You ask, I answer– part deux

Non-partisan before 5pm, Damon writes:

You, being a [social] scientist, would know better… but are political attitudes stable over time? what about all those hippies who were for RFK in their 20′s but then got mortgages etc, and bought into Reaganomics?

The whole people get more conservative as the age and pay taxes is largely a myth.  Admittedly, we’ve only got one really good longitudinal study of American’s political attitudes over the life cycle, but there’s very strong stability after attitudes become more firm one’s 20’s.  Sure, people change as they age, but mostly there’s a lot of stability.  Most of those 1960’s hippies grew up to be Elise and Stephen Keaton– not Reagan voters.

I think there’s a tendency to think people get more conservative as the age because old people always seem to be more conservative than young people.  But the old people haven’t really changed, society– certainly when it comes to things like race and social issues– just keeps getting more liberal.

EJ on campaign spending

Really nice column from EJ Dionne about what’s going on with all the right-wing campaign spending. I love the intro:

Imagine an election in a Third World nation where a small number of millionaires and billionaires spent massive sums to push the outcome in their preferred direction. Wouldn’t many people here condescendingly tut-tut over such a country’s “poorly developed” sense of democracy and the inadequacy of its political system?

Yep– it’s us, of course.  There’s more good stuff…

What we do know from enterprising journalism and the limited disclosure the law requires is that much of this money is donated in large sums from a rather small number of wealthy individuals.

And the New York Times reported Friday that among the 10 top-spending organizations this year, five are Republican-oriented shadow groups. Four others are both parties’ formal committees for House and Senate candidates. One is a union.

This is a huge, historic deal, yet many in the media have treated the spending avalanche as a normal political story and arguments about its dangers as partisan Democratic whining.

Some have even maintained that money doesn’t really matter in elections, which makes you wonder why people who know quite a lot about politics (one thinks of Karl Rove) have spent so much energy organizing these fundraising and advertising efforts.

The outside money should be an issue for Democrats. They ought to be asking, even more forcefully than they have been, what these secret donors expect for their money. You can be sure that the benefactors will not keep their identities hidden from the members of Congress they help elect. Only the voters will be in the dark.

I think Dionne’s most important (and depressing) insight is how much of the press– in their perpetual pursuit of “fairness” and balance even where it does not exist keep trying to pretend this is not a partisan story.  It’s one thing for rich Republican corporations to buy elections in public, it’s quite another when they do it hidden from public view.  That simply has to change.  The nice conclusion:

If you still think this outside secret money is just the Democrats’ problem, consider the views of Charles Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, a venerable business group. Kolb, who served in the Reagan administration, thinks all this secret money is bad for both democracy and business because it undermines public confidence that the government and the marketplace are on the level.

“An election is a public good, not a private exchange,” he says. “If I want to buy a car from you, that’s an exchange between you and me.” But elections “are not a private commodity, candidates aren’t private commodities.” That’s right: Elections are there to be won, not bought.



Thinking long-term

Well, I promised a post on the long-term in my previous post.  What I really meant, was that I was planning on re-purposing Jon Chait’s on the matter.  In a very appropriately titled post on “The GOP’s Indian Summer” (its 85 and muggy outside as I type this in late October), Chait lays out the case that this short-term difficulty for the Democrats does not change the long-term fundamentals.  Perhaps the most heartening long-term evidence can be seen in this graph (with Chait’s commentary):

Now, has Obama’s agenda backfired and made young voters more conservative? Hardly:

In polls of the overall electorate, self-identified conservative frequently account for twice the number of liberals, even in years Democrats do well. (Democrats compensate for the lower share of liberals by winning strong majorities of moderates.) That is to say, a young cohort with more liberals than conservatives is a cohort that’s vastly more liberal than the country as a whole.

Political attitudes that develop in young adult-hood tend to be pretty stable over the course of one’s lifetime.  The demographic trends are scary enough for Republicans, but this chart suggests that the country will indeed become more liberal as these young voters become old voters– and thus a more active and engaged part of the electorate.

You ask, I answer

Commenter Brent:

Dr. Greene-Why are things unfolding the way the are in politics? I felt like a new progressive movement was underway when Obama was elected and that what is right would triumph. I am not so sure that it will anymore based on observations of the tea party in our country. What is going on here and why can’t the majority of people see that democrats are looking out for them?

1) You’re expectations of Obama and this country were too, high.  Just as much as voters embraced Obama, they were simply rejecting 8 years of George Bush and Republican rule.  There was never any great consensus for a progressive agenda.

2) Short-term factors, especially economic ones, routinely overwhelm long-term trends.  It seems to be the country is clearly undergoing a long-term trend towards being more liberal (or, at least, less conservative) and more Democratic as the Republican party is increasingly the enclave of angry white Males– a shrinking portion of the population.  I was actually planning on posting on this later today and likely will.

3) Republicans have so dominated the framing and rhetoric on the economy for so long that it has become almost politically impossible to raise taxes on anybody but the richest Americans (and Republicans are fighting that tooth and nail).  A more liberal agenda– heck, simply keeping up with current promises– simply demands more tax revenue.

4) The Right-wing noise machine.  It’s easy to let yourself be continually duped when you rely on Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc., for your political information and have convinced yourself that an entirely middle-of-the-road organization like CNN has a liberal bias.  As Colbert says, “the truth has a liberal bias.”

Just your typical Rand Paul supporter

This is amazingly disturbing:

Also disturbing:

A judge will decide whether Profitt should face criminal charges.

Seriously?  How can this guy not already have been arrested?  I don’t care what your politics are (or what the circumstances are, for that matter– not like this could ever be self defense)– you do something like that to another person and you need to be arrested for assault.

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