the populace is your pal and dean wins
September 23, 2003 05:00 PM

It seems to me that the key difference between most democrat- and republican-identified elements of the Populace At Large (aka your PAL) is their belief in which side of the head must dominate.

See - most people are pretty centrist in thinking. They're for social equality as a matter of course, no matter how stereotypical their views of other people; they think of capitalism in terms of the American Dream, meaning they believe that, while economic inequalities exist, most other people could achieve some measure of success if they tried; and they think that pretty much all aspects of the government should be run like a reasonable business - the most benefit for the least cost. Except, of course, when they're scared - which is probably why so many people on both sides of the political fence have become much upbeat about defense spending in the past couple of years. Democrats appeal to most people's social mores, and republicans to their pockets.

Sometimes we have a rash of people voting their social mores, and other times they vote their pockets. When pockets are full, mores are important. When they're not...

Democrats running for office seem to grasp that, which is why they're always sounding rather vacillatey about things like defense spending and taxes. It increases the electability of a democrat when pockets aren't quite so full. You have to placate the PAL in order to get elected, and I suspect you come to share their centrist perspective over time even if you didn't start out in the middle.

At the end of the last century, though, democrats were pushing a social agenda, but republicans were touting economics. Despite little difference between their economic agenda, the republicans kept winning because they told the PAL that's what they cared about.

And so we ended up with this climate of creepy conservatism for the past few years, a climate that the PAL was really never after. When Bush does things like declare metaphorical war on Roe v. Wade and continuously attack civil liberties, though, he starts getting the PAL thinking about how their pockets still aren't that full, and they really disagree with this idiot's social policies. Because most people really do think fairly liberally about what one should and shouldn't be allowed to do, no matter what they say the rest of the time.

Enter Dean. Kerry. Edwards. Et al. The lookalike democratic candidates with social agenda and fuzzy thoughts on economics. If Bush continues to position himself as creepily conservative and doesn't deliver any real economic win (which he probably doesn't even have power to do), one of these guys will be president. I'm sure of it.

And it's okay with me. I don't have any passion for one dem. or another right now, but it would be an improvement. Four years ago I was hot for Ralph, but now GW has set the bar so low, anything less than creepy would be an improvement.

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