I was meeting with some friends the other day and, as is becoming more commonplace for me, one of them proclaimed that he was not going to vote because “there’s no difference between the parties. They’re all the same.”
In the past, I must confess, I would have challenged him citing all sorts of good deeds attributable to Democrats; and misdeeds put at the feet of the Republicans. All of them, mind you, directly out of the campaign headlines, talking points, brochures and TV spots — I feel somewhat responsible for my part of that last category. But I digress.
Instead of challenging, I started thinking to myself that he might be correct — there are ingredients the two parties share. Currently one of those is the extraordinary ability to discuss anything and wind up doing nothing — or little enough.
But even D’s and R’s will cop to that one these days.
So I was convinced that there must be something deeper; something that really defines the differences in a way that reaches a fundamental core from which many, if not most decisions and positions flow.
I looked back over more than 40 years of hanging around politics and politicians when it finally occurred to me that the underlying issue may be both sociological and psychological, not political.
Which is how I arrived at Grossfeld’s Theory of Political Difference.
Basically, it goes this way:
Democrats are comfortable with sex, but obsess about money. By contrast, Republicans are comfortable with money, but obsess about sex.
Just let your mind hang with the theory for a bit and I suspect you’ll find instances in your own experience that support the theory.
For me, I look at all of the GOP obsession with regulation of private sexual behavior — or even thinking or writing about it. Whether its how Gay couples go about the business of their own sexuality or, more recently, trying to regulate sex via eliminating contraceptives, an inordinate amount of Republican time is filled with sex talk. Money, on the other hand, gets little attention other than their routine efforts to enrich the already wealthy and reward those who have climbed fairly high on the economic food chain. The “job creators” is how they sometimes describe it.
By the way, that whole “job creators” thing betrays a basic misunderstanding of how our economy works and what the “free enterprise” system really looks like. Without going into a very boring recitation of why “trickle down” economics is just foolish, let’s focus on how things really work. First, the only way to create more jobs is through increased demand for products and services. Free enterprise, right?
That’s where the Republicans go off the rails and spew this nonsense about how those at the top create jobs. Not so. When jobs are created it is because there are people out there with enough cash to buy things they need. Too few people with cash in their pockets, no jobs being created. And that’s what has been happening in the country: a growing number of people who do not have enough money to buy things. In economic-speak that means “demand” is low.
Now, to be clear, that does not mean folks don’t want to buy that new car, they do, but their household income is stretched to the max just paying the bills of everyday life. So, what’s a country to do? Well, the answer is to get more cash in the hands of those real job creators so that they can afford to buy the new car. When that happens the car people start selling more cars and hiring people to build the cars in order to meet the increased demand.
Democrats, by comparison, are relatively comfortable with sex and have no issues including groups that have some sexual component in their multi-layered coalition. From the LGBT community to Pro-Choice, Democrats by and large don’t have a problem with how people decide to live out their sexual lives. And they fiercely oppose Republican efforts to invade America’s bedrooms.
On the other hand, Democrats fret about money. A lot. Having rejected “trickle down” economics for an actual free enterprise model of how things work, Democrats devote their time to trying to get more cash into the hands of the middle class, or what’s left of it, and poor people because they will spend the cash and that gets more money into circulation. That gets the economy growing again so that demand increases and jobs are created to help companies fill the demand. By contrast, Republicans keep trying to push money to the wealthiest Americans who alread have enough cash to live on so they will tend to stash the cash away some place. And that prevents the money from getting into circulation so that jobs can be created.
At a minimum, Democrats, are focused on maintaining the so-called “safety net” that keeps millions of Americans spending, Social Security being the best single example. But its more than that. Democrats argue, correctly, that when the “market” is not generating enough funded demand, it is the government’s obligation to step in and jump start the economy.
I am constantly impressed with how stupid opponents of “government” are when it comes to spending tax dollars in order to boost he economy. (Of course they managed to gulp down government bail outs of the major financial institutions which then took the government money and sat on it instead of making loans to help get cash into circulation.) My favorite is when Republicans oppose “wasteful government spending” on things like public works projects. The reality is that “government” isn’t out there building roads, bridges, or buildings; all of those things are being built by private sector companies that have won projects based on their bids: competition at its best.Think about that the next time you’re driving past a construction project and see those “your tax dollars at work” signs. Thats what government can and should do to help get things moving again. But on a much larger scale.
What is missed during the Republican and Democratic bickering, I believe, are Democrats and other progressives are not holding up their end of the debate. And, to some extent, it makes sense: Sex sells and basic economics does not.
At least it hasn’t until Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren stepped onto the national scene. Sanders, an independent screams bloody murder about our upside down economy with fierce determination. Warren, relatively new to the game, has become the person that most progressives wish could or would run for president. Her calm, simple explanation of how things really work has become a rallying point when others are still bullshitting.
As I’ve said before, Hillary Clinton may have my head, but Elizabeth Warren has my heart.
So, after this long meandering diatribe, I submit to you, dear reader, that the more Republicans busy themselves with their sex obsession, the more opportunity there is for the progressive side to capture the “jobs” flag. While “sex” does sell, just ask the advertising folks making millions selling fast cars or perfume, folks still need cash in their pockets to make the purchases.