Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Most Annoying Column This Week

Y'know, I get tired of idjits like this columnist. Talk more on the flip side:
For several years, I've been writing about Bushenfreude, the phenomenon of angry yuppies who've hugely benefited from President Bush's tax cuts funding angry, populist Democratic campaigns. I've theorized that people who work in financial services and related fields have become so outraged and alienated by the incompetence, crass social conservatism, and repeated insults to the nation's intelligence of the Bush-era Republican Party that they're voting with their hearts and heads instead of their wallets.

Last week's election was perhaps Bushenfreude's grandest day. As the campaign entered its final weeks, Barack Obama, who pledged to unite the country, singled out one group of people for ridicule: those making more than $250,000. At his rallies, he would ask for a show of hands of those making less than one-quarter of $1 million per year. Then he'd look around, laugh, and note that those in the virtuous majority would get their taxes cut, while the rich among them would be hit with a tax increase. And yet the exit polls show, the rich—and yes, if you make $250,000 or more you're rich—went for Obama by bigger margins than did the merely well-off. If the exit polls are to be believed, those making $200,000 or more (6 percent of the electorate) voted for Obama 52-46, while McCain won the merely well-off ($100,000 to $150,000 by a 51-48 margin and $150,000 to $200,000 by a 50-48 margin).
OK, so why is this annoying me?

Two reasons:

1) The title of the column is "Why the rich voted for Obama against their own economic interest," which the moron never gets into except to make vague references to taxes and ethnicities and trust fund babies...um, no. But I'll get back to this.

2) The deeper issue I have is, why is this such a big topic of discussion this year, but when Reagan Democrats en masse supported Bush (or Dole or Bush the Elder, or Reagan for that matter), no one bothered to ask the why the little people were voting for their bosses?

OK, let's tackle these one at a time. So why did the uberrich go for Obama in such large numbers?

First of all, it's not like people are a distinct bloc. Take Greenwich, CT, for example. In 2004, the town went for Bush 53-47. That still means close to half the people there voted for Kerry. In 2008, the numbers were pretty much reversed, 54-46 Obama. So that means seven people out of a hundred changed their party line in this vote. That's not like it's a major upheaval in a region that is seeing housing prices drop pretty significantly, has watched as the stock markets have tanked and gotten very very nervous, and is facing the looming crisis of companies that have been the backbone of this community, brokerage houses, banks and hedge funds, swing down the drain.

Those factors alone could easily swing seven votes, but I'm more interested in the underlying thesis that, somehow, the other forty five percent or so must be economic morons to vote against their self-interests.

I'm going to reframe the question: why is it so unusual to vote for issues apart from pocketbook? This sector of the rich didn't vote for Carter, for example, because they thought his economic stimulus package was better than Ford's (subsequent events put the lie to that, anyway).

No, they voted for Carter for more prosaic reasons, just as they voted for Clinton: they liked him, thought he'd do the best job of sheparding this nation, and they were tired of Republican rule and corruption.

Or is this jackass proposing that voters of a certain class (myself included, altho I am a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat) should ignore any other issue on the table, any incumbent's peccadilloes and peculiarities, and focus only on how much richer this man or woman can make them?

Which now leads me to the obverse of this idiotic column and why this disappointing piece of fluff really burns my belly.

Why do the POOR even bother voting for Republicans? As Harry Truman said, "If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic." So why cut your nose to spite your face?

Security reasons, we're usually told. More trustworthy. A guy we can have a beer with.

I don't know about you, but I would rather have a beer with John McCain, who strikes me as someone who can discuss the last football game better than Barack Obama (and it now appears Senator McCain will have a better opportunity to do just that).

But here's the thing: anybody with a lick of sense would walk up to the beer-chugging President and ask, "What are you doing here, wasting time, when there's a country to run?"

How condescending is it to claim that it's so wrong for the rich to vote against their interests, when the poor do it, and we don't bat an eye?

The answer to both questions is very simple: when the strengths of a party's message exceed the strengths of the other party's message, that's who usually wins. That encompasses not only the message itself, but how its delivered and more important, who is delivering it. Also, of course, how easily the other party can rebut or dismantle the argument.

McCain lost this election back in the conventions, I'm afraid. Goerge Bush had made the environment so toxic for any Republican that McCain was lucky to make as strong a showing as he did.

Even then, McCain and particularly Sarah Palin bungled some issues so severely that they should have been punished more forcefully at the polls.

The better question is not why the rich voted for Obama, but why people voted for McCain at all?