May 3, 2005

Red vs. Blue

No, unfortunately not the much more fun machinime of the same name. This time, it's John Tierney of the New York Times weighing in to condescendingly explain to coastal pundits why they're so very wrong about voters in the heartland and in the "Republican exurbs":
The favorite Democratic explanation is that the red staters are hicks who have been blinded by righteousness, as Thomas Frank argues in "What's the Matter With Kansas?" He laments that middle-class Kansans are so bamboozled by moral issues like abortion and school prayer that they vote for Republicans even though the Republican tax-cutting policies are against their self-interest.

But middle-class Americans don't simply cast ballots for Republicans. They also vote with their feet, which is why blue states and old Democratic cities are losing population to red states and Republican exurbs. People are moving there precisely because of economic reasons - more jobs, affordable houses and the lower taxes offered by Republican politicians.

They're not moving for the churches, and they don't vote for Mr. Bush simply because he reads the Bible every day. One of the main reasons they like him is that he gets bashed so often. When Jon Stewart sneers at him, they empathize because they're used to being sneered at themselves.

I see, Mr. Tierney. While we're talking about those 'economic reasons' let's have a look at this, shall we? Much discussed during and after the previous election, this report is nonetheless still illuminating - displaying the ratio of federal monies spent to federal taxes collected on a per-state basis. Those 'economic reasons' you cite that are provided by Republican politicians - jobs, lower taxes, etc. - are not free.

Let's leave the substantive claims entirely aside, however. Mr. Tierney appears (to me, I acknowledge) to be taking coasties to task for bashing Republicans - causing them to move to 'Red' states and vote for Mr. Bush, who they can 'empathize' with when he is sneered at by quintessential coastal liberals like Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.

A quick aside - I remain astounded at the amount of influence attributed to Mr. Stewart and the Daily show by commentators who declaim loudly that those worthies are in fact non-mainstream and not much more than liberal mouthpieces, especially while describing the erosion of the left's influence.

In any case, Mr. Tierney, the point is not so much that some of us are shocked that middle America votes for Mr. Bush. We are in fact shocked that middle-class Americans are voting for Mr. Bush and, if they are chasing those carrots you list, that they are chasing such poisoned and illusory benefits. The GOP policy record has been a disaster for middle-class America. If your point is that middle-class Americans don't care about that, that they are 'voting with their feet' and with their ballots for Mr. Bush because they feel 'kicked around' by liberals who sneer at his malapropisms, it seems (to me, again) that you have an incredibly piss-poor opinion of the intelligence and analytical tendencies of those very voters.

But wait, that's what you're accusing me of, isn't it?

Posted by jbz at May 3, 2005 2:36 PM | TrackBack

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