Michael Barone on why voters haven’t moved left during the recent hard economic times:
I think the larger mistake the Obama Democrats have made is that they suppose ordinary voters want government to channel more money in their direction.
They’re not the only ones to take this view. In the Bush years, thoughtful conservatives — David Frum, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam — noted that most people’s real incomes had not been rising and wrote books calling for government policies to bolster their incomes.
But ordinary Americans don’t want money as much as they want honor. They want what the chance to achieve what American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks calls “earned success.” [E.A.]
In the end, it’s about respect. It’s always about respect! That’s why I’m for social equality, not money equality. … One description of social equality, after all, is equality of respect. And if equal respect is what people want–well, we can do that! If respect is what makes Americans happy and fulfilled–we can maximize happiness and fulfillment. We can do it even within a productive market economy that seems to be generating increasingly large money
differences. It may take a more active government than Barone would like–you “honor” Main Street workers, for example, by dishonoring and penalizing Wall Street con artists–but it will take less government than pursuing the traditonal liberal goal of “more equal” incomes across the board. … More here