November 04, 2004

'We Know What's Best For You'

I'm writing this on tenterhooks on Tuesday, without knowing the election results. But whether John Kerry's supporters are now celebrating or seeking asylum abroad, they should be feeling wretched about the millions of farmers, factory workers and waitresses who ended up voting-utterly against their own interests- for Republican candidates [emphasis added].

-- Nick Kristof, writing in the New York Times.

How does Kristof know these hapless factory workers and waitresses voted "utterly against their own interests"? How does he know what their interests are? Simply because Kristof went to Harvard and Oxford and your wait-staff at the typical Cleveland diner didn't? Or some other reason?

Kristof goes on:

One problem is the yuppification of the Democratic Party. Thomas Frank, author of the best political book of the year, "What's the Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," says that Democratic leaders have been so eager to win over suburban professionals that they have lost touch with blue-collar America.

"There is a very upper-middle-class flavor to liberalism, and that's just bound to rub average people the wrong way," Mr. Frank said.

So is the hyper-patronizing, we know best, tenor of pieces like Kristof's. They are so drearily typical we don't really stop and take note of them anymore, of course. But I thought this one was worth pointing out given the irony: Kristof diagnoses the problem--and, seemingly unawares, showcases it himself.

NB: In fairness to Kristof, he likely meant to say such voters were acting against their economic self-interests rather than their interests writ large. But the impact of Bush's economic policies on these societal segments cannot be so breezily assumed either.

Posted by Gregory at November 4, 2004 12:13 PM

He meant all their interests. Abortion helps the middle class by allowing them to not have unwanted children. Gay marriage helps the middle class by establishing stable relationships among people we don't stimatize any more. Taking God out of the pledge helps the middle class because someone else's God is not forced on them. blah, blah,blah. They are so smart they have an answer for everything. The only problem they have is that so many stupid people voted on Tuesday.

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at November 4, 2004 01:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The economic policies of low tax and low regulation help the working class far more than all the government BS cooked up by the Democrat intelligencia.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at November 4, 2004 01:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And the neocons and the republican gay bashers and the Christian right don't go around telling other people "we know what's best for you?"
from who they partner with to foreign policy?

Telling other people they know what's good for them is all what the conservative Christians and this administration is all about.

Posted by: Laura at November 4, 2004 01:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg: great post.

Laura - you don't get it.

The Leftist commentariat asserts it knows better than people themselves what's good for them.

Obviously, all pol's think their platform is better, but you don't hear the GOP telling Kerry supporters that they don't kow what's good for them, do you!?

What you do hear is that we describe many Kerry supporters as thinking that:

(1) Gay Marriage is more important than the GWOT;
(2) the public should expect to accept absolutely NO changes to jurisprudential procedures in order to detect and deter attacks (IOW: they're anti Patriot Act);
(3) that higher taxes on the other guys won't hurt me or the economy.

People who belive that liberal nonsense are generally MISINFORMED and caught in OLD IDEOLOGIOCAL reflexive policies.

Thankfully - in the USA - the Left is outnumbered by people who believe:

(1) traditional marriage - between husband and wife/man & woman - should remain unchanged;

(2) the GWOT is real and we must stay on the offensive;

(3) taxes hurt the economy, a bad economy hurts everyone - especially the poor; and a growing economy is the best remedy for poverty.

We don't want our basic (5000 year old) social institutions changed.
We want to be safe.
We want the economy to grow.
And we don't care what the Left, or the chattering classes in Europe think of us.

Posted by: reliapundit at November 4, 2004 02:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kristoff exemplifies the larger problem: liberals want to govern a nation they hate, populated by people they disdain.

Until liberals fix that (I'd suggest it the impossible task), they'll lose many more than they win.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 03:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My husband I were discussing why it is the Left believe that they know what is best for the blue collar working class than the blue collar working class does.

We both have blue-collar backgrounds, and we're both rather wealthy. Here were our thoughts:

First off, social mobility does happen in this country -- we're proof. Do you think our less wealthy relatives don't notice? Do you think they're jealous and believe we're out to push them down? Of course not, we're family.

Second, some of the things Democrats push as being "good for" the blue collar guys the blue collar guys have a lot more "nuanced" understanding of. UNIONS for instance are held up by Dems as being an unqualified good. My husband and I have relatives IN unions who don't even believe this. They find that unions often use scare tactics to get people to join; that unions protect extremely lazy people from getting fired; that unions insure a certain wage level for people who don't have the skills to deserve it; that unions are linked to organized crime; and that if you're in a union shop it might be unable to offer competitive prices due to in large part the lazy people and the under skilled folk that are paid $25/hour for hanging around. All of these failings might cause your nice union shop may go out of business.

The only thing that unions often offer our blue-collar friends (and this is the clincher) is health care. Democratic calls for national health coverage aren’t exactly inspiring either though…if health care bankrupts the nation we’re not going to better off. Oh, and yes, some of these “blue-collar” guys OWN their shops, and they know about AHPs and medical savings accounts (which Blue Cross/Democrats and Co. are fighting), and how unfair health insurance hits small business. (Just because you work with a hammer doesn’t mean you’re stupid). What they don’t see Dems as taking reasonable steps to make things better—they see them pushing hot air and enfranchising unions (see union ambivalence above).

Thirdly (or fourthly), the working class having more ties to the military, might actually be better informed about certain military matters than your average college educated liberal. The guys in the field can see how being in Iraq is important for the world economy (ask a trucker if he thinks its good to protect our major source of fuel), they can also see how we're trapping Iran between Iraq and Afghanistan, they can see how the war will be lost by the MEDIA not the troops.

I can think of other points, but this isn’t my blog and you’re all probably bored out of your skulls. I’m so ticked off though!

Posted by: Carolynn at November 4, 2004 05:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I was thinking along these lines this morning.

"In fairness to Kristof, he likely meant to say such voters were acting against their economic self-interests"

What the Lefties never get over is their delusion that their kind of government really does represent the economic interests of folks who do real (blue collar) work for a living.

This is nonsense, of course, and in America, those who work blue collar jobs are intelligent and are as capable as anyone else in recognizing that STUFF YOU GET FROM THE GOVERNMENT is not GOOD FOR YOU.

That STUFF may be nice to have STUFF, but it comes at a tremendous direct cost. Not an indirect cost to someone else (i.e. rich people), but at a direct cost to the recipient.

That cost is in form or the oppression from a government that not only delivers STUFF, but that at the same time takes away one's liberties and makes one dependent on that government.

Look, lefties. Everyone knows that you just want to meddle in our lives, and that the government STUFF you want to give us is extortion.

Thanks, but no thanks.

I'll take my chances in the open marketplace. If I need health insurance, I'll go buy it. If I really want mass transit, I'll join a private club and go buy it. If I can't get something by my own efforts in the open marketplace, I'll join bargaining groups to negotiate the acquisition.

When you (government) finish slaughtering the Islamic terrorists, paving the roads, executing the murderers and storing away the pick pockets in jails, just go home.

Take the rest of the day off.

Go home, and mind your own business. Take your government and shove it.

Posted by: paul a'barge at November 4, 2004 07:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kristof sounds rather dramatically out of touch with both blue-collar Americans and upper class Republicans. What's both more ironic and amusing however, is that in my experience, Republicans don't even talk in terms of class. Except, of course, from the occasional reference to liberal elitists -- normally in the context of how utterly classless they tend to be.

Posted by: JM Hanes at November 5, 2004 10:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Has anyone noted how often the liberals, both here in the US and Europe continue to refer to those of us who voted for Bush as: Morons, idiots, stupid, dumb!!!!

How could so many voters, with PHd's, MBA's, Drs, Lawyers, etc., etc., be stupid? But wait, could it have been the 8 years of living under Bill Clinton's administration that dumbed us down, you know...lost cigars, blue dresses, botched wars, and the pardoning of Clinton's criminal cronies at the end of his term.

Posted by: Eileen Findlay at November 7, 2004 01:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Think of the moral and ethical contortionsDem candidates have to go through to appeal to the Michael Moore acolytes and normal, middle class and working class Americans. Did Kerry ever disassociate himself from the statements in F911 or MoveOn? Was there anything more laughable than Kerry trying to pass himself off as a religious candidate? Therein lies the Dems problem. In order to appear moderate they are forced to come up with ridiculous hair splitting legalistic 'nuances' on issues like same sex marriage and GWOT which nobody believes. Kerry's stance on Iraq had both Blue and Red in agreement. Blue knew, and was counting on the fact, that he was lying on staying the course and Red knew he was going to cut and run at the first opportunity. Even with MSM complicity there was no way people were buying what these guys had to sell. The Dems know they can't win on a liberal, big gov't, anti-military, high tax, social engineering agenda so they try to misrepresent it. Red staters may be dumb but they can see thru these phonies like Kerry's daughter's dress. Saying what you mean and standing up for what you believe in is the moral issue.

I agree with Howard Dean that he represents the Democratic wing of the Dem party. I may not personally agree with some parts of it but at least you know what the guy stands for. Dems need to be able to present a progressive agenda but if that agenda consists of calling people who don't support them stupid and calling the president Bushitler they'll be spending a long time in the wilderness.

Posted by: Jack Tanner at November 8, 2004 03:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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