Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 1, 2000
POLITICS: Gore For Us
You know, I tend to vote primarily on ideology and party lines. But a lot of voters out there are not so inclined, and tend to ask the question, what are you going to do for me? Politicians spend a lot of time honing their message for particular interest groups, tailoring their strategy for winning them over.
What hit me the other day (maybe this is a sign of too much time in the car) was this: Al Gore does not even want my vote. Think about it broadly: white male voters between the ages of 21 and 60 who work in white-collar private-sector jobs and/or earn at least $40,000 or $50,000 per year (or earn susbstantial taxable capital gains) make up, I suspect, a decent-sized chunk of the electorate. There must be at least as many of us as there are so-called "soccer moms," or unionized blue-collar workers, and the group probably compares somewhat favorably in size to black voters, or college students who vote, or even to elderly voters who take prescription medication. Or maybe I have my numbers wrong, but there must be enough to at least make a dent in a close election.
But what is Al Gore offering us? All his tax breaks, his "Social Security plus" plan, virtually all his economic incentives cap out somewhere around $50,000 per year. He wants to pour huge dollars into schools, but how does that help people like me who want their children raised in schools that are permitted to teach faith and moral virtues? And not only is he neither reaching into the goodie bag for us nor offering to lighten the load of government, but he doesn't talk to us, doesn't speak our language, doesn't even have any apparent strategy to win our votes. When Gore talks about economic growth, he puts on the green eyeshade and talks about balancing the budget, about deficits and debts and surpluses and government "investment." He always zeroes in on government, never talks about lifting regulatory or tax burdens, about the virtues of private investment and private business, about getting out of the way. When Gore talks about individuals, when does he ever mention people like us?
(As a practical matter, Gore isn't offering much to nonwhite male voters in these categories either, but at least he claims to feel their pain).
Bush, of course, does -- he wants to cut my taxes, he wants to help me save for retirement, and he regularly addresses issues of concern to middle- and upper-income voters, the people who pay most of the taxes and work to pay the bills. And when you look at the polls, that's why white male voters as a whole -- including the blue-collar voters that Gore is at least trying to win over -- are flocking to Bush at something like a 2-to-1 margin. How on earth can you overcome a gap like that and be president? How can a candidate win public office by winning only a third of the very demographic group of which he himself (and most of his publicly mentioned likely running mates) are members? And why wouldn't you even try?
Well, of course, Bush had my vote anyway; obviously I believe that Bush's plans are better for the public weal as a whole than Gore's, and while I would like a tax cut I don't necessarily need one. I tend to focus more on what Bush can do systemically for issues like education and Social Security and Medicare. But when you look at this on a purely selfish level, it's hard to see why anyone in our position would give their vote to Gore. Hey, he isn't even asking.
This is an email I sent to friends on August 1, 2000.