Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 07, 2004

wha' happened?

Well, that last post was quite an effort, I've edited it 4 times already and still see tweaking I should do. Seems to be a hit in Madison as a shortened, less prosaic version landed in the letters section of Friday's Daily Cardinal. I consider this a pretty good accomplishment as I am sure there were many letters on similiar subjects that day.

So where do effete, intellectually chauvanistic, Hollywood porn-loving lefties like myself go from here? First, let's try to define where we are by looking at what happened. In this attempt I go to one of my favorite conservatives for help, namely David Brooks of the New York Times, who writes in his Friday column:

Here are the facts. As Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center points out, there was no disproportionate surge in the evangelical vote this year. Evangelicals made up the same share of the electorate this year as they did in 2000. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who are pro-life. Sixteen percent of voters said abortions should be illegal in all circumstances. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who say they pray daily.
He goes on to say:
The fact is that if you think we are safer now, you probably voted for Bush. If you think we are less safe, you probably voted for Kerry. That's policy, not fundamentalism. The upsurge in voters was an upsurge of people with conservative policy views, whether they are religious or not.
Reasonable, I thought, but then how do you explain this?

Apparently the outcome of this inner debate over safety is highly dependent on income! The medium income in America is about $44k. For the sake of simplicity let's say that $40k is the 49%/50% point above. You can see that the median wage of 44k is very close to the 50%/50% vote split. This is no accident, the political center of America has settled to this point for many reasons, discussion left for another time on that.

Now, the best way to crinkle Ann Hot Lips Hoolihan Coulter's nose or roll Bill O'Reilly's eyes or send David Brooks's fingers to push up his glasses is to bring up class; they despise the very subject. When it comes to class they will always ask "Why can't we get along?" This is the universal winners' plea eminating from the eternal winners' mouths.

You will find me often referring to the "median" class. What is this all about? The median class is where it all happens. Why not the "working" class? The commies borrowed that one and it will be some time before you can throw it around America again. Too bad, as it tied in well with the work ethic to give folks a meaningful identity. Why not the "middle" class? This term has been usurped by folks far above the median. I call this the "Ordinary People" syndrome. "Ordinary People" is a pretty good movie about family stuff but my point is that it was filmed in Lake Forest, IL. A typical ordinary home in Lake Forest goes for about $800,000! This is an extreme example but suffice it to say that "middle" class tax cuts that do things like help Johnny go to Notre Dame mean squat to the median class. For the median class the tuition at Northern Illinois goes up and real estate taxes go up and if medical insurance exists the copay goes up while they see a $120 break from federal tax cuts.

Being in the "middle" class means questioning whether you can afford matching ATV's to tow behind your SUV. Being in the median class means wondering how you will replace your Honda Civic when it croaks. The "middle" class is always conservative. The median class is a battleground.

So we have this large number of people sitting on the 50/50 line who are extremely vulnerable to a difficult economy. Normally this is not good news for this incumbent, and yet here we are. For any number of reasons the men of this class bucked the convention and went for Bush. It is not important why these men consider a Bush a better leader than a Kerry, it is clear that they do. From the very beginning Edwards quite correctly went after this crowd on economic terms. The Kerry gang decided to battle Bush on macho terms. A macho senator from Massachusett's? I would not try to tell the hockey team from Natick High that Massachusetts is full of wimps, but fairly or not Macho Kerry is a tough sell nationally and I give Kerry a lot of credit for getting as close as he did.

Now let's get back to economics. Conservatives have many plans and few of them bode well for the median class. The best the median class can do under this regime is to await their turn, the infamous trickle down theory. See my post "Back to the Future" to see what will always become of the working person's turn. It is time to find some way to get into these people's heads that it will never be their turn if they do not apply some strength to their position.

These people that swung the election to Bush are specific, vulnerable and generally ill-informed. The Democratic Party's future may well lie in the enlightenment and consolidation of this class, but it must take great care not to alienate in the attempt.

Democrats must find a more constructive rallying point for these people than the destructive jingoism of Karl Rove and the hawks, a specific plan to improve the lot of the median class. Any ideas?


At 8:30 AM, Blogger JD said...

Class is an interesting thing isn't it? On one hand it is obvious that there are distinct classes in American society, but on the other these classes are not as static as they have been in the past. It's possible for someone like Bill Gates to attain the highest level of wealth accumulation just as it's possible for many "lower class" people to break into the upper-spheres of the heirarchy through education. Of course, they have to work a lot harder than their richer peers, especially if they are paying their own way through college. It seems to me that the higher-education system is the de facto gatekeeper and that it is a place where the rich get richer and the poor hit a roadblock.

Of course the right will always point to the anecdotal cases and say "see, he did it, why can't you?" This is false logic and purports that all people are given the same oppurtunities in the beginning and if one person can do it than it is the fault of those left behind if they can not.

I've got plenty of my own anecdotal evidence based on my experiance of trying to be accepted by and pay for law school. More on that later though. You've given me a lot to think about.

Where did you get those numbers?

At 8:10 PM, Blogger sequoit said...


Post a Comment

<< Home