December 11, 2005


The Excluded Middle: a review of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (MATT BAI, NY Times Book Review)

Over the last few years, in this time of Democratic despondency, there has emerged a new genre of comfort books for liberals - books that seek to expose the nefarious means by which conservatives have amassed power, while at the same time reassuring urban liberals that they bear none of the blame. Thomas Frank's best-selling "What's the Matter With Kansas?," for instance, advanced the premise that rural voters just aren't sophisticated enough to vote in their own interests. In "Don't Think of an Elephant!," the linguist George Lakoff took a slightly different angle, suggesting that these voters weren't dumb, exactly, but that their brain synapses had been rewired by the Republicans' skillful manipulation of language. Now come Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, political science professors at Yale and the University of California, Berkeley, with Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. Hacker and Pierson offer a variation on this same theme: voters can't make the right choices, they contend, because our system of government itself has dangerously malfunctioned.

All these books are premised on two things that almost by themselves explain why the Left is back to its natural 40%: first, they despise the structure of the American Republic; second, they're contemptuous of the American electorate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 11, 2005 7:49 AM

People vote Republican because Eisenhower put fluoride in the water.

Posted by: David at December 11, 2005 9:23 AM

I haven't read it, but didn't WTMWK suggest that what Kansans should be voting on is selfish regard for money?

Posted by: RC at December 11, 2005 9:38 AM

i think the natural percentage of leftists, in this country, is closer to 20% than 40%. these things tend to get inflated by our commrades in the press. let me tell you, it's not hard to bump 1% to 10%, wink, wink.

Posted by: alfred kinsey at December 11, 2005 11:20 AM

It's closer to 52%, but we conservatives marry many of them and they become secure.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 11:29 AM

#3: The majority of those who vote can tell contempt a mile away...

Posted by: Mikey at December 11, 2005 11:47 AM

RC, it would be a selfish regard for money if socialism were a viable way of running an economy.

OJ: Alfred is correct. The Democrat Party's natural constituency is 40%. Of those maybe 20% are leftists. The remainder are blacks and elderly Jews.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 12, 2005 1:20 AM