Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Typical American Voters?

Ben Smith received this email from a Republican consultant who ran a focus group that watched an ad attacking Obama:

Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.

Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills.  I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....

If these people are at all representative of the thinking among the American electorate at large...

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Bill Brown said...

I heard on a story on NPR this morning about a hot dog vendor at a country club golf course who giggled when she said something to the effect of "I'm voting for Obama because I want to get some of that wealth." I got sick to my stomach.

C. August said...

I heard the same story, Bill. It was very similar to the "email from a GOP pollster" that Myrhaf quoted.

The core of her "argument" was that she used to vote Republican, but it's clear now that they're only trying to help the wealthy. And she's not wealthy, and thinks that govt. needs to git that money flowin' around more equal-like. And she is apparently more equal.

The depth of ignorance of 1) simple economics and 2) basic individual rights that these examples show is really damn scary.

It's like -- I think -- Dagny Taggart said in Atlas Shrugged (parphrasing and basically making it up as I go along): "Something is wrong in the world, a giant nameless, faceless evil that is destroying it, but when you finally confront it, you see that it's just a toothless welfare mother or drooling janitor." This is the abyss we're staring into.

Jim May said...

Bill: when I read that hot dog vendor's comment you posted, I almost thought: what a bittersweet irony it is that trillions of dollars of the wealth that little looter covets is now permanently out of their reach, destroyed in the financial meltdown.

It's enough that even non-Objectivists are asking: is it time to "go John Galt?"

Myrhaf said...

Does anyone know what "slightly more Target than Wal-Mart" means?

C. August said...

Wal-Mart is considered low-class, and Target targets (sorry!) a more middle-class market. They have trendy designer-inspired fashions and home goods, meant to be a cheaper version of the Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn class.

So, "slightly more Target than Wal-Mart" likely means that the people are lower-middle class or upper-working class (does that even make sense?)

Jim May said...

It's a reference to social class. Target is considered the next step up from Walmart. (Sometimes people will say the name as if it were French, "Tar-jay", to make light of this.)

Myrhaf said...

I see. I'm lower class and I did not even know it.

Mike said...

Saw a T-shirt online today with the donkey mascot that said "Vote Democrat! It's easier than working!"

Kyle Haight said...

Not only is it easier than working, it morally entitles you to the wealth created by the suckers who do work. I mean, it's not like they have any right to it... all they did was bring it into existence through their thought and effort!

Dismuke said...

Being seen shopping at Wal-mart is pretty much an admission to the world that one is the type of person who drinks the sort of coffee served in truck stops and gas stations. It means that one is a boorish, backward bumpkin who is standing in the way of those who are more "progressive" or "enlightened" and thus major accomplices in all of the evils facing the world.

Nobody who aspires to considered part of the progressive, enlightened "beautiful people" crowd (who are fond of calling themselves "the creative class") would be caught dead shopping in a Wal-mart - and it is obligatory to sneer at and look down upon those peasants who do.

Target, on the other hand, is where the beautiful people"/"creative class" can go slumming as often as needed without shame. This is especially true if one needs something such as an extension cord or some compact florescent light bulbs and other items that one has a difficult time finding at more trendy places. "Beautiful"/"creative" people probably do need to be careful about actually buying stuff like clothes there - unless one just happens to be behind on the laundry and needs a pack of underwear.

Target is also handy in that it is a place where people who aspire to be considered part of the beautiful people crowd but who are on very tight budgets can buy pretty much everything they need without shame.

Now, the fact of the matter is that it is also true that plenty of people who drink the sort of coffee served at truck stops and gas stations also shop at Target. In certain categories such as kitchenware, housewares and groceries, their selection IS a step up from Wal-mart but still at very reasonable prices. Boorish backward bumpkins like a good deal - so they do go to Target when they buy certain things.

For this reason, "beautiful"/"creative" people should always make reference to any sort of Target shopping trip they might make with a self-deprecating tone in their voices in order to make perfectly clear that they were slumming and that they are NOT one of "those people." If you are a young "beautiful"/"creative" person who has never been able to afford shopping at places "better" than Target, you ESPECIALLY need to go out of your way to speak with scorn and ridicule of any of the visibly obvious trashy Wal-mart type bumpkins you might encounter while shopping in Target.

Reality is often very cruel to "beautiful"/"creative" people. Sometimes they max out their credit cards on basic necessities such as keeping up appearances and are thus reduced to the lowly status of actually having to be price conscious - something which would be quite shameful if word ever got out. Sometimes they are students and have never had much money of their own in the first place. Target exists as a way that they can deal with such realities while, at the same time, masking over the shame. They can shop at Target and say that they are "being thrifty." Being thrifty is socially acceptable so long as one makes it VERY clear that one does NOT associate with or relate to truck stop and gas station coffee drinkers.

There is an unspoken compact amongst "beautiful"/"creative" people of "if I see you at Target, I will not look down on you and you will not look down on me." The fact that everybody needs to buy things such as extension cords, office supplies, trash bags, etc. is the opening that makes this possible. How many trendy and respectable places carry trash bags? The ONLY places that carry them are places where truck stop and gas station coffee drinkers also shop. Target, therefore, is the common denominator in our culture - where "flyover country" meets places the geographical regions where "beautiful"/"creative" people dominate. I'll be that Michelle Obama has even shopped at Target a few times despite the likely presence of "bitter people." And I'll bet that most members of the Walter Duranty Media have shopped there too. And if you go to any random trailer park and do a survey, most people there will probably say that they, too, have shopped at Target from time to time - though not nearly as often as Wal-mart, of course.

Richard said...

What! In Canada there is no "Tar-jay". I can get the same stuff sold at The Bay, Zellers, etc. but a bit, and sometimes a lot, cheaper at WalMart. Walmart competes... they must be damnable Capitalists. And, I AM SO a "beautiful/creative people"!

Deus Ex Machina said...

I can definitely understand frustrations with the Republican party and wanting to retaliate against it. But not for these people's reasons!

The Republican party exists in a democracy. Their guidance is polling numbers, not principles. Republican party leaders certainly aren't sitting in their offices musing over the proper definition of a rational set of ethics, what form of government is consistent with that, and then hammering out a party platform accordingly. Hell no. They're looking to win votes, and live by polling numbers and voter demographics. Sadly, the polls right now are telling them that statism sells (case in point: the people of this focus group).

The Democrats are clearly willing to serve us socialism with a smile. Everyone knows it. It's very silly, but in most people's minds there are only two ways of thinking about politics because there are only two political parties -- and that makes the Republican party the "party of small government" by default. Even when their actions CLEARLY demonstrate that this is false. This is frustrating because piss poor, anti-freedom Republican policy has been giving freedom a bad rap, for decades now.

I think some conservatives recognize this, usually in an implict way. But when they go to the voting booths, they default to what they feel is the 'lesser of two evils'.... Even as these fiscal conservatives are looking at the Republican party and are thinking, "What happened? Where's the party that represented what I believe in? And why has this uneasy feeling only been getting worse for decades?"

The democrats will just get us to the end game of state control faster. I can't vote for the Republicans this year, because I'm sick of the fact that voting for them gives 'The Good' a bad name.

I might have been able to vote for McCain, prior to the nomination of Palin. That was the nail in the coffin. It was such a petty ploy towards the bible bangers. The Republican party has clearly made the Faustian bargain permanent: the religion-in-government crowd is a group they explicitly aim to win the votes of.

Both parties are killers of capitalism. The Dems, at least, are open and loud about it - it will be easy to blame them when their policies inevitably fail. The Republicans claim to be friends of individual liberty even as they try to destroy it in Jesus' name, while advocating market regulation for 'the common good.' I didn't always understand this argument of Rand's, but I'm really beginning to see that a half-hearted defense of 'The Good' does more to erode it than its outright enemies can.

- Justin