I believe that the past week has been a watershed moment in American politics. People are starting to use the word “class” again and I wish Kevin Drum (in the excellent piece I talked about earlier) had used it here:
American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.
Click here for more infographics on America’s plutocracy. It doesn’t take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they’ve enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich.
What’s wrong with the rich? I’m moderate income now, but one day I will be rich, and you will still be a dirty fucking hippie.
Fuck that. Nowadays, some studies show that “the lower classes of Canada, Britain, Germany and France have an easier time earning their way up the social ladder than their American counterparts”. If you’ve seen Ben Quayle or Luke Russert or Jenna Bush on tv anytime recently, you know damn well we’re not living in a meritocracy.
The entire conservative project is about defining and maintaing economic class structure. Trickle down: if you give the productive rich enough, their productivity will benefit everyone else. Bell curve: the middle and lower classes are genetically inferior. Bobo’s new book: the primal scent of the wealthy entitles them to treat the rest of us like slaves.
There’s nothing convincing behind any of it. The millionaires at Goldman Sachs think that fucking the middle-class with more spending cuts is actually bad for the economy. Not many people in the fed believe a word of the Chicago school economic nonsense. But supply side and rational market dogma appeals to the rich (even though it may even hurt their investments in the long run), because it justifies tax cuts and deregulation, it justifies giving the rich more money and letting them do whatever they want. And the rich rule our world.
This week we moved a little closer towards convincing Americans that the real conflicts aren’t Sam’s Club Republicans versus strapping young bucks or Jesus freaks versus dirty fucking hippies, they’re rich people versus the middle and lower class. They’re the top few percent against everyone else. It doesn’t have to be that way — the policies that help working people wouldn’t hurt the rich that much — but it is, because some rich people have created an apparatus that pushes an extreme anti-working person ideology.