« God and Money in Small Towns | Main | Chris Rock on Economics »

April 15, 2008

Comments

A tax law professor I know tells the story of getting his teeth cleaned in the early Bush Admin, and listening to the hygenist go on about how glad she was that the death tax was gotten rid of. She was stunned when he explained what the thresholds had been, surprised at having been taken for such a ride.

Interesting challenge you have there, son.

Yup.

I get fed up with these misrepresentations of Frank. Frank's argument was simple:

* Republicans promise to push "red state values," but they're obviously lying.

* Voting for somebody who clearly has no intention of following through on his promises is pointless and dumb.

* Wouldn't it make more sense to vote for somebody who promises and really intends to deliver economic relief? Sure, you may not value money as much as you value god, but given that the guy promising "more god" is clearly a faker who intends to deliver nothing, wouldn't it make more sense to vote for the guy who actually intends to deliver something?


After all, I support the Democrats even though I disagree with their slavishness to Hollywood on IP law.
This is kind of anterior to your point, but -- the great bulwark of the 9th Circuit notwithstanding -- the GOP is not exactly out on the vanguard of this issue.

publius,

At the risk of making a public nuisance of myself, I'm going to be a contrarian yet again in this thread.

It seems to me that there is an assumption packaged up inside your argument that people make political decisions for instrumental purposes: I will support party X because of their support for policy Y, or because I see them as the most effective vehicle for value Z, and those things are important to me (nevermind whether this belief is authentic or induced by external propaganda).

I propose an alternative and less flattering theory: politics is a more refined version of a basic simian activity - flinging poo at other creatures as an emotional outlet and a sublimated form of physical aggression, which is especially attractive when we are stressed out. In this model, the issues are important mainly as a way of keeping track of who is on which team.

Line 'em up: Red team on this side, Blue team on the other side.
The "issues" are a marker used to keep track of who is on which side, rather than having a mainly instrumental purpose of their own.

Consider political blogs and the behavior you see in them, especially in the comment sections. Which model do you think does a better job of explaining the results? ObWings excepted of course - we are the elite, just not in a condescending way.

[the sneaky part of this argument is that if anyone disagrees with me, I can accuse them of flinging poo in my direction, thereby validating my hypothesis. Hah! Untie that gordian knot, whydontcha?]

The argument that economic issues are foreign policy issues is a mistake. The answer for both liberals and evangelicals is; why spend all this money on foreign aid when we need it at home? We are ending a war. We spent a lot of money. Mortgage problems and 100 billion dollar bail outs by foreigners. Bush is leaving and going broke is not an option, unless your a dem. Then it's good. Since we spent all the war money, let's give it away to foreigners. We can't afford to throw money overseas. We will go broke.

Americans have always decided America comes first, if that's not understood, the chances of getting to the White house are zero. Obama wants a GDP tax to give away to foreigners. Clinton wants foreign aid because of the war. The foreign aid has to stop, we need to spend it at home first. Colombia is an example. Free trade is good for both economies. Instead the House passed a 50 billion dollar foreign aid package over a five year budget. Government agencies now have five year budgets and the foreign aid is moving to a five year budget. That is a long term commitment. They then used a small law to cancel a good foreign trade bill. We make money with those. We don't make money giving away 50 billion dollars over five years. Dems want you to count all the federal employees that get a piece of the foreign aid because that is what they sell when they give money away. We would be better off with the free trade. It generates income. Yes, there are less taxes going to dems, but the economy does much better. Yes, it's foreign aid like the 50 billion going overseas, but it generates income.

The old argument here is this is why Peace Corps exists. They are cheap. Free trade isn't part of their deal. Giving away money isn't part of the deal. Their budget is now five years and, at the end of five years, it will be close to a billion. What do you think congress will do?

i don't necessarily disagree with the "poo" theory. i do think that politics is often about the most basic visceral loyalties and emotion.

Where I differ, I suspect, is that I think people can be persuaded (for rational reasons) to switch their underlying emotional attachments (i.e., throw poo on their former teammates).

I think TLTIABQ is mostly right here: many people choose their preferred candidate based on emotional appeals first and then later rationalize issue alignment. There's some support for that theory in this poll which claims that Bush voters in 2004 were grievously misinformed about their candidate's position on any number of issues: they seem to have projected onto him their own beliefs. Kerry voters had a much more accurate read on their candidate's positions.

Publius, I rarely say this, but I think you're kind of missing the point here. And even if you think that Frank is off-base on this score, it seems to me that Obama is actually hitting on a fundamental argument that is different from what you're describing. (By the way, where did the assumption come from that Obama has been referencing Frank at all? I assume that this is based on some reference he made, but I'm not aware of it.)

Specifically, the argument that I heard Obama making wasn't really that the GOP is playing to people's inherent biases, even though I think that's how the media has phrased his point. What he said was that the entire DC establishment has been frustrating expectations on this score for a long time, and as a result people have turned to other issues. It's not a trick -- it's a strategem.

This is part of an argument that I remember you making very pointedly on your old blog -- namely, that the notion of "small government" is an empty phrase largely because the difference between Democrats and Republicans in terms of the size of the government they actually control is at most only a few percentage points, largely due to mandated costs. That's the first step.

Now what Obama said -- I thought -- was the next step: that politicians promise a lot on the economy, but they never deliver on it, and so people simply don't vote on economic issues. (Well, perhaps as tokenism -- but really, after the W era, who really trusts the GOP to cut taxes anymore?)

So the predictable result is that people become inured to economic promises, and turn instead to places where they feel that they can still have a meaningful effect, because they're still "live issues": gun control; abortion policy; the targets of faith-based initiatives. Conveniently for the GOP, these are all items that are subject to easy demagoguery and that offer them a tremendous advantage in close elections. They also provide fodder for cross-ticket support. E.g., the gay marriage ban in the 2004 Ohio election -- regardless of whether you agree with the policy, you must admit that those voters managed to effect change and the Presidential election was really just a side effect (though an intentional one on the GOP's part). Likewise, Heller's proved that the 2nd Amendment is still a live issue as well.

The point is that you can interpret these move as a public retreat into "lesser" issues, or a collateral move from intractable economic issues toward still-contested social issues where votes still count for something -- but where the former narrative is the usually-cited reason for the supposed collapse of the American polity, the latter may show latent vitality -- people want to make a difference, but the DC establishment only tolerates real debate on issues that don't affect DC's bottom line.

People vote on these things on both sides because there's a tangible, observable effect -- something you can't really say about votes on tax policy. And consequently, these issues now get hammered into the ground every election -- not in small part because people will actually vote on them.

I thought that what Obama was saying was that many people do care about other issues, but that the bipartisan complacency on economic issues, the massive influence of entrenched interests, and the almost total inability for common citizens to get their voices heard on any issue where money is at stake is creating a political amplification effect -- voters are being crowded onto the "values" platforms on both sides of the aisle because they're internalizing the notion that the "culture wars" are the only battle that's even worth fighting. Everywhere else it's inevitably People vs. Lobbyists, and that's a losing game. Why play? If politics is the art of the real, that's a pointless and demeaning pursuit.


I think all of that's a very powerful argument, though perhaps not well explained. (Though really, the argument has been misunderstood/distorted by the media narrative -- note, for example, that they all immediately assumed Obama was making an anti-gun, anti-religion comment. He actually didn't say that.)

What Obama was saying was not that people are being "tricked" into voting on values, but that their political power is being structurally constrained and blunted, such that they have no choice but to vote on "values" issues which, conveniently enough, aren't actually what brings home the bacon for 99% of politicians and which 99% of politicians consequently don't really give a shit about. Both parties have been openly and shamelessly screwing the public for years now without penalty -- at least they used to try to hide it. Who wouldn't be bitter?

The compelling grace note to the argument is that if Obama is right, then the American people really do care about politics more deeply than the media circus gives us credit for (and let's not pretend that the media isn't part of the strategem), because the downticket "values issues" really do get out the vote. People do vote when they feel that they can make a difference -- they want to make a difference. From punditland we see the 2004 Ohio ballot measures as adjuncts to the Presidential election, and from the perspective of the national parties, they were. But from the ground, those measures arguably represented people getting involved in politics and only affecting the Presidential campaign as a secondary result, which, the result nothwithstanding, is a "most encouraging thought" to me.

Here's one more link on voter ignorance.

One possibility I have not seen mentioned is that people in red states vote more conservatively because their societies are in more peril. Aggregate statistics show that residents of red states have much higher rates of divorce, marital infidelity, violent crime, drug abuse, out of wedlock births, and sexually transmitted infections.

It seems natural that when you live in an environment where social bonds appear to be fraying, you are going to seek conservatism and traditionalism. This might be why conservatives are so fixated on the "threat" that gay marriage poses. After all, if you're watching marital affairs, divorces, and out of wedlock births occurring all around you, you may feel that your marriage is under siege. If you feel that you are surrounded by violence, then more prisons and tough-on-crime policies are the answer. If you see lots of out reckless teen sex, then clearly abstinence is the answer. In other words, it is hard to have faith in government and pluralism and freedom when it looks like your society is coming apart at the seams.

Obviously this doesn't explain why all conservatives are conservatives, but it may help to explain a component of the regional variation in political ideology.


don't necessarily disagree with the "poo" theory. i do think that politics is often about the most basic visceral loyalties and emotion.

Where I differ, I suspect, is that I think people can be persuaded (for rational reasons) to switch their underlying emotional attachments (i.e., throw poo on their former teammates).

All joking aside, yes I think you have a point that to a certain degree people are persuadable, at least in small increments.

More importantly, it is important that we try even though it is an uphill battle and the gains in any one cycle may be minimal. We need to remember that votes are not as binary as they seem, and the voter who pulls the lever while holding their nose this cycle is a potential convert in the next cycle, even though they may stick with their old party for now.

This is another reason why I support Dean's 50 state strategy and Obama's approach to this election. Changing partisan affiliations is very hard to do, and I think many people are at their most fluid early in life, so it is very important to try to get mindshare with the younger voters. In retrospect I think many of the elections which Democrats lost in the 1990's and 2000's were really lost back in the 1980's under Reagan when it became cool on campus to be a young conservative.


The point is that you can interpret these move as a public retreat into "lesser" issues, or a collateral move from intractable economic issues toward still-contested social issues where votes still count for something -- but where the former narrative is the usually-cited reason for the supposed collapse of the American polity, the latter may show latent vitality -- people want to make a difference, but the DC establishment only tolerates real debate on issues that don't affect DC's bottom line.

Adam,

That was really good, not just the small bit I've quoted, but the whole thing.

What is making the difference this year? Is it just Obama, or is it the new fundraising model that he is using, or is it a wave of cultural change that he is doing a better job of understanding and riding than the other candidates?

I'm a fan of the idea that politics is less often than we think the controlling factor and more often the reflection of deep seated cultural changes, except during occasional pivoting moments (which tend to occur during a crisis) when an inflection point rises to the surface and can be seized by the right (or the wrong) person, so I'm open to any of the above interpretations, or all three.

What do you think?

I think Adam is essentially correct. Democrats tell the working class that they are going against their economic interests in voting for Republicans. The working class will respond by asking what Democrats are doing, not about some incomprehensible economic abstraction in Washington or Wallstreet, but for me me here and now. And I don't think most liberal/Democrats have a very good answer.

That is why I think Obama's approach is the most promising -- building a local Democratic machine that will address people's immediate needs and concerns. It has two big advantages. First, it is harder to portray liberals/Democrats as out of touch elitists, let alone blood-drinking monsters, if they are your friends and neighbors. Second, if Democrats are going to be more successful in rural America if they can offer people something positive that is concrete and immediate and makes a recognizable difference in people's lives right here and now than if they are talking about tax policies that make most people's eyes glaze over.

I too agree with Adam. I also think this explains a lot of small government stuff: if the government is going to be useless, why on earth pay taxes for it?

Of course, the government is not useless, as Newt Gingrich conveniently reminded people when he shut it down. But it's always an easy target to bash.

[the sneaky part of this argument is that if anyone disagrees with me, I can accuse them of flinging poo in my direction, thereby validating my hypothesis. Hah! Untie that gordian knot, whydontcha?]

What we need is a sword made of poo.

Oh, and I liked Adam's post, too.

adam's post really was quite a read.

Economic issues *are* cultural issues in america, and everywhere. Its that our economic culture divides us (we have no real working class culture because everyone aspires to be middle class or rich) while our "culture culture" can align us with others, even negatively (through religious, geographic, racist, sexist, or classist positioning). Why do you think, as digby just pointed out, the Rand corporation is pushing copies of ayn rand's juvenile leg humping Atlas shrugged and etc... because they are cultural affirmations of economic policies.

If working class Republicans were acting rationally, they should at least advocate for more populist economic policies within the confines of the party.

Re: Workers and Populist Economic Policies

There are 146,300,000 employed ‘persons’ in America. I believe that the person doing two jobs is double counted in government accounting, although it’s hard to tell. Meaning that there are at least 160,000,000 non-employed persons in America. This includes the young, who don’t vote, and the retired, who vote disproportionally. Republican workers make more money than Democratic workers.

Working class Republicans are outnumbered by idle Americans and unskilled workers that feel an entitlement to generous government benefits. A rational working class Republican should vote for a small government. But he is outnumbered and the government will continue to grow.

Great Britain is probably ten years ahead of us in the universal suffrage cycle. The link below describes how populist economic policies have resulted in 200,000 skilled workers leaving Britain for lower-tax New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and America each year. 500,000 largely needy new immigrants replace the 200,000 emigrating taxpayers. You tell me what happens when the money runs out.

“From nurses and midwives to teachers, engineers, truck drivers, plumbers and carpenters — there was an incredibly wide range of workers.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/justice/article949345.ece

What is making the difference this year? Is it just Obama, or is it the new fundraising model that he is using, or is it a wave of cultural change that he is doing a better job of understanding and riding than the other candidates?

1. Well, Obama hasn't won yet. The Wurlitzer is still spinning furiously to stuff this genie firmly back in its Marxist bottle.

2. I think that a lot of it is Obama, independently of the primary (I want to be careful not to demean Hillary or her supporters on this point -- this is, to me, something he's uniquely suited for, and the question with him, as it always has been, is whether he'll be able to make good on his potential).

Obama has the credibility as a community organizer to say it, the oratorical ability to explain it, and the political skillset needed to back it up. It really casts his talk of a "people-driven campaign" and of "giving lobbyists a seat at the table but not letting them buy a seat" in the light of a concrete goal, rather than just populist rhetoric, which was very interesting to me when I realized it.

Taking economic decisions out of committee chambers is, in this framing, about more than transparency and fixing the disasters wrought by the Sunshine Laws -- it's putting other issues back on the electoral table besides god, guns, and gays (again, all issues that conveniently don't cost the government anything either way).

(And just to hammer home the point one more time, the problem is not that those issues shouldn't be on the table, but that they're for all practical purposes the only issues left on the table, and the issue-hyperfocus is exacting a terrible toll on our political discourse.)

3. I actually think that Obama's fundraising model is way more critical that I gave it credit for at first.

(a) I've long been partial to Jonathan Rauch's "Demosclerosis" argument, though I prefer Fareed Zakaria's phrasing of the issue as a more of a pure collective-action problem rather than a big-government problem. I buy the point that the size and complexity of the government bureaucracy has created an information asymmetry, whereby the cost of obtaining a government windfall is far, far lower than the cost of policing government waste. (Even Joe Biden, I believe, has called the Sunshine Act a mistake...)

(b) However, the Rauch/Zakaria solution to the Sunshine Act is poor. They'd allow politicians to make some final decisions behind closed doors, so that lobbyists could't be 100% sure who's voting as promised -- as opposed to now, where every vote is scrutinized and recorded and there's no upside to voting on principle.

A return to the good ol' smoke-filled-rooms is a solution, but for obvious reasons I don't find it too compelling. In The Future of Freedom, Zakaria brackets that little wisp of Havana-scented nostalgia with a quote from Bob Packwood pining for the days when the Committee Chairs would let him vote against bad earmarks and then lie to special interests about it; I think that the fact it's Bob Packwood making the argument tells you all you need to know.

(c) Of course, I never had a better solution to the problem until Obama came along and showed what the right candidate with the right message can do with participatory democracy. This was the missing ingredient -- giving regular people a finger to press on the other side of the economic scale. Based on how frequently Obama talks about "being accountable to you," and his emphasis on active rather than passive government transparency (i.e., Google for Government versus FOIA and the Sunshine Laws), I think he understands what a huge opportunity this is.

Things have been falling apart more and more rapidly in DC because there's been no financial counterbalance to special interest groups -- e.g., the benefit to 10 people who hire a $100,000 lobbyist to get a $1,000,000 earmark is a 10x return on investment weighed against an infinitesimal cost to each individual taxpayer. Unless citizens can pool their collective resources on the other side of the scale, that's an unwinnable game.

But that $100,000 is usually spent on some lobbyist whispering, "add that earmark or this $100K is going to your opponent next cycle; no one cares if you resist on principle; you'll just be replaced by the next guy" -- if Obama has hit on a way to let taxpayers pool a collective $100,000 on the other side of the table, then that's a huge deal. Unbelievably huge. That throws a historical monkey wrench in the entire mechanism of legislative capture.

4. So the answer here, I think, is that one part of the issue is pissed-off citizens, one part is Obama's unique talents and background, one part is new political technology that's still maturing (like direct mail back in the day), and the part that Obama filled in last week was how these structural deficiencies aren't just distorting legislative priorities, they're driving the political discourse in an unhealthy way, and connecting all of those dots strikes me as something of a watershed moment.

Of course, I'm a wonk, and I could just be overexcited. We'll see how it plays out. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm continually pleased and chagrined to find that Obama seems to have thought so many steps ahead of me on issues that I thought I had a decent grasp on.

aimai:

Why do you think, as digby just pointed out, the Rand corporation is pushing copies of ayn rand's juvenile leg humping Atlas shrugged and etc... because they are cultural affirmations of economic policies.
I hate to derail, but the RAND Corporation isn't affiliated with Ayn Rand. Where was this pointed out?

Not the RAND Corp -- the Ayn Rand Institute. Here's a post by Digby with details on the book giveaways.

More recently, BB&T Bank has been trying to make AS and other Randian texts required reading on university campuses.

More from Digby.

What seems pervasive here is the theme that red-staters ignore common sense economic issues in favor of emotionally based issues. It starts with the assumption that of course the Democrats' economic policy would be better for these people. How can they not see that?!?

But nobody has made that case – certainly not the candidates. The sub-prime mess is certainly an issue, and you can fix blame for it. But you also have to realize that the idea of the government bailing people out of the consequences of their bad personal decisions is pretty alien to many of these people (farm subsidies aside of course). Clinton and Obama deride free trade on the stump, offer assurances that they really aren’t anti-free trade behind the voters’ backs, and then Obama derides these same voters for being anti-free trade. Even the bumpkins might figure out that killing a free trade bill that is almost entirely one way in favor of the US because unions don’t like it might not be the way to go… It just gives McCain the ammo to keep saying that Democrats are controlled by the unions and other special interests.

The main campaign issue that will hit people directly in the wallet short term is the expiring tax cuts. Democrats can claim all day long that it is not a tax increase and it only impacts the evil rich, but that is not going to sell with the average taxpayer who will pay an average of $3,000 - $4,000 more when the cuts expire. All McCain has to do is focus on that and keep calling it the biggest tax increase in history. He can counter the Democrats’ argument that it only impacts the evil rich by pointing out that the (symbolic) budget plan passed by the House assumes all of the tax cuts expire in 2010, and that raises the lowest bracket from 10% back to 15%.

Clinton and Obama’s legs have been cut out from under them by House Democrats:

Obama and Clinton both promise to reverse Bush's tax cuts for wealthier taxpayers, but the Democratic budget they'll be voting for would allow income tax rates to go up on individuals making as little as $31,850 and couples earning $63,700 or more.

The Senate is a little better here, but:

Under both Democratic plans, tax rates would increase by 3 percentage points for each of the 25%, 28% and 33% brackets. At present, the 25% bracket begins at $31,850 for individuals and $63,700 for married couples. The 35% bracket on incomes over $349,700 would jump to 39.6%.

Certainly you can claim that $350k is upper middle class or even wealthy, but it is pretty tough to spin $32k (or $64k for couples) as “rich”. And McCain has the high ground on pork spending.

Democrats seem to have mostly given up on the war as a campaign issue. But focusing on the economy and going about it this way seems a bit counterproductive. I have plenty of reasons for not liking McCain – but his stands on taxes and spending are not among them.

(Standard disclaimers apply, and as always my political advice to Democrats is worth every penny they pay me for it…)

That sounds right. It's tribalism. The wedge-issues are the emotional bond. They're gut issues not analytical issues. The wedge-issues help form the tribe. Once the tribe is formed, whatever the other tribe is suggesting is perceived as bad if your tribal leaders say it is.

but that is not going to sell with the average taxpayer who will pay an average of $3,000 - $4,000 more when the cuts expire.

Where are you getting this information from? Who is the "average" taxpayer in this example?

Certainly you can claim that $350k is upper middle class or even wealthy, but it is pretty tough to spin $32k (or $64k for couples) as “rich”.

Looking at the numbers here, people in the 25% bracket, were it to increase to 28%, would pay between $0 and $1,357.50 more in taxes. People in the 28% bracket (which is $77k to $161K) would pay between $1,357.50 and $3,870 more. The median U.S. gross income (gross, not taxable income, which is less) is around $61,500, which puts at least half of U.S. taxpayers in the 25% bracket or below (and likely much more since the bracket goes to $77K and the median is gross income), paying a maximum of $1,357.50 more.

Two observations on this Ayn Rand crapola:

How is the outraged cultural values wing of the Republican Party going to react when their kids are highlighting the Howard Roark/Dominique Francon rape scene in "The Fountainhead"?

Maybe they'll show the movie version which climaxes with Francon (Patricia Neal) riding a construction elevator 217 floors up to the roof (eyes rolled back in her head, or maybe she's just looking up) where Roark (Gary Cooper) stands waiting, legs apart, hands on hips, wearing a crotchless toolbelt.

Why not a gigantic bottle of Viagra constructed of Legos, instead?

Woody Allen could make a sequel to "Love and Death" AND "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask" entitled "Sex and the Death Tax and Don't Be Afraid of the Money Shot".

Further, what will introducing Rand's bodice-ripping (nothing wrong with that, but thinking about Milton Friedman and Grover Norquist at the same time kinda takes the bloom off the rose) in the egregiously written "Atlas Shrugged" do to academic reading and writing standards, I ask you?

Will there be freshman composition seminars entitled "The Exclamation Point and the Young Reader: A Primer!!"

I wanna see everyone's hands on their desks, you principled stalwarts, you. And stop looking out the window at the Chrysler Building!!!

Cold showers for everyone!

I'm trying to imagine Hilzoy teaching an ethics class to a roomful of undergraduates who just came from a session of heavy-breathing Objectivist saluting.

Nitpick: don't compare "average" additional taxes with "median" income.

That aside, "average" additional taxes isn't necessarily the point you'd want to be making, to begin with.

I thought conservative heartland voters were more than economically sophisticated to appreciate Friedman's quip that to spend is to tax. OCSteve, are you really suggesting that Friedman's nugget of wisdom is so far beyond their understanding that they think the Bush tax cuts were magical free money and that DOD appropriations don't count?

Bush lowered tax revenue below government expenses. At the end of the day, that change is not sustainable.

Just trying to figure out who OCSteve thought was the "average" taxpayer that pays 3-4000 more, when it appears that there's no such thing.

Moat voters are low information voters. City, country, whatever, most people are not that inbolved and not well informed. I spent most of the nineties uninvolved and underinformed and I remember what it was like. I knew for example about Monica but I didn't know about Ireland.

Low information voters eithehr vote as they have in the past or vote in responsee to some emotinal issue that is very personal. Throughout the nineties I voted Dem because that's how I was raised. I had, at that time, no idea what the issues were.

No one can win a national election without the votes of the low information voter. Since the ones that have an affliation are more likely than not tovote according to that affliation, the ones who are independents become critical. They tip the balance and determine the election result.

They vote selfinterst rather than party.. Voting on wedge issues is self interest because it is an ego centered decsion--I want that candidate becuase he/she is like mee, me,me. Either that or they vote for whoever they think is going to respond to their needs. I need a job, I need health care, I need help payingmy way thruogh post high school education. That candidate will help me, me, me.

Either decsion can be presented as patriotic or morally superior , of course.

The worse the economy gets the more low information independent voters will switrch from the first kind of selfinterest to the second kind. This happened in great numbers during the Depression.
Of course it helpes if the Dem candidate who is trying to move low iformation independents from one catagory tot he other is able to be seen as "one of us: and able to present an argument in a compelling way. Still bad economic news can tip a low info indie from voting wedge to voting populist.

In other, vaguely related news:

Berlusconi wins election

For a democracy to work, instead of it being a big scam, you need people that are sufficiently bright, educated and, well, democratic.

Why is it considered irrational for an individual to support policies that are against his economic interests?

I can think of a raft of programs that would benefit me personally but that would not benefit the country - and hence that I would not support (e.g. rack up larger deficits today and transfer financial burdens to future generations)

Only if we assume that individuals inhabit an economically calculating and self-interest deterministic system does that argument make sense

Ugh: Where are you getting this information from? Who is the "average" taxpayer in this example?

I’ve seen numbers thrown around that range from $1700 to $5000. I kind of split the difference. But I think that the key terms are average and taxpayer.

The median U.S. gross income (gross, not taxable income, which is less) is around $61,500, which puts at least half of U.S. taxpayers…

But many of those under the median don’t pay any taxes, or even get a credit. So of those who pay taxes the average is somewhere well above the median.

The top 50% of those who file a return pay 96-97% of all personal income tax. The AGI for that top 50% starts at $30,881 (2005). So the average payer of taxes has an AGI close to $62k. Which is to say that you’re probably closer to right than I was. So consider the bar lowered to just having to convince the average taxpayer that paying an extra $2,000 is not an increase. ;)

However, I doubt that many people making $62k consider themselves to be middle class, so it’s going to be a tougher sale for the middle class…

Turb: …are you really suggesting that Friedman's nugget of wisdom is so far beyond their understanding that they think the Bush tax cuts were magical free money and that DOD appropriations don't count?

Not at all. I’m just saying that if the Democrats want to focus this campaign on economics they are shooting themselves in the foot IMO. And we can argue about what constitutes middle class or the average taxpayer who may see their taxes go up 3%. But by letting the lowest bracket go back to 15%, the poorest taxpayers would see a 5% increase (more than the wealthiest percentage-wise) – and that is what House Democrats (symbolically) voted to do. As I noted, the Senate version is better on that (as are Clinton and Obama) – but they are saddled with the House.

And as I find myself repeating – Democrats just keep handing McCain ammunition in what never should have been a contested race.

So the average payer of taxes has an AGI close to $62k.

If we're going to equate "the average taxpayer" with "the average payer of taxes" then I want more specificity to the language to be sure that we're talking about the same thing, because even the latter formulation is a lie unless you want to state it as "the average adjusted gross income of a payer of U.S. federal personal income taxes is $62K" and even then I'm not sure that's correct without seeing the NTU's source data (citing the "Internal Revenue Service" is not helpful).

And let me say I'm a little skeptical about an organization who has a link on their home page to something that purports to be a "History of Federal Individual Income Bottom and Top Bracket Rates" that stops in... 2000.

Although I'll concede that, yes, it's likely that alot (if not most) people will be paying more taxes if the Bush tax cuts expire.

And to be fair, left-wing groups (like Citizens for Tax Justice) publishes just as misleading garbage as it appears the NTU is doing.

We're all going to be paying a lot more in taxes and fees if the US isn't planning on defaulting on its loans. The "bush tax cuts" apply to the wealthiest in the country. But we are all obligated, as tax payers, to grasp that someone has to pay for the debts the country is running up for the war. We could default, as Bush has suggested we do on our Social Security obligations, but mysteriously this isn't factored into the discussion by the OC Steve's of the world. If we aren't planning on defaulting we need to figure out how to pay for the Iraq war, among other things. So, how are we to do it?

aimai

Apologies for the confusion between the "rand corporation" and the "ayn rand" foundation. But my original point still stands: economic issues are cultural issues and can't be separated out.

Don't let OCSteve hijack this thread. His initial post was so full of shit I can smell it through my computer.

"For instance, if evangelical Christians stop hating liberals, then it’s less likely that their cultural resentments will bleed over into economic issues. More of them — one hopes — will see that Democratic economics is closer to New Testament doctrine than Republicans’ tireless wealth concentration efforts."

Sure, but the flip side is that if party Democrats hadn't spent 30 in bed with NARAL after abusing the Supreme Court in one of the most culturally shocking decisions possible, a huge number of the Christians wouldn't have ever left. Roe v. Wade was like a sledgehammer to the kneecaps for an entire generation of evangelicals who were Democrat-aligned in the 1970s and firmly Republican afterward. Trivializing that into 'cultural resentments' misunderstands a huge part of the issue. The issue for these people was that Supreme Court snatched power away from the democratic institutions to create nearly whole cloth a right that had never existed before, had no serious history, was tied to the excesses of the sexual revolution, and which allowed the killing of pre-born children. And the Democratic Party had the balls to try to cram it down their throats as if it had always been a part of the cherished Constitution. (In many respects that was the worst part: US evangelicals have perhaps an unhealthy relationship with the Bible as text, but it has the laudable side-effect of making their attachment to the Constitution as text fairly strong. The Supreme Court was seen as shredding the *text* and in emotional concepts of *the text* the Bible and Constitution overlap.

Why would you trust someone with you wallet if they were willing to do that to you, and tell you to your face that it wasn't even a change? They may say that they have a better plan, but you've already caught them lying to your face.

The cultural resonanace of what is seen as the Roe beytrayal of the Constitution is only just now beginning to wear off, and only because it has been half a generation. My mother likes Obama, but I'm fairly sure that she will vote for McCain on Roe and for no other reason at all. It isn't just the abortion issue, it is the sense of face-slapping betrayal that went along with it that she can't forgive (especially since the Democratic Party hasn't even tried to apologize).

This is a woman who spent 10 years volunteer-teaching inner-city immigrant kids English and trying to keep them out of gangs. My read is that on economics she is a Democrat. She was in 1972. But how can you vote for a party that betrays you like that?

You have a chance with people like her now because the Republican Party has gone so crazy and becuase the younger generation didn't experience the betrayal first hand.

OCSteve, what's your argument as to why Clinton and Obama will be "saddled" with a "tax increase" that they and almost the entire Senate voted against? It's the House version of the bill that lets all the Bush tax cuts expire. The bill Clinton and Obama voted for doesn't kick in until $31K+ for individuals and $63K+ for families, and preserves the child credit, etc., and even then it's only a 3-percent bump.

I don't understand your argument as to why Obama would be "saddled" with positions that aren't">http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/09/18/obama.taxplan/index.html">aren't in his tax plan and that he never voted for? Why wouldn't McCain get "saddled" with the fact that he initially opposed these exact tax cuts? McCain isn't exactly above reproach on pork-barrel spending, either.

Heh. My comment got flagged for having too many links -- evidence = spam! (I will concede that it was a little bit adversarial, which wasn't my intent, so if it gets unflagged, I apologize for that.)

The gist of it was that I don't buy OCSteve's argument that Obama (or Clinton) would be held responsible for a House tax bill that they didn't vote for. Both voted for the Senate tax bill that extends the tax cuts on the lowest bracket and only raises the $31K/$63K bracket by 3%. Both Clinton and Obama's tax plans accord with the Senate bill, not the House bill. McCain, on the other hand, was actually for the "tax hike" before he was against it. (Oh, and he fibs about pork spending, too.)

30 years "in bed with Naral" after "abusing the Supreme Court" by allowing it to make a decision in a legal case that properly came before it? Sexual issues, much? And *now* you are worried, on behalf of the american people, about authorities being caught "lyingn to your face?"

aimai

Sure, but the flip side is that if party Democrats hadn't spent 30 in bed with NARAL after abusing the Supreme Court in one of the most culturally shocking decisions possible, a huge number of the Christians wouldn't have ever left.

Polling shows that only 29% of the population favor overturning Roe v Wade. Now, the fraction of the population that not only disagrees with Roe v Wade but was "culturally shocked" and felt like they got a "sledgehammer to the kneecaps" must be smaller than 29%. Given that other polling shows that about one third of the electorate is utterly clueless about politics, I'm guessing that one third of the 29% aren't the hard core constitutional scholars that know or care significantly about Supreme Court interpretative methodologies. That suggests that at most, we're talking about 20% of the population. I just want to be clear that we're talking about a fairly small fraction of the population -- Seb's use of the phrase Christian implies that it is much larger, but he hasn't presented any evidence for that.


Roe v. Wade was like a sledgehammer to the kneecaps for an entire generation of evangelicals who were Democrat-aligned in the 1970s and firmly Republican afterward.

Something else also happened in the late 60s and early 70s that might have soured evangelicals on the Democratic party...I think you need to demonstrate some evidence that Roe v Wade was a stronger driver than, say, resentment over the Civil Rights Act or LBJ's Great Society programs. You're arguing by assertion so some evidence would really be welcome.

Sebastian: Wait, what? Support for Roe peaked in 1991 but has decreased since then. On what basis are you making the argument that opposition to Roe has faded since '73? Based on recent decisions, I would have argued the opposite.

Also, I don't understand the connection to Democrats, but maybe I'm just too young. Roe was a 7-2 decision, and 5 of the judges in the majority were nominated by Republican Presidents. And Rehnquist, who was one of the 2 dissents, later refused to overrule the decision in Webster. What am I missing?

brewmn - posting rules. that's a warning

What new fund raising model is Obama using? Congress has some new foreign and domestic agency funding and financing models for community action in foreign policy. Budgets and foreign aid bills are all going to five years for 'sustainable development.' They are all emergency measures from the President. The house doubles the budgets of the agencies involved and puts their budget, based on working for the foreign aid bill, out five years.

The new food aid is 200 million, but the UN says we owe them 500 million seven years back, instead of the five year budgets being approved for foreign aid. Zoellick has a new deal for the five year sustainable development funding. It's all based on emergency funding from the President and funding agencies like PEPFAR that fund US government agencies. The House puts the bills through doubling the foreign aid and US government agency budgets; out five years. Unless it's foreign trade, then they keep that at a year.

Obama's model based on Congress'?

Adam: when you say "support for Roe", are you referring to high court decisions or to public opinion?

Also, Seb has explained in great detail in a recent thread that he believes the interpretive methodology used by the Supreme Court for Roe v Wade is completely unacceptable, and furthermore, that a large fraction of the population shares that belief with him. He has alleged that this fraction feels extremely strongly about this issue. He characterized this fraction as "a majority of non-lawyers" in the country. My attempts to get him to substantiate these assertions with polling data or any other evidence have failed.

Perhaps I've misread him, but that's my quick summary for what you're seeing here.

Ugh: And let me say I'm a little skeptical about an organization who has a link on their home page to something that purports to be a "History of Federal Individual Income Bottom and Top Bracket Rates" that stops in... 2000.

The page I linked started with 1999 and showed the bottom 50% paying 4% vs. 3.07% in 2005… The IRS site has a lot of stuff but not much that is succinctly summarized. That particular chart has been used all over and I haven’t seen anyone seriously dispute the figures or claim it was not representative of the underlying IRS data. None of which means you are wrong to question it…


Brewmn: I’m not quite seeing how discussing economics as it pertains to this campaign in a thread that seems to be about economics as it pertains to this campaign constitutes a threadjack.

As to the rest, if there is something in particular you’d like to dispute about my initial comment or any follow-up comment I’ll try to respond.

Adam: when you say "support for Roe", are you referring to high court decisions or to public opinion?
I was talking about public opinion. But it seems to me that judicial support for Roe has fairly consistently declined as well.

Speaking of posting rules, would one of the authors mind unfreezing the two comments I made earlier? (Assuming they're appropriate, of course.) :) I still don't understand the rationale for the argument that Obama would be linked to the House tax bill.

"Something else also happened in the late 60s and early 70s that might have soured evangelicals on the Democratic party...I think you need to demonstrate some evidence that Roe v Wade was a stronger driver than, say, resentment over the Civil Rights Act or LBJ's Great Society programs. You're arguing by assertion so some evidence would really be welcome."

"Now, the fraction of the population that not only disagrees with Roe v Wade but was "culturally shocked" and felt like they got a "sledgehammer to the kneecaps" must be smaller than 29%."

How many evangelicals do you think you need to switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party to make a difference in electoral outcome? You are talking about a quarter of the population as if it was insignificant.

Which I submit is precisely the problem. Hell I thought I was only talking about a change in about 10% of the population and I thought that sounded significant to me.

And since polling on the question of whether abortion should be illegal in the 2nd and 3rd trimester has been polling around 65% for illegal for almost 30 years, your point on "clueless about politics" voters rather cuts both ways. A large number of the "support Roe" people also seem to think that abortion should be illegal in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

The page I linked started with 1999 and showed the bottom 50% paying 4% vs. 3.07% in 2005.

Yeah, I linked to a different page.

That particular chart has been used all over and I haven’t seen anyone seriously dispute the figures or claim it was not representative of the underlying IRS data.

I've seen that chart elsewhere too, and IIRC it's not distorting the data, but is nevertheless misleading (e.g., it doesn't tell us how what percentage of the nation's income is earned by the bottom 50%, doesn't include payroll or excise taxes, etc.).

Anyway, I was objecting more to your assertion that the "average taxpayer" is going to pay 3-4K more in taxes.

"Also, I don't understand the connection to Democrats, but maybe I'm just too young. Roe was a 7-2 decision, and 5 of the judges in the majority were nominated by Republican Presidents."

Who they were nominated by isn't strongly correlated to judicial philosophy during those years. And it is the Democratic response to the rulings--embracing the maximalist NARAL interpretations as the party platform through the 70s, 80s and 90s. This is in contrast to the Republican Party response which was to decry the rulings and make opposing them a centerpiece of their electoral strategy during the 1980s and 1990s.

Hell I thought I was only talking about a change in about 10% of the population and I thought that sounded significant to me.

Ah, I see. I think. Does this mean that you're backing away from your contention in an earlier thread that the "majority of the non-lawyer" population are outraged over Roe? Because 10% is much less than a majority of the non-lawyer population.


And since polling on the question of whether abortion should be illegal in the 2nd and 3rd trimester has been polling around 65% for illegal for almost 30 years, your point on "clueless about politics" voters rather cuts both ways

Do you have a cite for those polling results?

Turbulence,

I believe you are mixing together all sorts of things. I'll summarize what I think as briefly as possible to get us all on the same page.

I believe Roe was a ridiculous ruling for all sorts of very specific Constitutional reasons. I have special training which lets me articulate those reasons specifically. (This is not an appeal to authority. You don't have to trust me. I'm merely explaining why I have very specific legal jargon reasons).

I believe that your average evangelical Christian without special legal training believes Roe was ridiculous. They don't articulate the same Constitutional reasons I do, it is more on the "that is clearly ridiculous/where the hell is that in the Constitution" wavelength.

That doesn't make them wrong. In fact I think the law would be a lot better off if more judges were cognizant of how ridiculous things look if you take half a step back from hyper-legalism. (The death penalty cases are even clearer in that respect).

If I were to summarize a layman evangelical's understanding of the Constitution it would be thus: the Constitution is intended to limit the legislature from doing certain specfic crazy things. Broad changes in those things are supposed to come through the amendment process. (If they think as far as terms which change over time, about half are likely to think something like: terms with societal changes *might* change over time, but the Court can't lead, it has to follow the society and the other half might think: NO. Almost none would think "the court should engineer those changes and spearhead them".)

A large majority of people (not just the sub-set of evangelicals) think that abortion should be illegal in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. This has been around 60-65% both pre and post Roe whenever you can dig up statistics on it.

So to the extent that people 'support Roe' in theory, they aren't understanding what 'Roe' means. They seem to be vaguely interpreting it as protecting 1st trimester abortions.

So a *majority* of people in the US seem to actually believe that the substance of Roe is wrong while many of them simultaneously 'support Roe'.

I don't believe that a *majority* of those people also feel strongly enough about abortion for it to override their economic interests (if Democrats really do have their economic interests in mind which is frankly a whole other problem). I do believe that a large and electorally significant number turn on Roe. I would guess that the number is in the 10-15% range. But it isn't 'just' a minority, because around 60% of people in the US agree on the merits of policy that 2nd trimester abortions should be outlawed in all but very limited circumstances. I'm just not sure that they actually vote on the basis of the issue.

JFTR, I interpret:

(average taxpayer == average payer of taxes)

as TRUE, but

(average taxpayer == average citizen)

as FALSE.

I am interested in some explanation of how "taxpayer" might not be the same as "payer of taxes", though.

And of course there's some perfectly good points to be made along the lines of federal taxes are not the universe of taxes.

Ok, now who besides me thinks the "economic stimulus package" is absolutely ridiculous?

"And since polling on the question of whether abortion should be illegal in the 2nd and 3rd trimester has been polling around 65% for illegal for almost 30 years, your point on "clueless about politics" voters rather cuts both ways

Do you have a cite for those polling results?"

Turbulence. I've seen you operate. Are you actually skeptical or are you just cite trolling?

I won't look up cites for you without statements like "I have spent at least 30 seconds looking into the issue and I believe that to be false".

Do you believe that fact to be false?

OCSteve, did I miss something?

"and then Obama derides these same voters for being anti-free trade"

Please explain.

The funny thing is that Obama is not an economic populist, he's just not a total lackey of the top 1%. These days, that's practically pinko.

Thomas Frank missed the obvious. Voters do not vote their wallet because very little of that is decided at the state, county, or city level any more. Once upon a time, the majority of your taxes, working conditions, restrictions on businesses, etc., were decided at the state level or lower. Voters could keep track of the debate and have some meaningful effect on it. They therefore got into the habit of looking at money issues, and that habit carried over into national politics. But now, these issues are decided at a national level, and in very complicated ways, largely by unelected adinistrative agencies. Voters rationally see that they cannot keep track of the debate, or participate in it, and their vote is too blunt an instrument to affect it. So, they rationally don't try. The irony is, economic policy centralization was largely a liberal effort, but it ended up leaching the heart out of local liberal politics.

I don't think we can turn back the clock and decentralize the economy. Instead, I think we need a Constitutional Amendment to create a national referendum process. That will give people enough issue-by-issue impact to get them involved again. Of course, it will get massively abused, but at least we won't be completely at the mercy of far-distant reps and lobbyists, and over the long term it will restore citizen interest in national economic issues.

Slarti: I am interested in some explanation of how "taxpayer" might not be the same as "payer of taxes", though.

How about putting it this way - someone who files a tax return is not always a payer of taxes? In the stats and charts we look at though an entity included is usually called a taxpayer. Yet some people who file actually have a negative tax rate. So I was just trying to make the point that taxpayer may be shorthand for the group of people who file a tax return – but not all of those people actually pay any federal income tax.

Ok, now who besides me thinks the "economic stimulus package" is absolutely ridiculous?

I do. Mine is earmarked for charity when it arrives.

Although they do pay other taxes, so I guess I need to get more specific than that. In discussing Federal Income Taxes not everyone who files a return and is counted in the statistics we look at is a payer of Federal Income Taxes. Happy April 15th anyway…

Mine is earmarked for charity when it arrives.

Eh. Might want to hang onto it. I've heard that, like the first "rebate" the Bush Administration sent out at the beginning of its term, this one isn't a gift, but an advance on next year's refunds.

Meaning, it'll have to paid back.

(I could be wrong about this. But they pulled this kind of bait-&-switch before...)

JFTR, I interpret:

(average taxpayer == average payer of taxes)

as TRUE, but

(average taxpayer == average citizen)

as FALSE.

I am interested in some explanation of how "taxpayer" might not be the same as "payer of taxes", though.

It was my impression that in the discussion of tax policy and the like, "taxpayers" refers to, generally, as the american people, not just those that happen to, on net, actually remit U.S. federal income taxes to the federal treasury via the filing of a formal return, which seems to be the way OCSteve was using it above (with perhaps some of my personal embellishments). Is this a year by year test or do we need to look at my net remittances and refunds over my lifetime? What about the time value of money? Am I not a "voter" if I didn't vote in the last election?

I mean, I've been a tax lawyer for almost five years now, and not once have I ever heard people use "taxpayers" in the way OCSteve appears to be using it above, as "net payers of federal income tax."

Sebastian, I'd be curious to see cites myself.

I did 30 seconds of research and found something that partially backs you up--

CBS abortion poll

The lead comment in the CBS story has a certain liberal bias to it, emphasizing 77 percent who oppose a total ban, but one could also say that 60 percent support either a total ban or more limits on it than now.

Ugh: Fine – I’ll be happy to use whatever term you deem appropriate:

In looking at federal income tax statistics for a specific tax year, while the chart or table is often labeled with the word “taxpayers” somewhere in the title or a column heading, it is (I thought) not really a question that not all the people included in the statistics paid federal income taxes for that specific tax year. I’ll leave the double negative in so someone else can object to that…

I've been a tax lawyer for almost five years now

My condolences. My brother worked corporate income tax for...well, almost two years, and then bagged that in favor of running the Yellowstone Park hotel service for a while. He went from sharing a desk with a couple of other guys at a Big Eight firm (this was a while ago, mind) to hiking the Tetons on weekends.

OCSteve- Sorry, you're bearing the brunt of my general fury at people like the WSJ editorial page, who throw up statistic X and say "look how much the rich pay in taxes OMG we've got an uber progressive tax code that Bush's tax cuts more progressive" when statistic X shows no such thing (not that that's what you did here).

Slarti - not sure what your brother did exactly for Big Eight, I can imagine it was horrible, especially if it involved compliance work/preparing returns, but we do some interesting stuff that doesn't involve any of that (and, at a minimum, I've got my own office with a window).

And, OCSteve, not to mention my comments were ancillary to your more general point.

"Clinton and Obama’s legs have been cut out from under them by House Democrats"

Um, what? On a non-binding resolution?

Steve, when are you going to stop believing what the people who consistently lie to you tell you?

The claim that a vote on the non-binding resolution is meaningful save for a way to lie about your opponents is a lie. HTH.

The actual article:

[...] Democratic rivals Clinton of New York and Obama of Illinois both voted to extend only some of Bush's tax cuts while allowing cuts in income tax rates and investments expire. They joined other Democrats in a 52-47 vote against extending $376 billion of them.

Republicans hope to use the votes as fodder for the heated presidential campaign and for congressional races. "Democrats are quietly but very assuredly paving the way for a massive, economy-choking, tax increase," said Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La.

Democrats said the plans would reverse years of deficits that have piled up during Bush's tenure. They said he squandered trillions of dollars in projected surpluses that he inherited in 2001.

"The Democratic budget continues to move our nation in a new direction and to clean up the fiscal train wreck caused by failed Republican economic policies over the last seven years," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Democrats argued that when the time comes, they'll renew tax cuts aimed at the middle class by closing billions of dollars worth of corporate and other tax loopholes. They also say billions more can be raised by cracking down on tax cheats.

In the House, Democrats defeated a GOP plan that would have extended Bush's reductions. The Republican plan also would have eliminated the alternative minimum tax, which was originally designed years ago to make sure rich people pay at least some tax but now threatens more than 20 million additional taxpayers with increases averaging $2,000.

Some 38 mostly moderate Republicans voted against their party's plan, which would have made cuts in popular programs like Medicare, housing, community development and the Medicaid health care program.

Congress' annual budget debate involves a non-binding resolution that sets the stage for later bills affecting taxes, benefit programs such as Medicare and the annual appropriations bills. Unless such follow-up legislation is passed, however, the budget debate has little real effect and is mostly about making statements about party priorities.

This is not obscure information. It's how the budget process works each time. (We're at Step 2, "The Congressional Budget Resolution."

Seb: Turbulence. I've seen you operate. Are you actually skeptical or are you just cite trolling?

Really? Did you make any video recordings? Cause, you know, even though I perform open heart surgery, I'm not actually a licensed physician. I kid, I kid.

Alas, I don't know what "cite trolling" is and Google seems to have never heard of it. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

I won't look up cites for you without statements like "I have spent at least 30 seconds looking into the issue and I believe that to be false".

I'm skeptical of the polling result you suggest. More specifically, I like to review the precise polling question used since small variations in wording can cause large changes in responses. I'm sure that someone somewhere conducted a poll whose results could be described as "65% think 2nd trimester abortions must be banned", but I don't know how to interpret that result without knowing what specific questions were asked, how big the sample size was, where the sample was drawn from, etc. I'm sure that if we polled your close friends and asked them "Is Seb Great?" they would all agree, but such a poll doesn't allow us to infer that most Americans think Seb is great.

In general, when I describe some facet of how Americans think or what they believe, I try to cite something. This is a recent development on my part. I've found that doing so helps me to make better grounded, more defensible claims. Note that I did that in my comments above. The polls I cited might be wrong, they might be stilted, or I might be misinterpreting the results, but I find discussions regarding those questions to be far more valuable than endless wanking where people argue about their unsubstantiated opinions about what third parties believe with no evidence in sight.

I try to hold myself to the same standard that I hold other people in terms of asking for cites, but I no doubt fail at times.

Obama wants a GDP tax to give away to foreigners

I anxiously await the details of this tax...

shisu seems unaware that most foreign aid is not charity. We give strategically to advance American interests and/or the interests of American-incorporated companies. We often expressly attach strings, and when we don't, the threat of withdrawing the money if the donee doesn't do what we say is always present.

Seb,

Thanks for explaining your position. No need for a cite on public opinion for second trimester abortions: I just found that wikipedia cites a number of studies.

How many evangelicals do you think you need to switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party to make a difference in electoral outcome? You are talking about a quarter of the population as if it was insignificant.

No, I'm talking about a quarter of the population as if I don't think you're entitled to speak authoritatively on their behalf. I would like to see some sort of evidence that these evangelicals were motivated primarily by abortion per se rather than civil rights or feminism or some other issue. If no such evidence can be found, then perhaps one should not make this claim.

Gary: Um, what? On a non-binding resolution?

Steve, when are you going to stop believing what the people who consistently lie to you tell you?

The claim that a vote on the non-binding resolution is meaningful save for a way to lie about your opponents is a lie. HTH.

First of all the entire context was about my opinion on how it would play in this election cycle – so what does truth have to do with anything? ;)

I linked to an article that primarily discussed the House vote, which, if it had the force of law would eliminate all the Bush tax cuts, including the 10% bracket. Is there anything incorrect there – much less an actual lie? Did the article somehow lie about the content of the resolution or the vote count?

I noted a couple of times that the Senate version was better and that the candidates themselves were better. You linked to an article that focused on the Senate version and noted that the Senate version was better and that the candidates themselves were better. OK…

I repeatedly noted that the vote was symbolic. But I think it’s a stretch to claim that it is meaningless. It is an opportunity for McCain to say “Based on this resolution and this vote, the House Democrats have clearly signaled that given the opportunity, they will roll back all of these tax cuts, including the 10% tax bracket which will raise taxes on the poorest taxpayers by 5%.” That’s for the poorest taxpayers. For the middle class, nothing was done concerning the AMT. Where is the lie? McCain can say that every day with a straight face and a clear conscience – because every word of it is true. If McCain doesn’t use it, it’s a sure bet that every Republican in a House race will.

My larger point was about Democrats handing ammunition to McCain. Given that we agree that the resolution and vote were symbolic and non-binding - why on earth do it?!?

Foreign aid.

More.

My larger point was about Democrats handing ammunition to McCain. Given that we agree that the resolution and vote were symbolic and non-binding - why on earth do it?!?
I mentioned this above, but they didn't. Both Democratic candidates voted for a Senate bill that extended the 10% tax bracket, and both of their tax plans maintain it as well. Again, why would they be held accountable for House bill that neither voted for or even voted on, rather than a Senate bill that does precisely what you say they should, which they both voted for? This makes no sense.

My larger point was about Democrats handing ammunition to McCain. Given that we agree that the resolution and vote were symbolic and non-binding - why on earth do it?!?

To reassure the people that matter, namely the investors? Lots of foreign entities, including governments, are heavily invested in the US economy. That economy can't survive massive capital flow imbalances forever: we have to stop deficit spending, both nationally and individually. If the House produces a pointless resolution that hammers everyone, that may allow well connected people to go our foreign associates and say "see? those democrats are serious about ending Bush's fiscal madness...so don't do anything rash that might lead to a dollar collapse cause we just need a few more months". Voters in the US care about tax rates for the bottom 50%, but foreign investors don't: they may require signals that we understand Bush's fiscal policies were...problematic and that we intend to rectify them.

I have no idea if this is actually the motive; I'm skeptical that the house leadership is that skilled. But one problem with Democrats is that they are excessively close to the moneyed interests, so it is possible that they got word that a public demonstration of this sort would be helpful.

Thanks for the cite, I note that it suggests I understated my case. Around 69% of the people polled think that abortion ought to be generally illegal in the second trimester.

This suggests that it is correct to assume that polls cited that a majority of people 'support Roe' don't support it in some of its more specific particulars, supporting my contention that the uniformed voter problem can cut both ways (even on very polarized issues). And in many respects the abortion issue is much clearer (in terms of total amount of information you need to know and total number of factual decisions you have to think of as resolved) than a vote on economics.

No, I'm talking about a quarter of the population as if I don't think you're entitled to speak authoritatively on their behalf. I would like to see some sort of evidence that these evangelicals were motivated primarily by abortion per se rather than civil rights or feminism or some other issue. If no such evidence can be found, then perhaps one should not make this claim.

I have actual experience in evangelical movements. I know that they talk about Roe v. Wade all the time. Civil Rights, almost never. Feminism has tied itself so closely to NARAL-abortion politics in the US that I suspect disaggregating the two in the way you suggest is a hopeless cause. Many liberals here have almost zero contact with evangelicals on a regular basis. I'm sharing my experiences with them.

If it doesn't meet your evidentiary standards, that is fine. I'm well versed in statistics, and I'm skeptical in its scientific-appearing attempts to cut apart things in the way you are requesting. As you acknowledge, it is hard enough to get clear and convincing answers to questions like "What do you think about abortion". Why you can maintain that level of skepticism while also suggesting that it would be likely to find statistics that can reliably distinguish between people who voted for Reagan because of abortion and those who voted for Reagan because of a reaction to feminism is completely mysterious to me.

Adam: This makes no sense.

It’s a campaign… The message won’t be just that you’re going to have a D president that says they’ll do this. Even scarier if you also have a House who’s already said they’d do this. Maybe a D president would be able to get the House to go with their version in reality, but I’m afraid reality plays little part for the next 6 months…

I don’t know – I guess I make too much of things like this. It just seems like the Democratic Party has some kind of death wish. Like as an organization they have these impulses that will harm their electoral chances but just can’t resist. But admittedly their strategy may be too nuanced for me. ;)


Turb: Interesting speculation.

I have actual experience in evangelical movements. I know...

Good for you! So does my wife. She disagrees with you. So why should I (or anyone) trust you over her?

Feminism has tied itself so closely to NARAL-abortion politics in the US that I suspect disaggregating the two in the way you suggest is a hopeless cause.

Really? I'd think that polling on the ERA or whether people think women should get equal pay for equal work or whether women should work outside of the home would all be issues that have nothing to do with abortion and yet provide a good proxy for beliefs on feminism. Perhaps I'm missing some subtle correlation.

Many liberals here have almost zero contact with evangelicals on a regular basis. I'm sharing my experiences with them.

And I appreciate it. But you're not just sharing your experiences: you'll also making claims as to how widely they're shared in the evangelical population at large. Your anecdotal experience cannot accurately tell us about the behavior of millions of people.


If it doesn't meet your evidentiary standards, that is fine. I'm well versed in statistics, and I'm skeptical in its scientific-appearing attempts to cut apart things in the way you are requesting.

I think that when people make questionable claims about the behavior of millions of people, they should provide some evidence, even if they have some really awesome anecdotes. There is nothing "scientific-sounding" about this.

As you acknowledge, it is hard enough to get clear and convincing answers to questions like "What do you think about abortion". Why you can maintain that level of skepticism while also suggesting that it would be likely to find statistics that can reliably distinguish between people who voted for Reagan because of abortion and those who voted for Reagan because of a reaction to feminism is completely mysterious to me.

You're misreading me. I never claimed it was impossible to determine what people think of abortion. I claimed that interpreting polls for contentious social issues is not trivial, and should occasionally be discussed. We do lots of non-trivial things every day. I merely advise caution when interpreting the results of such polls. That's all.

I know you have no interest in research on this question, but I did some and the results surprised me. According to an article in the American Journal of Sociology (vol 103, number 1, 1997) entitled "The Religious Factor in U. S. Presidential Elections, 1960-1992", conservative protestants exhibited no discernible shift in presidential voting preferences between 1960 and 1992 (except for a big upswing to vote for Carter). In general, this group started out voting republican and has continued voting republican ever since. The same trend holds if you restrict the analysis to Southern Baptists. The study claims:

With regard to the Christian Right thesis, this study finds no evidence for a political realignment or increased mobilization among denominationally conservative Protestants.

I have difficulty reconciling that result with your previous statements about how Roe v Wade lead to a large shift from democratic to republican voting.

Another piece of evidence is found here where a sociologist describes work she did surveying conservative and liberal clergy in Oregon in the early 60s and 30 years later. The results match well with the AJS paper I describe above.

Fortunately, John McCain is here to save us with tax cuts.

Some notes from a paper I'm working on:

In the United States, the term ‘Evangelical Christian’ powerfully evokes the image of a white, usually male, socially and politically conservative Christian. Although “Evangelical” has always been associated with whiteness, its unconditional association with the political right is recent. This was hardly the dominant image of the ‘Evangelical Christian’ half a century ago and it may not be the image that persists into the future. In this paper, I discuss the shifting nature of Evangelical Christian’s political identity and especially the way in which it cannot be understood apart from race.

“Evangelical” has had multiple meanings associated with it, both as a term within the Christian tradition, more broadly and the Anglo-Protestant tradition more specifically. Since, Protestantism has been the dominant form of religion since the inception of the United States; it has been one of the most essential methods for justifying White Anglo Saxon hegemony. Evangelists, evangelicalism and evangelizing are modes of proselytizing, for Protestantism to spread, replicate and provide the rational metaphysics of the faith and, more importantly, to spread, replicate and provide the rational metaphysics of the racialized state, it benefited from, so immensely. However, for most of the history of Anglo-American Protestantism, evangelists, evangelicalism and evangelizing were not understood as a separate religious identity apart from the Protestant denominations that employed it. This would not happen until the late 1970’s, when a coven of Republican political strategist, right-wing activists, and neo-Evangelicals successfully co-opt “evangelical” to form a new religious identity, apart from the traditional and mainstream Protestant denominations. {???}


“This resurgence of evangelical history has yielded the impression that something old has been discovered when it could actually be that scholars have taken something recent and read it selectively into the past.” D.G. Hart in Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism nin the Age of Billy Graham

However, it may be the case that Protestantism has been the primary religion of White America and as such, has been one of the most powerful methods to justify White Supremacy; it has been an ironic twist of history that its emphasis on proselytizing has also planted the seeds for new spaces to call this racial hierarchy into question. When Protestants decided that slaves have the souls fitting for belief, it would be the evangelicals of the different denominations who would introduce Protestantism to African-Americans. It is this contact that would both lay down the metaphysical and spiritual reasons for White dominance and at the same time, it would help develop the minds of those who call it into question.

More notes:

The First Great Awakening (1720s-1740s) is understood as an event in which Calvinist denominations like the Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian and Congregationalists were all engaged in spectacular revivals to renew the churches. They were revitalizing their present congregants as well as reaching out for new members. These vigorous revivals were part of the evangelizing mission of the Protestant tradition. However, the “revival” was new, and the style in which the preachers engaged in were controversial and innovative. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield went on preaching tours emphasizing emotive responses to scripture, personal relationships with God, stressing individual conversions, and encouraging discipline and moral piety.

Whitfield and is imitators appealed to the emotions of their listeners, a practice shocking in an “enlightened” age when rationality was so highly valued both within and outside the churches.


Yet, what made this type of evangelizing controversial was the attempt to disrupt the traditional social authority of the local churches. These traveling proselytizers, these evangelists, suggested that many of the Christians in attendance were unconverted because their clergy was unconverted. This would cause many of the “unconverted” clergy to become anti-revivalist. What is to remember at this point is that the term evangelical is still associated with proselytizing, an essential characteristic of the Protestant faith, it is not viewed as a separate entity. The threat the traveling preachers posed, as far as the established clergy could see, was the attraction of revivals as a new way to form a Christian event, and eventually form new churches. And what is more, even though the traveling preachers questioned the authority of the local clergy, they were all operating within the Calvinist tradition.

While the First Great Awakening was revitalizing Calvinist denominations, it would also plant the seeds for Calvinism’s declining influence on American Protestantism. The evangelists working within the burgeoning Baptist denomination began preaching about the sole validity of adult baptism, and “emphasizing the importance of an intensely dramatic conversion experience.” This experiential form of Christianity placed a priority on spiritual gifts above and beyond education, thus allowing lay people to preach and contribute to the clergy. This break from the traditional form of Protestant training allowed the denomination to spread quickly, since Baptist preachers with little or no training began evangelizing a more egalitarian interpretation of scripture. Many people would see “ordinary people” rather than the children of the landed gentry, preaching in front of the churches.

These revivals would also begin to create a space where ideas concerning the formation of individuals and views concerning social reforms would be blessed or damned by various revivalists—evangelicals. They begin emphasizing a form of individualism which would appear as a new emphasis within the liturgical and corporate denominations of American Protestantism. Social reforms become a very popular aspect of the 19th century “evangelical.” It is not a coincidence that social reforms to build a better Christian nation, during the 1840’s, are developed when large numbers of Roman Catholic immigrants are arriving on the East Coast and American Protestant missionaries, attempting to proselytize Roman Catholic Mexicans on the newly acquired South-Western coasts.


Protestant revivalism would become closely associated with the term “evangelical,” yet it does not become a separated identity. Another way to understand this is that a revival was a method Protestant’s used to evangelize and revitalize their congregations. American religious historians would use the term “evangelical” to describe these revivalists.

A little more:

A group of Fundamentalists wishing to reform the public relations disaster of the Scopes Trial in 1925 began calling themselves “neo-evangelicals.” These Fundamentalists were living in conservative Protestant ghettos, built in the aftermath of the modernist/liberal vs. fundamentalist/orthodox battles of the early 20th Century. They existed in separate communities apart from the secular world as well as shunning the modernist/liberal Protestant world, who they believed stabbed them in the back. However, by World War II they began to question the separation, and developed strategies to reconstruct the image of American fundamentalists, creating a broad coalition of conservative Protestants and hoping to counteract the forces of liberal mainline denominations. Ironically, since the liberal Protestants dominated Protestantism, it seems it was strategic to concede the label to the liberals and co-opt “evangelical” as their own. And they did not enter the 1950’s looking for a fight, these enterprising Neo-Evangelicals began to soften the hard edges of fundamentalism while stressing the much more popular and attractive attributes of Protestantism. The sermons of fire and brimstone and everlasting suffering in eternal damnation were exorcized and replaced by affectionate affirmations about a personal relationship with Jesus. The literalist hermeneutics stayed, however selective emphasis

Traditional Fundamentalists broke completely from the Neo-Evangelicals when Billy Graham invites Pentecostals, Anabaptists, Holiness, and many other low-church groups existing on the fringes in the Protestant world.

Yet, this has always been the role of “evangelism” in American Protestantism, to be the vehicle for competing pop-theologies, questioning the academic and learned clergy as well as the society at large. Except, this time, evangelicalism will be operating outside of the denominational traditions. Para-churches, trans-denominationalism, non-denominationalism, and good ole fashion revivalism would be the modes in which Neo-Evangelicalism would spread, completely skipping over the traditional Protestant institutions. Instead of battling over the church governments, denominational administrations and seminaries, like the previous generation attempted, they had built their own bureaucracies and went straight into the public, selling their message—the gospel. With this strategy, thousands of men and women who were unable to enter the mainline Protestant seminaries and thus, were denied any clerical involvement became pastors and preachers by way of charismatic personalities and keen business skills. It would become extremely lucrative; filling pews on Sunday would not be enough, manufacturing an unapologetic parallel culture with extraordinary relationships with political and popular culture. Like the fundamentalists before them, they would begin building communities where a neo-evangelical could exist in a protected from the world while still in the world. {?}

By the 1970’s, the “Neo” appeared to have been dropped from “Evangelical” and Newsweek magazine had baptized the United States’ bicentennial “the Year of the Evangelical.” A complete and separate religious identity had been established. A theological term used to describe Protestant proselytizing had become another way to describe a Protestant. And not any Protestant, a conservative Protestant. And not just a conservative Protestant, a conservative Protestant committed to rightwing politics. Another irony, since liberals and progressives had always shared the label, and even dominated it at the turn of the century. These enterprising Fundamentalists, found a way to dominate the “Protestant” in White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. By the end of the 1970’s, a group of Republican activists and a coven of, primarily, conservative Evangelicals used pushed polls and other electoral strategies to congeal the new socially constructed American religion.

Randall Balmer, a professor of religion at Barnard College, Columbia University and contributing editor to Christianity Today, has written about the Religious Right’s constructed narrative about today’s anti-abortion movement,

Simply put, the abortion myth is this: Leaders of the Religious Right would have us believe that their movement began in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Politically conservative evangelical leaders were so morally outraged by the ruling that they instantly shed their apolitical stupor in order to mobilize politically in defense of the sanctity of life. Most of these leaders did so reluctantly and at great personal sacrifice, risking the obloquy of their congregants and the contempt of liberals and "secular humanists," who were trying their best to ruin America. But these selfless, courageous leaders of the Religious Right, inspired by the opponents of slavery in the nineteenth century, trudged dutifully into battle in order to defend those innocent unborn children, newly endangered by the Supreme Court's misguided Roe decision.

It's a compelling story, no question about it. Except for one thing: It isn't true.

More:
Thy Kingdom Come

"I'd think that polling on the ERA or whether people think women should get equal pay for equal work or whether women should work outside of the home would all be issues that have nothing to do with abortion and yet provide a good proxy for beliefs on feminism."

I wouldn't tend to agree. Since the ERA is pretty much dead I would consider polling on it not particularly useful. If you can find significant shifting differences over 1970s to 1980s in the equal work/equal pay area that you think explains the evangelical voting shift, knock yourself out. I'd be surprised if it was there. You're the one positing it. Go for it.

"And I appreciate it. But you're not just sharing your experiences: you'll also making claims as to how widely they're shared in the evangelical population at large. Your anecdotal experience cannot accurately tell us about the behavior of millions of people."

For things that aren't statistically easy to capture--which would be a huge part of life, that is what we have. If you don't want to talk about any of life that can't be captured in polls, you are free to refrain.

Anecdote VERSUS statistics is where that criticism gains force. You're using it inappropriately here. You are dressing up 'I don't believe you' as 'statistics don't show that'. If there aren't good statistics on the topic, you might as well drop the pretense and just say 'I don't believe you'. It loses its force, of course, because you don't know many evangelicals and thus have no particular reason not believe me.

"I think that when people make questionable claims about the behavior of millions of people, they should provide some evidence, even if they have some really awesome anecdotes."

Right. You call it 'questionable' but have no particular reason to believe it other than that you disagree. And it isn't as if you extend that skepticism to things you agree with (I never see you holding publius to an equal standard on similar assertions of which this post alone has many).

"With regard to the Christian Right thesis, this study finds no evidence for a political realignment or increased mobilization among denominationally conservative Protestants."

I strongly suspect that you are getting WAY too much work out of "denominationally conservative Protestants". Your quote seems to be focusing on Baptists which isn't what we were talking about at all. Saying that it holds for Baptists *too* suggests that we are talking about an entirely different group of people.

While never formally political, you could track the shifts in Campus Crusade for Christ for example--a classic non-denominational group--in its writings which were fairly left in the 1970s to much more right by the 1980s. These are the types of people I'm talking about.

And of course there are Catholics.

If the culture of the United States before 1970 was generally decent according to Anglo-American Protestant conceptions, then the reason for the religious right's emergence in the 1970s is clear. Evangelicals only took to the political arena once their culture was threatened--a culture that may be described in ethnic categories as WASP. Prior to 1970 they did not need to be active politically because most of their social and cultural concerns, which revolved around the sanctity of the home and the ability of parents to reproduce their ways, were safe in the hands of the Protestant establishment. 23 In other words, after the 1920s, the right wing of Anglo-American Protestantism benefited from the cultural hegemony of their liberal Protestant rivals.

...

If the goals of the today's politically engaged evangelicals are not essentially different from earlier generations of Anglo-American Protestants, then the religious right should have had an easier time justifying their concerns. After all, the United States has a long history of religious involvement in public life. Why, then, should the religious right appear so threatening to the nonevangelical segment of the American population?

More:
Mainstream Protestantism, Conservative Religion & Civil Society by D.G. Hart

(Hart is very conservative Orthodox Presbyterian, by the way)

Eventually, Hart and numerous other “conservative” and “liberal” denominational Protestants would begin to argue that “evangelical” has lost its theological meaning and has become a political category.

Martin Marty, a prominent Protestant historian had been labeled non- and anti- Evangelical, because of his liberal leanings, even though he was a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The abortion issue was usually associated with Roman Catholic organizations, however most Protestant groups were “agnostic” about the decision. According to Balmer, Christianity Today treated abortion like a necessary evil, in which the good, of its legalization, outweighed the bad. Most of the Protestant academic journals of that time echo this assessment. The Pastoral Psychology, in 1971, reported that, “the Protestant churches seem significantly silent in their concern, views, and positions.” The Reverend James H. Newton, Chaplain Supervisor, Nebraska Methodist Hospital in Omaha goes on to write,

The problem of legally protecting the rights of the “defenseless” is not answered by singly protecting the rights of the fetus. Legal protection must also protect the rights of the pregnant woman. The moral and legal question must finally decide whose rights and freedoms are of more value; i.e., would it be more loving, creative, and constructive to protect the rights of the pregnant woman or her fetus? The question answers itself. The fetus is “hers;” it is her possession, and, thus, her rights are to be protected.

More:
Abortion: A Protestant Position

Seb: And of course there are Catholics.

From the same article I quoted above, we have:

Our results imply that claims of the dealignment of Catholic voters have been significantly overstated. Like Grealey (1985, 1990), we conclude that with the exception of the unusual 1960 election Catholics have maintained slightly above average support for the Democratic Party since 1952.

This is really, really interesting stuff, Someotherdude. Thank you tremendously!

I’m writing a paper on how Latino and Gay “Evangelical”/Protestants are changing the political alliances of the “Evangelical.” Blacks and “Rick Warren types,” as well…however, their numbers are small.

(I’m a boring old Calvinist Presbyterian and I like it that way, yet grew up Charismatic Pentecostal)

I wouldn't tend to agree. Since the ERA is pretty much dead I would consider polling on it not particularly useful. If you can find significant shifting differences over 1970s to 1980s in the equal work/equal pay area that you think explains the evangelical voting shift, knock yourself out. I'd be surprised if it was there. You're the one positing it. Go for it.

I was trying to suggest that one might be able to find historical polling or studies from back in the day when the ERA was a relevant issue. The point was that I could easily imagine techniques to disambiguate abortion from feminism, in contrast to your statement that such disambiguation was likely impossible.

I am not positing anything. I'm just removing an excuse you're relying on for failing to seek out historical data that supports your conclusion.

For things that aren't statistically easy to capture--which would be a huge part of life, that is what we have. If you don't want to talk about any of life that can't be captured in polls, you are free to refrain.

Um, you haven't done anything to show why there are no statistics. I cited two articles that contain or reference data that opposes your conclusion. That suggests to me that data exists if you look for it, so perhaps you should spend more time looking for data rather than insisting repeatedly that no such data exists.

Anecdote VERSUS statistics is where that criticism gains force. You're using it inappropriately here. You are dressing up 'I don't believe you' as 'statistics don't show that'. If there aren't good statistics on the topic, you might as well drop the pretense and just say 'I don't believe you'. It loses its force, of course, because you don't know many evangelicals and thus have no particular reason not believe me.

My wife is an evangelical Seb. I socialize with evangelicals. I've volunteered with evangelicals. That suggests to me that your assertion that I don't know many evangelicals is complete BS. Would you care to make any more fictional statements about my personal life?

Also, I do believe that you observed what you say you've observed; I certainly don't think you're lying. I don't believe that your experiences are representative of the nationwide movement because you've given me no reason to.


Right. You call it 'questionable' but have no particular reason to believe it other than that you disagree.

I've cited data that suggests your experiences are not representative. So, yeah, I do have a good reason not to believe it.

And it isn't as if you extend that skepticism to things you agree with (I never see you holding publius to an equal standard on similar assertions of which this post alone has many).

That might be because I don't care as much about publius' posts. Um, I never claimed to hold everyone to the same standard; I just said that I've been trying to hold myself to the same standard as I apply to people I ask for substantiation. This point of yours seems like a really bizarre personal attack.

I strongly suspect that you are getting WAY too much work out of "denominationally conservative Protestants". Your quote seems to be focusing on Baptists which isn't what we were talking about at all. Saying that it holds for Baptists *too* suggests that we are talking about an entirely different group of people.

There are two different statements: 1. there is no trend (excepting 76) for conservative christian denominations and 2. there is not trend for Southern Baptists in particular. The conservative denomination set covers Baptists, Pentecostals, Plymouth Brethren, Seventh Day Adventist, Church of the Nazarene, and Missouri Synod Lutheran. If you think either this set or Southern Baptists in particular don't make a good proxy for how evangelicals vote, I'd like to see that argument.

While never formally political, you could track the shifts in Campus Crusade for Christ for example

I suppose looking at CCC is something that you could do if you wanted to convince people that your anecdotal evidence was actually representative of larger trends. But I have little interest in doing your research for you to prove points that you are trying to make.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Seb…The CCC was apolitical, however many of the anti-abortion activist who were “radicalized/educated” by the writings of Francis Shaffer, came out of the organization. And one of their goals was to motivate the various mainline denominations to denounce abortion or join churches who would allow political organizing against Roe?

There is no doubt that abortion was an issue for many Protestants during the 1970's. However it was the mainline Protestants (both liberal and conservative), who dominated the GOP, then who made Roe happen. And they have no reason to make it go away. The GOP uses the issue of abortion to keep, otherwise, Democratic voters in the GOP.

This guy will have had a lot to do with it.
I attended, at my parents’ prodding, a weekend of his ‘Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts’ in 1971; 2000 attended. I heard a few years later he was getting 20,000 a weekend, and that it continued to grow.
It was the most toxic of reactionary ideologies (barring stoning) wrapping a package of rigid hierarchies in Divine demands.
Counter-cultural friends who attended were wholly, dazedly sold. I only found three Mennonites to be troubled as I was.

I went so far as to describe one particular thing he did, with a ‘chalk-talk’ (a venerable fundamentalist/evangelical homiletic tool) and colored lights that was pretty literally hypnotic, as demonic. Kool-Ade forsooth.

So I think he had a huge effect, tilling fertile ground. Subordination of women was easily transferred from practice to imperative. ‘Proof-texts’ fell readily to hand; it had always been an injunction from the pulpit.

My family were visiting friends, artists teaching at a small liberal arts college outside Rochester at the time the ERA was an immediate concern. My wife and I were shocked this well-educated, widely traveled couple were so vehemently opposed to it, it seemed the wife more fervently than the husband.

So that’s one anecdote from the time.
And a suggestion of a significant force that remained invisible in the public discourse.

someo, thanks for all the data. I was much pleased by your contributions; your final paragraph needs editing, and left me hesitant to respond immediately. (My problem.)
The only minor point I’d immediately contest is that the National Association of Evangelicals didn’t use the term Neo-Evangelical. I recall the first sermon I heard warning of ‘neo-evangelicalism’, at my Christian boarding school ca. 1958.

Anecdotes for whatever they’re worth.

My recollection of Campus Crusade, back into the Fifties, is of a very conservative organization. They didn’t oppose the war in Vietnam and did oppose Roe.
Still do, as far as I know.

Someo, I knew Fran Scaheffer before he was taken over by his hysteria (I may be able to justify the word) with abortion. His son Frank claims to have persuaded his father to join the movement (and reported that his father was later distraught with the company in which he found himself). Anyway, it was tragic.

someotherdude- Great job! Interesting stuff there. I kinda wish I'd gotten here sooner. Sebastian goes off on this topic periodicly. No matter how often or convincingly he is refuted he'll still be back in a few months or a year or so to spin the same line.

Still thats the best, most fact rich takedown I've yet seen. Though the one last time that talked about the political changes actually coming from Brown vs Board of Education, rather than Roe vs Wade as the fictionalizers would prefer to have it was also really quite enlightening.

someotherdude- Great job! Interesting stuff there. I kinda wish I'd gotten here sooner. Sebastian goes off on this topic periodicly. No matter how often or convincingly he is refuted he'll still be back in a few months or a year or so to spin the same line.

Still thats the best, most fact rich takedown I've yet seen. Though the one last time that talked about the political changes actually coming from Brown vs Board of Education, rather than Roe vs Wade as the fictionalizers would prefer to have it was also really quite enlightening.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad