October 28, 2004

THE LEFT'S LAMENT--IF ONLY THEY HATED LIKE WE DO:

Do liberals fail to understand voters? (George F. Will, October 28, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

John Kerry's campaign shows that liberalism remains merely reactive, and reconciled to many of conservatism's triumphs. Kerry complains about No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act but does not call for repealing either. For all Kerry's histrionic sorrows about "the rich" being too laxly taxed, his proposal to raise the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent accepts Ronald Reagan's revolution in lowering the rate from 70 percent. And Kerry has not proposed even a mild modification of modern conservatism's largest legislative achievement, the 1996 welfare reform that repealed the 1935 Social Security Act's lifetime entitlement to welfare.

Every four years the party out of power unleashes an epidemic of economic illiteracy, hoping to further lower the nation's already low pain threshold. During last spring's South Carolina primary, Democratic presidential candidates, oblivious to cognitive dissonance, lamented the perils of free trade — while proximate to the BMW, Michelin and Fuji plants.

Despite Kerry's reiteration that Bush's presidency is the first since Herbert Hoover's to coincide with a net job loss, the public seems, unsurprisingly, unaroused. The unemployment rate (5.4 percent) is what it was when President Clinton coasted to re-election in 1996. And the economy's growth rate over the last four quarters (4.9 percent) is higher than the rate over the year before the 1996 election (4.0 percent). Kerry's excoriation of Bush over budget deficits is blunted by the fact that while the government was running deficits in 47 of the last 55 years, the GDP has almost sextupled and 79 million jobs have been created.

Liberals are perpetually puzzled that Americans are not indignant about facts like this: In the last 30 years, the percentage of national income taken by the richest 5 percent of households rose from 16.6 to 21.4. Liberalism's constant problem is that Americans are aspirational, not envious.


We're not French.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2004 6:04 PM
Comments

Whatever proactive nature liberalism has nowadays is only put forward after elections are over, since to do so beforehand in about 75 percent of the nation would eliminate the hopes of those seeking to implement those actions of ever obtaining office (i.e. if Clinton had said in October 1992 the first things he would do once in office is reverse the military's policy on gays and implement an income tax increase, Bush 41's odds of retaining the White House would have been considerbaly brighter).

Posted by: John at October 28, 2004 8:10 PM

The liberals don't talk to anyone out there. They stay inside their cocoons in a few quarters in the country and just ignore people's concerns. When they do try to write about Middle America, we get embarassing efforts like 'What's the Matter with Kansas?'

Man is more than mere homo oeconomicus. This is why such matters as disparity of wealth don't resonate. There is also an understanding that one could choose to become richer if he were willing to give up family, leisure time etc. Some people prefer family, church, and community to the rat race or the 'Outside World.'

Posted by: Bart at October 29, 2004 6:32 AM
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