Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Voting Against Yourself

The Democrats have faced a conundrum since 1960. Polls and studies show that a solid majority - around 60-65% - of Americans support Democratic stances on numerous economic and social issues. And yet they struggle to win elections because the GOP have successfully parlayed social wedge issues like abortion into votes time and time again.

In Monday's Los Angeles Times, there was a typical feet on the ground voter profile article from Florida. But this one article perfectly summarized the entire Democratic/Republican schism and the self-perpetuating myths the Republicans have successfully cultivated.

The article profiled Charles and Rhoda Harding, pawn shop owners from Pensacola, Florida. Basically, times are remarkably bad for them after eight years of Republican rule, and yet the only decision they're struggling with in this election is which Republican to vote for in the primary. So far they're leaning toward Huckabee because "I like the way he sounds," and he seems to be "one of us".

This would be an apt time to point out that these are the exact same comments people made about Bush in 2000. That didn't exactly work out.

In fairness, Rhoda says she doesn't want another eight years of the Clintons, but after voting for Bush twice, doesn't want another eight years of him, either. So we can probably rule Giuliani out of their mix, since he's to the right of Bush these days.

Except...their daughter Linda supports Guiliani because of his performance on September 11th.

This would be an apt time to point that the NYFD and NYPD hate Guiliani because of his performance on September 11th and afterward.

Charles and Rhoda say they're disgusted by the open-ended Iraq war, so let's cross McCain off of their list. After all, he's flippantly remarked that we could be in Iraq another 10 to 100 years. That seems pretty open-ended.

Except...Charles' sister Margaret supports McCain because of his history and experience. Such as, his history of consistently supporting the Iraq war.

Charles and Rhoda are also disappointed by the government's failure to help rebuild Florida after it was crushed by hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. They also claim to believe in limited government, and this is where we officially fall into a logic-free vortex.

When the roof was blown off of their pawn shop, the Hardings' insurance company only paid half of the cost of repairing the roof and the government rejected them entirely when they applied for federal assistance. That is some limited government.

This would be an apt time to point out that although Rhoda doesn't want eight more years of the Clintons, it is widely accepted that FEMA was the most efficient, most productive and most helpful in the agency's history between 1992 and 2000. Those were, um, the Clinton years. But Bush, who also believes in limited government, basically stripped FEMA of its funding and usefulness and part of the GOP goal of smaller federal agencies.

If you aren't suitably depressed and baffled yet, let's discuss the Hardings' son, Ronnie. Last year, he began suffering from fatigue, but refused to see a doctor because the family couldn't afford the bills. He died of leukemia in July, but not before the Hardings rang up $100,000 in hospital charges. The government gave them $250 to help pay for the cremation. Rhoda cynically observed, "That's what you're worth here in America."

Well, yes, that is what you're worth to Republicans. Here is a family that needs Democratic leadership in almost every sense of their lives. To help repair their business, to help them out of debt, to help cover their medical expenses, and yet their only question is which Republican to vote for. They also lean toward Huckabee because Rhoda says his modest upbringing will make him sympathetic to people like the Hardings.

This would be an apt time to point out that fiscal Republicans hate Huckabee because he is a firm believer in government spending on social programs and concerns. He doesn't believe in limited government at all. He believes government has a responsibility to help the less fortunate when they're down and out. Just like Jesus does. And also a Democrat.

The Hardings don't need to choose between Huckabee or McCain or Guiliani or Romney. they need to choose between Obama and Clinton. Hell, they really should be taking a long, hard look at Edwards.

The Democrats can make FEMA helpful again so when the next hurricane blows through, the Hardings can get their roof back. The Democrats can work toward universal health coverage or insurance assistance so the Hardings don't have to choose between solvency and death. The Democrats can get us out of Iraq if the Republicans stop obstructing them.

This is not meant to pick on one family in a key voting state. I am positive that the Hardings are lovely people, as nice as could be and would help a neighbor who needed it. The thing is, this family is a single snapshot that's indicative of at least half of Republican voters. People who, over the last 40 years, have voted directly against their own interests. And eventually you reap what you sow. You end up with a government that's more interested in tax cuts than in helping you out.

Unless you're on the board of directors of an oil company, or your name has the suffix The Third, you should not be voting Republican. Because when the economy takes its eventual downturn, like it always does under Republican leadership, you're going to be down and out. And believers in limited government aren't going to be there to help you.

The Republicans are basically a terrible restaurant with fantastic advertising. You've been there before, you know the food is terrible, you know it's going to hurt your stomach...but you can just resist that snappy jingle.

Here is one American family that by every conceivable metric should be voting Democratic, and is not even considering it. They prefer the Republican candidate that has the most liberal social programs, despite the fact that they believe in limited government.

This would be an apt time to point out that the federal government under Bush grew to a size never before seen.

This would be an apt time to point out that federal spending - deficit spending - is higher today than any time since the, ahem, Reagan years.

This would be an apt time to point out it's time to stop criticizing Democrats for losing seemingly winnable elections. Because if anybody on Earth can explain why the Hardings continue to believe in Republican myths while completely ignoring the facts at hand and will again vote against their own interest, I am simply dying to hear it.