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Edwards the terrific campaigner(63 posts)

Edwards the terrific campaignerOldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 6:00 AM
Edwards' stump speech and his delivery of it floored me when I first heard it, and after hearing various iterations subsequently I have remained floored. My thought, just as a technical assessment, is always: Man, as a piece of campaign literature that's freakin BRILLIANT.

If you're interested in such things, here's what a NY Times op-ed says about it this morning:

The Happy Populist

ASHUA, N.H. — A couple of weeks ago, one of John Edwards's aides showed me, in the manner of one unveiling the Dead Sea Scrolls, the original draft of The January Speech. Edwards had spent much of the fall showing that he was more than a slick trial lawyer, and the new January speech was to differentiate himself from the other candidates.

Edwards collected his thoughts over a few weeks and must have written them down quickly. There were about 25 words scrawled illegibly over two sheets of spiral notebook paper. On the page it's a mess, but coming out of his mouth it's a thing of beauty. In a year in which all the candidates are saying pretty much the same thing, one eloquent speech has propelled Edwards from the ranks of the hopeless to the ranks of the plausible.

The speech is built around the theme that has dominated the Democratic campaign this year: that we are a nation divided. You may have looked at the last several election results and concluded that we are a nation split roughly in half. But according to Edwards and the other Democratic candidates, we are actually a nation divided between the top 2 percent, the rich, powerful insiders — "those who never have to worry about a thing," as Edwards puts it — and the 98 percent, us ordinary folks.

This particular version of the Two Americas theme is sociologically, politically, economically and demographically false, but it is rhetorically quite effective. It means that all these problems that seem intractable are actually solvable if we just take power away from that selfish sliver. Government will begin to work for the people again; all students will have access to first-rate education; regular folks will have a health care system that works for them. It's all imminent!

John Edwards is one of the happiest populists in U.S. history. He doesn't rage against the 2 percent who have seized all this power. He sees politics through the prism of his own personal triumph, his rise from being the son of a millworker to becoming a lawyer and presidential candidate.

The emotional climax of his speech comes when he describes how he used to represent "people like you" against teams of highly paid, distinguished corporate lawyers. "And you know what happened? I beat them, and I beat them, and I beat them again!" The crowds go crazy, but they are not only applauding; they are applauding and smiling at the same time, a result that was not generated by all the other candidates who have used the Two Americas theme over the years.

John Kerry's speech is a list of programs; it responds to voters' discrete desires. But Edwards's speech has an overarching vision and the coherence of a fine short story. It starts with the Two Americas and has a binary structure throughout: two economies, two governments, two foreign policy visions. Edwards moves from one subject to the next better than any other candidate I've seen, without losing a hint of momentum. When he is interrupted by applause, he doesn't stop to acknowledge it. He continues on with three or four exhortatory sentences to build the applause, and raise the pitch. He is programmatic, but only in one area, education, to show he can do policy. He doesn't burden audiences with too many proposals.

The crucial question for Edwards is whether he can move from charisma to character. Bryan Garsten, a Williams College political theorist whom I met at an Edwards speech, points out that Aristotle believed that the greatest speakers don't just persuade audiences to accept an argument — they get people to t
I've heard 2 good things about this speech.dr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 6:18 AM
First, I have heard many political insiders say it blows away Clinton's stump from 92, and that was a pretty good one.

Second, I have heard people say that on the 6th hearing it plays just as well as on the first. THAT is impressive, when jaded reporters don't get cynical after repeated hearings.

The bad thing I have heard is that it leaves people wanting. That once you think about it, you remember how you felt at the time, but you can't easily grab any substance from it. "The Chinese dinner speech, leaves you hungry an hour later." as one person put it (that might have been Brooks in fact).

Hummmmm, feels good but kind of empty. Maybe that is not such a bad thing after all!

I have only seen a few minutes of his speech. He is good, really good. He has it all in a speaker. If he had the money, he'd have the nomination. He's that good, imho. Watch out for this guy in 2008 if he falls short this year.
My buddy who followed Edwards for Scripps-HowardOldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 6:36 AM
says he probably heard it 20 times, and never got tired of it. And he's a huge and easily bored cynic.
is this basically the speech?gtx
Jan 27, 2004 10:38 AM
not bad...
It's a small piece of it. nmOldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 10:51 AM
Tell you what gtx, go to this siteOldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 11:05 AM
and read "We can change America" and "Two Americas."

I can't find the stump speech on the Web, but it's basically these two put together.
yeah, and what about those nasty terrorists?gtx
Jan 27, 2004 1:25 PM
How will he deal with Bush, who's clearly gonna go with the "I'm the only guy who can protect you from terrorists" scare tactic?
Too early to tell if he can do it.MR_GRUMPY
Jan 27, 2004 7:01 AM
Talk is cheap, but can he win? But on the other hand, if he can grab people like Bill Clinton did (not a joke), he just might be able to pull it off.
Lots of time before the primary in Illinois.
One sentence says it all ...HouseMoney
Jan 27, 2004 7:03 AM
"This particular version of the Two Americas theme is sociologically, politically, economically and demographically false, but it is rhetorically quite effective. "

I saw a clip of Edwards this morning where he was railing against "Two Americas", and cited "2 education systems" as an example. He then said he had specific solutions to correct this. Problem was, he then resorted to rhetoric and didn't even give a glimpse of what his specific solution(s) were. Unless he plans to butt heads with the NEA, I don't see any progress being made in education. That would be quite the liberal conflict, trial lawyer vs. teacher's union.

Having said that, out of all of the Democratic candidates, I think Edwards would give President Bush the toughest challenge (despite his deer-in-the-headlights, Dan Quayle-esque performance at last week's debate). They all have warts (including GWB on the other side), but I see Edwards outlasting Kerry, Dean, Clark, et al. when all is said & done. Of course, that and $1.75 will buy you a Starbucks coffee.
One specific thing he's proposingOldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 7:19 AM
re:education is college for everyone. It's in the speech. Might not have been on the clip you saw.
That's an interesting issueTJeanloz
Jan 27, 2004 7:33 AM
A college education for everybody is an interesting thing to consider, and maybe we should start another thread, instead of bastardizing this one.

My question is threefold:

(1) Is a college education for everybody beneficial?

Certainly there are jobs in every economy that do not require a college education, so does "overeducating" some people really make sense, given that education costs time and money?

(2) Can we realistically provide a good college education to everybody, or will the goal of providing a "college" degree give way to degrees of very poor quality, as has happened with high school (i.e. graduating from high school used to mean something). Look to Europe for an example of what happens when you make University free/low cost for everybody [hint: it isn't good].

(3) Are there really people in the United States for whom a college education is out of reach? Sure, Harvard is beyond most people's ability, but the combination of community college, public university, and government grants seems to do a relatively effective job of providing education to those who want it. Is there a significant group of people who want to be college educated who are unable to achieve that goal?
Completely unrealisticNo_sprint
Jan 27, 2004 7:43 AM
There are people that don't want to finish elementary school.

A complete waste of time/money/energy/etc.
college for everyone THAT WANTS TO GO.rufus
Jan 27, 2004 7:58 AM
lots of poeple can't go to college who want to, for whatever reasons: economic, single parent, whatever.
What do they do for the other three years?No_sprint
Jan 27, 2004 9:07 AM
or are there a whole bunch of people that can afford three but the kicker is the fourth year?

Doubt it.

If that's the case, I'd say, I MIGHT consider puttin some of the money I already pay into the system to pay for the last 32 units in someone's college career.
Good topic, but to clarify:OldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 7:52 AM
What Edwards calls his 'college for everyone' plan is in fact more limited than the phrase implies. From his website:

"Edwards will provide one year of free tuition to public universities and community colleges.

"In return, students will be required to come to college academically prepared and to work or serve their communities for an average of 10 hours each week."

Also from the website:
"Providing a free year of college tuition will eliminate the sticker shock that scares off so many kids. It will simplify a financial aid process now so complex that getting a student loan can be tougher than getting a small business loan. After students get through that first year, which is the toughest, they'll know financial aid is available, they'll know education is an investment worth making, and they'll have access to people who can help them pursue both. Maybe more important, if they work hard, they'll know they can succeed in college."

So it's not 'free four years for everyone' or 'everyone has to go to college.'
Doesn't it depend on.....Len J
Jan 27, 2004 7:59 AM

Great questions, very thought provoking.

I would add One (which is implied in your (2)):

(4) Are there really people that are incapable of graduating from college? I know this is "UnAmerican" but it does take a certain amount of "bandwidth" to benefit from a real college education.

I think that rather than "a college education for everyone" I would support: "A minimum level of support to allow anyone who is both motivated, and has met certain qualifing minimums, to be able to get a college education."

Rather than diluting the credential, let's make it available to anyone who is capable. I do believe that we are close to this (Your (3)). What is missing, at the lower socioeconomic levels, is the mentoring, support for doing something better. I came out of a ghetto, the first person in the neighborhood to ever think about college, and I can tell you that the pressure not to do it is hugh. (People who can't/won't reach are hyper sensitive to anyone you can/does, this can/does include parents/friends/family) Couple this with no "guide" in the process and it's no wonder so few make it out.

Sometimes it's less about the economics.

That's an interesting issuedr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 8:01 AM
1) Is a college education for everybody beneficial?

I don't think the proposal is to FORCE everyone to go to college. College ACCESS is beneficial for everyone. Keep in mind that community colleges are colleges. Given that even auto mechanics today require a great deal of training, increased access is a good thing. Do you need a degree to flip burgers? No. But being able to train for some job that has a future, that is a good thing.

(2) Can we realistically provide a good college education to everybody, or will the goal of providing a "college" degree give way to degrees of very poor quality, as has happened with high school (i.e. graduating from high school used to mean something).

Credentialization is the term. That which used to require a hs diploma now requires a college degree. A masters is needed for what a bachelors used to be good enough for. The downside to this is a lot of debt for students, and a later career start. This is a problem.

Can we do it, and provide quality? I think we can certainly make our educational system better in many ways. Many states now spend more on prisons than on colleges, and what does that say about priorities? I would start with k-3, personally. But colleges at all levels can be improved. Money helps. Staff helps. Facilities help.

(3) Are there really people in the United States for whom a college education is out of reach?

Yes. And many more are on the edge. Any tuition increase drops people out of school. A parent gets sick, and kids drop of of school because the money disappears. At the lower end of our economy, things are precarious due to many reasons, and when health, and rent, and food are on the table, education is one of the first things to go.
Party time!Continental
Jan 27, 2004 9:28 AM
Unless there is a stipulation that a student must repay the government the money if a student flunks out, the 1st year of college will become party time for stooges.
Absolutely. I can see this working provided there are strings.94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 10:40 AM
Why not year 2 after performance has been demonstrated in year 1? Better yet, let it apply to year 1 so as to not present barriers to higher education. Only thing is is that it begins as a loan that is totally forgiven upon successful completion of year 1.

But, wait. What about grade inflation? Isn't that what is happening in GA with their HOPE scholarship? How does one maintain integrity in such a system?

But then again, when did integrity matter?

In my experience, it's pretty easy to borrow enoughNo_sprint
Jan 27, 2004 10:46 AM
for a state school degree, get out and default on the loan. Should one want to repay it, consolidation discounts, interest rates, terms are pretty darn good, even if you are only making 30K/year. The monthly will come out to less than what most spend on gas or their cell phone.
It'll turn into a beer stipend once they lie to the folks... nmNo_sprint
Jan 27, 2004 10:56 AM
A chicken in every pot ! ...HouseMoney
Jan 27, 2004 7:55 AM
You're right, the clip I viewed did not include that segment. However, since you brought it up, saying he wants a college education for everyone (or at least everyone who wants one) is not specific enough ... for me. What would be specific would be if he then went into how how planned to achieve such a vision, including how to pay for it. Did he? Maybe he included that, which I missed as well. What programs will he opt to cut to come up with the funds? Does he intend to raise certain taxes?

I forget whether it was Edwards or Kerry, but yesterday one of them said their economic plan includes a middle-class tax cut, not an increase by rolling back the Bush tax cuts as has been reported. Then they resorted to the typical class-warfare rhetoric that the only tax increase would be on the rich (as soon as I hear the phrase <"the wealthiest 2%", that's when they lose me). But who are the "rich" of which they speak? Household incomes of $90k+? Maybe in Nebraska or Mississippi, but in NJ (and NY, CT, etc.), that income barely qualifies as middle-class. That's not even a big income for one person, nevermind a household.
Further question...TJeanloz
Jan 27, 2004 8:00 AM
My lack of sleep over the last week is doing wonders for my cognitive abilities...

There seems to be some agreement that we can tax the hell out of the "wealthiest 2%" [not that I agree with it, but it seems to be a popular metric]. In the interest of fairness, shouldn't we regionalize this? If we say that the wealthiest 2% is $150,000 in the United States, is it fair to tax somebody who lives in New York City [and is really "middle class"] the same rate as somebody earning $150,000 who lives in Iowa [who has more money than he/she knows what to do with]? Isn't it unfair to apply the same income $ standard across such a diverse landscape?
maybe the rich should move to Iowa thenColnagoFE
Jan 27, 2004 8:08 AM
Nobody is forcing them to stay in NYC where their money doesn't go as far. They could pack up and live in a mansion outside of DesMoines for the price of a small apt. in Manhattan.
But presumably their "wealth" is tied to their geographyTJeanloz
Jan 27, 2004 8:13 AM
For the same job in Iowa, they would almost certainly be paid less. My point is that this group, at $150,000, is squarely in the middle class, regardless of where they live (their salary will be adjusted by geography), but we tax them as though they are rich.
You have a very odd perspective on the middle class.dr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 8:57 AM
Given that 90% of americans SAY they are middle class, I can understand how 150k people don't feel rich. But they are above 95% of others. In IQ testing, those people are called "geniuses", whether they feel like it or not.

42k is the middle of the middle class. 50% of households make more, 50% make less.

84k = more than 80% of households. Is that rich? The top 20%?

150k= top 5%, and yes, I feel quite comfortable calling them RICH in the context of the US income structure.
I think it's more an odd perspective of the rich...TJeanloz
Jan 27, 2004 9:03 AM
The middle class is an "everybody else" category, as far as I'm concerned. It's people who aren't rich and aren't poor. We probably have similar constructs about who is "poor" - but even that is geographically skewed.

But "rich" in my mind is well beyond what is probably normally considered such. I'm thinking $100MM+ in net worth as sort of a minimum threshold of "rich". But in another sense, this is the Democrat definition of "rich" too - it's people who are so rich you never see them. Everybody knows people who earn $150k a year - there are a lot of people in that category. The Democrat "rich" person is a fat cat who's always taking advantage of you, and is so far beyond you that he lives in a 2nd America that you are not allowed to see.
Well, sociologists break things down as ...dr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 9:25 AM
... Upper upper class, middle upper class, and lower upper class. Taken as a whole, the "upper class" is the top 5% of income earners in the nation.

The lower upper class are often called the "working" rich. They rely on job related income for their lifestyles.

What you are talking about is the upper-upper class, those that rely on inherited wealth/trust funds/bond income/stock dividends, etc.

Sociology aside, I consider anyone that does not HAVE to work to maintain a high standard of living to be rich.

As you say, many (not everyone by a long shot) knows someone who makes 150k. Politically, I think this is why they are using the 2% (at a guess, ~230k or so) and not the 5% (150k) number. Last cycle they tried top 10% (~100k) and that fell on flat ears.
More semiotics!OldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 9:04 AM
The signifier 'middle class' in America has almost nothing to do with how much money you make.

I'm a Wildcat.
but that's the choice they made.rufus
Jan 27, 2004 9:08 AM
ok, let's say the same job in iowa does pay less. but the standard of living of the two people is relatively equal. it's not like the iowa guy is enjoying some huge benefit simply because he's in a lower tax bracket. he still has to scrape and scrap to get by just as the person making $150,000 does. the lower tax rate of the iowa person doesn't really help him much in the big picture. his $8-10,000 in taxes hurts his budget just as much as the $15,000 or so does the guy in new york.
Numbers correction:dr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 8:47 AM
150k is the lower limit of the top 5% of household incomes in the USA. Not 2%. US census bureau numbers for 2002.

Middle class, the median household income, is about 42k.

I don't know what numbers you are using to claim that 150k household is "middle class" in NYC. Are you saying it costs 300%+ to live there as "middle class" compared to Iowa? I don't think so. In fact, if we use home ownership, a more reasonable comparison would be (Des Moines to Manhatten) 42k=119k for the same standard of living. Renting, the calculations show 42k in Des Moines will yeild the same standard of living as 71k in Manhatten
I just made it upTJeanloz
Jan 27, 2004 8:52 AM
Note "if we say $150,000 is the top 2%". I just made it up as the basis of discussion.

The numbers don't really matter to the argument, all that does matter is that geography itself impacts cost of living decisions that cannot be mitigated. The question then becomes how it is fair to tax purely on the basis of income, when the same income [in absolute $s] means different things in different places.
An honest question, since you seem sensible.OldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 8:09 AM
$$ can answer this too. The board's Sean Hannity clones need not weigh in. I don't want be be called names or hear about Bill Clinton's sins this morning.

Why is it perfectly OK to endorse and enact a policy of taxation that is CLEARLY geared to HELP that upper 2 percent? That SINGLES THEM OUT as tremendously worthy, and needful of government help? But it is NOT OK to say, hold it, the tax cuts were disproportionately skewed to benefit the rich, let us restructure them so that economically more needful people, the vast majority of people, reap the benefits that under current policy are accruing to the wealthy?

Why is God's name is that 'class warfare?'

If you want to insist that a rational discussion of inequities in the tax structure is 'class warfare,' it seems to me the first proposition -- massive tax cuts for the rich -- is equally class warfare, and in fact is WORSE class warfare, because that proposition is made by the folks with the power.

I think you guys use charges of 'class warfare' the same way we use charges of 'racism.' It's a way to shut off debate, and in almost every case is nonsense.
An honest question, since you seem sensible.HouseMoney
Jan 27, 2004 9:11 AM
Valid question. But perhaps you'll say I've bought into the conservative hype when I give the "textbook" answer. If the tax cuts were disproportionately skewed to benefit the rich, it's because the rich are the ones paying more of the taxes to begin with. I'm not going to recite the tired old percentages, but I'm sure you've heard them. Now, you can say that the "less-than-rich" need more of a relative benefit since they have less money leftover in order to pay their obligations.

Frankly, I don't have the answer, but I don't believe punitive tax rates is it. I fail to understand how going back to the pre-Reagan days (top marginal rate was 70-72%, right? I was a taxpayer back then, but nowhere near that level.) is the solution. And don't forget, when they dropped the top rate, they also did away with many of the tax shelters. I was in the brokerage biz back then, and tax shelters were a dime a dozen (real estate, oil drilling, horse breeding, you name it).

Although I really didn't answer your question, perhaps you can answer mine. Homeowners pay property taxes. Renters don't. In NJ at least, there's a Homestead Rebate which returns a portion of these property taxes to the homeowner. I guess I could say I'm fortunate that I make too much money to qualify, but here's my question. There are folks (mostly, if not exclusively, Democrats) lobbying that renters should be able to qualify for this Homestead Rebate, or else it discriminates against them (i.e., the rich get it, the poor don't). Why should renters get this benefit if they're not paying any property taxes to begin with? I guess you could say my opinion on income taxes is similar.

From time to time, someone will propose either a flat tax or eliminating the income tax & replacing it with a consumption tax. In theory, sometimes this sounds good, sometimes impractical.
Renters do pay property taxes.OldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 9:22 AM
I own rental property myself, so this is one of those rare cases where I know what I'm talking about. As in every business, the cost of property taxes is a cost of doing business, and is factored into the rent charged.

No one's arguing for 70 percent tax rates. I'm not even arguing the merits of the tax cuts. My simple question is this: Why is it 'class warfare' when the poor complain, and just good solid public policy when the rich say 'We earn more than them, we contibute more than them, so we should get the breaks, not them' and then proceed to use their power to enact policies favorable to themselves over the less-wealthy.

The rich can bytch and the poor can't?

Smells like class warfare to me.

I'm one of the few liberals who favors a consumption tax, by the way.
Cost of doing business, yes ...HouseMoney
Jan 27, 2004 9:43 AM
But I don't believe a tenant should reap any tax benefits from it. It's not like the renter is sending the money directly to the township, or their name is on the tax rolls. If I buy a loaf of bread, the price I pay includes all costs of doing business along the way. I don't expect to be able to write off any of those costs (unless that loaf of bread is included in any catering expenses for a business meeting I'm holding!).

I will become a slumlord shortly, since when I move in with my girlfriend, I'll be renting out my home (probably to some nice middle-class family). Heck, when my taxes go up, I'll probably be passing some of that along to my tenants.
The poor don't care about the rich. They only care about...94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 10:31 AM
themselves. I come from blue collar millworker types (heck, I was one for 6½ years, 10½ if you include my USAF time). The "poor" do complain, until they are no longer "poor". The difference is that you are taking from the one who has and giving, without any effort on the recipient's part, to he you has not. I don;t think anyone would have problems with wealth redistribution if those who received were required to "earn" what they get.

Want a good example of workfare, look at the Mormon church's welfare program. No one gets without giving in return. And lots of needy ("poor") people are getting.

Ed, I have to admit that I am surprised at you. Why is it FAIR for you to pass on YOUR real estate tax burden, an expense you are allowed to deduct from your income, to your tenants, those unable to grasp ahold of a piece of the American Dream for themselves? Aren't you benefitting twice from the unjust tax rules--once by overcharging for rent to cover the cost and again when you deduct it from that same income prior to calculating your tax liability?

Shame on you. How do you sleep at night?
A CPA can correct me,TJeanloz
Jan 27, 2004 10:39 AM
But I don't think you can deduct property tax from a rental property from your income; only from your primary residence.
As A CPA, real estate taxes are certainly deductible...94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 10:45 AM
from rental income. As is mortgage interest, insurance premiums, repairs and mantenance, advertising, association fees/dues, etc. Not to mention depreciation, a non-cash expense. The list goes on and on. And depending on your AGI, you may be able to deduct up $25,000 in losses against other income.

Rental is property held for the production of income.
But deducted against the income generated by the propertyTJeanloz
Jan 27, 2004 10:52 AM
You make it sound in the previous post as if Ed is deducting the real estate taxes from his ordinary income (though in some structures, it wouldn't really matter). Obviously, expenses against an income property can be credited against that income.

But doesn't this seem reasonable, as the renter is getting effectively all of the benefits of the property tax, shouldn't they be the ones paying it?
As you point out, in a simple case there is no difference.94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 11:07 AM
I guess I just feel that there is a bit of an inconsistency in Ed's class warfare argument and the benefits he receives as a wealthy property owner.

I understand the benefits of property ownership. I also totally agree with the benefits of the tenants and their paying fair market value rent based on the property and its location. They are able to send their kids to the schools in that district, have access to police, fire and rescue personnel, etc.. No argument there at all.

I was merely pointing out that it seems that Ed is perhaps benefitting at the cost of his tenants. Okay, maybe he should only reduce his rents equal to the amount of his tax benefits from the expenses he is able to deduct that his tenants aren't. After all, it is fairness that we seek, isn't it?

Oh, risk of ownership? That's Ed's issue, why should the tenants have to pay for that? But they do. Is that fair?

It is all relative. Rich vs poor, that is.
Nole, where in the WORLD do you find inOldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 11:17 AM
anything I've ever said here the attitude you impute to me in that last paragraph? I'm a freakin political infighter with a 200-acre farm and a rental property business, I make a good living and I benefit from the Bush tax cuts. I'm not a mush-brained Berkeley peace-and-love liberal. (Don't mean you, czar. Your brain is hard and sharp as a diamond.).

I just happen to think it's ridiculous for someone like me (someone at my income level and above) to bytch and moan about paying taxes for America and the American community, and I'm really disgusted when I hear this 'class warfare' bullshyt being leveled at the poor when all they're doing is fighting to defend themselves in a war declared on THEM.
When the republicans decry class warfare...dr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 11:33 AM
...they are doing so out of self preservation. They will LOSE any class war that starts. The numbers are not on their side.

There is a reason why Americans are willing to discuss sex with frankness, but never what they make in a year. Ask any survey researcher. They can call people on the phone and get them to tell just exactly what kind of sex they have in great detail, but if asked their income almost no one will want to answer. Many will never answer, no matter what. Class consciousness must be raised. The upper classes must act to stop that from happening.

When the 80k a year people realize their interests are more aligned with the 20k a year folk than the millionaires, then it's over. So keep watching the rich on TV and dreaming, that's what they want you to do.
Build a peoples' army! Fight a peoples' war!OldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 11:43 AM
Many a commie has broken his pick on the impervious rock of American 'class consciousness.' We're all middle class.

Me, I'm a Wildcat.
Would you say that stealthness (is that a word?)...94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 11:48 AM
with regard to their incomes would probably hold true across the economic spectrum? Not sure I understand the relationship of this observation to class warfare.

Are only those at 80k or above Republicans? Or conversely, are only millionaires Repubs? Just trying to understand the point you are making.
class is not party.dr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 12:12 PM
Americans of all classes are reluctant to discuss income. Rich, poor, or middle class it does not matter.

Class, from a Marxist perspective, is the relation to the means of production. Capitalists own, labor does not own the means of production. Marx would say that is all that matters, not income.

Many people IDENTIFY with the republican party. However at the top, those that run it, are the wealthy capitalist class. The party interests are conventionally business interests not worker interests. Union busting, benefit stealing, labor-value stealing grubby capitalist pig dogs.

The point is that the the wealthy do not share the ECONOMIC interests of the rest of the people. The wealthy are few in numbers. If the rest of the people wake up and see this, they will see through the smoke the weathy and their political (republican) pawns are blowing up our collective wazoos.

It is Marx's point, not mine. Though to be honest, Marx would say that the democrats are just as much in the pockets of the capitalist class as the republicans.
On that point, I guess I would agree with...94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 12:40 PM

That is the point. For example, John Edwards is out touting his "I'm one of you" speech when he is not one of them at all!! I believe that his net worth is 2nd only to that of Mr. Kerry.

That is the inconsistency that I see in this whole class warfare issue. Those that claim class warfare are members of the very class that they supposedly stand against! Those that run the Democrat party are, too, wealthy capitalists.

Would you agree with this? If yes, how do you reconcile that? Why can't I have wealthy capitalists representing me (as I aspire to that) when you (not you specifically) have wealthy capitalists who represent you (although people in that class are inherently bad)?

Am I all wrong with my logic? Or lack thereof?
Lack thereof.czardonic
Jan 27, 2004 12:45 PM
Does one need to be a member of any group in order to understand and represent their interests or share their values?
Obviously not. Look at the Congress. Or so they would...94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 1:00 PM
have us believe.

There are few representatives or senators (if any) that fit into the group they proport to represent. Oh, they fit in nicely to special interests, but not to the masses of American voters. And yes, they are out of touch. The only thing most Republicans and Democrats have in common with their elected officials is party affiliation and their states of residence.
Cute, but logically false. (nm)czardonic
Jan 27, 2004 1:03 PM
Why? Does the argument apply to Repubs but not...94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 1:24 PM
to Dems?

Why is the Congress not the study case of which you speak? Why are the millionaire Dems more in touch with their "constituancies" than are the Repubs with theirs? I would argue that they ARE in touch with their "real" constituancies just not us slugs who go to the polls and vote for them.

And I believe that they are equally out of touch. Heard Limbaugh the other day giving Kerry the up and down over not knowing how to flip pancakes when he, Ruch, admitted that he went to "his chef" for a flapjack flipping lesson. Give me a break. Good example how both sides are out of touch. Common sense tells me how to flip a pancake.
I'm unclear on what you are even arguing at this point.czardonic
Jan 27, 2004 1:39 PM
So I will simply state the obvious: The Democratic platform is designed to appeal to lower income voters.

Whether you consider that a genunine concern for social justice or class warfare is immaterial. Whether Democratic politicians are millionaires is immaterial. Whether it makes sense for millionaires to incite the poor against millionaires is immaterial. Whether Kerry or Limbaugh know how to flip pancakes is certainly immaterial.

True, the Democrats also represent corporations and the wealthy, but only a Naderite dead-ender would argue that this makes them indistinguishable from the Republicans.
i dunno.rufus
Jan 28, 2004 10:58 AM
I would certainly scrutinize with some suspicion any person whose life is so insular from most ordinary americans that they have no comprehension how to flip a pancake.

or what a loaf of bread or gallon of gas costs. those folk live in a totally different world than the rest of us, a world where the cost of many of the staples of life is such a pittance and meager part of their lifestytle that it carries no meaning or importance to them; where any change in the costs will have absolutely no bearing on their lifestyle, but has potentially very dramatic consequences for hundreds of thousands of people.
You've identified the great inherent contradiction.OldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 12:55 PM
So the only way for the workers' interests to be truly represented/expressed is for them to seize the means of production (capital) and create a workers' state.

In the meantime, we bourgeois Democrats will muddle along trying to speak for the proletariat, but doing a piss-poor reformist job of it.
On that point, I guess I would agree with...dr hoo
Jan 27, 2004 1:01 PM
"For example, John Edwards is out touting his "I'm one of you" speech when he is not one of them at all!! I believe that his net worth is 2nd only to that of Mr. Kerry. "

Edwards, being the son of a mill worker who worked his way to where he is, certainly is "one of you" more than MOST in politics. Do you doubt that our circumstances growing up put a stamp on us? Do you doubt that Edwards' childhood gave him an understanding of working class life that Bush will NEVER have?

"That is the inconsistency that I see in this whole class warfare issue. Those that claim class warfare are members of the very class that they supposedly stand against! Those that run the Democrat party are, too, wealthy capitalists. "

So Marx would say. However, their stated POLICIES are demonstrably different than the republicans. Marx would say there is no difference because neither side wants to abolish capitalism. A neo-marxist, or someone with marxist tendencies, would say that a well run government acts as a check against the excesses of unbridaled capitalism. I think the Democrats traditionally do this, and are saying they will do it now. Moderate the negatives of capitalism. The republicans mostly see no downside to the free market, unchecked by government regulation.

Engels was a captialist. Is that name familiar to you? Being born wealthy does not mean you can NEVER see the oppressivness of the capitalist system, it just means you probably won't see it.
Yes, pretty much the pot calling the kettle black.94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 1:13 PM
Although my net worth isn't anywhere near the millions.

Okay, I guess I have been caught in my own argument. Darn it! I have to go take some courses on debate.

I often use my blue collar upbringing as my means of understanding the blue collar folks although I am no longer a member of that group. I even often refer to myself as a blue collar guy caught in a white collar world.

Darn, I may be a Neo-Marxist. I guess I need to read more Marx.
Nole, there's no way you're any kind of Marxist,OldEdScott
Jan 27, 2004 3:15 PM
neo-, paleo-, or otherwise, but you would do well to read Marx. If you want a different (and very powerful, whether you agree or not) perspective on economics, you could do worse than to study Marx, if only to sharpen your debate skills by trying to refute him as you read.

It won't be as easy as you might think.
But that was my whole point ...HouseMoney
Jan 27, 2004 1:10 PM
"When the 80k a year people realize their interests are more aligned with the 20k a year folk than the millionaires, ... ."

When many Democrats talk of "taxing the rich", that $80k a year person is included in this group, at least when you break down their tax proposals to its nuts & bolts. These folks are not even remotely rich.

And as for your follow-up post re Marx, I find it interesting that many Democrats talk as if the "evil rich" are only Republicans, but many of the truly rich people are found on the Dem side of the aisle. Past & present, many of the wealthiest Senators have been Dems: Kennedy, Lautenberg, Corzine, Simon (ret/dec), Edwards, Kerry (via marriage), etc. The wealthiest Supreme Court Justices, Dem appointees Breyer & Ginzburg. Business & Entertainment worlds, too many to mention. I don't begrudge them their wealth. They're not all evil, and they're not all Republicans.
That's just it, you don't complain. Neither does the poor.94Nole
Jan 27, 2004 11:42 AM
That's my point. And I know that you are often not among those of whom you speak.

Is the class warfare argument really being leveled AT the poor? It seems from my vantage point that the class warfare battle is waged from the Democrat brethren and sistren always trying to incite anger from the "poor" against the so-called "rich". Haves vs the have-nots.
OT: Just who do you think the "Deomcrat brethren" are?czardonic
Jan 27, 2004 11:54 AM
Examining your characterization, they can be neither the poor (who they exploit), nor the rich (who they incite against). I doubt you credit them as members of the fabled middle class.

Are they aliens from outer space? (The Red Planet?) Are you one of these people who has himself convinved that there really are only a couple dozen Democrats in America?
Don't we already have thatStarliner
Jan 27, 2004 8:02 AM
Don't community colleges qualify as colleges for everyone? What exactly does he mean by that? If he's talking Stanford-level education available to everyone, how is he going to manage that? I'm not convinced that could be done, Hmmm, maybe by utilizing the internet..... yeah, that's where things are headed... but is that what he has in mind, or does he have anything at all in mind?

Several months ago I listened to Edwards on the radio talking to I think the Commonwealth Club and was underwhelmed. He sounded like what I'd call a typical politician, feeding the masses with words and statements long on style and short on substance; pandering in tone.

Nevertheless, he's a contender and deserves a further look. If he becomes a serious possibility, he'd better have a clean, ho-hum background free of any serious moral mishaps, because he and the democratic party will be finished otherwise.
Clean ho hum background? Why?ColnagoFE
Jan 27, 2004 8:12 AM
Isn't this same blandness that killed Gore? Heck GWB snorted coke and was picked up for DWI but that didn't seem to stop him from getting votes.
Jan 27, 2004 8:48 AM
Because at this point in time we deserve somebody who is what he appears to be; does as he says he'll do; and who won't become a distraction from the things upon which we need to focus.

I don't really care whether or not he snorted coke or smoked pot in his younger days. I just don't think we can afford somebody who'll surprise us after the fact with such revelations. Now's the time to air it all out; then let's get down to business and don't look back.

This goes for all candidates - not just Edwards. He however has the charisma and looks to have ladies tossing their undies at him, as opposed to a Kerry or a Dean or even a Bush.