The party of poorer voters

Fifty-nine percent of registered voters think McCain’s economics would favor the wealthy. That’s the finding of a CBS/New York Times poll conducted October 19-22.

(poll of registered voters)
Obama McCain
Rich 8% 59%
Middle class 38% 11%
Poor 22% 3%
Treat all same 24% 21%

Nate Silver thinks this poll is the key to understanding Barack Obama’s lead in the polls.

I’m gratified to see that Obama has won this argument so decisively. It makes no sense that middle class and poorer voters consistently support right-wing political parties.

I know, it’s because right-wing parties are socially conservative as well as fiscally conservative. Pro-religion, pro-life, tough on crime:  basically, enforce morals with an iron fist.

Somehow “morals” don’t include a redistribution of wealth of the sort advocated in the Bible. I’m thinking, in particular, of 2 Corinthians 8:9-15, where St. Paul encourages Christians in Corinth to take up a collection for the relief of Christians in Judea:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. …

For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” [here quoting from the Hebrew scriptures, Exodus 16:18]

Left-wing tax policies conform to St. Paul’s moral framework, by setting out to level the economic playing field.

Right-wing tax policies favour the wealthy. More precisely, right wing economic policies favour the status quo:  they are designed to keep the rich, rich (or even increase their wealth) while keeping the poor, poor.

Wealthy people can afford the best houses, the best schools for their children, the best health care, etc., and still have plenty of disposable income left over. Lower middle class voters can barely make their mortgage payments. And (in the USA) a serious health crisis will drive them into bankruptcy.

But in election after election, those who are economically disadvantaged harm themselves by voting for right-wing candidates.

So yes, I’m gratified to see that Obama has gotten the message across. In Nate Silver’s words,

It is not as though Obama was Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney — someone who was seen coming into this crisis as an economic savant. But the basic message that a robust middle class is the foundation of economic growth is exactly the right one in troubled times like these, and Obama has delivered it with discipline and grace.

The Democrats ought to be the party of poorer voters. And in this election, they are.


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