Thursday, May 15, 2008

Democrats Fail to Learn Lessons of 2004 - Part 2: Why Red Staters "Vote Against Our Interests" [UPDATED]

So, I'm watching MSNBC (Lord only knows why I subjected myself to that nonsense) the other night in the wake of Hillary!'s crushing defeat of Obama in West Virginia (by 40 points!), and the commentators kept going back and forth about what Obama needs to do to win over working class voters in the Ohio Valley and lower Midwest.

Ron Reagan (no offense to his exalted namesake, but THERE'S one person whose smug, elitist, dog-show announcing face I'd be tempted to kick in with my steel toe boots) kept going on and on and on about how Obama just needs to keep making the case that he's "with" the working class and that voting for McCain means "voting against their own interests".

"Voting against their own interests." Where have I heard that before? And what does it mean?

Following Bush's "values voters" victory in 2004, we heard that mantra from the pundit class who told us that working class "values voters" were "voting against their own interests". Heck, there's even a book out about the "phenomenon" called What's the Matter with Kansas? that all the lefties just think is SOOOO insightful, and which Obama was alluding to in making his "bitter" working class voters "cling" to God and guns comment.

So, what's it mean? Well, the idea is one that is inherently materialistic. It's the notion that people ought to be voting based solely on their economic best interests, and makes the HUGE ASSUMPTION that the best economic interests of the working class can only be served via voting for the left-liberal agenda of the Democrats. So, the question goes, why do all these rednecks and blue collar dolts out here in red-state America keep voting for Republicans? And given Obama's problems with such voters in the Democrat primaries - and the fear that this might carry over into the general election, the question has resurfaced.

But what Ron Reagan and all the other left-liberal pundits have failed to learn since 2004 is that voters out here in flyover country understand the meaning of "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?". Economic well being is very important, but not at the expense of our basic values about who we should be. Not at the expense of our ability to provide basic protection for our homes and our families (i.e. individual gun ownersip); not at the expense of how we value the lives of the most vulnerable among us (i.e. abortion and euthanasia); not at the expense of the sanctity of marriage and the traditional family (i.e. same-sex "marriage"). And certainly not at the risk of stripping all vestiges of God and religion from the public square in favor of the secularist vision of the left.

To some extent, the Dems have caught on. They're talking about their spirituality and religious beliefs. But, behind all the "God talk", all they're doing is baptizing left-liberal economics and talking about the same-old same-old that they've been offering for the past 40 years, only this time using religious terminology.

Some will fall for it, but most red-state voters will continue to vote contrary to how the pundit class believes we should vote. That's because at our core, those of us out here in the hinterlands understand that spiritual and cultural values are, indeed, MORE fundamental and important than the materialistic values that are promoted by the "it's the economy, stupid" mentality of those on the left and the corporatist/globalist/big business mentality of those on the economic right.

And until the Democrats can figure out that the "God Gap" is about MORE than just talking all religious and stuff, they'll continually fail to learn the lessons of 2004.

Victor Davis Hanson must've eaten the same thing I had for breakfast this morning:
... On the political side in more general terms, the problem right now with the left, Obama and trust — to the extent that there is a problem given the Republicans' serial implosions and the favorable scenarios opening up for Democrats in the fall — is that the working classes in state after state that really matter (e.g., California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, etc.), far from brainwashed by Fox News, simply do not yet trust Barack Obama.

Why? Not because they are mesmerized by radical forces, neoconservative ditto heads, "newspaper chains" or "chains of radio stations." No, the problem is that they think a Senator half-way through his first term for too long has had difficulty distancing himself from his virulently racist pastor, and has employed himself racialist language (e.g.,'typical white person,' the Pennsylvanians as clingers rant, etc.). Obama, not the vast rightwing conspiracy, did the almost surreal: he turned the once elitist and cold Hillary Clinton into a barnstorming blue-collar empathetic populist that angry Democrats have suddenly turned out en masse for.

In short, the Democratic working classes, far from clueless, don't feel that Obama is at all aware of who they are at best, and at worst, he deprecates their values in condescending fashion. That is confirmed when some on the Left create the impression (again cf. the Pennsylvania remarks) that assumes middle-class yokels are prisoners of their primordial emotions (cf. Michelle's "uninvolved" and "uninformed" about what's really going on), and in their ignorance are prone to be manipulated by sinister forces (whether neocons or the villains in What's the Matter With Kansas?)

What has emasculated and will continue to hurt the Democratic Party has not been neo-Nazi conspiracies or right-wing absorption of the media (cf. in contrast NPR, PBS, The New York Times, DC Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Netroots blogs, etc.), but simply this false conscious elitism that insists the electorate, after easily being brainwashed by rightists, sinister neocons, and their media, can't fully appreciate all the myriad ways in which Democratic elites know what is right for them...
(emphasis added)

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Democrats Fail to Learn the Lessons of 2004

Attention Super-Delegates: Obama Cedes Ohio Valley?

Hey, You're Not Supposed to Say That

Rove: Hillary Over McCain; McCain Over Obama

Why North Carolina and Indiana Really Don't Mean That Much ...

Rich Lowry on Hillary the "Social Conservative" [UPDATED]

Why Is It Working-Class Whites That the Media Deems "Racist"

Obama Campaign Seeks to Close Family Gap [UPDATED]

Dems Are Beginning to Believe They Can't Beat John McCain [UPDATED]

Obama Delegate Admits the Obvious: "Bitter" Was Indeed a Big Deal

On Disliking Obama for the Right Reasons

What Obama Really Meant Was "They're Nuts"

Obama Disses Blue Collar Voters Again: Says They "Cling to Guns or Religion" Because They Are "Bitter" [UPDATED]

National Catholic Register: "Soul of the Democrat Party Still Secular"

Obama's Problems in Pennsylvania Mirror His Problems in Ohio

Obama Attributes Support for Reagan by Blue Collar "Reagan Democrats" to "Anger Over Welfare and Affirmative Action" [UPDATED]

"Barack Obama's Problematic Religious Outreach"

National Catholic Register: "Religious" Democrat Barack Obama Sticks to the Abortion Line

Holy Crap ... That's What the Dems Are Shoveling

US Voters Prefer Religious Presidential Candidates, Poll Finds

Democrats Play at Being All Religious and Stuff

Get Religion: "Democrats Seeking God Pros"

Liberals Say Religious Voters Rejected GOP's "Old, Narrow Agenda"

"Moderate" US Christians Face Conservative Goliath

Religion Taking A Left Turn?

Finding God on the US Campaign Trail

The Democrats' Unreligious Fringe

Religious Left Seeks to Silence Church's Voice

Religious Left Struggles to Find Unifying Message

Has Tim Kaine Shown Democrats How To Reach The Promised Land?

For Democrats, a Troubling Culture Gap

Left-Leaning Preacher to Howard Dean: You Can't Fake It, So Shut Up About Religion

Wary Democrats Discover a Severe "Parents Gap"

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At 5/15/2008 9:43 AM, Anonymous crankycon said...

Excellent commentary. You just gotta love the smug sanctimony of people like Ron "I don't deserve the last name of" Reagan essentially declaring that they know what's best for the middle American voter.

If I may add one thing. Aside from the crass materialism inherent in the "What's the Matter with Kansas?" analysis, it also presupposes that middle class voters are necessarily better off by voting for economic interventionists. This of course is the eternal debate, but it never seems to dawn on these folks that perhaps these poor rubes are voting in their economic interests by not voting for people who want to expand the role of government. Yes, I know it is a radical thought, but perhaps we are not made better off by making the government even more all powerful.

In the end, I agree with your take on my blog, echoed here, that if the Dems put up more people like the guy who won in Mississippi - people who are genuinely socially conservative if encomonically interventionist - then they will win more elections. They do seem to be starting to take the hint. That's good in that I don't mind seeing the Democratic party move to the right at least on social issues. I'll take half a victory over none at all.

At 5/16/2008 6:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were Ron Reagan I would definitely stay away from games of "Which one of us should we push into the wood chipper?" That this talentless fraud owes his entire career to the fact that his father led a political movement that the son despises is an irony which I think completely escapes him. Reagan the father of course, more than any other politician after WW2, was the political candidate who understood best how to appeal for blue collar and middle class votes. Growing up at the edge of poverty in small towns, with the town drunk for a father, helped Reagan understand the role of God and country for many people who find themselves struggling in difficult circumstances, something that people born into wealth, including his own son, often find very difficult to comprehend.


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