The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

September 7, 2013

Are liberals afraid of standing up for their own policies?

What are liberals afraid of?

At the Missouri State Fair in August, a rodeo clown, a white man named Tuffy Gessling, walked around in an Obama mask. An announcer told the clown to stay put. Don’t you want to see Obama gored by the bull? he asked. Cheers went up from some of the crowd. A Daily Mail report later noted that rural Missourians don’t take to President Barack Obama’s policies.

The skit was done in jest and was taken to task by Missouri officials. (Tuffy was banned from the fair forever.) Regardless of the skit, what should be shocking is that rural Missouri voters don’t vote for Democratic policies - though they should. That ought to perk up the ears of Democrats everywhere.

We’ve heard all the reasons for this phenomenon. Journalist Thomas Frank summed it up well in his 2004 book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” just before George W. Bush was re-elected. Frank wanted to know why people vote against their economic self-interests by casting their ballots with Republicans. He did a fine job answering the question.

Evangelicals vote against abortion, school prayer bans and anything that hints at sexuality, and they associate those issues with Democrats. Less-educated voters see minorities and immigrants as threats to their livelihoods and associate the empowerment of those two groups with Democrats. Never mind that their livelihoods often are impacted by the type of cutthroat capitalism that Republicans cheer.

In the 30 years since Reagan, Democrats have always played bridesmaids to the GOP’s bride when it comes to policy. Even when the Dems held a majority in Congress, they were conciliatory to the opposition.

They followed Reagan down the yellow brick, supply-side road. They waved flags as both Bushes went into Iraq. They shuddered when Newt Gingrich unveiled his Contract for (should have been “on”) America. They taped their mouths shut and sat on their hands when Clinton vowed to end big government as we know it.

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