By using a voter’s adverse economic circumstances to rationalize his cultural beliefs, Barack Obama has reintroduced what has been a defining question in American politics for more than a generation: Why do so many working-class voters cast their ballots on social and values-based issues like gun ownership, abortion and same-sex marriage rather than on economic policy prescriptions?Interesting question. But is the premise true - are working class voters actually "values voters?" Paul Krugman, the liberal economist who is a Times columnist pulls together the conversation on this question over the past few days. He lays out the argument that Barack has his stereotypes wrong about the bitter middle class voting on religion:
It’s true that Americans who attend church regularly are more likely to vote Republican. But contrary to the stereotype, this relationship is weak at low incomes but strong among high-income voters. That is, to the extent that religion helps the G.O.P., it’s not by convincing the working class to vote against its own interests, but by producing supermajorities among the evangelical affluent.In an op-ed yesterday, Larry Bartels, again from the Times, crunches the numbers and announces:
Small-town people of modest means and limited education are not fixated on cultural issues. Rather, it is affluent, college-educated people living in cities and suburbs who are most exercised by guns and religion. In contemporary American politics, social issues are the opiate of the elites.So not only did Barack choose his words poorly, he was making a point that is part of the false premise that the dems operate under - that they run the party that cares about regular folk. (see the numbers in the next post that prove this point.) Somehow, through all the disinformation, working people have figured out that the GOP has a vision for the country, and a belief in it, that matches theirs.
Somehow middle class America has discerned that all the plans that democrats have for building huge bureaucracies to reallocate wealth and build a political base don't actually help people... that people need to help themselves. Which is why they believe in America in a way that people like Jeremiah Wright and Michelle Obama, and yes, it seems, Barack, don't.
Which has those lapel pins looking a lot more appealing to Barack these days.