experience, ideology has a lot more to do with the priorities politicians have than how "in touch" they are. It's not like you're going to find too many Republicans saying, "I had no idea it was hard to make a living on $5 an hour -- from now on, I will support increasing the minimum wage!"
That being said, there are times when it becomes clear that we do want our politicians, no matter what their ideology, to have some conception of what ordinary people are going through. Here's Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, explaining why he opposes the extension of unemployment benefits:
"As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that's less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again," he said. "Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen."
Paul also suggested that regardless of whether the benefits could be paid for with cuts somewhere else, it might be time for some people to just stop asking for government aid.
"I think the issue is bigger than unemployment benefits." Paul said, referring to government spending. "It's all about priorities, what is the priority. And sometimes tough decisions will have to be made."
We have to accept a wage that's less than what we had? Who's this "we" you speak of? But the real problem is that Paul seems to think that people on unemployment are a bunch of layabouts, waiting around for someone to offer them a job playing shortstop for the Red Sox or something, while job offers at slightly lower salaries keep piling up in their mailboxes.
But no one would accuse Rand Paul of being "out of touch" -- after all, it's not like he's some kind of liberal elitist.
-- Paul Waldman