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Can We Fix Kansas?

Thursday, June 16, 2005
Why do working class people in rural America vote Republican? Are they voting "values"? Do Democrats not have any real concrete economic message to sell them? Or are they just being duped? There's probably some truth to all three.

Probably the least constructive of the three possibilities is the last. While Frank Furedi (via Andrew Sullivan) is certainly being slanderous when he claims that the left in Europe and America looks down on regular people, it is certainly offensive to say that people are too dumb to know how to vote. It's sort of inconsistent with the idea of popular government, don't you think? This isn't to say that clever demagogues can't deceive or flatter the people. It's just that we have to believe that we can awaken them.

Nevertheless, it is difficult come come to grips with the "culture war," since the substance of the conservative position is that gays and women should be oppressed and that we should all become baptists. I am STILL waiting for a constructive solution to this problem that doesn't amount to selling out, looking wishy-washy, or making meaningless gestures.

The most hopeful argument is that the basic economic argument of the left can work, provided we speak to the specific economic concerns of "middle america." To quote DHinMI at The Next Hurrah:

Democrats could benefit greatly by framing a populist policy and message that sides with farmers and consumers against the heavily consolidated food processing industry that demands farmers follow increasingly industrialized and factory-like ranching and farming. Food safety is an important issue that the Bush administration is largely ignoring. It touches on anti-terrorism, on the rural economy, consumer protection and the overall issue of the government's responsibility in providing safety to all citizens. It's something that almost nobody would resist. And it provides a great contrast with Republican policies against just about any regulation of any kind.

Democrats need to remember that big business isn't just the enemy of labor, it is also the enemy of small towns and small businesses. We musn't miss a real political opportunity. John Edwards' talk about poverty is a good idea too, since it rests explicitly on real values like compassion and responsibility. I just wish the Post would allow for the possibility that he actually means what he says.

P.S. Dynasty Watch: Check out the South Carolina Lt. Governor's Race. It's just ridiculous.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:35 AM
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