The Dystopian Hellscape Budget isn't popular
Mother Jones has helpfully supplied some of their great charts explaining the dystopian hellscape known as the Ryan Budget. I think these two are especially illustrative of his worldview:
According to this polling done by Democracy corps late last month, if the Democrats make that case (and don't get caught up in "balanced approach" mumbo jumbo bullshit) they will take the voters that Mitt Romney and the Republicans need to win:
The President starts out with a 3-point margin against Mitt Romney, 49 percent to 46 percent. When asked to judge the two candidates in a very narrow way—Romney’s support for the Ryan budget because it reflects his values and Obama’s opposition because of what it would do to the most vulnerable—the vote shifts. Obama wins a majority of voters (51 percent) and his margin more than doubles to 8 points (51 to 43 percent.) This is a significant finding.
The Ryan budget’s impact on the most vulnerable is powerful among key swing voters, including unmarried women, who shifted a net 10 points toward Obama, the Rising American Electorate (net 3-point shift), and independents (net 9-point shift). Even conservatives were swayed, shifting a net 13 points toward Obama.
Among those who heard an even split of facts about the Ryan budget – including ones about cuts to programs aimed to help mostly lower and working class families – the shift is even more pronounced. With this group of voters, Obama leads Romney by 9 points, 52 to 43 percent, the largest margin of any of the groups in our experiment. It’s clear that focusing on what the Ryan budget does to the most vulnerable Americans can pay dividends for Obama.
This values argument is worth having. If the Dems can stop trying to convince everyone that their 10 point plan is really a lot better than Ryan's 14 point plan because sub-section A part B specifically addresses the cost curve as it affects the baseline scenario blah, blah blah, they might not end up making things worse after all.
This sort of thing isn't Obama's strong suit. He's brilliant at soaring, inspirational rhetoric, but not much inclined to speak about his values and illustrating them in ways that people can understand. (Indeed, he quite openly sold himself in 2008 as a technocrat who only cared about "what worked.") But he can do it if he tries --- and certainly individual Democrats around the country can make this case.
This result does my heart good to tell you the truth. If you listen to Villagers, the American people are a bunch of selfish pigs who refuse to sacrifice. (These are all millionaire celebrities who won't have to go through other people's garbage to collect cans when their social security fails to buy them enough food to eat, but somehow they feel qualified to scold the rest of us about ourselfishness.) It's very reassuring to hear that most Americans still care about children and the elderly and other vulnerable citizens.
This genuinely surprised me, I must say:
Even conservatives were swayed, shifting a net 13 points toward Obama.Ayn Rand hasn't won this thing yet. If someone, anyone, makes the case for decency, compassion, empathy and the common good, apparently there are enough decent people left in this country who are ready and willing to hear it. The question is whether the Democrats are so far gone they've lost the vocabulary to talk about it.
Here's a little reminder: That excerpt was preceded by this:
[I]f we seem powerless to stop this growing division between Americans, who at least confront one another, there are millions more living in the hidden places, whose names and faces are completely unknown - but I have seen these other Americans - I have seen children in Mississippi starving, their bodies so crippled from hunger and their minds have been so destroyed for their whole life that they will have no future. I have seen children in Mississippi - here in the United States - with a gross national product of $800 billion dollars - I have seen children in the Delta area of Mississippi with distended stomachs, whose faces are covered with sores from starvation, and we haven't developed a policy so we can get enough food so that they can live, so that their children, so that their lives are not destroyed, I don't think that's acceptable in the United States of America and I think we need a change.
I have seen Indians living on their bare and meager reservations, with no jobs, with an unemployment rate of 80 percent, and with so little hope for the future, so little hope for the future that for young people, for young men and women in their teens, the greatest cause of death amongst them is suicide.
That they end their lives by killing themselves - I don't think that we have to accept that - for the first American, for this minority here in the United States. If young boys and girls are so filled with despair when they are going to high school and feel that their lives are so hopeless and that nobody's going to care for them, nobody's going to be involved with them, and nobody's going to bother with them, that they either hang themselves, shoot themselves or kill themselves - I don't think that's acceptable and I think the United States of America - I think the American people, I think we can do much, much better. And I run for the presidency because of that, I run for the presidency because I have seen proud men in the hills of Appalachia, who wish only to work in dignity, but they cannot, for the mines are closed and their jobs are gone and no one - neither industry, nor labor, nor government - has cared enough to help.
I think we here in this country, with the unselfish spirit that exists in the United States of America, I think we can do better here also.
I have seen the people of the black ghetto, listening to ever greater promises of equality and of justice, as they sit in the same decaying schools and huddled in the same filthy rooms - without heat - warding off the cold and warding off the rats.
If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.
And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year. But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.