This gave me a headache so I thought I’d share it, What’s the Matter with Voting Republican If You’re Poor?
According to recent US census figures, since President Bush assumed power in 2000 poverty has risen by 7%, the proportion of those without healthcare has risen by 9%, and median household income has fallen by 3%. But where the poor are most numerous, it seems the Democrats are weakest. The 10 states with the lowest household median income, where people are least likely to have healthcare and most likely to live in poverty, all voted Republican in 2004. Not only are they poor, but they’re getting poorer.
So the poorest states voted for Bush which would for most people suggests that most poor people voted for Bush against their own economic interests with their ultra conservative cultural tendencies taking precedent.
The white working class, insisted Bartels, hadn’t abandoned the Democratic party, and neither their moral values nor their religion distracted them from their economic interests. Bartels’s argument was not quite as devastating as he claimed (Frank’s facts stand up if you assess class by educational attainment rather than income), but it undermined the key assumption that poor white people vote Republican. They don’t. According to CNN polls, 63% per cent of those who earn less than $15,000 a year and 57% of those who earn between $15,000 and $30,000 voted Democrat. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to vote Democrat.
So how are we to understand the fact that the poorest states voted for Bush? Soon after Bartels’s paper came another by four academics, subtitled: Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State, What’s The Matter With Connecticut?. It revealed that rich people in poor states are more motivated to vote Republican, whereas in wealthier states there is a lower correlation between income and voting preference. In other words, thinking of the American political landscape in terms of different states (remember the map with the Democrat blue on the edges flanking a sea of Republican red?) hides the often far more important differences within states.
So what’s the matter with all these analyses? First of all they seem to step over a huge elephant in the room – namely race. There is a reason why we are only talking about white working-class voters: black people, regardless of income, overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Indeed, were it not for black people, the Democrats would have won the presidency only once, in 1964. That was the year President Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights act, turned to an aide and said: “We have lost the south for a generation.” We are well into the second generation now, and the racialised politics of the south seem to be influencing the rest of the country rather than the other way round.
In other words there is a clear racial attachment that white voters have to the Republican party that does not override income but certainly qualifies it. No understanding of why so many of them vote Republican can examine class as though it is distinct from race.
Howard Dean may have other reasons for thinking that he and the Democratic party should not abandon the red states, but that doesn’t matter. The margins for conservatives victories in those states are thin both in terms of ideology and voter turnout. Maybe not an earth moving revelation that getting more poor and working class voters to the polls would produce quite a few more Democratic victories, on the contrary it is a real problem that can be handled by the kind of grass roots efforts to get out the vote that Mr. Dean thinks is the future of the party.
No kidding: “The Path to 9/11” was false from the opening scene, when it put Mohamed Atta both in the wrong airport (Boston instead of Portland, Me.) and on the wrong airline (American instead of USAirways). It took Mr. Bush but a few paragraphs to warm up to his first fictionalization for dramatic purposes: his renewed pledge that “we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them.” Only days earlier the White House sat idly by while our ally Pakistan surrendered to Islamic militants in its northwest frontier, signing a “truce” and releasing Al Qaeda prisoners. Not only will Pakistan continue to harbor terrorists, Osama bin Laden probably among them, but it will do so without a peep from Mr. Bush.
WE have entered a new phase of the war on the truth. First we had dozens of lies and hundreds of distortions and exaggerations with a degree of plausible deniabilty that all together constituted the Big Lie. Now we have a second wave in which the Bush administration and the right-wing apologists are lying about the lies and distortions.
These verbal tics are so consistent that they amount to truth in packaging – albeit the packaging of evasions and falsehoods. By contrast, Condi Rice’s fictions, also offered in bulk to television viewers to memorialize 9/11, are as knotty as a David Lynch screenplay. Asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News last Sunday if she and the president had ignored prewar “intelligence that contradicted your case,” she refused to give up the ghost: “We know that Zarqawi was running a poisons network in Iraq,” she insisted, as she continued to state again that “there were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda” before the war.
Ms. Rice may be a terrific amateur concert pianist, but she’s an even better amateur actress. The Senate Intelligence Committee report released only two days before she spoke dismissed all such ties. Saddam, who “issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with Al Qaeda,” saw both bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as threats and tried to hunt down Zarqawi when he passed through Baghdad in 2002. As for that Zarqawi “poisons network,” the Pentagon knew where it was and wanted to attack it in June 2002. But as Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News reported more than two years ago, the White House said no, fearing a successful strike against Zarqawi might “undercut its case for going to war against Saddam.” Zarqawi, meanwhile, escaped.
It was in an interview with Ted Koppel for the Discovery Channel, though, that Ms. Rice rose to a whole new level of fictionalizing by wrapping a fresh layer of untruth around her most notorious previous fiction. Asked about her dire prewar warning that a smoking gun might come in the form of a mushroom cloud, she said that “it wasn’t meant as hyperbole.” She also rewrote history to imply that she had been talking broadly about the nexus between “terrorism and a nuclear device” back then, not specifically Saddam – a rather deft verbal sleight-of-hand.
Ms. Rice sets a high bar, but Mr. Bush, competitive as always, was not to be outdone in his Oval Office address. Even the billing of his appearance was fiction. “It’s not going to be a political speech,” Tony Snow announced, knowing full well that the 17-minute text was largely Cuisinarted scraps from other recent political speeches, including those at campaign fund-raisers. Moldy canards of yore (Saddam “was a clear threat”) were interspersed with promising newcomers: Iraq will be “a strong ally in the war on terror.” As is often the case, the president was technically truthful. Iraq will be a strong ally in the war on terror – just not necessarily our ally. As Mr. Bush spoke, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was leaving for Iran to jolly up Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Hearing that Iraq will be a “strong ally in the war on terror” is the kind of thing that makes people blow milk through their nose.
I couldn’t believe, I couldn’t believe you’d let me down
I just couldn’t believe, I couldn’t believe you would let me down
I’ve been too good to you baby, you hurt me with what you did
My friend tried to tell me
You didn’t mean me no good
I didn’t believe a word he said
I couldn’t believe it, whoo
I couldn’t believe you would let me down
I done lost everything that I had baby
I can’t believe you would let me down
from the lyrics to I Put My Trust On You by John Lee Hooker