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View Diary: [UPDATE] The Bigger Picture: Forget the Religious Right. Talk about the Average Joe. (203 comments)

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  •  You're wrong, but not the post you responded to :) (none)
    I was referring to Thomas Frank's What's the matter with Kansas. Frank's thesis is that the right wing has brainwashed middle America into consistently voting against their economic interests. A quote:

    Hard times, instead of snapping people back to reality, only seem to stoke the fires of the conservative backlash. Indeed, those segments of the working class that have been hardest hit by the big economic changes of recent years are the very ones that vote Republican in the greatest numbers. We seem to have but one way to express our anger, and that's by raging along with Rush -- against liberal bias in academia, liberal softness on terrorism, liberal permissiveness, and so on. Our reaction to hard times is thus to hand over ever more power to the people who make them hard. In fact, the election of 2002 provided a perverse incentive to the men who gave us the dot-com bubble and the Enron fiasco: Keep at it. The more you screw the public over, the more they will clamor to cut your taxes. The more you cheat and steal, the angrier they will become -- at the liberal media that expose your cheating and stealing.

    The problem with Bob's proposal is that we've been trying to talk to people about their economic interests incessantly, but it just ceased to work a few decades ago. The wingnuts have been doing what right wingers always do - divert attention from the economy to some scape goat. In a different time and place, the scape goat would have been the Jews, or the country next door, or the commies. Now, the scape goat are we - the libruls, the elite. That's what the Culture Wars are all about.

    Now, I'm not saying we should stop to talk to people about their economic interests - or about economic justice, one of our perennial causes. But we have to learn a new way of how to talk about these issues, or else it'll all come to naught. Try to shout over the noise of the religious right about economy, and people will trust them, not us.  They'll trust them because they're used to trusting them, because they've been thoroughly programed to think in the categories in which the Culture Warriors want them to think in.  

    If you cannot convince them, confuse them. Harry S. Truman

    by brainwave on Wed May 18, 2005 at 07:16:26 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Obviously, I don't agree (4.00)
      Compare either of the FDR excerpts from above with any Kerry speech, or almost any Democratic speech except some of the stuff Dean and Edwards were saying. Read the Al Gore 2000 convention acceptance speech (but nothing else from the Gore campaign). Read a lot of the Clinton speeches (he won, after all) and compare to his record of achievement . Read most of what's on this blog - just as a guess, it's 70% attack politics and criticism of the GOP and Bush. Read the Moyers or Galloway transcripts and then find a prominent Democrat saying anything even close.

      To the average person who doesn't read dKos, we're the party of abortion, the party of gay rights (putting it politely), the party of special privileges for minorities (hell, that's why the minorities vote for us), the party of welfare queens or tax and spend (going back a few years).

      Our candidates make sure that their speeches have a few lines for every one of the groups we try to build into a coalition. But, as I pointed out in another diary, FDR talked about providing a job for those who can hold one, Kerry talked about curtailing outsourcing by repatriating corporate profits held offshore and reducing health insurance risk premiums for large corporations.

      The average voter who's seen an election or two knows that all of the proposals like Kerry's are at the mercy of Congress and maybe 10% will actually happen. But if instead, Kerry talks and acts like FDR, that voter thinks maybe there's a chance that maybe Kerry will force Congress to put something together to make it happen. Especially if all of our Congressional candidates are performing from the same sheet music.

      If your interpretation of Thomas Frank is correct (been a while since I read it) then I think Frank is wrong too. People aren't voting against their economic interest - they see no economic difference between voting D or R, and they're largely right on the issues that matter to them. I think that's the situation where Bob (and I for sure) thinks that unfortunately there was at least a grain of truth in what Nader was saying.

      Even the recent polling data showing high disapproval of Bush isn't particularly heartening. He didn't poll a lot better in November of last year - he just won. We can't expect to win consistently by being the anti-GOP party anymore than by being GOP-lite. We're not going to win solely by opposing the religious right until the day when the theocrats have enough power that it doesn't matter if we disagree with them or not.

      The other thing I suggested in another post is a simple quiz - just fill in the blanks: The Democratic Party's position on outsourcing is _.  The Democratic Party's position on health insurance is _. For any answer you give, I can find at least one of the mainstream Democratic leaders who disagrees with it - not left wing radicals, not Blue Dog Dems, but one of the 10 or so people who most would name if they had to name 10 Democrats.

      We talk about all that stuff, but not with anything approaching a unified voice, and it's buried in all of the other noise we broadcast for each of the special interests we cater to. When we govern, we can't implement health care reform when polls show 90% of the population agrees with us. We have no response to outsourcing, which has been going on since the 1970s and went along at a steady pace from 1992 to 2000.I could have told you outsourcing was a problem in 1979 when I was walking through a vacated TV production plant looking at buying the equipment they no longer needed.

      So on the important issues, we create a huge issue vacuum that sucks in the really important stuff like the Pledge of Allegiance, flag-burning, and all of the wedge issues the GOP cares to create. How would people have reacted if Herbert Hoover had tried to make an issue out of the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1932 election? Yet people take it seriously in elections today.  

      That suggests we're doing something wrong.

      We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

      by badger on Wed May 18, 2005 at 08:51:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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