Saturday, August 16, 2014

Democracy is a challenge: When voters aren't paying attention

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
In the state of Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback and Republican legislators have cuts taxes for the rich, raised them on the poor, and cut funding for education. A Republican who voted for Brownback was surprised by all these actions. The Washington Post reported that she is now supporting Brownback's Democratic opponent, "because, she said, Brownback pursued a hefty tax cut for the rich that deprived schools of needed resources. 'I am shocked by what’s happened...I find it personally a very extreme stance.'"
How, in this day and age, can a person not know that the political right's modus operandi is to give tax breaks to the rich and cut services for everyone else? Unfortunately, this voter is not alone. There are millions like her, voting against their own economic interests--either because they focus on social issues alone or because they are oblivious to the policy preferences of the political right and the right-wing millionaires & billionaires who fund the political right.

American democracy, while not perfect, seems to have been much stronger during the 1930s and 40s, when Americans--realizing that New Deal policymakers were creating policies that were beneficial for them (e.g., Social Security, FDIC, the Wagner Act, minimum wage, the WPA, and much more)--elected FDR four times.
In the 21st century, if voters don't wake up to the true motives of the political right (and they show few signs of doing so), we will continue to see the rich get richer while the quality of life for the rest of us deteriorates even more (see, e.g., "The numbers don’t lie – childhood poverty reaching record highs in Kansas," "Poor job growth still afflicts Kansas despite Sam Brownback’s tax cuts," "Budget Cuts Force Homeless Shelter To Close As Tax Breaks Go To Wealthy Kansans," "Kansas’ Ruinous Tax Cuts," and "What’s the Matter With Kansas’ Schools?").

Democracy is a challenge, especially when voters aren't paying attention.

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