A recent article written by Political scientist Dr David Runciman on the BBC really got me thinking. Why do so many Americans oppose such motions (such as the current health-care reform bill) that will in fact improve the well being of their lives? One of the many reasons this may be so is as Oli pointed out, “strangely irrational fear of – “socialism”…well, that’s the Cold War for you.”. However, while this is certainly evident, it can’t be applied to all Americans. In Texas where 1/3 of the population are without health insurance and a 1/5 of children are without it also, still 87% oppose the reforms. But, national polls show that the number who think the reforms go too far while nearly matching it are those who say it doesn’t go far enough.
Another idea pointed out by Dr David Runciman, is that its stories rather than facts that means the right wins out. He uses the example of one the Presidential debates during the 2000 election between Bush and Gore with saying,
Gore: “Under the governor’s plan, if you kept the same fee for service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18% and 47%, and that is the study of the Congressional plan that he’s modelled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries.” but then Bush intellectually (as ever) replied with, “Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers. I’m beginning to think not only did he invent the internet, but he invented the calculator. It’s fuzzy math. It’s trying to scare people in the voting booth.” (not that this was a hint of things to come or anything) but Bush won the Debate.
Thomas Frank, the author of the best-selling book What’s The Matter with Kansas and he argues that, ”You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining. It’s like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy.” the “elitism” being the ‘snobbish’ democrats.
It is a pity that such a large group of the American people believe such trash and so easily, despite the US being a country founded upon tolerance.