Those wanting more individual freedom and economic equity must vote for Obama this November

As it turns out, when you put the voters leaning one way or another in the respective columns of President Obama and Mitt Romney (I am reluctant to call him governor, sine he has repudiated everything he did as a Governor of Massachusetts), there are only 3-5% of likely voters who are undecided.  Thus, all the hundreds of millions that the candidates are spending have the goal to capture the votes of very few people, plus, of course, to rally the loyal troops to actually step into a voting booth and push the appropriate buttons.

This relatively small number of people still undecided underscores how polarized our politics and our country have become.  What’s most interesting is how the polarization tends to play out consistently. On social issues Republicans want to control private life, while Democrats don’t want to intrude; whereas on economic issues, it’s the exact opposite, with Democrats wanting to intrude on marketplace relationships and interactions, with Republicans wanting a laissez faire approach.

The polarization takes place along a wide range of issues, as the following handy-dandy chart encapsulates:

Social Issue

Republicans

Democrats

Abortion

Intrude on private lives

Don’t intrude

Gay marriage

Intrude on private lives

Don’t intrude

Birth control for women

Intrude on private lives

Don’t intrude

Promotion of one religion

Intrude on private lives

Don’t intrude

Rewriting science & history

Intrude on truth

Don’t intrude

Economic Issue

Republicans

Democrats

Environmental regulations

Don’t intrude

Intrude on marketplace

Labor and employment regulations

Don’t intrude

Intrude on marketplace

Minimum wage

Don’t intrude

Intrude on marketplace

Support of emerging industries, e.g., solar and wind power, nanotechnology and space research

Don’t intrude

Intrude on marketplace

Support for schools, healthcare and the poor

Don’t intrude

Intrude on marketplace

Privatization of government functions

Don’t intrude on free market

Intrude: Let government do it

The only ways in which the polarization is not consistent with this pattern are the two big money issues: 1) Who will pay for the services and benefits that government does provide its citizens, or in the privatization scheme of things, finance? 2) In paying for our debt, how will the money flow, from the poor and middle class as it has for the past 30 years I dyspeptically call the Reagan Era, or from the wealthy to the poor and middle class until we return to the mix of wealth we had in from about 1945-1975?

The really strange thing about the deep political division in the country is that most of the people who believe fervently in the Republican positions on key social issues suffer from the Republican position on economic issues, and are among the biggest losers if the Republican positions on taxation and government spending prevail.

Why would these Republican for social issues put up with policies that lead to their own economic decline?  If they just tended to their own communities and families instead of trying to impose their religious views on others, then everyone could do what they wanted. They could then vote Democratic for economic issues and have more money to live their own lives or give to their church.

The economic-issue Republicans such as Romney and Ryan cynically support the efforts of the social-issue Republicans in a kind of grand bargain with the devil, or should I say angel.

We know the economic-issue Republicans have to make the bargain, because if they didn’t, they would be severely outvoted in every election. Even with voter suppression tactics, it’s pretty hard for 1% to beat 99% at the polls.

But why do the social-issue Republicans make the bargain?

I think it’s for one reason and one reason alone: racism. The social right wing believes that all the social and government investment programs primarily help minorities, whom many still hate or fear, even if they currently tend to mask these emotions with the kind of code language proliferated by the new sophisticated breed of race-baiters such as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. They tend to like the benefits they receive, such as social security and Medicare, but demonize other government benefits such as food stamps by incorrectly putting a black or immigrant face on them.

The economic right wing has been spewing its laissez faire economics and economic Darwinism since the Gilded Age of the middle of the 19th century. But uneducated urban and rural whites began to listen to and agree with the economic far right only when government benefits were opened to African-Americans (and women) in the 1960’s. Goldwater was considered a dangerous extremist figure. A mere 16 years later, years of civil rights strides, Ronald Reagan defeated an incumbent president with the support of the angry white working class and the then incipient evangelical movement.

Is it worth it to social conservatives to allow their allies to perpetrate a financial rape on 99% of the population of the country? Do they think of it as a purifying scourge of extreme poverty and hardship, as the wealthy continue to collect and hoard money thanks to low taxes, little government wealth redistribution, privatization and wage policies that suppress the income of most?  Instead of dragging heavy chains, wearing scratching barbed clothing and carrying heavy crosses as in late medieval times, maybe the Christian right wants our society and most of the people in it to just gradually get poorer and poorer, while the plutocrats bid up the prices of fine art and baseball cards.

opedge
One comment on “Those wanting more individual freedom and economic equity must vote for Obama this November
  1. Jeri Johnson says:

    A quick thought experiment:

    One would rightly be considered an extremist if they held that their property rights superseded the liberty of others to the point that human ownership were viable. I believe polls would reflect that extremism as I doubt few currently hold that view.

    But would the same individual be an extremist in 1850? I believe so. There are timeless truths and a belief in human ownership runs counter to them. However, polls, had they been possible, would not have reflected that extremism in 1850. The result is that our extremist slave holder was able to hide their extremism behind the skirt of extremist polls.

    Today we see the same dynamic.

    Instead of one’s property rights superseding the rights of another to the point of their enslavement, a group of Americans believe one’s privacy rights supersede the rights of another to the point of their death. Like the slaveholders of a previous era this group hides its extremism behind the skirt of extremist polls.

    Polls are clearly not the tool by which we may divine extremism.

    Extremism can, therefore, only be measured against a fundamental principle.

    To conclude, it is arguably the case that extremists are sometimes those who turn their backs on fundamental principles so as to run with the herd rather than those few who choose stand with truth.

    It is for that reason that only the non virtuous would argue against government intruding on behalf of those who are denied not only the right to vote – to speak against their treatment – to take up arms in defense, as their lives have been bartered for a vote.

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