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“I don’t hear a lot of support for Obama in this area.”
October 27, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

DEFIANCE, Ohio - town of 17,000, a longtime stronghold of the United Auto Workers, with a Democratic majority. Why is the Democratic party now doing so badly here? 'The Obama administration’s rescue of General Motors allowed the company to keep running the giant foundry here, a mainstay of the local economy. If the recession drove joblessness here beyond 13 percent, the lengthy extensions of unemployment benefits in the stimulus package enabled struggling workers to keep their homes and keep patronizing local businesses.''Jami L. Young exemplifies the emerging politics. At the age of 31, Ms. Young runs her own insurance agency.''Like many other Defiance residents, she was pleased when Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, used federal stimulus money to build a bridge, helping to temper unemployment that had climbed to 14 percent and, despite improvement this year, remains high. Yet Ms. Young, who says that she supported Mr. Obama in 2008 as “the lesser of two evils,” now says she regrets her vote.'

'Will Parker, 24, finished college in 2009 with a degree in marketing and communications. In six months of looking, he found no work here in his hometown and had to take a Web-page job in Columbus, 115 miles to the southeast, that he feels is a dead end. Mr. Parker voted for Mr. Obama and said he now felt “voter’s remorse” because “it feels like we’re creating a welfare state.”'
posted by VikingSword (132 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
People want to work, and they want others to work. A person who appears to be okay with others not working doesn't appear to share their values. Democrats love to talk about how much they do for the unemployed and jobless, but the fact of the matter is all that talk betrays that they just. don't. get it. Unemployment benefits are not something you brag about. People don't like being reminded about weak and helpless times in their lives. It's a remarkable form of tone-deafness and responsible for at least half the Dems' skill at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
posted by thesmophoron at 10:55 AM on October 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


Let's try this same experiment two years from now, when Obama is actually up for reelection, and job growth has started to catch up with the economic uptick.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 AM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


See thread below on what a lousy press secretary Robert Gibbs is for the reason these people's views are so completely incoherent.
posted by rusty at 10:57 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


This group of people are riding the tail of the production-based economy and are now falling off. Obama isn't creating a welfare state - he's simply trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. What these folks fail to see (due to lack of broad vision a lack of understanding of either economics or history) is that the option they're going to vote for in November will continue to, if not accelerate, the anti-worker, anti-consumer course that we're on, leaving the vast majority in a permanent underclass.

Would they really been happier if he had simply let all of the auto companies die on the holy alter of "the market"? Would they have been happier had the stimulus not been implemented, leaving 14% or 16% unemployment?

A president can only do so much.
posted by scblackman at 10:59 AM on October 27, 2010 [36 favorites]


Mr. Parker voted for Mr. Obama and said he now felt “voter’s remorse” because “it feels like we’re creating a welfare state.”'

So if the foundry had collapsed, local businesses had gone under, infrastructure had continued to deteriorate, and people had lost their homes and livelihoods, that would have been preferable how, exactly? Sure, the place would be a ghost town, and Mr. Parker still wouldn't've gotten a better job (with a collapsing economy he'd probably have gotten a worse one), but at least he'd have the moral superiority that comes with knowing that, when times got tough, he told his fellow citizens "I'd rather keep what little money I have than share it with you lot, thank you very much." Ugh.

Sounds like Mr. Parker has checked his critical thinking at the door and absorbed the unsupported conservative assertion that a welfare state is an inherently bad thing.
posted by jedicus at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


'Will Parker, 24, finished college in 2009 with a degree in marketing and communications. In six months of looking, he found no work here in his hometown and had to take a Web-page job in Columbus, 115 miles to the southeast, that he feels is a dead end. Mr. Parker voted for Mr. Obama and said he now felt “voter’s remorse” because “it feels like we’re creating a welfare state.”'

Honestly, if you're 24 and working in a mid-sized city at a web-page job, you're not at a dead-end. Who is 24 these days and thinks that their first job is going to carry them through to retirement anymore, anyway? The whole thing about the post-Boomer job market is that it's much more fluid and demands career moves (or even complete shifts), and this has been widely reported on over the past 20 years.
posted by hippybear at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


See thread below on what a lousy press secretary Robert Gibbs is for the reason these people's views are so completely incoherent.

You must be joking, right? People are in a pissy mood because the economy sucks, and they're incoherent because they don't understand economics, or politics, or history.
posted by empath at 11:04 AM on October 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


Defiance, Ohio is also a pretty cool band.
posted by box at 11:04 AM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


See thread below on what a lousy press secretary Robert Gibbs is for the reason these people's views are so completely incoherent.

Pff. You'd need actual real superpowers like people expect Obama to have to cut through Americas shitty media.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


This group of people are riding the tail of the production-based economy and are now falling off. Obama isn't creating a welfare state - he's simply trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. What these folks fail to see (due to lack of broad vision a lack of understanding of either economics or history) is that the option they're going to vote for in November will continue to, if not accelerate, the anti-worker, anti-consumer course that we're on, leaving the vast majority in a permanent underclass.

So if the foundry had collapsed, local businesses had gone under, infrastructure had continued to deteriorate, and people had lost their homes and livelihoods, that would have been preferable how, exactly?

I came in here to more or less make these points. The sobering conclusion I draw from it all is, the conservatives are so much, much more effective than the Dems in getting “a Joe lunch-bucket kind of guy” to buy into their narrative. So effective, in fact, that these voters will hang onto it even as they palpably shoulder the burden of its untruths.

I thought Obama was just the dynamic speaker to change that, too.
posted by mreleganza at 11:08 AM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


This represents the frustration of American citizens who have come to believe that automatic increases in the standard of living are their birthright, simply because they're American.

This represents he human propensity to blame anyone but one's self for problems that one, alone, or collectively, has caused on one's life.

This represents the willful ignorance of a hard-working population who, over several decades following WWII, came to believe that Americans and America was better and smarter than any other nation, because that's what they were told.

This represents the beginning of a cycle of blind retribution on"them" (anyone in power), because American's are just waking up to the fact that they have been had, but all they're left with is shaking their fist in the wind.

This represents the beginning of a time when Americans, over the next 10-20 years, learn to recalibrate their desires - i.e. to learn what "enough" is, in terms of "reaching for the American Dream"

This represents the result of what happens when people take their Democracy for granted.

This represents the result of the steadily creeping influence of money in politics. There is always money in politics, but Americans were led to believe that didn't matter. Guess what? It does.

This represents the beginning of a new era of unlocking the dormant advantage of social and cultural diversity - the lifeblood of this country. We still don't have public policy that maximizes this effect, but it's coming, because once we've washed this illness from our bones we're going to be stronger than ever - not richer, but stronger.

This represents the increase in unthinking when fear takes over.

This represents what happens to any political candidate, non matter how well-meaning, when s/he over-promises in bad times. That said, American politics has become habituated to over-promising - easy to do as long as the economic and social prowess that underlie exaggerated promises continue to feed the flimflam. Now, it's "game over", and the emperor has no clothes - not Obama, not the GOP, but the American habit of not paying attention to the gift they have been given - i.e. participative democracy.

We're gonna be OK, but we're gonna be sick for a while. We're gong through the early symptoms of the disease we have collectively fomented, over years. Kindness is called for, but that call will be a cry in the wilderness until Americans tire of throwing one politician after another out of office, and start to look at themselves in the mirror.

This is the beginning of a more humane America, but it doesn't seem like it now.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, but there are too many upcoming curves to see that light at this time.

Hang on.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:09 AM on October 27, 2010 [54 favorites]


I live fifty miles from there. Defiance County, Ohio supported John McCain over Obama by a twelve point margin.

In fact, northwest Ohio outside Toledo has voted Republican in every election since 1968.

I think the reason the Democrats are doing so badly there is because there aren't as many Democrats as Republicans.

I don't know what this guy is smoking.
posted by valkyryn at 11:10 AM on October 27, 2010 [57 favorites]


Ok, ok. For a reason their views are incoherent. Among others. But the fact that people have very little idea what has been done by this administration or how it has affected them? Part of that definitely comes down to lousy messaging and an incoherent and self-defeating overall campaign theme.

Check out the line about health care being "rammed down our throats." That phrase is straight out of Republican talking points. Are we to believe that if people are repeating GOP talking points verbatim and seem to have no idea what the Democrat's side is, it is all due to forces entirely outside the control of either party?
posted by rusty at 11:12 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry - you got screwed by the 'free enterprise' Right that simply eroded your earning power while at the same time spending your 'hard earned' money on Chinese made products. You need to start taking some blame... You can't vote 'free market' and then complain about becoming a victim of the free market.
posted by lexpattison at 11:12 AM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Unemployment benefits are not something you brag about. People don't like being reminded about weak and helpless times in their lives. It's a remarkable form of tone-deafness and responsible for at least half the Dems' skill at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Hmm. Seems we've tried this before - in the 20's. We had the Great Depression, with few social services, just like the Republican-influenced people here want what with "unemployment benefits are not something to brag about". They liked it so much, that they weeped with joy when FDR embarked on a gigantic stimulus spending spree and started the beginnings of the safety net that was exactly the "welfare state" anathema Repbus were opposed to even back then (Socialism!). So how did it go? Was it better before? We can bring the Repubs back and have them bring the good old days of 1930's again - only don't snivel back to the Democrats when you're starving in the street.
posted by VikingSword at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain what exactly a "Web-page job" is? Something involving telecommuting? Internet web page design?
posted by dhens at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Also, I tap 8 MeFi manna and cast "Summon Ironmouth!")
posted by rusty at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've had a very weird take on this midterm because I have been very slowly listening to Shelby Foote's massive The Civil War. Abraham Lincoln is revered now, but the sniping, doomsaying, dissatisfaction and disappointment with him during his first term was profound. (And I'm only talking about the Union press and voters, not what people in the South had to say.) His re-election to a second term was no sure thing, either.

People take a very short view. Most people are still hurting, because this economy is only now turning around, and we have persistent structural issues, including very slow job growth and widening income inequality.

But Obama's policies appear to have saved us from a really deep and lasting recession, albeit at the price of letting off the hook the greedy and reckless people who caused the recent downturn. The worst thing I can really say about him is that often his actions didn't go far enough . . . arguably far too little was spent on job-creating public works like repairing and expanding infrastructure.

Most ironic of all is that the lateness of the economic upturn is likely to send a lot of the people who caused this mess right back into power, on the inspiring platform of stopping any further reform in its tracks.
posted by bearwife at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


Would they have been happier had the stimulus not been implemented, leaving 14% or 16% unemployment?

Misery loves company. But it might be some money spent on unemployment extensions would have been better directed to public works which would create jobs rather than subsidize joblessness.

Also - although I'm really not sure how one would go about this - lowering the administrative overhead of employment and small business in general would be a very popular move. Good regulation is a necessity, but overabundance and excess complexity undermines regulatory compliance. I do actually see progress in this area, but it needs to be more visible and sold more aggressively.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:15 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's try this same experiment two years from now, when Obama is actually up for reelection, and job growth has started to catch up with the economic uptick.
Unless the republicans use their majority to keep that from happening in order to try to recapture the whitehouse.
See thread below on what a lousy press secretary Robert Gibbs is for the reason these people's views are so completely incoherent.
Obama surrounded himself with cynical Democratic Party hacks like Emmanuel and Gibbs, and this is the result. A stimulus way to small, mass joblessness, and unhappy voters. He was more interested in 'reaching across the isle' and working with the major power brokers in Washington.

If Obama had fought for better economic policies, and failed to get them, he could at least say he tried and was thwarted by Wall Street. Instead, they went out and claimed the stimulus was great, when in fact it sucked balls.

The bottom line is that Obama simply did not rise to the challenges this country faced. This isn't to say that the republicans would be better. I'm starting to see their campaign ads and they (the republican's) ads just piss me off.
posted by delmoi at 11:19 AM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


See thread below on what a lousy press secretary Robert Gibbs is for the reason these people's views are so completely incoherent.

Absolutely correct IMO despite what others have said above. The Dow has nearly doubled in the past 18 months and people with money are making more money hand over fist. If a Rep was President under these conditions, they'd be talking up how they turned the economy around day in and day out and pointing at the want ads to show that there's tons of jobs out there but those whiney bums on unemployment are too lazy to take them.

I'm not saying that they Obama administration should take that approach, but they should be able to come up with a better narrative than "We kept things from getting REALLY bad."
posted by lordrunningclam at 11:21 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also - although I'm really not sure how one would go about this - lowering the administrative overhead of employment and small business in general would be a very popular move.

Free universal health care. Problem solved. I know, what, a dozen people who would be out starting their own business right now if they didn't have to work a job for the health insurance. Every business is spending a third of their payroll cost in health insurance. It's by a wide margin the one biggest burden and obstacle in the way of American business.
posted by rusty at 11:21 AM on October 27, 2010 [30 favorites]


Can someone explain what exactly a "Web-page job" is? Something involving telecommuting? Internet web page design?

Sounds like the guy used that term to tell the reporter what he did for a living and the reporter took it at face value. I've never heard the term "Web-page job" before. It sounds like a euphemism to cover up for whatever the job is that he feels is a dead end.
posted by blucevalo at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This entire election cycle has made me just want to bury my head in my hands, and cry. Even the religious "values voters" made sense in a fucked-up sort of way. What's happening in this cycle cannot be explained with rationality or logic -- the Republicans are truly masterful for having effectively energized their base toward voting directly against their own interests, and it's just outright depressing.

The worst part is that they've realized that they can get away with outright lies toward their constituents, and have them love them for it.
posted by schmod at 11:23 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


>lowering the administrative overhead of employment and small business in general would be a very popular move.

Free universal health care. Problem solved.


Umm... Just because you don't have to pay for it at the point of service doesn't mean that it doesn't have to get paid for somehow. Universal health care may have its advantages, but pretending that it isn't a massively expensive undertaking isn't helping anyone.
posted by valkyryn at 11:23 AM on October 27, 2010


The Dow has nearly doubled in the past 18 months

What? No, the Dow has increased by about 55% in the last 18 months. I mean, your overall point stands, but it can stand just as well on the actual facts.
posted by jedicus at 11:24 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain what exactly a "Web-page job" is? Something involving telecommuting? Internet web page design?

It's like being a Webmaster except not as technical.

In all reality it probably is data-entry with a fancy name.
posted by wcfields at 11:24 AM on October 27, 2010


It's time to bring out Mssr. Stephenson, once again...

"When it gets down to it — talking trade balances here — once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here — once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken away all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity — y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else:

music
movies
microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery"

I really feel for people who think they're stuck working at a factory, I really do, because their job is ultimately doomed, and it's a very hard thing to basically reinvent your career, which is what they need to do in the 21st century.
posted by mark242 at 11:24 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Mr. Parker voted for Mr. Obama and said he now felt “voter’s remorse” because “it feels like we’re creating a welfare state.”

Right, because Bush did such a wonderful job for people like you and me.
Be honest, you're upset because you voted for the black man.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:25 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


valkyryn: We're already paying for it, twice.
posted by rusty at 11:27 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


My big hope for Obama was that he would contribute to a decrease in the acceleration of the decline of this country. Not restore it to its former glory (for different values of such), or make a holding action and leave it no worse than he found it, or even to slow down the plummet.

No, my hope has been modest — that this president not attach a rocket pack to the country's back and point it straight down. In this, he has succeeded.

It is sad that my idle dreams have shrunk so, but equally pathetic are the choices that left him the best bet of the lot.
posted by adipocere at 11:28 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Universal health care may have its advantages, but pretending that it isn't a massively expensive undertaking isn't helping anyone.

But it isn't. It would cost about half as much per person as the current system [pdf], assuming costs similar to the average of the UK, Canada, and the Nordic countries.
posted by jedicus at 11:28 AM on October 27, 2010 [17 favorites]


It's not really going to help Obama that another article in today's Times is devoted to a Harvard historian who's written a new biography, Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes, and the American Political Tradition, that describes Obama as a "true intellectual" and a "philosopher president" (which he may well be, but that's not the thing to be in today's United States).

Why, hello, Adlai Stevenson!
posted by blucevalo at 11:34 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


A hypothesis:

In places like Defiance, Ohio, a great many people - even those who've (barely) hung on to their jobs in a brutal economy at the ass end of almost two generations of decline - have been feeling their lives slide out of view (to paraphrase good ole Jarvis Cocker). Obama, the quasi-nationalization of GM, the general place of America in a world no longer in its thrall (if still more under its control than your average Defiance resident cares to know) - all of this feeds that gnawing sense of a life being lived poorly while running as hard as you can in quicksand just to keep from sinking too fast.

Progressives in America speak to these people mainly with reams of data and torrents of rational argument. The GOP speaks in raw emotion. In crisis, emotion trumps reason every time.

I say this as a journalist who spent a week in Toledo earlier this year trying to figure out how a city possibly the world's most important advanced thin-film solar R&D cluster is better known for this expertise in Germany than it is in Defiance (or Columbus). If you care at all about the art and practice of behaviour change, you shouldn't be boning up on policy; you should take a crash course in behavioural economics.
posted by gompa at 11:35 AM on October 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Umm... Just because you don't have to pay for it at the point of service doesn't mean that it doesn't have to get paid for somehow. Universal health care may have its advantages, but pretending that it isn't a massively expensive undertaking isn't helping anyone.

It's not, but you know that, and don't care.
posted by kafziel at 11:35 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Will Parker, 24, finished college in 2009... “it feels like we’re creating a welfare state.”

VikingSword, I was just about to pull the same quote myself. I wish a single media outlet would state the following facts on their proverbial front page:

1) The only people who have seen significant income improvement since 1980 are the richest Americans. The lowest, lower, and middle income quintiles have remained virtually flat. The second highest income quintile saw a gain of $16,000 (AFI) of pretax income between 1980 and 2005, a gain of 23%. The top quintile saw income rise from $127,000 to $231,000, a gain of 82%. And it gets even more distorted at the top 1%: from $488,000 to $1,558,000, a gain of 219%.

2) The effective federal tax rate has decreased for all Americans since 1980. But the richest Americans are again getting the better tax cut: while the lowest quintile saw their rate drop from 7.7% to 4.3% on incomes that did not rise, the top quintile saw tax rates drop from 27.5% to 25.5% on incomes that rose by $104,000. The top 1% saw tax rates drop from 37% to 31% on incomes that rose by over one million dollars.

The source of this data, and home to a revealing graph, is here.

Yes, there are problems with our tax structure, but it has nothing to do with welfare for the poor. The propaganda machines like to haul out the half-truth that the richest Americans increasingly bear the tax burden. Well, the reason they pay most of the taxes is because they have all of the money. When you have 74 people earning as much as 19 million people not including the unemployed, you have an aristocracy, and your democracy is in dire straits.
posted by notion at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2010 [57 favorites]


The best thing, for me, to come out of the past two years is my realization that I'm actually an optimist about Americans. Because if I were a pessimist, I wouldn't be so shocked and stunned that, after eight years of George W. Bush and the failure of GOP policies, people are actually getting ready -- are eager! -- to vote Republicans back into power. Really, America? Really?
posted by Pants McCracky at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2010


This represents the beginning of a new era of unlocking the dormant advantage of social and cultural diversity - the lifeblood of this country.

You are, of course, assuming that social and cultural diversity are advantages, which strikes me as something of an unproven assertion despite how deeply ingrained it is in modern America. It smells like an article of faith.

It's entirely possible -- perhaps not likely, but possible -- that the American empire will collapse and along with it will go the ideas of diversity and multiculturalism, as we are out-competed by smaller, less diverse, more tightly-connected societies with less social distance, and common cultural beliefs which allow for higher trust and a greater degree of coordination and cooperation.

In short, our children could be welcoming their Swedish overlords, and the lesson to the rest of the world might be that diversity and cultural pluralism don't scale, or only work as long as you can maintain an expansionist military/economic policy to keep the domestic population focused on outward competition rather than on internal differences.

I hope that's not the case, but I don't see any way to really rule it out. Time will tell.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


The "buyer's remorse" position isn't as incoherent as you're all making it out to be. It's not that they'd have preferred a McCain administration to let the local economy fail, it's that they wanted Obama to fix the broken economy so that they didn't need the welfare state they feel they've received. He didn't fix it, so they're unhappy with him and hoping that the Republicans will do better. What they want is for prosperity to return, and Obama has failed at that.

Simpleminded, yes. Irrational, no.
posted by fatbird at 11:43 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Obviously everything that has happened can be directly tied to Obama's inauguration. There are no outside forces, events, or historical legacy that apply here.

Obviously.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:45 AM on October 27, 2010


The best thing, for me, to come out of the past two years is my realization that I'm actually an optimist about Americans. Because if I were a pessimist, I wouldn't be so shocked and stunned that, after eight years of George W. Bush and the failure of GOP policies, people are actually getting ready -- are eager! -- to vote Republicans back into power. Really, America? Really?

That means that I must be more of a pessimist than I thought.
posted by blucevalo at 11:46 AM on October 27, 2010


Be honest, you're upset because you voted for the black man.

jesus. was that really necessary?
posted by msconduct at 11:46 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
H. L. Mencken
posted by atrazine at 11:48 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I live fifty miles from there. Defiance County, Ohio supported John McCain over Obama by a twelve point margin.

In fact, northwest Ohio outside Toledo has voted Republican in every election since 1968.

I think the reason the Democrats are doing so badly there is because there aren't as many Democrats as Republicans.


So basically this is like a Tea Party "we are from *all parties*" thing?
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on October 27, 2010


are eager! -- to vote Republicans back into power.

Republican Party approval rating: 36%

"eager" is probably not the word I would use.
posted by empath at 11:54 AM on October 27, 2010


"POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." -- Ambrose Bierce
posted by blucevalo at 11:54 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


DEFIANCE, Ohio - town of 17,000, a longtime stronghold of the United Auto Workers, with a Democratic majority. Why is the Democratic party now doing so badly here?

"Fuck the UAW" — Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, former House Dem Caucus chair, former DCCC chair, and all around Democratic Party insiders' insider
posted by enn at 11:55 AM on October 27, 2010 [9 favorites]



I live fifty miles from there. Defiance County, Ohio supported John McCain over Obama by a twelve point margin.

In fact, northwest Ohio outside Toledo has voted Republican in every election since 1968.

I think the reason the Democrats are doing so badly there is because there aren't as many Democrats as Republicans.

I don't know what this guy is smoking.
posted by valkyryn at 11:10 AM on October 27 [16 favorites +] [!]


Haha, the news is so dumb.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 11:56 AM on October 27, 2010


the Republicans are truly masterful for having effectively energized their base toward voting directly against their own interests

See, this is what gets my goat about Democratic griping: taking that position assumes that you know better than these voters what their interest is. Which makes Tea Party allegations of condescension pretty much correct, even if you're right. Which isn't exactly how you attract voters to your cause.
posted by valkyryn at 11:57 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


> She said that the bailouts of banks and the insurance giant A.I.G. “were ridiculous,” and that Mr. Obama, as president, had to bear the responsibility.

She does realize that Bush bailed out A.I.G., right?

At a baseline level, the problem here is ignorance.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:57 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


'Will Parker, 24, finished college in 2009 with a degree in marketing and communications. In six months of looking, he found no work here in his hometown and had to take a Web-page job in Columbus, 115 miles to the southeast, that he feels is a dead end. Mr. Parker voted for Mr. Obama and said he now felt “voter’s remorse” because “it feels like we’re creating a welfare state.”'

Let me understand this. You are upset that you can't find a job in marketing in a town of 17,000? Even if the economy was soaring, how much work do you think you would get putting ads in the paper for the local Tastee Freeze?
posted by nushustu at 12:00 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


The other 3/4 of my state is filled with red, red Republicans?

Yawn. Call me when there's actual news. Look at any Ohio electoral map. There's Cleveland (bluer than the bluest Metafilter front page), there's a smidgy bit of Columbus, there's Athens (where I went to college, completely surrounded on all sides by red) and then there's THE REST OF OHIO, including makes-vampires-hungry-red Cincinnati. That those ungrateful bastards in Defiance don't appreciate NOT becoming another Detroit just means they're due for a throat-punching.*

* have not eaten lunch yet, am cranky...but sentiment stands.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:06 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read a line in The Week last week, and I'm paraphrasing:

The one things progressives cannot understand or accept is their own unpopularity.

We're a minority in our own party. Americans aren't charitable people, and do not want a charitable government. Our values, while good, are out of touch with American values. It's not some great accident that in the 40 years since LBJ, we've had 3 democratic presidents all of whom were only elected after badly failed republican administrations. In national politics, Americans accept the Democrats as an alternative to failed republicans, but that doesn't mean a majority of them actually want us around.

Disclaimer: I live in Representative Paul Broun's district, where he is widely popular, and is almost certain to be reelected.
posted by keratacon at 12:10 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Be honest, you're upset because you voted for the black man.

jesus. was that really necessary?
posted by msconduct


Yes. Because it's true. A lot of this virulent hate being expressed out there is bald-faced racism. Come ON, don't tell me you've already forgotten the "we're voting for the nigger" comment from two years ago already? We never saw this kind of rampant hate the last two times we had economic troubles and they let a Democrat win (Carter, Clinton). Now we're hearing calls for open revolt.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:14 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


She does realize that Bush bailed out A.I.G., right?

And the banks as well. AIG, Fannie, Freddie, Citigroup, the entire TARP, the major mortgage backed securities buy up, all under Bush. It amounts to $8.5 trillion.

The GM bailout was under the Obama administration, though.
posted by jedicus at 12:19 PM on October 27, 2010


Was there not a second bail out by Obama?
posted by spicynuts at 12:23 PM on October 27, 2010


> "eager" is probably not the word I would use.

empath, that poll is a year old. Perhaps a better and more recent set of polling to consider is the generic congressional ballot. The GOP isn't hurting for enthusiastic voters these days.
posted by JohnFredra at 12:29 PM on October 27, 2010


This is the beginning of a more humane America, but it doesn't seem like it now.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, but there are too many upcoming curves to see that light at this time.

Hang on.

posted by Vibrissae at 11:09 AM on October 27

I admire your optimism.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:33 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The second bailout under Obama (TARP II) was actually originally crafted into law and the money for it set aside under Bush, but the Obama administration redirected that TARP money to homeowner mortgage relief (although those efforts have been criticized as not effective enough).

It constantly pisses me off that almost no one realizes that as soon as Obama was in a position to change the direction of the congressional bailout passed under Bush, he directed the remaining money to mortgage relief. He never gets any credit for that, and instead, gets incorrectly blamed for bailing out the financial industry (because it was his doing for not overruling by executive fiat the TARP legislation that Bush and Congress passed or something I guess). The media generally doesn't really care to get into these finer points when they're ascribing responsibility for the bailouts.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:33 PM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Was there not a second bail out by Obama?

You're thinking of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka 'the stimulus'). There was very little in the way of a bailout in the ARRA in the sense of payments to struggling companies or government takeovers thereof. It mostly consisted of tax cuts, payments to the states since they were out of money, unemployment benefits, and direct spending on science, infrastructure, job training, etc.
posted by jedicus at 12:34 PM on October 27, 2010


Ah, saulgoodman has it better.
posted by jedicus at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2010


That was in response to this, from spicy nuts:

Was there not a second bail out by Obama?

Short answer: not really. Except for the loans to the auto industry (which theoretically, will be paid back soon, with GM's new IPO).
posted by saulgoodman at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2010


Americans aren't charitable people, and do not want a charitable government. Our values, while good, are out of touch with American values.

I actually disagree with that. I think my values, somewhere near the right wing of "socialist," are very much American values. The thing is there are two distinct tracks of "American values" and they don't often sit comfortably together.

One track is the lonesome cowboy, self-sufficient frontiersman type, which values hard work, independence, and freedom. When there actually is a frontier, and the people who settle it actually need to be hard working and self-sufficient to a great degree, this is a useful set of values. Without them we wouldn't have gotten much beyond the Appalachians.

But in the absence of a frontier, this set of values turns out to be very appealing to people like the Koch brothers and Wall Street traders, because it allows them to believe that their success has been the product of their own hard work and nothing else. It also turns out to be very useful to people who are already rich and powerful, by holding out the carrot of enormous wealth to people who will systemically never ever achieve it, and in return getting their support for policies that ensure that those who are wealthy and powerful will stay wealthy and powerful.

The other track is an explicitly communitarian, socialist, and Christian "do unto others" set of values. de Tocqueville remarked particularly on what compulsive joiners Americans were, and I would say we still are. We form associations, clubs, committees, and volunteer groups at the drop of a hat. Who among us, if their neighbor showed up asking for a cup of sugar, would dream of saying no? It wouldn't be in the least keeping with our national character. I think we also believe in fairness -- not that everyone should have the same things, but that everyone should have a fair shot. When someone's down, they ought to get a hand up. When someone's up, they ought to help those who are down. It's just common decency. I can think of few Americans I've ever met, no matter what their political party, who wouldn't agree with all of those statements.

But there is an organized effort to smother this side of American values, by, for example, labeling it as "charity" instead of helping our neighbor because we know they'd do the same for us, and will when we need it.

I think Americans very much are a charitable people. Possibly some of the most charitable people you'll find anywhere. So when someone tells you the values of caring for others are not part of your national character, it might be better to ask what they have to gain by claiming that, rather than believing it's true.
posted by rusty at 12:36 PM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Americans aren't charitable people, and do not want a charitable government.

Actually, the first part of this statement is NOT AT ALL TRUE. Americans are incredibly generous, giving huge amounts to charities for both local and international causes. They also give routinely out-of-hand to people they encounter who need help, or who even don't need help but just need a friendly hand.

What they seem not to want is to be made to "share" in ways that they don't personally choose. They'll give to food banks and homeless shelters, but don't want the government providing financial food assistance or low-cost/rent-free housing. They'll send millions of dollars overseas to disaster regions, but they don't support the US Government creating assistance programs for struggling countries.

It's a strange mental space to live in, I think... believing that helping people is good, but only if YOU get to choose who to help, rather than helping faceless people across the board. It's a disconnect between reality and physical proximity, and doesn't account for the idea that help may be needed by society on a fundamental systemic basis and not just those near you who are in a moment of crisis.
posted by hippybear at 12:36 PM on October 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ach--thanks jedicus. That's also good clarification.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:36 PM on October 27, 2010


She does realize that Bush bailed out A.I.G., right?

And the banks as well. AIG, Fannie, Freddie, Citigroup, the entire TARP, the major mortgage backed securities buy up, all under Bush. It amounts to $8.5 trillion.


Candidate Obama strongly supported these measures. For good reason -- the economy was about to crash. The failure to structure TARP or track where the money went is certainly on the Bush Administration, though.
posted by bearwife at 12:36 PM on October 27, 2010


Can someone explain what exactly a "Web-page job" is? Something involving telecommuting? Internet web page design?

It's when you you constantly have to explain what you are doing and why, and why you should be getting paid while the boss yells at you and the customers are pissed because it is taking "too long" and it's-just-a-fucking-webpage-hurry-up and your coworkers have fucked everything up so you are copying and pasting between 30 templates, and you can't do what you want to make things better because that takes too much time and money and no one gives a shit so just keep copying and pasting, copying and pasting and hope nobody yells at you today, and dont forget about those fucking billable hours you ape...

etc.etcetcetcetcetcetcetcetcetcetecetetetetetet
posted by kuatto at 12:38 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


In short, our children could be welcoming their Swedish overlords

How soft your fields, so green
can whisper tales of gore, of how we calmed the tides of war...

posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:38 PM on October 27, 2010


jedicus, the difference there is that bailing out financial industry is known as capitalism, and bailing out people is known as socialism. Don't ask me how that works, because I have no idea.

If we could only find a way to get poor people to work in banks and investment firms...
posted by notion at 12:39 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's video of Obama advocating Congress' vote for TARP in 2008, as a first step to address the economy.
posted by bearwife at 12:41 PM on October 27, 2010


gompa: "A hypothesis:Progressives in America speak to these people mainly with reams of data and torrents of rational argument. The GOP speaks in raw emotion. In crisis, emotion trumps reason every time.

I say this as a journalist who spent a week in Toledo earlier this year trying to figure out how a city possibly the world's most important advanced thin-film solar R&D cluster is better known for this expertise in Germany than it is in Defiance (or Columbus). If you care at all about the art and practice of behaviour change, you shouldn't be boning up on policy; you should take a crash course in behavioural economics.
"

1) Well, the hard part is getting the framing of the narrative. I agree that emotion works. My fundamental issue is that I'm a socialist, and my narrative is that I speak in the downtrodden, not "self-interest" So I suck at that. We need people who can convey that with the same passion that I do. The problem is that the self-interest narrative, if continued to be the dominant ideology will always be able to manipulated by the dominator culture to Us vs Them. (see, I did it now, too "dominator culture is "them" in my narrative)

2) Real shame, that, then... Considering that Obama HAD a behavioral economist as his pre-election head of his economic team. (Goolsby) Then he dun goofed and called in Clintonites right after he actually got elected. What. The. Fuck.
posted by symbioid at 12:47 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


This election will get you down, like an old dead tree...
posted by keratacon at 12:50 PM on October 27, 2010


The GM bailout was under the Obama administration, though.

Nope, the Treasury lent GM and Chrysler funds from TARP on December 19, 2008 - after Obama's election but before his inauguration.

Here is a comprehensive timeline of all financial crises-related events and policy actions, compiled by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.
posted by thewittyname at 12:52 PM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]



See, this is what gets my goat about Democratic griping: taking that position assumes that you know better than these voters what their interest is. Which makes Tea Party allegations of condescension pretty much correct, even if you're right. Which isn't exactly how you attract voters to your cause.


Things no on ever tries to tell Republicans but Democrats swear by: To attract voters to your cause you should tell people that your policies are NOT more in their interests than the other guys.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:57 PM on October 27, 2010


Candidate Obama strongly supported these measures. For good reason -- the economy was about to crash.

Fair enough, but the point remains that if someone is opposed to the bailouts (rightly or wrongly), they should point much of their ire at Bush and, by extension, the Republican Party.

Nope, the Treasury lent GM and Chrysler funds from TARP on December 19, 2008 - after Obama's election but before his inauguration.

Ah, when I refer to the GM bailout I meant the government taking a majority stake as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization in July, 2009. Apologies for any confusion.
posted by jedicus at 1:11 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Except for the loans to the auto industry (which theoretically, will be paid back soon, with GM's new IPO).

It does remind me that the GM bailout was great unless you owned stock in the company which became worthless. I wonder if they had an employee stock purchase plan?
posted by smackfu at 1:19 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You're nothing but a pack of fickle mushheads!"

"Hey, he's right!" "Give us hell, Quimby!"
posted by Rat Spatula at 1:25 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Liberals ask "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Question assume that everyone in Kansas or Defiance, Ohio is miserable. The way Bruce Springsteen imagines the life of ordinary working class people in places like Nebraska to be hopeless and bleak and miserable. That's an okay attitude for art. But not for politics. The people in Defiance may be more personally centered and spiritually grounded than liberals give them credit for being. They aren't thinking of class-struggle and what society owes them, like a bunch of proletarians out of a Marxist textbook. They may not particularly give a damn about politics and its role in their lives. They may be less materialistic than eastern or western liberals, and have their consciousness focused on love and family, and nature and small satisfactions, rather than power. These people don't live in tenements. They live in a pretty nice part of the world; they have cars; they have TVs and cell phones. They are living their lives, not playing out your political paradigms.
posted by Faze at 1:29 PM on October 27, 2010


The whole Republican/Tea Party talking point version of reality long ago became that the bailouts were all part of Obama's grand socialist plan, when in fact, the republicans were the ones who actually conceived and carried those measures out (granted, as noted above, Obama did offer support to those initiatives as a candidate and allowed them to continue once he was in office, but he didn't personally conceive them, craft them or even in most cases implement them, so the fact that the political opposition has gotten so much traction out of recasting their own policies as evidence of Obama's radical socialist agenda should be sobering. No amount of adroit PR or messaging could hope to conquer so much crazy, lazy disregard for basic facts. Our collective social memory and abilities to usefully synthesize basic factual information seem to be scrambled up in ways that we need to start taking more personal responsibility for.

It does remind me that the GM bailout was great unless you owned stock in the company which became worthless.

My guess is, like most companies, only executives were directly compensated in stock, but I have no idea if that's true in GM's case. At any rate, workers will now get a chance to buy first when the IPO finally happens. So hopefully it goes well.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:39 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


>They may not particularly give a damn about politics and its role in their lives. They may be less materialistic than eastern or western liberals, and have their consciousness focused on love and family, and nature and small satisfactions, rather than power. These people don't live in tenements. They live in a pretty nice part of the world; they have cars; they have TVs and cell phones. They are living their lives, not playing out your political paradigms.
So, as long they have their homes and cars and cellphones, they will ignore everything their elected officials do to affect the lives of other people across town, or across the country, or even across the world? That sounds about right. And not to unfairly knock anyone for default human behavior, but this probably isn't the city on the hill that you imagine it to be.
posted by notion at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see you're paraphrasing Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General again, Faze. Indeed one of Marx's many perceptive works.
posted by Abiezer at 1:45 PM on October 27, 2010


It's a strange mental space to live in, I think... believing that helping people is good, but only if YOU get to choose who to help

Doesn't really seem that strange; if it's compelled, then you don't get the "warm fuzzy feeling" of having done something good because you chose to do it.

The effect may be the same to the people on the receiving end of the charity/help, but it's very different to those on the giving end.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:50 PM on October 27, 2010


Doesn't really seem that strange; if it's compelled, then you don't get the "warm fuzzy feeling" of having done something good because you chose to do it.

Imagine that you're compelled by government to donate to people that you absolutely know 100% meet your personal definition of "deserving and good". Some chafing, yes? But not really the same.

IMO this is more about reward and punishment for those deemed "deserving" and "undeserving", respectively. When it's about reward it's hard(er) to call it charity.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:56 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This represents the beginning of a time when Americans, over the next 10-20 years, learn to recalibrate their desires - i.e. to learn what "enough" is, in terms of "reaching for the American Dream"

That would be true if the potential for economic growth has vanished, but I don't think it has. There is a large swath of folks out there who still don't have a decent standard of living. The problem is not that growth in the economy is dead, it's that every ounce of that growth and then some has gone to the richest <1% of the US population and their counterparts in the rest of the world. The "welfare state" embodied by the New Deal and its spawn were what kept the wealth flowing to nearly all segments of society. As it has been dismantled by the very thugs who our faux populists are attracted to this election cycle, new wealth is immediately sucked up by the masters of the levers of this new unregulated, untaxed economy: the already wealthy. Economic mobility has stagnated, wages and incomes for the lower 5/6 of the population have actually gone down during the last few decades. Imagine that. You deregulate finances, gut unions, and implement regressive taxes and fairness disappears. Thanks Ronny Reagan et al. You've really fucked it up.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:36 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


A tale of four polls:

Plurality of Americans blame GOP for poor economic conditions
A new national poll released Sunday indicates that eight in 10 Americans say that the economy is in poor shape, and the number that says conditions are very poor is on the upswing after steady declines through the spring.

According to the survey, more Americans hold the Republicans responsible than the Democrats, with 44 percent blaming the GOP and 35 percent picking the Democrats.
"And when George W. Bush's name is added to the mix, the number who blame the Republicans rises to 53 percent, with just a third saying that Barack Obama and his party are at fault."
Most disapprove of both GOP and Democrats in Congress
Thirty-four percent of people questioned in the poll approve of the job Democratic leaders in Congress are doing, with 64 percent saying they disapprove of how congressional Democratic leaders are handling their duties. According to the survey 31 percent give Republican congressional leaders a thumbs up, with two out of three disapproving of the job they are doing.
Plurality say GOP would do a better job fixing economy
Although more people blame the Republicans than the Democrats for the country's economic problems, a larger number of people think the Republicans are more likely to fix those problems, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday indicates that 41 percent of adult Americans say congressional Republicans are more responsible for the nation's economic problems, with 35 percent saying the Democrats are more to blame, and nearly one in five saying both are equally to blame.

But 47 percent of those questioned say the economic policies of congressional Republicans are more likely to improve economic conditions, with 41 percent saying Democrats in Congress have the better prescriptions, five percent saying both have equally good solutions and five percent saying neither are more likely to improve conditions.

"Independents are the key group on these questions," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "By a five-point margin, they tend to blame the GOP for our current economic woes. But they prefer the GOP over the Democrats by 13 points when asked which party can improve economic conditions."
CNN Poll of Polls: GOP holds 8-point advantage
A CNN Poll of Polls compiled and released Friday indicates that 50 percent of likely voters would choose a Republican candidate for Congress if the election were held today, with 42 percent saying they would vote for a Democrat.
It's like, wtf America? I get that too many voters don't grasp the finer points of economic policy and history, but I'm having a harder time parsing that majorities of those polled simultaneously blame Republicans for the recession, disapprove of them more in general, and yet think they'd do a better job fixing things and favor them more in the generic ballot.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:32 PM on October 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm a UAW member. I work in a large midwestern agricultural implement plant, for one of the biggest and oldest companies in the ag and and construction equipment industry. Most of our American plants have been organized with the UAW for almost as long as the Big Three automakers. And from what I've seen over the past half decade, I can tell you that the labor movement is dead. It's not a movement anymore. It's a mad scramble to try to keep our hands on what we already have. While many people on the floor continue to vote Democratic, they increasingly view the party with suspicion. When the stimulus passed, I heard regular bitching about the "Obama nigger money." Never mind that the construction equipment arm of our business--representing about 20% of the membership under our contract--was in the toilet and stood to benefit from it. Fuck 'em. Our ag plant is making money hand over fist. When health care passed, there was a similar round of bitching. A shop committeeman who spoke positively about health care reform was booed at a meeting. Never mind that the bill would finally help working people who couldn't afford it before. Fuck 'em--we already got our free health care.

Part of the problem is with the union leadership. It's too wrapped up in nationalism. The only jobs we give a rat's ass about are American jobs. Keep work in America. Mine, mine mine. They keep hoping that if we all go vote Democratic, they'll just slap up a ton of tariffs and bring all the goddamn American jobs back and it'll be 1960 again. They all know that jobs move overseas because the company can pay people less, but they don't give a flying fuck about trying to improve workers' rights in that evil country that stole our jobs. The idea that bringing up wages overseas might make companies think twice before investing there has never occurred to these people. The full name of the UAW includes the word "International." That used to mean the US and Canada, but the CAW split off years ago, so it pretty much means....nothing. Fuck 'em. They deserve to work 14 hours for a dime.

The other big problem is the Democratic party itself. I know what my coworkers see when they look at the party. They see a bunch of eggheads that look, act, and talk just like the company suits we're always fighting with. They snicker when one of them puts on a hardhat and visits a factory, making sure to keep their tailored suits away from the filth of industrial labor. When they do visit a factory, it's pretty often some small, non-union solar panel or wind turbine factory where they talk about "green jobs" and conspicuously fail to mention anything about labor issues. When Democrats win big, the talk on the floor is about how soon the government will outlaw the kind of gun they bought for next year's hunting season.

Lots of people that work in the plant have also spent a significant amount of time in the military. They hated the idea of losing in Iraq. They hate the idea of welcoming Muslims in America after they spent time shooting at them in Iraq. They don't like the Left's obvious disdain for militarism.

I guess what I'm getting at is that a significant portion of industrial workers, even union members, look at a Republican and see somebody who has all the answers that make sense. Because they're perfectly OK with pointing at the people they don't like and saying, "Fuck 'em."
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:06 PM on October 27, 2010 [24 favorites]


We never saw this kind of rampant hate the last two times we had economic troubles and they let a Democrat win (Carter, Clinton).

For a person named Old'n'Busted, your memory doesn't seem to go back that far. There were two kinds of visible Republicans in the 1990s -- the ones who capital-H Hated Bill Clinton and the ones who capital-H capital-A capital-T capital-E capital-D HATED Bill Clinton. You think that Iraqi throwing a shoe at Bush was contemptuous? Some dude shot at the White House when Clinton was the Chief Resident.

Are there people who hate Obama because he's black? Yes. Do you really think any of those people were able to hold their noses enough to vote for him?
posted by Etrigan at 4:24 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frankly Obama could stop this bullshit tomorrow if he wanted to -- but he doesn't. We could put people to work again, but we're not doing that. I think people like the ones quoted in the linked article might feel a lot better about working, rather than getting unemployment.

We could have a federal jobs program that put everyone to work; Lord knows there's enough stuff that has to be done to fix our infrastructure. But Obama, and the Congress, won't do it, because they believe the deficit terrorist nonsense about how we "can't afford it."

What a crock of crap. We did it before during the Depression, with the WPA and then, the war effort. Paraphrasing the Wire, we used to build shit in this country. Everyone who wanted one (and then some) had a job. We built libraries, armories, schools, national parks , water systems, airports, bridges and roads. Companies that built typewriters started making guns and car manufacturers made tanks. Chrysler Corporation in conjunction with the government, built a tank factory from scratch in six months. From 1941 to 1945, American shipyards built around 2,500 Liberty Ships, each one of which weighed about 14,000 tons. At the height of production, the yards would build a ship in 42(!) days.

What we did at the tail end of the Depression and the War, laid the foundation for the prosperity of the postwar era. It wasn't just the big infrastructure either. All the way up to the 1990s (and probably now, but I haven't been in one since then), you could go to machine shops and see lathes built for the war effort by Pratt and Whitney.

All the while we were able to control inflation in the US economy-- John Kenneth Galbraith and his team worked on that program. And when the war ended and we cratered defense spending? The economy sank. Of course, some people had been bitching and moaning during the war about "socialism" and so instead we decided to build an economy based on private debt finance. We also tooled the defense industry back up , but unlike in World War II, the contractors were running the show. Now we spend more money on defense than during World War II and get less stuff in return. That is the dreaded defense death spiral

We could turn on a Jobs Guarantee tomorrow, and , unlike in Roosevelt's time we don't have to worry about the gold standard screwing up our international balance of payments. We don't have to build war machinery either-- there are plenty of infrastructure projects in modern America. People who are opposed to this, you're telling me that every major metropolitan area couldn't use a new subway system? Or solar installs? Or new school buildings? Or how about our gas distribution infrastructure, it might be nice to have one that didn't leak and blow up. When the economy is going strong again, we can reduce the number of Job Guarantee jobs to rein in inflation.

Frankly, it's downright insulting when people go off about "Zimbabwe" or "Weimar." Especially "Weimar." It's as if people believe that the American people today bear more resemblance to the broken defeated Germany of WWI, than we do to the Americans who won the Second World War. What that is, is a total spirit of defeatism, and a kind of fear of success masquerading as world weary knowledge. You're not sophisticated, you're just a coward. If you want to be all afraid and huddle in the corner talking about how the sky is falling and we all have to accept our new screwed up austere lives, please be my guest. You may mistake me for some kind of techno-utopian optimist, but in reality, I probably have a grimmer outlook than you do. From my perspective, if we keep going in the direction we're going, within a generation or two most Americans will live their lives in essentially permanent debt slavery. At that point, the strong will do as they will, and the weak will suffer what they must. And by "the weak" I mean probably most of the us who are reading this thread.

You're right that conditions are grim and the odds against success are long. There are solutions that have worked before and I see no reason why we can't modify those solutions to fit our current conditions. It's a long shot, I'll agree, and there is no guarantee of success. However, to accept the economic status quo is to likely guarantee a future of misery and privation for those who come after us. If you're going to be a scared shit-talker, I ask that you please kindly step aside.

The rest of us want to do what we must, so that we can live in an America where we build stuff again.
posted by wuwei at 4:34 PM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Thank you, TrialByMedia, for bringing in a bit of the real world here. That, folks, is reality. Not the romanticized notions of worker/class solidarity - that has been the bane of leftist analysis since the 1920's. It just ain't so. What they forget, is that Marxism was not merely an analytical tool, it was a prescriptivist script. It was what "should" happen given worker interests. But Marx himself was by no means naive about where the lower classes stood - especially the farmers (whom he despised as retrograde... of course, Karl Marx was a major asshole on a personal level) - he understood how religion and race and ethnic prejudice was used to divide and keep powerless the lower classes. This of course has been an ancient technique and well used here in the U.S. - especially the racial component, where the fear of the "other" (black, Chinese, Irish, Jewish, X) has been used to weaken worker solidarity. The Democrats will get nowhere by glossing over these facts - they'll forever be asking "but why do they vote against their own interests?!". This - among a thousand other reasons - is why the Democrats should always fight prejudice wherever it is, and whatever form it takes (homophobia, Islamophobia etc.).

Sometimes, sadly, people would rather suffer than see the "other" possibly benefit. I'm always reminded of the story about a djinn that appeared to a farmer "I'll do whatever you ask for, but be aware, that I'll do twice as much for your neighbor" - at which point the farmer thought long and hard, and finally asked "pluck out one of my eyes". And here we are.
posted by VikingSword at 4:35 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Frankly Obama could stop this bullshit tomorrow if he wanted to -- but he doesn't. We could put people to work again, but we're not doing that. I think people like the ones quoted in the linked article might feel a lot better about working, rather than getting unemployment.

We could have a federal jobs program that put everyone to work; Lord knows there's enough stuff that has to be done to fix our infrastructure. But Obama, and the Congress, won't do it, because they believe the deficit terrorist nonsense about how we "can't afford it."


Look, I'm as disappointed in Obama as the next guy, but this is bullshit. It's not all Obama's decision. He can press for public works and infrastructure all he wants, but then there's this:

Biggest public-works project in nation derails.

Gov. Christopher Christie, a Republican, who came into office last year promising fiscal restraint, said New Jersey couldn’t afford the construction overruns. He previously rejected any gasoline tax increase to pay for the project.

Christie, who has become a celebrity within the GOP for his pugnacious style and fiscal conservatism, has argued repeatedly that New Jersey couldn’t afford to pay for the construction overruns.

For the last few months, local and federal officials have been pressing Christie to back the project. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) blasted the governor’s decision.

“The federal government, at my urging, presented Gov. Christie with a number of financing options that would limit and even eliminate New Jersey’s responsibility to pay for cost overruns on the ARC Tunnel,” Lautenberg’s statement said. “The federal government demonstrated its strong commitment to building this tunnel, but it was clear from the beginning that Gov. Christie planned to kill this project no matter what.”


You can bring a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink.
posted by VikingSword at 4:52 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]



Frankly Obama could stop this bullshit tomorrow if he wanted to -- but he doesn't. We could put people to work again, but we're not doing that. I think people like the ones quoted in the linked article might feel a lot better about working, rather than getting unemployment.


What power would he use to accomplish this?
Invisibility
Super strength
Flying
Hulk Rage
posted by angrycat at 4:52 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are, of course, assuming that social and cultural diversity are advantages

I'm extrapolating from population biology. We already know that there is species survival value in diversity. We already know (in America) that diversity scales, if permitted to do so. Diversity is what made this nation great - starting with the diverse ideas of our Founding Fathers, and continuing on with the advantages brought through melting pot culture. Openness was another key ingredient.

Literally, there is no other place on earth that is as diverse as America; that is our strength - intellectually, and culturally. Diversity's advantages *have to be unlocked* through public policy, and leadership; they can't be tromped on. Right now, some segments challenge diversity because we are in a place of structural change that is challenging the assumptions made by the American Dream - in itself, a false set of assumptions. Fear has reared its short-term-solution head. People want what they got used to; nobody really wants to change, especially if that change forces adaptation. Diversity enhances adaptation. Maybe many of the "haves" will not survive, long-term, but those that continue to stream in will help reinvent new modes of adaptation. America renews itself.

We tend to take diversity for granted, but we shouldn't. We have struggled to be all-inclusive, and we have marginalized some groups out of our own ignorance and fear. On balance, we deploy diversity for the right, and wrong, reasons. Why do American growers encourage illegals? Because they want to increase profits. (how about $120 to pick a half-ton of apples - how many middle men (sitting in their 5000 sq ft homes) does it take that up to $1.99 per # at Safeway? - or, try asking most unemployed white folk if they are willing to work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, for $120 a day). So, right there, in a way not thought through by most, we make assumptions about the simple availability of table food, that we would otherwise not have or be able to afford, if it wasn't for "illegal" cultural diversity. Like I said, mirror gazing is in order.

What about the differing approaches to commerce and entrepreneurship brought by other cultures, and how that seeps into our every lives? How about the culture of diverse ideas?

Diversity and openness are the hallmarks of our culture; they are the hallmarks of optimal adaptation to change. Stop either one of them from growing, and we will free-fall into something that none of us want to imagine (or experience) the end point of - at least not this writer.

That said, I don't have all the answers, just a very strong hunch, based on observations made from a lot of traveling, and living. Time will tell. We're about to find out what America is made of.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:54 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's The Matter With Kansas is probably what's the matter with Ohio.
posted by pianomover at 5:14 PM on October 27, 2010


It's like, wtf America? I get that too many voters don't grasp the finer points of economic policy and history, but I'm having a harder time parsing that majorities of those polled simultaneously blame Republicans for the recession, disapprove of them more in general, and yet think they'd do a better job fixing things and favor them more in the generic ballot

I think there are a few reasons for this. First, the Tea Party and its crazy success stories have put a bunch of new faces out there. So one thing going on is that voters are looking at Republican candidates who are new to the scene and are (wrongly) giving them a pass on past R sins. Second, the Democrats, after winning in 2006 and sweeping in 2008, , have been remarkably inept at working together, explaining what they have done, or explaining what is going to improve if they are re-elected. The D message overall is -- those Rs will be worse, and also I will "stand up to" Obama and the D leadership. Third, the old R message of limited government and limited taxation always resonates with voters, particularly when they are cleverly predicting it will result in job creation too. And finally, the Rs aren't all over the place on their message. As usual, they are well organized and singing the same song from the same book.

I never understand why Democrats can't all get on the same page themselves, on anything. They can't even seem to take advantage of having one of the best communicators ever in the White House. For example, I loved Obama's stump speech about the Rs driving us back into the ditch, and his sarcasm about how the Republican message of "No" is "inspiring." I can't think of a single D I heard using those themes.
posted by bearwife at 5:29 PM on October 27, 2010


I never understand why Democrats can't all get on the same page themselves, on anything.

Allow me to suggest that when one of the traits a party uses to identify itself is diversity, that tends to make organizational coherence a tad more difficult. Far from being a source of strength, as one commenter here has suggested (rather naively I would argue), diversity may well be the bane of party discipline.
posted by valkyryn at 5:38 PM on October 27, 2010


People are in a pissy mood because the economy sucks, and they're incoherent because they don't understand economics, or politics, or history.

I think I need to write this down and put it in my wallet. Certainly more useful than a lot of the stuff currently in there.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:04 PM on October 27, 2010


I guess what I'm getting at is that a significant portion of industrial workers, even union members, look at a Republican and see somebody who has all the answers that make sense. Because they're perfectly OK with pointing at the people they don't like and saying, "Fuck 'em."

Funny think is that the "fuck 'em" attitude is pretty much identical to the "fuck 'em" attitude held by large sections of Creative Class knowledge worker types who don't give a fuck about the working class, largely for reasons of prejudice. Having come from a pretty working class background myself, immersion in the world of graduate school in a West Coast bastion of New Democrat globalism showed me that without a doubt, it ain't just the UAW membership that has these sorts of problems. Not by a long shot.

And your co-workers aren't entirely wrong. Lots of the Democratic Party's leadership and the new base it's running hard after don't like them.
posted by jhandey at 6:05 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Biggest public-works project in nation derails.

Yes, because Chris Christie isn't afraid to throw New Jersey (and New York) under the bus if he thinks it will help him win the presidency.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:08 PM on October 27, 2010


I'd love to have a dead end job right now.
posted by wires at 6:13 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I just say that, "They just don't get it," is the worst cliche in American political discourse at the moment, and that, "They. Just. Don't. Get It." is even more annoying? If they don't agree with whatever you're thinking, they don't get "it," and then you don't even have to state what "it" is since, you know, everyone should know what you're thinking "it" is. I mean, come on, it's "it," people. Do you not get it?

Nothing's worse than the asinine use of the word "optics" to describe how something looked to media viewers or readers, however. Whoever uses that word should be shot on sight.
posted by raysmj at 6:52 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frankly Obama could stop this bullshit tomorrow if he wanted to -- but he doesn't. \

Said by someone who thinks of the US Presidency as something other than what it really is in re to domestic politics, a glorified clerk's position, a surfeit of numbers crunchers and whatnot, with some quasi-royal trappings and what former New Orleans Mayor and Ridiculous Quote Machine Ray Nagin described after Katrina as a "pimped out" airplane.
posted by raysmj at 6:58 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Free universal health care. Problem solved.

That's not a policy! do you buy it when a Republican candidate says 'I'll create...prosperity!' No? Then quit doing it. Simply naming the things we'd like doesn't bring them into existence.

But it isn't [expensive]. It would cost about half as much per person as the current system, assuming costs similar to the average of the UK, Canada, and the Nordic countries.

That's better, but still problematic. We can't just assume the costs would be the same, because there has been different systems for negotiating salaries and drug prices in place for a long time. More likely you'd have to match Medicare pricing, which ain't cheap. Then, what about the existing private health insurance? Many companies are in multi-year contracts, so they'd be paying increased public healthcare taxes as well as health insurance. Invalidating those contracts would be legally very difficult and politically nightmarish; nationalizing them even more so.

Tax-funded universal healthcare is doable and we should do it, but it's not simple. Britain's NHS was set up under exceptional circumstances, and even that wasn't easy.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:31 PM on October 27, 2010


More likely you'd have to match Medicare pricing, which ain't cheap.

Why? Medicare pays rack rate, which is stupid and costing us a fortune. A universal plan would negotiate prices, like the UK and Canadian systems. And since it would be the single largest purchaser of drugs in the world, it would have a lot of bargaining power. Unlike the UK and Canadian plans, drugs wouldn't come on to the market more slowly because of the negotiation phase. Drug companies will accept any US price within reason because of the size of the market.

Then, what about the existing private health insurance?

The best answer is probably to go with a UK-like system that allows private hospitals and private insurance. Thus, those insurance contracts and companies continue to exist, but the number of healthcare providers that accept those plans will likely dwindle as the national plan is phased in. Eventually there would be a large body of healthcare providers accepting the national plan and a smaller body accepting private insurance, like the UK.

Many companies are in multi-year contracts, so they'd be paying increased public healthcare taxes as well as health insurance.

Multi-year contracts? Every company I've ever had any experience with personally or through family members has only had annual contracts. Anyway, the system would be phased in by bringing healthcare workers, clinics, and hospitals onto it over time. As such, the taxes required to fund it would likewise be phased in. It wouldn't be all at once. Furthermore, during the phase-in companies could be credited the cost of their preexisting health insurance contract, up to the amount of the national health care tax. Nobody has to get hit twice.

Invalidating those contracts would be legally very difficult and politically nightmarish; nationalizing them even more so.

No need to do so, as described above.

A national healthcare system could be implemented within 5-10 years with a comparative minimum of fuss. And a unified system would eliminate a lot of the redundancies that already exist between the other government healthcare systems (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA system).
posted by jedicus at 7:54 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A national healthcare system could be implemented within 5-10 years with a comparative minimum of fuss.

What is this sanity you preach? We'll have none of it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:31 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, what do you do if the drug and hospital firms play hardball and say they won't meet your price? They can afford to do that for a while because they have a lot of other buyers, but no competitors for drugs still under patent. The longer they string out the negotiations about pricing, the less good of an option government healthcare looks, because it doesn't deliver the treatment people need; and getting people to stump up more money in taxes without an obvious benefit isn't going to sell very well with the electorate.

Again, look at the history of the NHS. Aneurin Bevan famously said that he won the argument with the medical establishment because he 'stuffed their mouths with gold.' I mean, I'd like it if things worked out as you described. But I think your optimist that they'll just go along with it is a little naive.

Let's say they refuse, and sigh regretfully that it's just too bad you won't cut a deal with them, at the absurdly low prices you're proposing they'll have no choice but to lay off thousands of nurses, pharmaceutical researchers and so on. What's your plan B?
posted by anigbrowl at 8:48 PM on October 27, 2010


the democrats have lost much of the working class because they didn't fight hard enough for them, didn't listen to them and didn't acknowledge their problems - and the progressives are even worse - you can get people demonstrating for an end to foreign wars - you can get them demonstrating for civil rights - all admirable and correct, but where are the massive demonstrations for economic reforms that will benefit the common working people?

if you want a successful political movement to change this country, you start with the common worker and build from that

the left has not had its priorities straight for decades and the people on the factory floor, of which i am one, know it

They see a bunch of eggheads that look, act, and talk just like the company suits we're always fighting with. They snicker when one of them puts on a hardhat and visits a factory, making sure to keep their tailored suits away from the filth of industrial labor.

correct, trialbymedia, but i must say that there are quite a few republicans who are familiar enough with factories that they can walk into one and appear more comfortable in them

but as a union member affiliated with the teamsters, i say you pretty much hit it dead on - people aren't quite as anti-obama at my shop, but they're pretty cynical and disillusioned
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a crock of crap. We did it before during the Depression, with the WPA and then, the war effort.

Roosevelt was elected in 1933 with a 57% landslide and unemployment at 25%. The WPA was created in 1935, and unemployment was still about 20%. Although Roosevelt got a lot of other things done during his first two years, he also slashed veterans' pensions, reduced federal salaries, and cut spending on science and education, so the debt:GDP ratio stayed more or less constant. And he still had policies like the National Industrial Recovery Act thrown out by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional and had to threaten the justices with packing the court after he won the 1935 midterms.

It wasn't what you'd call smooth sailing, and unemployment stayed above 10% until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the US formally entered the war. It all worked out OK because the rest of the world's industrial base was pretty shot up by the end of the war and the US dominated global commerce. But nobody knew any of that when Roosevelt took office; the brutal budget cuts and hesitant spending of the first New Deal probably weren't very thrilling to the vast army of unemployed at the time.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:16 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


TrialByMedia, I really think your points about labor or fantastic, but a couple things:

When Democrats win big, the talk on the floor is about how soon the government will outlaw the kind of gun they bought for next year's hunting season.
Except it really isn't. Yes, a few gun control bills have been introduced in the last few years, but they have overwhelmingly gone nowhere. I've spent a lot of time watching the floor since Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006, and guns probably don't even make the list of the top 20 things I've heard Democrats talking about most. The NRA endorsed 58 Democrats this cycle. The DISCLOSE Act was rewritten at the last minute to exclude large membership organizations from disclosing their members so that folks like Heath Shuler would vote for it - it wouldn't have passed the House otherwise. Yes, there are plenty of anti-gun Democrats, but I don't see the vast majority of them making that issue a priority right now, and the minority of pro-gun Democrats is pretty sizable. Do I think this is a good thing? Not necessarily. But it's a fact.

Lots of people that work in the plant have also spent a significant amount of time in the military. They hated the idea of losing in Iraq. They hate the idea of welcoming Muslims in America after they spent time shooting at them in Iraq. They don't like the Left's obvious disdain for militarism.
Ignoring the middle section about Iraq and Muslims...the Left may disdain "militarism," but it sure as hell doesn't disdain the military. The Democrats have veterans in their numbers too (John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, Daniel Inouye, Max Cleland, Wesley Clark, Patrick Murphy, John Boccieri....I could go on and on), and Democrats are often working the hardest for veterans' healthcare, education, jobs programs, etc. - Jim Webb is a fantastic example of this.

There's something more going on here other than that Democrats are effete wonky wimps in suits - that's just not true.
posted by naoko at 9:32 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Liberals ask "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Question assume that everyone in Kansas or Defiance, Ohio is miserable. The way Bruce Springsteen imagines the life of ordinary working class people in places like Nebraska to be hopeless and bleak and miserable.

Fascinating, except that since Thomas Frank is from Kansas, I don't think the book is about figments of his imagination. I kind of suspect you didn't actually read it.
posted by naoko at 9:43 PM on October 27, 2010


naoko, I think you may be talking at cross-purposes. I don't think the point is that the left/Demos really are not anti-gun etc. - it's about what the working class thinks. They think the Democrats are this that and the other - never mind what the truth is. That's the problem. As non-pc as it may be to say, there are a lot of working class bigots and reactionaries out there, and that's that - trying to tell them "but we Democrats really are the good guys and won't take away your guns and give the black man/other unfair advantages" buys you exactly nothing. I could say here the usual "education is the answer", but frankly, Repubs speak to their baser instincts and that's that. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know the first step is to face facts. Facts like these:

Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents.

"The poll provides a pre-Election Day glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little previous political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that “seem extreme.”"

Women. The poor. Independents. All for Republicans, even if the Republicans are "extreme". In fact perhaps because the Republicans are extreme:

"In a follow-up interview, one poll respondent, Judy Berg, an independent from Morton Grove, Ill., said she voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 because she was “looking for a change,” adding, “the change that ensued was not the change I was looking for but something totally out of left field.”

This year, Ms. Berg, a registered nurse, expressed a preference for Republicans because “I’m pro-life and I’m also looking at the immigration issues and the tax issues.” She added, “I like the Republican agenda on these issues better than the Democratic agenda.”"


Haters gonna hate. Now what?
posted by VikingSword at 10:37 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Haters gonna hate. Now what?

Chalking policy preferences up to hate is probably not the place to start.
posted by valkyryn at 2:43 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Umm... Just because you don't have to pay for it at the point of service doesn't mean that it doesn't have to get paid for somehow. Universal health care may have its advantages, but pretending that it isn't a massively expensive undertaking isn't helping anyone.

And pretending that the existing US healthcare system isn't the most expensive and bureaucratic in the world - with all known governmentally provided healthcare models being cheaper and providing much better value for money isn't helping anyone either.

Transferring money from the wallets of the insurance companies to the government and to front line medical services is not a cost increase.
posted by Francis at 3:16 AM on October 28, 2010


Yes, a few gun control bills have been introduced in the last few years, but they have overwhelmingly gone nowhere. I've spent a lot of time watching the floor since Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006, and guns probably don't even make the list of the top 20 things I've heard Democrats talking about most. The NRA endorsed 58 Democrats this cycle.

Ignoring the middle section about Iraq and Muslims...the Left may disdain "militarism," but it sure as hell doesn't disdain the military. The Democrats have veterans in their numbers too (John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, Daniel Inouye, Max Cleland, Wesley Clark, Patrick Murphy, John Boccieri....I could go on and on), and Democrats are often working the hardest for veterans' healthcare, education, jobs programs, etc. - Jim Webb is a fantastic example of this.

There's something more going on here other than that Democrats are effete wonky wimps in suits - that's just not true.


No argument here on any of these points. I know these things as well as you do. But what's important to realize here is that this is not reflected in the narrative on the shop floor.
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:25 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is not reflected in the narrative on the shop floor.

As much as I despise the term "narrative" in political discourse, there's a reason for that.

Say I'm your average working-class Republican-leaning independent.* I've probably got health insurance of some kind.** I probably have a job,*** though I probably know people who don't. I probably own a home with a mortgage, and I'm probably current on it.**** I probably have kids, odds are fifty-fifty that I'm living with my current spouse. Even if I don't, I hold monogamous, life-long marriage as a familial ideal. I've got pretty traditional views of sexual ethics, even if I don't live up to them very well. I probably go to church on at least a semi-regular basis.***** I'm not a fan of abortion-on-demand, and don't want to see it expanded, but I don't want to outlaw it either. I've either served in the military or have family members or friends to have, and I've got an almost completely positive view of the armed forces in general and veterans in particular. I'm also pretty unwilling to put my own economic position in jeopardy to help people I don't know and have never met. I think all of that is pretty important, even if I don't have a terribly well-thought out idea of why or how that's supposed to work.

I'm also worried some things. I'm worried about illegal immigrants putting pressure on my wages. I'm worried about the possibility that my taxes might go up--state or federal. I'm worried about regulations that might decrease the value of my home. I'm worried about my kids' education, especially if I can't afford to send them to private school. I'm worried about crime and public safety. I'm worried that the moral lodestones by which I try to orient my life are under increasing pressure in the public sphere, including some who are trying to change the laws about them. I'm worried about what I perceive as a resurgent Islam, and I'm worried about terrorism more broadly. I'm worried that the government is spending too much money, because I know that if I spent money like that I would be in big trouble. I would feel a deep sense of shame if I had to seek assistance from family members to meet my daily expenses, and even more if I had to seek assistance from the government.

There are also things I don't care much about. I'm not terribly concerned about the people that don't have health insurance. I'm not all that worried about civil rights. I'm ambivalent at best about gay rights. Heck, I don't really care about gender issues at all. I don't care about prison reform.

In short, I'm basically okay, but feeling pretty anxious about that.

So. Then I start listening to politicians. On one hand, the Republican message is generally something like "I care about the things you care about, and I'm worried about the things you're worried about." On the other hand, the Democrat message--especially as evidenced by a lot of the comments above--is "You shouldn't really care about the things you care about, and you shouldn't be worried about the things you're worried about. Instead, you should care about this and worry about that. And if you don't, it's obviously because you're a ignorant, stupid, superstitious, bigoted racist who doesn't know what's good for him. You only like Republicans because they lie about the facts and appeal to your baser instincts."

And people wonder why Democrats have a "narrative" problem.

*Note: the following is not intended to describe my own political position. It's more like a distillation of the Midwestern folks I work with and live near--some of whom actually commute from just outside Defiance--with whom I really don't like to talk politics because it drives me up the wall.

**There are, what, 30-40 million people without health insurance of some kind? That's a lot of people, but it means that 85-90% of the population has health insurance of some kind.

***Unemployment at 10% still means that 90% of the people in the workforce have some kind of job. I'm aware of the problems with that metric--underemployment, discouraged workers, etc., but even allowing for that we've still got 80% employment.

****Something less than 10% of houses are in foreclosure.

*****Something like 65% of the population claims to go to church either every week or once or twice a month.
posted by valkyryn at 6:34 AM on October 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


What valkyryn just said. A million times.
posted by falameufilho at 8:39 AM on October 28, 2010


Right, because Bush did such a wonderful job for people like you and me.
Be honest, you're upset because you voted for the black man.
Seriously? That's fucking ridiculous. He sounds like he's not as well-informed as he could be, but calling him a racist? Really?

I think the guy's point (though framed in right-wing rhetoric) was that it looks (to him) that we're moving to a state where people can't get jobs, just unemployment insurance payments.

I think the reality is that as more and more work gets automated, some form of "welfare state" is going to be inevitable, and people just need to realize that and get over it. However, that is a fairly idiosyncratic view, and probably not what Obama is going for. So unless Obama wants to reformulate society, he'd better figure out a way to get some jobs back.
She does realize that Bush bailed out A.I.G., right?

At a baseline level, the problem here is ignorance.
The problem is that republicans try to blame the democrats for all economic measures (and mix them all together). And the democrats don't try to say otherwise. You don't see Obama out there saying, "Bush did X, bush did Y", so of course people don't know. And our news media doesn't bother telling the truth; they just repeat what politicians say. If no politicians don't say it, it's not important.
We're a minority in our own party. Americans aren't charitable people, and do not want a charitable government. Our values, while good, are out of touch with American values.
Meh. Polls show that when you actually poll individual issues, people line up with the Democratic Party. When you ask people if they are "conservative" or "liberal" they tend to say conservative, but many people don't consider those terms in terms of the republicans or democrats. For example, most African Americans consider themselves "conservative" but never, ever, vote for republicans. The labels are fairly meaningless.

You live in Georga. The fact of the matter is that the people you see and interact with on a daily basis are a geographic minority. There are 9 million people in georga compared to 30 million in California, which nearly legalized gay marriage (missed by a few points) and is similarly divided on legalizing marijuana this year.

And even in Georgia, I would imagine the average person in John Lewis' congressional district have pretty different views then the average person in yours.
It's like, wtf America? I get that too many voters don't grasp the finer points of economic policy and history, but I'm having a harder time parsing that majorities of those polled simultaneously blame Republicans for the recession, disapprove of them more in general, and yet think they'd do a better job fixing things and favor them more in the generic ballot.
It only takes a handful of incoherent people to create results like that, not majorities. If 90% always blame one party for everything, and vote for the other you could have a situation where 55% blame the republicans, and 55% are going to vote for them.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on October 28, 2010


No argument here on any of these points. I know these things as well as you do. But what's important to realize here is that this is not reflected in the narrative on the shop floor.

Fair enough - it was hard for me to tell whether you were stating these things as facts or just framing it from their perspective. The real question is how we do a better job of getting other people to know the truth, and I don't really have any answers.
posted by naoko at 9:53 AM on October 28, 2010


Faze wrote: "Liberals ask "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Question assume that everyone in Kansas or Defiance, Ohio is miserable. "

That entire post was a big bag of what. the. fuck. It completely misses the point, and somehow comes off as even more condescending than the stereotypical liberal's opinion of those living in red states. It's like you think my neighbors are some sort of "noble savage," blind to politics and lacking in materialism, not the goddamned dittoheads and beckites they are, in the main. (at least the ones who aren't so poor as to have no time for even thinking about politics)
posted by wierdo at 10:14 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"this is not reflected in the narrative on the shop floor"

The narrative on the shop floor seems to be driven by talk radio and feel good soundbites. I don't know how to fix this, because worried people want simple reassuring answers, and there aren't any.

Compare on immigration:

"This is a deep issue. We've got industries that depend on undocumented labor, many hardworking immigrants who are vulnerable to exploitation, children who have been born here and are seeking education, legal immigrants who have followed the procedures and resent others skipping them, a diminishing of the rule of law in Mexico due to rising drug trafficking and violence, and the need to come up with an equitable solution for all parties..."

"WE'RE GOING TO BUILD A FENCE AND KEEP 'EM OUT!!"

One of these is simple, easy to understand, and wrong. All the problems facing the US are like this - waning global influence, terrorism, outsourcing, the rise of BRIC, peak oil, global warming, it goes on and on.
posted by bitmage at 10:27 AM on October 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Valkyrin, if that's a person mindset, priorities, and worries, then they SHOULD be voting for Republicans. They share core beliefs with their platform. If their problem with illegal immigration is that it is "putting pressure on their wages," rather than, "I HEAR MESCANS CUT OFF HEADS IN THE ARIZONA DESERT!" then that suggests to me they already have a more nuanced, thoughtful view than a lot of others. More power to them.

I don't think it's being condescending or unfair to suggest that their are others who simply misapprehend the Republican platform vs. the Democratic platform, and how its implementation would affect their lives and their values, because the Republicans really DO engage in a lot of fear-mongering and "appealing to people's base instincts." It works. It's not just some wild claim we libs use to feel superior.
posted by mreleganza at 10:56 AM on October 28, 2010


if that's a person mindset, priorities, and worries, then they SHOULD be voting for Republicans.

The Irony is that the people who's jobs and wages are most at risk by illegal immigrant labor are mostly for loose immigration laws. Because they are mostly poor Hispanic citizens who have illegal immigrant friends (or families) and would be most hassled by shit like SB1070.
posted by delmoi at 12:00 PM on October 28, 2010


It's not just some wild claim we libs use to feel superior.

1) Fear-mongering doesn't work unless it's something people were already pre-disposed to be afraid of.

2) Even if you sincerely believe the claim to be true, hell, even if it is factually true, it is something Democrats frequently use to feel superior. Voters know this. They aren't stupid and don't like being condescended to. Like it or not, that's something progressives need to deal with.
posted by valkyryn at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2010


"Hey, quit condescending to me or I'll elect someone who'll keep my wages low and tax me regressively! That'll teach you."
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:43 PM on October 28, 2010


Even if you sincerely believe the claim to be true, hell, even if it is factually true, it is something Democrats frequently use to feel superior. Voters know this.

Voters who read metafilter? It isn't like conservatives don't have myths that they use to feel superior to Liberals. Try listening to rush Limbaugh or something. What's more condescending, believing that conservative politicians try to use fear to get votes, or that voters are naive little children would totally vote for liberals if only we asked in the right way.
posted by delmoi at 2:00 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


. You don't see Obama out there saying, "Bush did X, bush did Y", so of course people don't know.

Um...yes I do actually. He talks about it a lot.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:01 PM on October 28, 2010


What's more condescending, believing that conservative politicians try to use fear to get votes, or that voters are naive little children would totally vote for liberals if only we asked in the right way.

The tu quoque fallacy, even if true, does not invalidate an argument.

I'm not saying this is fair, just that it's true.
posted by valkyryn at 3:58 PM on October 28, 2010


Obama is not a "glorified clerk." Yes, Obama could implement a jobs program tomorrow, by executive order:
Although Congress, as part of the New Deal, had appropriated money specifically for relief, FDR decided to use the money for a direct jobs program by issuing a Presidential executive order. This Executive Order described the agencies to be involved in the program, its structure and procedure for application and allocation of jobs.
link
posted by wuwei at 9:49 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can only imagine what the folks on a local message board I sometimes post on who think that the individual mandate is some sort of unconstitutional socialist tyranny worthy of revolution would think of that, wuwei.
posted by wierdo at 4:42 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Probably the same way as the retainers of the people who tried hiring Smedley Butler to overthrow FDR.
posted by wuwei at 10:32 AM on November 13, 2010


Speaking of FDR, I noticed last night that right wingers are giving away their nutty novels for free in the Nook store. One of them was about the New Deal and how it didn't really do anything. Another stated in the synopsis that "scientists have now disproven global warming." Fun stuff.
posted by wierdo at 11:46 AM on November 13, 2010


Sigh. But yet, they get traction. I think in the postwar Red Scare, we allowed ourselves to pretend that we were considerably less "socialist" than we actually were. I was driving through central California, which is a conservative stronghold if the bumper stickers and signs I saw were any indication. Yet, the entire area is dependent on water from the CA water project, a massive government program. And the highways that make the exurbs possible, are also a massive subsidy. Yet the people who live out there like to think of themselves as ruggedly independent-- it's a failure of our political discourse. We've failed to slap people hard when they talked about their rugged individualism...this myth of the corn-pone individualist superman that is so prevalent in America.

It's all a lie.
posted by wuwei at 5:10 PM on November 15, 2010


I can't do more than say "I agree." Each and every one of us benefits from all the government bureaucracy we all like to rail against. To some degree that's a reaction to the inevitable waste and graft and our (seemingly) increasing tendency to see things in a completely black and white manner.

It's also funny to note that when you call someone on it, they say "well, I paid for it!" Funny that they can't connect the dots and see how not paying for it means those services they rely on will go away. I think that's called throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by wierdo at 5:24 PM on November 15, 2010


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