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Friday, April 11

are Americans that wishy washy?

This article at Der Spiegel was brought to my attention by one of our readers, Dirruk, in the Netherlands and I thought it was pretty interesting. Why Americans Never Vote For What They Want by Gabor Steingart in Washington. I presume this article is for international readers but the author makes a few good points in general.
American voters are a contradictory bunch: They say they want social welfare, but don't want to pay for it. They claim they are left-leaning, but vote for center-right candidates. Only candidates who can appeal to both sides stand a chance.

The author sees an America more divided along the lines of taxes and tax cuts than north-south, black-white, poor-rich. Could that be true?
The unanimous response among Americans, when it comes to tax policy, can be summed up in four words: Not a cent more! Although a majority of Americans generally reject President George W. Bush's fiscal policies, they only do so when the question is phrased very broadly. His tax cut policies, in particular, are widely welcomed.

Should these tax cuts, which have meant additional billions for some taxpayers, especially the wealthy, be made permanent? 'Yes!' say a clear majority of poll respondents. Should they be followed by additional cuts? 'Absolutely!' say voters. Is it best for the US economy if these tax cuts include everyone, or just those with moderate to low incomes? 'Tax cuts for everyone!' say a respectable 30 percent of respondents.
Well yes, that is fucked up, but while this journalist is writing this for Der Spiegel, most Americans don't actually get news that they can use. They watch news for the rich and since most Americans want to be rich, they spout the talking points of the rich. It's not like anyone actually speaks for the working class and the middle class in the media. So who, pray-tell are our role models anyway? Mr. Steingart says that 17% of American's say they belong to the 1% of our society that is deemed "rich." 

It's a pretty good article to read for another perspective. Steingart seems to believe that extremists are most happy. Perhaps that is why I am not thrilled with the status quo.

This is not to say that all US voters have multiple personality disorder. According to a recently published study on the mood of the nation by Arthur Brooks, desires and basic convictions are completely in sync at the left and right extremes of the political spectrum. But nowhere else in the political orbit, according to the study, are voters so at peace with themselves.
Those on the left have expensive wishes and no qualms about calling for a strong government. Meanwhile, those on the right want more personal freedom and desire nothing more deeply than a government that fades into the background.

Both fringe groups live in harmony with themselves, because there are no contradictions between the means and the end. They are not plagued by self-doubt.

Extremists, it appears, are happier.
ack. What's a moderate to do?

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