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The angst over 2008 built the head of steam that shot MAGA through our politics beginning in 2016. The world is different now, which is part of why MAGA is failing.
CA had some of the worst gas prices, and inflation didn't bypass them. It wasn't just rural, Republican areas that felt the effects of our recent economic challenges.
Democrats can do better than Republicans on fiscal matters (Republican intellectual vacuity prevents them from being effective), and that needs to be presented with clear and simple and short facts. But the "things are great" or "things are better than they've ever been" message has been a repeated failure. It didn't work when Obama and Dems were messaging that way to counter the 2016 messages and it won't work now for simple reasons like the unafforability of housing, the breakdown in our healthcare system, and our coming challenges with climate change. We do not experience utopia. We have times where things go well, but we always face challenges. That some people are doing well doesn't make those not doing as well contented with their lot.
Nobody thinks the two parties are the same. Sounds like a rarefied view.
While MAGA has absolutely been influenced by outside forces, conservative media has taken that and combined in with specifically American traits, and that's where it can be most effectively countered. The message of being constantly manipulated by Democrats is distinctly American.