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February 27, 2005

Comments

SheaNC

I agree with your orginal post that most americans rely on highly subjective definitions of economic catch-alls like "middle-class" - they hear the phrase and assume that everyone agrees on a definition.

I think lobbyists and campaign contributors have far more influence on which laws are passed than they should. A quote I heard once (pre-internet) was that we are a nation governed by committee - it doesn't matter what a candidate's stated platform is, legislation is defined by committee appointees whom no one elects and who are cloistered away beyond accountability.

I have come to appreciate the evaluation tool of asking, "who benefits?" Often, it is not the grassroots citizens, but a so-called "special interest" who is paying political favors.

SheaNC

Ooops, that lst sentence should read:

I have come to appreciate the evaluation tool of asking, "who benefits?" Often, it is not the grassroots citizens, but a so-called "special interest" who is paying FOR political favors.

Sorry!

Phil

I think you're giving campaign contributers far too little credit. Consider that 0.1% of the population donates over 80% of campaign contributions (www.opensecrets.org) to both parties. By doing this, they (the super wealthy) are effectively selecting which politicians have a chance at winning office. And they will obviously choose politicians whose ideologies and positions already line up with theirs. Now mix that with the constant lobbying and their control of the public discourse (through their control of the media) and you see why our politicians are mostly a bunch of spineless douchebags who never offer any real solution.

obviously, the Republicans are far worse and the reason they've gained so much over the past 30 years is the cultural backlash that Tom Frank and Rick Perlstein write about. And the reason the Dems have lost their class consciousness is that floods of corporate money have poored into the party over the decades. Also, there has been a steady decline of all forms of civic participation over the same time period (see Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone.)

Mark Foxwell

What I really think you are overlooking is the element of truth in the smug remarks of your reactionary readers. Bottom line is, the USA is an ownership society, always has been. Back in the days the Constitution was framed most states had property qualifications on voting, and many framers argued it must and should be so, that the propertied had to control the government or the poor majority would strip the wealthy, and they figured, destroy society. They flattered themselves that only a society that favored someone with the sort of privilege they enjoyed could possibly function. Well, we never tried the experiment of a really different sort of society. You understand there is a deep distinction between the sorts of rules that you hope would render a society still owned by a tiny minority bearable for the ruled majority, and the actual takeover of that society by that majority. But I suggest to you, the majority never was allowed to actually take over the whole government, and the period of the greatest prosperity and power of the USA--I refer to the 1960s here, and in general our status as superpower after WWII--was characterized by _elites_ ruling but on their best behavior in order to _forestall_ the danger that the mob might take over. While the elites had the terror of the danger they were in during the Depression, when millions of honest, true-believing Americans were out of work and desperate, and the Soviet Union alone was defying the dictates of the market and indeed building up its industry, and the USSR stayed around to keep them honest after we recovered from the Depression (by means of war and massive _government_ spending), they were then farsighted, careful, inclusive--visonary. Thus they created the _illusion_ that America was governed by all the people. But even then we were not. Bush's America just exposes the ugly realities that have always characterized our system under the Norman Rockwell veneer. For a long time now, ever since the boom economy of the 1960s went sour, all the realities you are worrying about today have been pointed out and their dangers warned of. We have always had this cultural divide and rule for instance; it helped break the Populist movement in the countryside back in the 1890s.

What you want to fix goes very deep.

Kender

Donate to your politician of choice. Work for a candidate. Go door to door. Campaign. Get out and do something. Vote.

Quit whining and do something.

tomslick

I am flattered.
The consensus so far would say that money from one source or another does sway politicians.

Tell us more about the brainwashing. I am not so sure your readers are convinced at this point.

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