Monday, September 27, 2010

Slouching Towards Stockholm

The disconnect between the values of a majority of Americans and what Republicans claim those values to be has always been substantial. And with the Republican leadership, goaded by deeply conflicted teabaggers, lurching ever further to the right, that chasm is wider than it has been in generations. Paul Rosenberg has written on the jarring disparity between what conservatives say they value, and thus who they vote for, and the actual economic policies they support. Have a look and see what he says about conservative identity. And see Cenk Uygur's take on why Washington is more right-wing than the rest of the country.

Succinctly put, many Republican voters identify with the visceral appeal of Republican candidates, the imagery, the bravado, and the symbolism, complete with flags, uniforms, bald eagles, and feel-good homilies. They admire and usually vote for candidates that project strength and certainty.  It can be nutty nonsense, but for many conservatives, that seems to be beside the point. I'm looking at you, Sarah Palin.

But as Rosenberg shows, most Americans, and even a majority of Republicans, prefer Democratic economic policies; not candidates, mind you, but the actual policies. Take, for example, the demands of confused teabaggers that government keeps its hands of "my medicare".

It is thus very instructive to see that according to researchers at Harvard and Duke, an overwhelming majority of Americans, 92 percent, would prefer a society with far less income disparity, opting for one much more like Sweden. That is generally true for young and old, Repubican or Democrat.

The study also indicated that Americans generally are not aware of how profound the wealth disparities in the US really are. When asked, most estimated the distribution of wealth in the US to be rather modest, once again providing figures that more accurately represented Sweden.

You know what is galling about this? The inability of Democrats to get these points across to more Americans. Republicans keep offering policy prescriptions that favor the rich, while telling the working class they must sacrifice. And Democrats stand there, wring their hands, and wonder how they should campaign.

It's like neither party really wants to win.

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