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This is EXCELLENT! "Let Them Eat War"

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:09 PM
Original message
This is EXCELLENT! "Let Them Eat War"
Of all the explanations offered for the mystery of why people vote against their own economic interests by voting Republican, this article is definitely one of the best I've ever seen.

http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16885

George W. Bush is sinking in the polls, but a few beats on the war drum could reverse that trend and re-elect him in 2004. Ironically, the sector of American society now poised to keep him in the White House is the one which stands to lose the most from virtually all of his policies blue-collar men. A full 49 percent of them and 38 percent percent of blue-collar women told a January 2003 Roper poll they would vote for Bush in 2004.

In fact, blue-collar workers were more pro-Bush than professionals and managers among whom only 40 percent of men and 32 percent of women, when polled, favor him; that is, people who reported to Roper such occupations as painter, furniture mover, waitress, and sewer repairman were more likely to be for our pro-big business president than people with occupations like doctor, attorney, CPA or property manager. High-school graduates and dropouts were more pro-Bush (41 percent) than people with graduate degrees (36 percent). And people with family incomes of $30,000 or less were no more opposed to Bush than those with incomes of $75,000 or more.

We should think about this. The blue-collar vote is huge. Skilled and semi-skilled manual jobs are on the decline, of course, but if we count as blue-collar those workers without a college degree, as Ruy Teixeira and Joel Rogers do in their book Why the White Working Class Still Matters, then blue-collar voters represent 55 percent of all voters. They are, the authors note, the real swing vote in America. "Their loyalties shift the most from election to election and in so doing determine the winners in American politics."


<snip>

We can certainly understand why Bush wants blue-collar voters. But why would a near majority of blue-collar voters still want Bush? Millionaires, billionaires for Bush, well, sure; he's their man. But why pipe fitters and cafeteria workers? Some are drawn to his pro-marriage, pro-church, pro-gun stands, but could those issues override a voter's economic self-interest?

Read the whole piece, HIGHLY recommended!

sw
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caledesi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. SW, thanks! Fascinating article. Really explains why blue-collar
white men like *.
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kainah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. Yes, it is an outstanding article
Someone sent it to me a couple days ago. It confirms what I had sensed judging from the reactions we get at our protests and vigils. I really believe that there are a ton of very angry, very frustrated white males who simply want to kick someone's ass to make themselves (they think) feel better. But, it doesn't seem as though they are enjoying this as much as they thought they would.

Anyway, go read the article. In this information blizzard, this is something to catch.
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BQueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-08-03 02:46 AM
Response to Reply #2
9. The scariest thing is, it is essentially the same approach as
the militias and neoNazis use - just more subtle - they've got a psychiatric Mengele somewhere. Play on feelings of exclusion and turn them to your advantage. Also what child molesters do - they tend to seek out excluded, vulnerable kids. Seek out the powerless and offer them power - you don't have to deliver on the promise...

I'm betting the release of the term "NASCAR dads" was fully planned. "Give the proles a group they can feel they belong to." Especially since most of them now have no identity stemming from their job, often the most important source for traditional male self-identity.
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bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:32 PM
Response to Original message
3. I agree
that this is an interesting piece, though I tend to mistrust this sort of highly interpretive analysis, based on supposition and theory. However, since the support for Bush among blue collar workers has no rational basis, I suppose we must do our best to speculate on causes in order to craft a strategy. Although it is a minor point in the article, I wish those on this board who think that the tax cuts to lower middle and poor people should be rescinded would read this paragraph and take it to heart:

"the blue-collar man who favors that tax cut is thinking "the economy stupid" but only in the short term. He badly needs even the small amounts of money he'll get from a tax cut to repair his car or contribute to the rent."

Those small amounts of "windfall" cash are relied upon for essentials that are otherwise unaffordable for so many low-wage earners. They are not insignificant if your wages are low.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Who says the tax cuts for "lower middle and poor people"
should be rescinded? All the TRUE progressives I know say that THOSE tax cuts are the only ones that SHOULD be made, instead of the cuts heavily loaded to benefit the upper 1%.

It is progressives who are pointing out that the tax burden is increasingly shifting to the "lower middle and poor" and are seeking to reverse this trend.

Perhaps you are confusing corporate Dem positions with true progressive positions -- they are very different!

sw
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cprise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 09:43 PM
Response to Original message
4. Could have told ya before reading it
The problem is media brainwashing with a racist subtext. And all this anti-government sentiment is driven by the fact that the government no longer exists solely for the white man. You could construct a timeline that would illustrate the point perfectly.

Libertarinism was just a rich, white anti-social quirk until the civil rights movement and the Great Society.

Now these mullet-dads are groomed in a Pavlovian fashion for perfect Archie-Bunker responses not verbally, but in deed, to sacrifice for the economic class that is still White. All other sectors are to retreat into a kind of medeival, balkanized society where religious alms replace public service and self-descrimination is encouraged in the middle class while, say, selecting their voucher school.

I believe it's part conspiracy, part pathos.
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Kat 333 Donating Member (312 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 11:05 PM
Response to Original message
6. Interesting ...
Thanks for posting.

I've noticed the middle class white male support for this idiot. It is puzzling. I assumed that by supporting a repub that clearly has it in for the middle class and only gives a shit about the rich - they were trying to convince themselves they had really "made it" ? :shrug:
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cprise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-08-03 02:05 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. They are being compressed like an overloaded spring
What happens when they snap?

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scottxyz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-08-03 12:14 AM
Response to Original message
7. Great editorial
Edited on Wed Oct-08-03 12:16 AM by scottxyz
This editorial clearly and sympathetically expresses ideas that I've been trying to put into words for years.

I am tempted to send it to my father, a straight white male who always votes Republican and then always regrets it later. He did not go to college (and often said he wished he had - he is an excellent public speaker and thinks he could have made a great lawyer). When I was younger I was very studious and not terribly athletic, and my father would often get angry at me for "always having my nose in a book." We had season tickets to the local NFL team, and for many years he dragged me to every home game hours early so we could "tailgate" in the parking lot, cooking meat on a grill and tossing around a football. I was bored to death (and usually freezing my butt off) sitting in the stands for hours on end watching a bunch of guys in protective gear knock each other around in manly fashion, but I went through with it because I was young and I knew my father thought this would be a good way to "bond" with his son.

I was valedictorian of my highschool class, and although my father was clearly very proud of me, he also would say things like, "You really ought to read the sports pages sometime. You never know, you might be at a job interview and they might ask you who won and it won't look good if you have no idea what they're talking about." (I've had lots of great jobs since then, and nobody ever mentioned sports at the interviews.)

My father was a second- or third-string football player when he was in highschool, he was in the Army, he works as a real estate broker, and has had many years of economic difficulty. Currently, he's separated from my mother, and he lives in a trailer home now with his new girlfriend. (My parents always had nice two-story houses with garages, and bought new cars every few years. At some point in the early eighties the house got foreclosed on - I don't know the details as I was away at college.) My father has no health benefits, and he and my mother haven't divorced so that he can pay to stay on her health plan (she's a secretary - planning on retiring any year now).

I went to an Ivy League school on a scholarship, came out as a gay man in my freshman year, and ended up working in computer programming. When he found out I was gay, my father said he wanted to sell his house and move out of town and "Do as the Soviets do": regard me as a "non-person". I went back to sophomore year at college and only went back home about 3 or 4 times since.

My father and I have never seen eye-to-eye on most political issues, and he knows I can't understand why he consistently votes Republican, against his own economic best interests and against the best social interests of his only son. (My sister was a lesbian for several years as well - at the moment she's seeing a guy so she says she's "bi".)

I think my father, like many suburban couch-potatoes raised on network TV, is not terribly sophisticated. He still buys into that childish notion that "nerds" aren't real men, and so policy-wonks probably bore him, whereas W with his faux Texas accent and cowboy boots and simplistic worldview probably seems like a real take-charge kind of guy to him. (Personally, I've heard a lot of plausible rumors that W himself may have had gay experiences - but that's a whole 'nother whole can of worms. Google "Victor Ashe" and "George Bush" for details on that one!)

Suburban American life can be pretty boring, people are lonely and unfulfilled, and when they're supposed to be choosing someone who has the brains to run the country, they end up getting confused and voting for someone that entertains them in some way. I've often said that the genius of the Republicans is to appeal to lonely, unfulfilled people's need for devotion and belonging.

It looks like the same thing is happening with Arnold today. He admired Hitler and he treats women with disrespect and his supporters rough up nuns at rallies - and these thuggish ways probably have a sort of appeal to guys who believe in "masculinity" while at the same time feeling not-quite-masculine enough in this precarious modern world. Never mind that voting for Arnold will lose California the nine billion dollars the state could recover from the Enron bilking - getting a little vicarious testosterone rush must be worth 9 billion dollars to guys whose masculinity has been seriously bruised by being cogs in the late-capitalist system.

Americans need to learn that being an intellectual - or being gay or female or any other minority for that matter - doesn't equate with being weak. In fact, being something other than a "straight white male" is a big challenge in this society, and it can really toughen you up and sharpen your skills. Straight while males who are intellectual in some way can also become quite tough because of the isolation they must endure in an anti-intellectual society.

W is very weak, and if he hadn't been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, it's quite possible he'd be sitting on skid row right now. But he seems like a "real man" to some clueless people, and frustrated couch-potatoes like my father are yearning to bond with and support someone who projects that sort of no-nonsense tough-guy image.

Maybe it's an atavism - maybe there was a time when a no-nonsense tough guy was really the kind of person you needed as a leader, back when people lived in small groups and we had very little technology. Nowadays, the world is pretty complicated, and a tough guy won't cut it if he isn't also pretty bright. The right wing has had a lot of success equating stupidity with toughness, and intelligence with weakness. It's a brilliant strategy that has led many poor and middle-class people to vote against their own self-interests.
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patdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-08-03 03:55 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. WOW, your commentary was every bit as interesting as the article
Thank you for all the insightful information.

WOW! :D
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Waistdeep Donating Member (469 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-08-03 04:36 PM
Response to Original message
11. With apologies to Vachel Lindsay:
Bush led boldly with his big bass drum......
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-08-03 10:42 PM
Response to Original message
12. It's simple really
Edited on Wed Oct-08-03 10:46 PM by teryang
The more education one has the less likely they are to vote for repukes and their regressive policies. The older one gets (the more experience one has) the less likely they are to vote for repukes and their regressive policies. This has been shown by scientific polls.

Young males in the prime of life who support repuke policies remind me of the characters in books from the muckracker era who don't understand that they won't always be young, healthy and without need for social infrastructure. This is one reason our poorly insured men under sixty five must get health care from the VA. It reinforces the martial values and the sense of apartness they are allowed to feel from the other "parasites" who "beg" for welfare. Veterans deserve medical care distinguishing themselves from any need for a comprehensive health plan for all citizens.

Working class conservatism is a combination of pride and ignorance ripe for corporatist/fascist manipulation through the monopoly media. Look at what happened to working class men during the Nazi experience in Germany. They were literally destroyed to the last 11 year old. So much for rationality in policy beliefs. Look at what happened during the Vietnam war, men of draft age were pitted against each other politically until the desparation of their situations drew disparate sociological groups together in common cause against the foolish conflict.
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