Kevin stayed up ’til 4…

Kevin stayed up 'til 4 last night, watching the election results. I learned my lesson during the last presidential election -- I went to bed at a reasonable hour. Slept, woke up, had a fortifying breakfast before I even looked at the news. And then breathed out a big sigh of relief. Breathed in a quick burst of hope. Resisted the urge to write letters to all the Democratic Congressmen telling them they had damn well better not screw this up.

Sad about the marriage amendments all passing, of course, but relieved that S. Dakota abortion bill got stomped. And mostly, just really happy to have a divided leadership again. I hope we don't get gridlock -- I'd much rather see quiet progress on issues that a majority of Americans actually agree on. But I'll take gridlock over a rampaging unchecked Republican agenda.

Sometimes I wonder why it is that the country has shifted so far to the right -- my understanding is that the Democrats of today most closely resemble the Republicans of fifty years ago. The entire country is much more conservative than it used to be. And I know almost nothing about politics, but I wonder whether it might simply come down to wealth. America has become a rich country by world standards, getting richer by the day. And one of the exit polls I was reading about suggested that if your family's income went up in the last two years, you were likely to vote Republican. If it held steady, you were likely to be vote Democrat, presumably based on other issues. If it went down, you were overwhelmingly likely to vote Democrat.

And it's certainly true that those of my friends who hold conservative views tend to be among the wealthier ones -- although there are quite a few exceptions to that. The exceptions, however, tend to be highly-politicized folk who have an ardent liberal background and convictions. Whereas some of my wealthy friends who aren't particularly political do tend to lean conservative on a lot more issues -- much more so than they did in college. I don't really have a large enough sample size of wealthy friends to make big generalizations about all this -- we're talking about 6-8 people, depending on how you define wealthy. But it's interesting to think about, especially in the light of those exit poll results.

Maybe it's just a question of maintaining the status quo -- if you feel like the system is doing well by you, you naturally become more invested in defending the system as it currently stands, rather than trying to reform it.

What do you think? Does your income level influence your politics?

5 thoughts on “Kevin stayed up ’til 4…”

  1. I have not noticed that my income level has influenced my politics. I grew up in a pretty conservative household without much money, and I have become more progressive by far over the last 40 years or so, even as my economic position has improved. It has happened as I became better informed,

    BTW, not all the marriage amendments passed, according to yahoo. One was defeated. Arizona, if I recall correctly.

    I have been thinking of writing some of the Democratic leaders and saying that this is NOT time to be nice and inclusive, but time to be aggressive in rolling back the terrible damage done by those who have abused their power for so long and harmed so many.

  2. I don’t know that I agree that the country as a whole has shifted far to the right.

    In terms of civil rights and equality issues, we’ve come a long way. We’ve got a long way to go, but ethnic and sexual minorities and women are, in most ways, a lot better off now than 50 years ago. The idea that the expected frontrunner in an upcoming presidential race is a woman would’ve been astonishing back then. Likewise the idea that same-sex marriage was even worth discussing.

    Other areas too. For example, when I was a kid, recycling was a weird hippy thing; now it’s an accepted part of American life in much (though obviously not all) of the country. Greenpeace’s ideas were once radical environmentalism; these days most of what they talk about is practically mainstream.

    It goes in phases/cycles, of course. Go back 60 years and you get the New Deal, which I can’t imagine would fly today. Go back 40 years and you get ’60s radicalism. But go back 20 years and you get Reaganomics (and Thatcherism in the UK). My feeling is that the overall trend, at least in social (as opposed to economic) areas, has been steadily toward the liberal side for most of the past century, but of course I’m vastly overgeneralizing.

    …Interesting questions about money and politics, but I gotta run — no time to reply to that now. But I will note that, although I think you’re right that people living comfortably or well tend to support the status quo, there’ve been wealthy liberals for a long time; also that politicians in general tend to be wealthy. I think I read in 2004 that all four of the major-party candidates (for pres and vice-pres) were millionaires.

    More later, perhaps.

  3. Jed said: For example, when I was a kid, recycling was a weird hippy thing; now it’s an accepted part of American life in much (though obviously not all) of the country.

    I’m not sure how much of the country has really accepted recycling. In Indiana last week, I was shocked by how few people recycled. It was just too much of a bother for most folks, and they’d give you weird looks if you asked where the recycling containers were. My mom recycles, but she’s disgusted with the community stance on it. It’s still a weird hippy thing to do there.

  4. My income has gone up radically in the last four years, but my politics have not changed. If anything, I’ve become more liberal. I think most Americans have way too much stuff and should give most of their money away.

  5. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Good points, all. It’s certainly true that the country is more socially liberal on things like women’s rights, queer rights, interracial dating, etc. than it used to be. By a lot. I don’t mean to downplay those issues, which are obviously all pretty important to me.

    Hmm…I think I was just thinking more about things like getting rid of poverty, socialized medicine, unions, raising the general standard of living, so there isn’t as much of a disparity between the haves and the have-nots. I think on that kind of thing, my impression is that there was a time period when the country was noticeably more leftist than it is now. I could be wrong; American history is not my forte. And I’m hopeful that we will be seeing some small changes along those lines in the next two years. Fingers crossed…

    My income has also gotten a lot higher in the last few years, and I don’t think it’s changed my politics. But I also know that while Kev and I think we probably should give quite a bit of our money away, that doesn’t mean we actually do very much of that. Hopefully we’ll get better about it. We should probably also start recycling again…

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