Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Free riders on the Trump wagon

Cenk Uygur reports on a Trump voter now having second thoughts in Trump Voters Now Regretting That Decision The Young Turks 03/20/2017

There has been a lot of commentary lately on how the Mean Libruls are thinking mean thoughts about Trump voters and saying mean things about them. One of the strangest I've seen is this interview with Van Jones, conducted by saac Chotiner, Don’t Become the Thing You’re Fighting Slate 03/16/2017. He does pretty much a straight-up liberal concern-troll schtick there.

Conor Lynch weighs in taking much the same tack in The smug style in American liberalism: It’s not helping, folks — but there’s a better way Salon 03/20/2017. And while he does make at least a vague pitch for more prolabor policies and positions from the Democratic Party, he rolls out this trope that old enough that it's seriously getting long in the tooth, "It is smug, however, to disparage people for 'voting against their interests' when in reality both parties have failed to adequately address the real problems facing poor and working-class communities across America today."

I'm sure there are some very rare exceptions, but every party and every candidate in every election tries to convince potential swing voters that voting for my side is in your interest more than voting for the other side. And twentysomething Republican zealots will be more than happy to explain to you why it's in your interest to dump Social Security and just save for retirement on your own, instead. Zeal for this position does seem to diminish with age, though.

What the case of the woman in the video report brings to mind for me is the kind of free rider problem we see in protest voting. There's not much actual information from the woman in the report about the various factors that may have shaped her voting behavior. But someone who's dependent on the ACA/Obamacare for access to health insurance, or on Meals on Wheels like the woman on which Cenk's report focuses, was voting against an important interest of their own in supporting Donald Trump and the Republicans, all of whom made it clear that doing away with the ACA was a top priority for them.

But hindsight is 20-20, as they say. Trump did say he would "repeal and replace" Obamacare. And the replacement would be HUUUGELY better. And there may have been other considerations that would have made many voters go for Trump even if they new they were going to be personally disadvantaged.

Here's one way the Democrats need to make a major change in their approach and more directly defend the value of government. Lots of people probably don't realize the large role federal assistance plays in programs like Meals on Wheels or Planned Parenthood. Obama and the Democrats sold the ACA largely as an improvement to private insurance market. Which it was. But the Democrats don't do the best job of defending their own signature programs.

It was not only bad policy but serious political malpractice, for example, for Obama to push repeatedly for cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of his concept of a Grand Bargain. His continued push for "fiscal responsibility," i.e., obsessing over the budget deficit when the economy was recovering from the crash of 2008, is also a major problem for the Democrats to continue to stress. Republicans clearly don't actually care about the deficit. So they will be happy to press for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest and an "infrastructure" program designed to be a bonanza for financial speculators. And they will turn around a demand more cuts to education and basic civilian government because the deficit explodes.

The Democrats should stop, just stop helping the Republicans play this game by promoting the idea that the deficit is something to worry about.

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