Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nobody Gets It

There's a particularly elitist stereotype that sticks to Republicans: 

Republicans support Big Business because they are the primary (and wealthy) owners of said businesses, while ingenuously claiming that keeping Big Business healthy guarantees the health and well-being of the Small American - the Working Stiff. 

Given this purported Republican love affair with Corporate America, one might not expect the Republicans to actually "get it" - to get what it's like to be poor and struggling.   The stereotype has been cemented by incidents small in deed but large in implication.  For example, the Senior President Bush was so out of touch with the real folk that he didn't recognize a bar code in a grocery market (  Or consider the footage snagged and replayed by Michael Moore in the Movie, "Farenheit 911," when the Junior President Bush addresses a ballroom full of dressed-to-the-teeth campaign donors this way:

"This is an impressive crowd.  The haves......and the have-mores.  Some people call you the elite.  I call you my base."

I had to go through most of the movie script to find that quote.

(Caveat - I should admit I felt stinky writing that.  I don't begrudge anyone for dressing to the teeth, even Republicans.  I rather like dressing up, myself.  In fact, if anyone wants to take me to a fancy dinner, just say the word.  And more to the point, I don't think all Republicans are wealthy and out of touch any more than I think all Jews are wealthy.  But I do kinda think those special Republicans, the ones in power along with the Bushes, were rather partial to their corporate pals.)

But Democrats?  What about their stereotype?  Isn't it the exact opposite of the Republican stereotype?  Don't they eschew wealth for wealth's sake, and chase power only in order to be strong enough to set things right again for working class America?  Isn't the Democrat Party synonymous with populist ideals?  And won't they stand against corporate carnage?  And spread America's overly-consolidated wealth like peanut butter across adequate education and medical care for all?  And step in to rescue the middle and lower income Americans who are being ravaged by the economic winds of our times?  Isn't President Barak Obama the Democrats' own Underdog?  Here to save the day?!?

(Well, I stopped believing this - if I ever actually did - after I watched the sausage-making negotiations of the Health Care Bill.  And again, I'm talking about some shameless activity on the Hill, not about my many "commoner" Democrat friends.)

Well, step forward, Bob Herbert, award winning political and urban columist for The New York Times.  He says, "Forget it."  Nobody gets it. Not even Barak.

"[T]he president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many."

Herbert cites a new study by the Brookings Institute demonstrating the extent of the downturn impact.  The study suggests the fastest growing population of poor people are suburban, with an increase of poverty by a whopping 15.4 percent by the end of 2008.  Herbert believes the American people are and will continue to be left in the dust by Washington's Pretty Party People - both Parties.   

I will pray Herbert's wrong, but I think his column is worth considering. I hope you will read it.  I hope President Obama is reading, too:


  1. How eloquently put. I don't consider myself and my family to be poor, but the fact is that we barely made it over the poverty line in 2009. Sad to say that my family has taken a 40% hit in income in 2009 because of the downturn in the economy and yet we are all working hard. Glad I came from at place with even much less than current poverty levels and know how to be in survial mode. We still may loose everything except our shirts (btw, we purchased those second hand at a charity thrift and doubt anyone will want them)unless this economy turns around this next year. As part of the baby booming population we are in need of health care too and were part of the uninsured for the biggest part of 2009. Now the health care insurance we can hardly afford doesn't pay for anything until the deductable for each of us is met which is $5000- so basically for catastrophic illness that hopefully we won't need. It is the day to day flu's, colds, infections, etc. that is so important to take care of for maintaining good health. So you say...out of touch.....yeah...I think folks on boths sides of the issue that we working stiffs are paying $1k plus salaries with our tax dollars are out of touch. But as usual we working stiffs are suppose to grin and bare it....for after all we are Americans and live in the wealthiest country in the world!

  2. Yeah, I feel your pain. I downsized, stopped working and began a Ph.D program. Right when I should be exiting to a job, the bottom falls out of the economy. I stay'll in school until I find a job, because I need the health insurance. We all have to keep hoping things start turning, and keep the pressure on President Obama to make good on his promises.

  3. By the way, if you have any interest in grad school, my tuition plus insurance is less expensive than private insurance alone, and the coverage is better through the school!