Are Corporations Trying to Distract Us with Social Issues While They Take Control of Our Economy?
July 7, 2013
I was having breakfast with a friend in North Carolina the day after that state voted against gay marriage, and after Barack Obama said on television that he now supported it. My friend knew I had supported the cause for a long time, so he asked me what I thought of Obama’s comments. I said “I think he’ll be tacking to the right economically once he’s re-elected.”
I was right, but not because I have any special predictive gifts. History had provided the background for Obama’s changed views while Republicans had pioneered his tactics.
One key to Obama’s “evolution” can be found in Thomas Frank’s 2004 book, What’s the Matter with Kansas? In it, a frustrated Frank argued that conservatives had persuaded heartland Americans to vote against their own interests by using social issues like gay marriage and abortion. His arguments resonated with a lot of liberals. Many of my friends expressed anger, frustration, and even contempt for the way “values voters” (as Republicans called them) repeatedly undermined their own economic needs in the voting booth.
Is it their turn? Politicians are winning liberal hearts and minds on social issues, while at the same time embracing a corporate political agenda based on ever-greater wealth for the few and increasing austerity for the many.
Let’s be clear: The term “social issues” is not used dismissively. These are human rights issues which speak to our core values of personal freedom and social justice. But are these just causes being exploited by corporate-backed politicians?