Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Elephant in the Room

In Dissent magazine, Lillian B Rubin opines about the failure of the Left to win elections of late. In her opinion, it's because the group of people she calls the working class (doesn't that include just about everybody? Not by her definition, I expect.) are voting against their interests. She starts out by wondering why:
While the intensity of political polarization that grips the nation today is relatively new, America has been drifting to the right for decades. Since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, only three Democrats have occupied the White House, and of those, Bill Clinton alone survived for more than a single term. Although poll data show that most voters think the Democrats are better on such central issues as the economy, jobs, health care, and education, they continue to return Republicans to power. Republicans now occupy the governors' mansions in twenty-eight states and own both the House and Senate, where leadership has been increasingly drawn from the radical right.

With the untimely death of Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone, we lost the most consistently progressive voice in either house of the United States Congress. If our ideas and our politics have been in the service of those less advantaged, as we believe so passionately, why have we had such a hard time making ourselves heard in ways that count? How did our voice-the voice of economic opportunity, the voice that speaks of justice in education, jobs, health care, and taxation-find so little resonance with the very Americans for whom we claim to speak?

Now, I'm not conceding that she is correct about the issues she lists, but there is a significant item missing from her list (nor is it addressed anywhere in her essay). Apparently it doesn't occur to Ms. Rubin that the Left may have a problem because their target audience doesn't trust them to defend the nation. You know, the issue the ranked number 1 in a lot of pre-election polls? Maybe she needs to look a bit more closely.

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