Saturday, May 14, 2005

A Valid Observation from David Brooks


David Brooks notes,
Poorer Republicans support government programs that offer security, so long as they don't undermine the work ethic. Eighty percent believe government should do more to help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt. Only 19 percent of affluent Republicans believe that.
I think that the political left should take note of that observation which, although not entirely true, does hold true for a significant block of potential swing voters. A Democratic strategy to make the "Horatio Alger" story at least slightly less a myth, while focusing social assistance efforts on programs which help people rise out of poverty, may well win over some swing voters. But as long as the working poor see welfare benefits as primarily benefiting the indolent poor, and run into perplexing situations where it appears that they would be "better off" by not getting married - because their combined household income disqualifies them for social assistance programs that would be available were they single - that particular block of Republican-leaning voters will likely remain allied with the Republican Party. Even if you don't agree with the perception, it should be understandable why the working poor resent seeing their incomes taxed such that others can receive health care, food and housing subsidies.

4 comments:

  1. I don't believe the "classical left" in America is capable of acting on your observation (valid though it is). It would require them to acknowledge that some form of personal responsibility should be taken into account in the formulation of policy, and that just doesn't seem likely.

    On the other hand, it would be a good issue for a populist or centrist to take advantage of . .

    CWD

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  2. You mean, somebody who is a uniter, not a divider?

    Seriously - it isn't what GW has delivered, but isn't it in a sense what he promised during his first campaign?

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  3. CWD,
    Tell Marsha I love her!

    - L

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  4. In a manner of speaking, (compassionate conservative), but I think it is what pretty much everyone promises when they run. Actually, I was thinking of Clinton as being someone who did it pretty well in terms of policy. He was not a "uniter" in the sense that people tended to love or hate him, without much in the middle. He was, however, good at finding the populist or centrist political position on issues. Witness your classic (borrowed?) line about, "Everytime the Republicans think they have an issue they can run on, he says, "me too."

    I'll pass on your kind words L, we miss you guys too.

    CWD

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