Monday, May 16, 2005

Class and Politics

Left2Right has an interesting post about class divisions and support for the major political parties. Incidentally, as someone relatively new to the US, I would definitely say that it is a more "classed" society than my previous experience in Canada. The jury is still out on whether I think the obvious drawbacks of this are in any way balanced by the (likely) additional opportunities that those in the priveledged classes have.

More on the topic of the article, I have long been bothered by the Democratic line that Republicans have somehow duped the lower classes into "voting against their economic interests". This means two things to me: First, that they are saying that voting on principles you may support isn't as important as being selfish (not that I have a problem with rationally voting selfishly, but it's the kind of thing Democrats are usually moralizing about). There may be any number of reasons besides economic interests why someone would want to vote for either party (their stance on "moral" issues, for one). The second, more symbolic aspect of this argument that bothers me is that it just shows how the major political parties are really only out to buy the votes of whoever they can in order to get power. The "we''ll give you more than the other guys, so vote for us" mentality. Which is exactly what we don't want more of in politics, and I wish Democrats would stop using this argument. Besides, I don't think it's doing them any favors/favours with those work class people that they are telling them how stupid they are to be voting Republican.

UPATE: I also wanted to add that despite the supposedly-growing gaps between the rich and poor in America, I would still say it's probably better than any other country as far as socio-economic mobility. It may be tougher to raise your economic standards than it was a generation ago, but I'd rather be trying to do it here than almost anywhere else. The power of having that dream is important, too: the mentality is still out there that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and I the benefits of that optimism on people's lives shouldn't be overlooked.

UPDATE II: Also, check out these from Ron Bailey at Reason and Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek for more on this issue. I'll be watching Russ's posts over the next week as he looks at the topic of inequality in more depth.


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