[Marxism] Forwarded from Dave Thorstad

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Dec 5 08:49:32 MST 2004

Jeff Madrick's Economic Scene column (New York Times Business Section, 
November 25, 2004, p. C2) has a better take on why the Democrats lost the 
election than most analyses, and has some advice for them on what they did 
wrong:  "Paying more attention to core financial values, rather than moral 
values, may be the Democratic Party's answer."  The "moral values" 
explanation of most of the media was bogus. For instance, an LA Times poll 
has included a question about moral values since 1992, and "voters have 
consistently ranked moral values as either the first or the second most 
important reason for making their decision."

Kerry lost by a substantial margin households with incomes of $30,000 to 
$50,000 per year, a segment that has traditionally voted Democrat.  "Yet 
these are the households most hurt by a changing economy..." Wages for male 
high school graduates have fallen from $16.32/hour for a 1979 grad (in 2003 
dollars) to $15.07 in 2003. In 1979, two in three got health insurance on 
the job; today, one in three.

This segment "turned against government and the Democrats in the late 
1970's, when inflation was soaring under President Jimmy Carter."

Even if "moral values" played a role in Kerry's defeat, "economic 
frustration may well be behind the rise of some of these values."  As 
Richard Sennett says in Respect in a World of Inequality (Norton, 2003), 
"When people are confronted with uncertain economic times, of course they 
would turn to cultural certainty."

Kerry's economic "plan" was, of course, pathetic and didn't begin to 
address the problems millions face. This was true of every aspect of his 
program, including tax "reform," health care, job loss, falling wages, 
etc., for which Madrick offers faint criticism and suggestions.  Other 
factors he does not address were also relevant, such as the fact that Kerry 
tried to out-Bush Bush on war, the Democrats' traditional long suit.

The article can be checked out at <http://www.nytimes.com>www.nytimes.com.


Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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