The Jaker

Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Could this be the year of the New Democratic Majority?
In reading Paul Krugman today, and Bakley's solid assessment - synopsis: the push to privatize Social Security is an ideologically-driven anti-government initiative, rather than an honest effort to solve any fiscal imbalance (which I agree with) - it strikes me that perhaps Republicans really have taken this too far, and Democrats have a rare opportunity to swing the long-term pendulum of partisan sentiment back in our direction, redefining conservatives the same way they redefined us a decade ago.

Take this quote from Krugman:

The hard right has never forgiven F.D.R. (and later L.B.J.) for his efforts to reduce [pre New Deal economic insecurity], and now that the right is running Washington, it's trying to turn the clock back to 1932.

Reading this immediately gave me a Thomas Frank 'tingle' (another Austin Sarat influence). In What's the Matter with Kansas, Frank argues that Republicans in the heartland have been voting solely based on social issues (eg. abortion) rather than in a way that would be consistent with their economic interests. So they vote for Republicans, who then give tax breaks to the wealthy and enact legislation overwhelmingly favorable to drug and oil companies.

But what if they were only voting this way because they were fairly happy with the way the economy is currently balanced between 'welfare state' and free-market capitalism (or 'ownership')? What if they never wanted Republicans to change redistributive economic programs like Social Security and Medicaid? After all, polls show that even in the reddest states people do not support the president's privatization plan.

So perhaps this is the year that lower and middle-class Republicans finally realize what their party stands for economically - increased wealth disparity, through the dismantling of redistributive programs and the return of that tax money to the wealthy. If we can get these people voting in their own economic best interests once again, Ruy Teixeira will be right after all, and we will see an Emerging Democratic Majority in America.
posted by CB @ 1:56 PM  
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