Monday, August 06, 2007

Not Exactly The Heartland, But....

Two weeks ago, I spent some time in rural New England. I had a car and stopped in a few different places. Whenever I take a road trip, I enjoy talking up the locals and doing a little sociological recon. I've driven cross-country about a dozen times, and have logged non-airport time in almost every state (Alaska yes/Hawaii no). People I talked to on this trip included convenience store clerks, a librarian, a real estate agent, a retired teacher, a bed and breakfast owner, and a flight instructor at a regional airport.

I was struck by a couple of things. First, people were surprisingly eager to talk openly about politics. In the past, I've found a reluctance, at least initially, for people to open up to strangers on this subject. There was none of that this time. Second -- and this is probably no surprise -- the anger out there is palpable and deep. Now rural New England obviously isn't Wyoming or Nebraska. But I was about as far from New York City, both physically and psychologically, as Barstow is from Berkeley. Lots of churches, flags, and crop fields -- and a military recruitment center here and there.

Part of the anger I heard is rooted in economic insecurity. That jibes with this poll, which shows Bush's approval rating on the economy is even lower than on Iraq. He's at 23% -- down seventeen percentage points over the past five months. The poll is from the third week in July, before the stock market's recent swoon and right at its multiyear peak. This is astounding. You can bet it's thrown a monkey wrench into the time-honored playbook at the Fed, Treasury, and White House, which dictates that a bull market cures all ills and is an administration's best friend.

But it's no surprise that most of the anger I came across stems from Iraq. What struck me here is that people get the debate in Washington. They understand why the Democrats haven't been able to force a change. No, I didn't hear the words "filibuster" or "cloture," but there were some disparaging remarks about Warner, Lugar, and others, including McCain. You get the sense that if nothing changes in September, a special sort of wrath will meet the Republican "Brief Candle Caucus" -- so named for their eagerness to strut and fret upon the stage until it's time to cast a binding vote on troop withdrawal, and then is heard no more.

None of this is news, obviously, and it's just a recap of short conversations I had with less than a dozen people. But if it's a preview of what's to come in November '08, it feels like we're in the middle of a once-in-a-generation political shift that started with last year's midterms. I think by now most Republicans either realize that or, if almost poignant delusions like this are any indication, remain in denial about it.


Blogger Mike V. said...

I think working people with working brain cells are finally starting to get it.
The republicans were able to pull votes from the rural working class via wedge issues, but I think most of them realize they were had.
I think a few are even starting to realize gay marriage and flag burning have no affect on their lives.

At issue for me is that the democratic congress seems to just be stalling other than a few people speaking up.
Don't even get me started on Pelosi the "San Francisco Liberal" (whatever that means). I hope Cindy Sheehan runs and beats her in '08.



8/06/2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger mrmetrowest said...

Even without George's imbecile adventure, there's reason the believe the zeitgeist that has prevailed since Reagan is due for a change.

There comes a point, usually in your late 40s, when retirement, a concept that has been so remote as to be meaningless, becomes real. The biggest bulge of baby boomers are turning 50 right now, and they're seeing their older siblings and friends ride off into the sunset. And they want to ride off too.

But millions of them will find they haven't saved enough to retire when they'd like, particularly if they have to pay their own health benefits before Medicare starts. As a result, millions of people, of the kind who are likely to vote, are going to expect government to bridge the gap between what they can do and what they want to do. And that means a move to the political left.

I remember surfing several years ago and reading a post by a classmate who said he was a radical at 20 but now he was a conservative. Exactly. When he had nothing, he was willing to share it all. When he made some money, he became a rugged individualist. And in the fullness of years, he and many others are about to rediscover the value of government.

8/06/2007 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Gus said...

I'd feel a lot better about this if I had any confidence at all that the Democrats will be better.

8/06/2007 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Jeff in Texas said...

I wish it mattered. Given the just-completed Dem FISA atrocity, the latest in a long series of laydowns, rollovers, punts and fumbles, I just can't see that it will make any difference (on the most pressing issues) who wins in 2008.

8/06/2007 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it ... most Americans were willing to give Bush a "Free Pass" (voting for the man twice and swallowing all the lies)for the last six years and now expect the Democrats to fix the mess in eight months.

Hot Rod

8/06/2007 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Echoing Jeff in Texas. After this weekend's latest sell-out, this card-carrying Dem has had enough. I'm re-registering as a Republican to cast a primary ballot for Ron Paul, and I might just sit out the November election.

I can spot no Democratic principle other than this: Republicans occupy the jobs that Democrats would like to have, and this needs to change. Dems don't care about maintaining a constitutional republic any more than Republicans do. Or perhaps most Americans, I suspect....
-- sglover

8/06/2007 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Lord said...

Time for Bush has past. Time for his enablers has past as well.

8/06/2007 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Jeff in Texas said...

" expect the Democrats to fix the mess in eight months."

I can speak only for myself, but I certainly do not expect such a thing. But I sure as hell expect a Democratic Congress to not pass a Republican bill (or even let it come to a vote) that in effect legalizes the very criminal behavior that Dems were elected to rectify, and at the same time gives MORE power with LESS oversight to an attorney general who they know for a fact has been abusing the existing rules and lying to their faces about it. I have pretty minimal expectations, and the Dems are failing to meet even those. It is a freaking disgrace.

I do not want to see Gonzales called before Congress again unless he has personally murdered an infant or an old lady. Seriously-- what is the point of the kabuki hearings they have been having for months??? They won't seek contempt, much less impeachment, and then they go and legalize the most damning behaviors, completely undermining their entire critique of the guy. They have basically just admitted that, legal or not, Gonzales was just doing what he had to do to protect Amerikuns. No harm, no foul, right?

And someone please let me know when that restoring habeas bill gets passed, by the way. I'm sure it will be at the top of the agenda when they get back from their month long vacation, since they have been just about to get to it since January. Of course, the FISA amendment went from not even being on the radar to getting passed overhwhelmingly in the span of few days, but who's counting.

8/06/2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger Azael said...

Here's my prediction for how 2008 works out:

The democratic nominee wins in a landslide and America seems poised to wake up from it's long national nightmare. Suddenly and without warning, America is struck by another tragedy in late December and the now lame duck President Bush is killed in the incident. Vice president Cheney is sworn into office and immediately declares martial law stating that "the governing of this American democracy is too important to leave in the hands of a Democrat". The 1,000 year reign of Pax Americana then begins.

8/06/2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm of the mind that the GOP will steal the election either thru massive voter fraud OR ... a splice of the Azael scenerio.
Either way, the Democracy will be over.

8/06/2007 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest "conspiracy" might be right in plain sight and I've yet to see it really discussed anywhere. Somehow, the powers behind the thrones have managed to set things up so as to basically say to the average American voter ... "OK. So you've lived the last eight years of your life under the worst president (and vice president) in the nation's history. Maybe you lost that decent-paying job you had for years. Maybe you don't have health insurance anymore. The price of food, gas and heating or cooling your home etc. are killing you. Maybe you even know somebody who sacrificed their lives in Iraq for Haliburton. We get it. But hey; if you're not going to go for one of our typical Republican stooges this time, you're gonna have to vote for a chick or a black guy. Just sayin'."

"Oh, and by the way; even if you do - we own them too."

8/06/2007 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Goose99 said...

Here's the post I put on the Hugh Hewitt website after his article on our good news President. If they'd take me up on my suggestion, it would certainly improve the quality of the debate back home:

"Good news from Iraq

I think a better approach for the conservative commentators who believe that we are making good progress in Iraq than going to a closed door, off the record session with the President to hear his views on how well things are going in Iraq, would be for them to organize a field trip to Baghdad for themselves and like-minded conservative supporters of the war effort. They could charter a bus from the airport, tour Baghdad, make a few side excursions into the countryside to Hillah, Fallujah, Ramadi, and Al Kut, meet ordinary Iraqis, stay in hotels outside the Green Zone to enjoy how Iraqis experience the provision of essential services like electricity and public safety, then return home to discuss their first hand experiences. To identify themselves as patriotic Americans, they would sew American flags on their sleeves and wear their patriotic American flag pins in their lapels. Their charter bus should be festooned with American flags and banners identifying themselves as American journalists who have supported the efforts of President Bush so that ordinary Iraqis would be able to recognize them and could approach them to show appreciation for their unstinting support for the war effort."

8/07/2007 1:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the prediction:

I'm completely with you on the scenario, in fact, given the power grab by executive order of the last couple of months, I think, in fact, that's what they are planning if the corporatocracy's handpicked candidate doesn't get in. Who is that? I suspect they are going to line up behind Romney. A lightweight who is quite malleable.

But if he doesn't win.....well, we may not get that far...if he is substantially behind in the polls before the election, I suspect ...for some reason...the elections will be called off. Bush will continue on, with cheney by his side.......and that will be that....until it appears that the Republicans will win. Then, we will be "allowed" to have elections again.

Chances of this happening....pretty damn good. Take a look at the latest executive orders they''ve been signing.....I think they are getting ready now.

8/07/2007 3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What american democracy!!

Heil Bush and Cheney

8/07/2007 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Republican. Democrat. Who gives a sh*t anymore? The government no longer does the work of the American people.

Where are the protests? Where are the rioters? Where are the black berets, the AK-47s?

8/08/2007 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

I'm not so sure about canceling elections. That's pretty overt. Most of the stuff these guys have done has been under cover of secrecy and stealth. Nobody knows what executive orders Bush has signed, and that's the point. Canceling elections would wake too many people up. Vote fraud and voter intimidation are more the tools of this bunch. Even then, they can only tilt the machine. If the Dems win by a big enough margin the Republicans won't be able to stop it.

I'm with the rest of you on not knowing the difference at this point. The Democrat congress has been disappointing, especially this FISA revision travesty. They really do come off as scared of their own shadow. They don't seem to understand that strength is not about having a big swinging dick. It's about articulating your principles and fighting for them.

8/08/2007 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a google account or I'd sign in other than anonymous. Call me David in Texas, and I have to quibble with Jeff.

Jeff, you're forgetting 181 Dems that voted AGAINST the bill, lumping them in with the 41 that voted for it (in the House). You're judging the whole group by the actions of about 20%. If you are truly for changing from this Republican fiasco, don't join them because you're angry at the Blue Dog enablers.

I'm angry too that Dem leaders can't seem to make headway with those in the party who consistently vote with what Bush wants on security and the "war". We need to elect replacements for them in 08, not more Republicans.

8/08/2007 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Gus. said...

azael, here's my prediction:
Democrat wins in a landslide and find out she actually thinks the president deserves all those powers that seemed like overreaching when Bush held them. With a Congress dominated by members of her party, further restrictions of freedom are legislated. The sellout of the country to major corporations continues unabated. It will be interesting to see who the Powerliners and Hugh Hewitts of the left will be.

8/08/2007 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Jeff in Texas said...


You are forgetting that the Democratic leadership does not have to let the administration bill come to the floor, AT ALL. Remember how Hastert ran things? If a bill was going to pass with too much Dem support, he would just pull it, rewrite it so the Dems could not vote for it, and pass the revised bill on a party line vote. That is the power of the majority-- they cannot do everything, especially with an opposing President, but they control the agenda. What comes to the floor for a vote reflects the will of the leadership and their caucus. The Dem votes against this FISA bill were window dressing, pure and simple. And many people, you included, are ready to blame the "defecting" Dems and give the leadership a pass, as intended.

8/08/2007 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make a good point, Jeff. So what you're saying is, basically, we're fokked because there's really only one Party and the old constitutional republic has been replaced by a new Thousand Year Reich.

That's what I was afraid of but hoped against.

8/10/2007 5:58 PM  
Anonymous OnlinePharmacy said...

ojVQFP Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

10/26/2007 4:52 AM  
Anonymous demora viagra said...

6Maapj Wonderful blog.

10/26/2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous death from meridia said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

10/26/2007 3:17 PM  
Anonymous chedsey motel walden co said...

Good job!

10/26/2007 3:40 PM  
Anonymous name said...

Good job!

10/27/2007 3:17 PM  
Anonymous breakaway and tour de france said...

Wonderful blog.

10/27/2007 4:07 PM  
Anonymous altoona tour of home said...

Nice Article.

10/28/2007 10:46 AM  
Anonymous strongsville insurance said...

Hello all!

10/30/2007 2:19 AM  
Anonymous ringtones said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

10/30/2007 5:31 AM  
Anonymous  said...

Thanks to author.

10/30/2007 9:22 AM  
Anonymous buy fioricet mt mt tbcgi said...

R1HddF Wonderful blog.

10/31/2007 2:36 PM  
Anonymous free ringtones at ringto said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

10/31/2007 3:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home