Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Joshua Muravchik

His long piece in Commentary is worth reading. Much of it many of us probably already know, but there are a number of interesting nuggets.

Here’s a sample:

The most trenchant if also the most revealing postmortem was offered by Andrei Cherny, who had worked for Kerry as a speechwriter in 2003. “What we don’t have and what we sorely need,” Cherny said, is “a worldview that makes a thematic argument about where America is headed and where we want to take it.”

This sounds exactly right, but Cherny was unable to suggest what that worldview might be. In this sense, the Democrats were lucky in 2004 that the news from Iraq seemed so bad. Despite Kerry’s incoherence on the subject, voters unhappy about the situation understandably held it against Bush, thus diminishing the Republican advantage on national-security issues. But that advantage held nevertheless; it goes back to the Democrats’ dovish turn during Vietnam, and is not likely to disappear soon. Neither is the Democrats’ deficit on “moral values.” The label may have been a new invention of the pollsters, but (as I have already indicated) the same constellation of issues has been around for a long time. It was called “family values” in the 1990’s, “social issues” in the 1980’s, and “the three A’s” (amnesty, abortion, and acid) in the 1970’s. Whatever the name, these issues, too, have consistently worked to the advantage of the Republicans. A large share of voters always calls itself “conservative,” and it is their feelings on these matters in particular that make them so.

The Democrats’ answer to all this has taken the form of an appeal to economic issues and a defense of the social safety net. There is reason to believe that this is an asset of diminishing worth. It was observed long ago that man does not live by bread alone; as the country has grown steadily wealthier, with fewer individuals facing insecurity over basic necessities, it should not be surprising that economic factors come to figure lower in voters’ priorities. As the Washington Post noted, 26 of the 28 states with the lowest average income voted for Bush.

Were these people voting “against their own interests”? It is unlikely they saw it that way. If they placed some other issue ahead of economics, they were asserting their priorities. As the liberal columnist Richard Cohen pointed out, Jewish voters, who as a group are wealthy, vote against their own economic interests when they back liberal candidates, and “Christian conservatives can make the same hard choices.”

In other words, there’s

nothing the matter with Kansas.

Happy New Year!  

Discussions - 4 Comments

One’s "own economic interests" are not as simple as many liberals believe.

I have an aquaintance who runs a small warehouse/shipping division of a large fiberglass company. His take is,

"If some rich guy makes a lot of money and buys a yacht, it puts a lot of people I know to work, and the yacht makers buy more fiberglass."

Yeah, sure, but if the rich guys who own the fiberglass company figure out that they can make a lot MORE money by moving their factory to China, Mexico, Bangladesh or wherever, then a lot of folks in the country where that fiberglass company might be based will most certainly be out of jobs. Oh well...

And I’m finding it hard to picture an assembly line packed with workers at the yacht factories for all the people enriched by THAT scenario.

The problem is that the Democrats have become actively hostile to the economic interests of the middle and working class.

Home ownership? No let’s raise taxes and restrict suburban housing, all in the name of economic policies that favor elite classes and interests (urban loft dwellers, etc).

Transportation? "Rail is racist" etc because suburban white middle class people use them, instead let’s have more buses ala the Bus Riders Union. Add to that taxes and restrictions on SUVs and the gas tax and middle/working class people understand that the Democratic Party is actively hostile to their interests.

No one in the Democratic Party is serious about building things, just pandering to interest groups that match their core: wealthy elites and leaders of special interest groups.

Jim Rockford (Wow - James Garner reads the NLT blog??!!?),

We should have no delusions whatsoever that the Democratic party largely exists to serve the wealthy elites. That is true. However, let’s not forget that the Republican party exists almost wholly for that same purpose - and in no way do I say this to suggest that one should vote for Democratic candidates. The middle and working class should move towards 3rd parties that TRULY serve their interests.

"What an impressive crowd: the haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base. "

- Presidential candidate George W. Bush, Oct. 2000

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