What democratic positions are "outside the mainstream?"

trebblekicked

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 30, 2002
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i'd like to hear from both sides on this. what is keeping rural america from voting for democrats? list perceptions and realities, if you can.

example:

the perception that democrats are soft on terror

-or-

the opposition to bush's tax cuts.

anyone?
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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A book was recently published on this very subject, "What's the Matter with Kansas?"
The largely blue collar citizens of Kansas can be counted upon to be a "red" state in any election, voting solidly Republican and possessing a deep animosity toward the left. This, according to author Thomas Frank, is a pretty self-defeating phenomenon, given that the policies of the Republican Party benefit the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the average worker. According to Frank, the conservative establishment has tricked Kansans, playing up the emotional touchstones of conservatism and perpetuating a sense of a vast liberal empire out to crush traditional values while barely ever discussing the Republicans' actual economic policies and what they mean to the working class. Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically. To much of America, Kansas is an abstract, "where Dorothy wants to return. Where Superman grew up." But Frank, a native Kansan, separates reality from myth in What's the Matter with Kansas and tells the state's socio-political history from its early days as a hotbed of leftist activism to a state so entrenched in conservatism that the only political division remaining is between the moderate and more-extreme right wings of the same party. Frank, the founding editor of The Baffler and a contributor to Harper's and The Nation, knows the state and its people. He even includes his own history as a young conservative idealist turned disenchanted college Republican, and his first-hand experience, combined with a sharp wit and thorough reasoning, makes his book more credible than the elites of either the left and right who claim to understand Kansas. --John Moe
 

Desertrat

macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2003
2
706
Terlingua, Texas
Lotsa stuff; some perceived, some real.

Probably the least understood is the issue of "Welfare", of course. It isn't true--largely--that able-bodied people are given money by the government for no cause besides being upright and breathing. At the same time, there are way too many uncorrected abuses, and the overhead is way too high. (We castigate "charities" if over 15% goes to administration and fundraising, but most USG social programs run in the neighborhood of 50%, per the GAO.)

There is a vast difference between efficacious gun control measures aimed at crime and those commonly proposed or enacted. It angers ordinary citizens when they are hassled by laws which don't reduce crime. (Which holds true for many arenas far away from gun control.)

"Hollywood" is largely pro-Democrat. Hollywood is blamed for the ever-increasing amount of T&A on primetime TV. A lot of good churchgoers will watch T&A, but they don't want their kids watching. An obvious dichotomy, but one which has been around for 50 years and has been exacerbated in recent years. What once was occasional is now seen as too commonplace. The "If A, then B" of this is that the Democrats are blamed for "moral decay". As usual in blame games, truth is irrelevant.

Most professors who teach situational ethics vote Democrat and support liberal positions. (There's more to life than the missionary position. Oops, sorry. :D) Parents face kids who come home with these ideas and object to such smarminess. They then associate Bad Ideas with Democrats and Liberals.

Regardless, Democrats will not come back to power unless they truly believe in whatever changes are proposed in Party positions. They can't talk the talk unless they walk the walk. The national-level leadership has to Go Away for that to happen. I'm not saying what changes must be made. Not at all. I'm saying that the voter must believe that the Leadership believes. With Kerry and the DNC, they didn't. If you subtract the "I hate Bush" vote, Kerry was the Nowhere Man.

'Rat
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Desertrat said:
If you subtract the "I hate Bush" vote, Kerry was the Nowhere Man.
Where is Bush if you subtract the evangelical vote, the people who support him for no other reason than he's a "good Christian" like them?

We can play this game forever. Please try another line of reasoning!
 

mactastic

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Apr 24, 2003
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Guns
Gays
God

The three 'G's are what seperate democrats from the mainstream.

The party needs to move away from the gun control issues, and they largely have since 2000. Not that that has helped much, there are many who believed wholeheartedly that a Kerry administration would come to their homes and take their guns from their cold dead hands, and many others who will never ever vote democratic for the sole reason that they feel their guns are safer with a republican in power on any and every level. nevertheless, over time the gun issue will go away if the Dems don't keep pushing unreasonable laws.

I think it was Juan Cole's blog that proposed the democrats take the position that the government should get out of the marriage business. That frames the debate as a 'lesser government' issue which moderate conservatives believe in fervently.

And they can sucessfully show that while many liberals are loyal churchgoers, they include those who don't believe as well.

Lastly, they need to shed the image of anti-war. They need to promote the concept of only fighting just and necessary wars as not a position of weakness. I know this is their position, but it has been grossly misrepresented by exaggerating the more pacifist activities of some of it's members.
 

Thanatoast

macrumors 65816
Dec 3, 2002
1,005
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Denver
Their refusal to give in to fear.

The gays are getting married!
The terrorists want to eat my children!
The government wants to steal my guns!

There is a fundamental difference in points of view. Liberals (okay, me) don't see the fabric of society unraveling and us all devolving to anarchy and cannibalsim if Adam and Steve get hitched. The sun will continue to rise, and tax day will continue to be April 20th. This anti-gay marriage position is the one which truly confuses me.

There may actually be terrorists who want to eat our children, but I've made the connection that they have reasons for doing so. Bush has them convinced that they hate our freedoms, whatever that means. I believe they hate our actions, in reagards to our policies in the middle east and elsewhere. Also, Bush has 51% of America convinced there is a terrorists around every corner with a suitcase nuclear bomb just waiting for them to drive by. This is patently ridiculous, but some people (most apparently) are willing to give up civil liberties and bomb the ever-loving piss out of civilians in other countries to make themselves feel safer, despite the fact that this makes them less safe.

God. I guess I posted my thoughts in the church thread, but I could expand a little bit. Anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ, and then turns around and supports discrimination and war is a hypocrite. End of story.

When it comes to guns, I think they cause more trouble than they solve. Crime rates per capita are much lower in countries without guns (feel free to prove me wrong). As for resisting an uppity government, I suppose it's working in Iraq...

Abortion is a tough call. I don't like abortion (who does?) but it's legal. I wouldn't attack any woman who had one, either. It has to be a difficult decision, but the image portrayed by the radical right of drive-thru abortions is stupid. Noboby *wants* to kill a potential life.

But alltogether, it comes down, I think, to religion versus state. Liberals want religion to be religion, and state to be state. Conservatives want state to take it's cues from religion. Again, counter-arguments are welcome.
 

zimv20

macrumors 601
Jul 18, 2002
4,388
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toronto
are we coming to the conclusion that more right-leaning people vote single issue than left-leaning people? is that a fair assessment?
 

themadchemist

macrumors 68030
Jan 31, 2003
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Chi Town
pseudobrit said:
A significant majority of Americans are pro-choice.
No, no, mactastic pointed out the three points on which Republicans campaign. I'm suggesting he missed one--abortion. They campaign on Guns, Gays, God, and Abortion.
 

mactastic

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Apr 24, 2003
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themadchemist said:
No, no, mactastic pointed out the three points on which Republicans campaign. I'm suggesting he missed one--abortion. They campaign on Guns, Gays, God, and Abortion.
I suppose so, I would say it's a subset of God, but so is gays I guess.
 

Desertrat

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Jul 4, 2003
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706
Terlingua, Texas
"Evangelical vote"? Duh? Sure, lotsa noise is made about the evangelicals, but they're a very small percentage of churchgoers and preachers. They're given way, way too much credit.

I see them as a swing-vote group, much as the Communists in Costa Rica. There, the two major parties' strength in their legislature is split about 49/49, so the other 2% has the balance of power.

The evangelicals were important in this election because of the "I hate Bush" voters' votes for Kerry, but their actual numbers are small.

Creatures like these will fade back under their rocks if the leadership of the Democratic party changes to people who actually believe in a more centrist position. Since today's center is way, way left of, say, the 1940s or 1950s, I fail to see why it's a problem.

'Rat
 

IJ Reilly

macrumors P6
Jul 16, 2002
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In fact these people will retreat under their rocks if the Republicans adopt a more centrist position, not the Democrats. Why is it so easy to forget how these people got their access to political power in the first place?
 

blackfox

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2003
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Seems to me that as long as the Right is well-funded and coordinated, that through media channels and lobbyists, they define the mainstream.

As long as they are able to frame the arguments, all Democratic positions will be posited as "outside the mainstream" by the GOP.

The winners write the history and the press releases.
 

Xtremehkr

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Jul 4, 2004
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Desertrat said:
Since today's center is way, way left of, say, the 1940s or 1950s, I fail to see why it's a problem.

'Rat
I have heard this as well, but when I consider the source I know why that would be said. The last 24 years have been a move to the right, and now the republicans hold all three branchs of government. Does that mean we are way left of where we were then?

Without any kind of examples that statement is pretty empty, it sounds like a distraction from the issue because most people today don't know what it was like in the 40s and 50s.

Considering that period was the era of the New Deal, it does not seem like we are that much further left. In fact, so much de-regulation has occured, I would say that it is an inaccurate statement.

Unless there are examples of how we have become so much left of whatever "center" is, another vaguely defined "position."

I guess you would have to define what center was before then justifying why we are so far left of it.

It sounds like evasion to questions concerning the countries move to the right, especially since the government is dominated by the right now.

Just another catchphrase too many people have latched onto.
 

pseudobrit

macrumors 68040
Jul 23, 2002
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Desertrat said:
Since today's center is way, way left of, say, the 1940s or 1950s, I fail to see why it's a problem.
Would those be the segregationist 40s and 50s?

You know, sometimes I think people look back on the past with some thick lensed rose-coloured glasses.

What happened since that era is simply social progress, not leftist progress.

There was a time in history when slavery was legal, women couldn't vote and education wasn't free. If conservatism would have won every sociopolictical battle in history, we'd all be serfs.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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pseudobrit said:
There was a time in history when slavery was legal, women couldn't vote and education wasn't free. If conservatism would have won every sociopolictical battle in history, we'd all be serfs.
Bravo!
 

mactastic

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Apr 24, 2003
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Desertrat said:
Since today's center is way, way left of, say, the 1940s or 1950s, I fail to see why it's a problem.
Because the center is way right of say, where it was in the 1960's and 1970's. Progress thwarted.
 

Lyle

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Jun 11, 2003
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blackfox said:
Seems to me that as long as the Right is well-funded and coordinated, that through media channels and lobbyists, they define the mainstream.

As long as they are able to frame the arguments, all Democratic positions will be posited as "outside the mainstream" by the GOP.
When trebblekicked started this thread a few days ago, I was drawn in by the title because I was curious to see the different perceptions of what people consider "mainstream" thought or opinion. When I actually read his first post, however, the question went in a slightly different direction than I had expected (because I don't think it's accurate to equate "mainstream America" with "rural voters").

So to answer the original question, "What Democratic positions are outside the mainstream?", it might be useful to see what different people think the word "mainstream" means. For example, your response seems to indicate that you believe that the mainstream is whatever media channels and lobbyists tell us it is. I think I'd more simply define it as "what most people think"...
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Then take a look at the polls from the recent election. Democrats win on most of the social and economic issues, but a majority (albeit a slim one) still vote for Republicans. The inescapable conclusion is that many people are voting against what they believe and against their own best interests.