Saturday, April 13, 2013

Change Not Everyone Can Believe In

David Atkins, the secondary (though estimable) blogger at Hullabaloo, also is chairperson of the Ventura County (CA) Democratic Central Committee and member of the state executive board.  He writes of President Obama's proposal to implement chained CPI to reduce Social Security benefits:

How are we supposed to sell this? What am I supposed to tell an infrequent 70-year-old voter is the reason to get out to the polls and elect Democrats in 2014? That we're great on social issues? What script am I supposed to write for my phonebankers and precinct walkers? How am I supposed to sell this? 

How, indeed.   Perhaps activists can enlist the 70-year-old voter in the Party's enthusiasm for same-sex marriage.    That approach, however, would backfire.   In summarizing its survey demonstrating "The rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past decade is among the largest changes in opinion on any policy issue over this time period," Pew Research Center trumpeted the dramatic rise in approval among individuals born between 1928 and 1945- all the way up to 31%.

Pew referred to this age cohort as "the silent generation."  Silent they are, except- to the inconvenience of some- on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November of even-numbered years in which a presidential election is not held.  As the (figurative) bodies of Democrats who were Representatives and Senators before the last off year can attest, these old fogies vote, and in a higher percentage than the citizenry at large.  Quite galling.

They are not Obama enthusiasts, and many have refused to get with the program which Democratic Senators are racing to join.    Only six Democrats in the Senate now opposed to gay marriage- wait, now there are four- now three!     The GOP has had its Taxpayer Protection Pledge, courtesy of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, which members of the Party have been expected to sign under penalty of excommunication, death, and consignment to Hell.     (How well has that worked out for the country?)   Republicans have bucked Grover Norquist at their peril- and relatively few have. Now the national Democratic Party has the same-sex marriage vow as its litmus test.

The President argues that his proposal for chained CPI is part of a "balanced approach," which Hullabaloo proprietor Digby slams as

the idea that asking wealthy people to pay some more in taxes is somehow equivalent to taking money out of the hands of people who have basically nothing. It's in no way equivalent. Giving up a thousand dollars a year really is a sacrifice -- it's a painful reduction in their ability to live in dignity. Asking a millionaire to pay a few thousand more in taxes is completely meaningless. It's not a "sacrifice" its a tip.

President Obama has bought himself at least a little leeway on the budget by his support for same-sex marriage.  Approval of the latter now, Digby notes elsewhere, is up to 53% among the public, which she labels "great news."   But among the respondents in the same NBC/Wall Street Journal poll

a combined 52 percent say that abortion should be illegal either with exceptions or without them, versus a combined 45 percent who say it should be legal either “always” or “most of the time.”

This is a reversal from the NBC/WSJ poll in January, when a majority – for the first time – said abortion should be legal in some form or fashion.

Digby concludes

Unfortunately, when it comes to women's rights, we seem to either be stuck or going in the wrong direction...  as the fight for women's rights show they're never fully safe. When you have tens of millions of people who believe that your human rights are immoral, vigilance is called for.

That's a balanced approach- in the true meaning of the term, not Obama's- but one that is a little too sanguine.   The increase in tolerance of same-sex marriage bodes well for the personal rights of gay people, an ability to marry, rather than merely live, with their partners.  But support for extending to all women of child-bearing years power over their personal and professional lives has declined while the President prepares to sacrifice the well-being of the elderly in pursuit of a grand legacy.  What could possibly go wrong?

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