Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GOP Gains in Doubt in Upcoming Midterm?

While the pundits and big number crowd have been warning of a GOP sweep in the November elections that would solidify their lead in the House and maybe claim the Senate, some interesting results are emerging in the South (Daily Kos). Incumbent Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is effectively tied with Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) at 46% - 45%. Incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas is beating Republican Congressman Tom Cotton 51% to 41%. And Georgia Democratic Senatorial Candidate Michelle Nunn is running within 4 points to even against any of her potential Republican opponents. Ironically, it is the South, where the Republican message of hate, victimhood and looming socialism has resonated the loudest. Is it possible the people have finally started to wake up and realize wedge issues, which are rarely resolved in their favor (or at all, for that matter), are not the best way to vote as their quality of life declines? That would obviously be too grand a statement to make. But it certainly hones in on a truth unspoken by all but the most progressive of mainstream outlets.

That truth is that the people tend to support a more statist approach to governance, but their wishes are almost always subjugated to those of the rich. Martin Gilens empirically demonstrated this unmistakable trend in his 2012 book Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality & Political Power in America. In the book, “Gilens compiles a massive data set of public opinion surveys and subsequent policy outcomes, and reaches a shocking conclusion: Democracy has a strong tendency to simply supply the policies favored by the rich. When the poor, the middle class, and the rich disagree, American democracy largely ignores the poor and the middle class.”

Going further, he claims in the book, “The status quo bias is strongest for social welfare issues ... fewer than one-third of proposed social welfare policy changes that garnered 80 percent support from the public were adopted. Many of these popular but not adopted policies concern proposed expansion of programs or increases in regulation (e.g., increasing government support for preschool of college education or mandating various aspects of health insurance), but some involve cutting back on existing programs or benefits (e.g., imposing work requirements on welfare recipients).”

In other words, as the American Plutocracy continues to grow in wealth and power, the great mass of people, that Menken had so little faith in, could rise up and demand their voices be heard. Or they could simply tune in to the latest episode of The Voice and forget their troubles for an hour … I’m leaning toward B but hoping for a late charge to A. 

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