The Base and Bloggers

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One of the most important facts about present-day American politics is that poor people have essentially no political “voice” in Washington. They do, however, vote. And they’re also human beings with moral worth and interests who count. What often winds up happening is that you get liberal bloggers, whose opinions about things are easy to find out since we publish them on the Internet, used as a generalized proxy for a huge swathe of the electorate. Hence this kind of thing from Michael Shear:

One liberal supporter who listened to the [conference] call described it as “mostly boring,” an indication that the president’s base was not particularly upset about the budget. During the call, Mr. Plouffe also offered some comfort to the bloggers by suggesting that Mr. Obama is not interested in big reductions in Social Security.

As a colleague of mine snarks, “because if one thing is indicative of how poor people feel about cuts, it’s white upper class bloggers.”

Right. As best I can tell the electoral base of the Democratic Party continues to be low-income people and racial minorities. Obviously better-off white people with idiosyncratic ideological motivations also play an important role in progressive politics on a practical level. But I often thought during the health care debate that poor people would be saying “hell no I’m not going to give up this Medicaid expansion so you can hold out indefinitely for a public option.” Conversely, the political tactics of calling for an overall discretionary budget freeze while insisting on investments in energy, infrastructure, and education has a lot of merit but it necessarily entails taking the hammer to programs that subsidize consumption for poor people. I kind of doubt that all that many LIHEAP recipients eagerly downloaded the budget yesterday morning and then blogged about it in the afternoon and got on a press call in the evening.