bookmark_borderWe’re All The Middle Class Now

In a long piece in today’s The Guardian (UK), Gary Younge explores a topic near and dear to our heart here at MPH: why do working class voters support Republican candidates?

The key point is buried a third of the way in:

Americans are particularly reluctant to describe themselves as even working class let alone poor. A Pew survey in 2008 revealed that 91% believe they are either middle class, upper-middle class or lower-middle class. Relatively few claim to be working class or upper class, intimating more of a cultural aspiration than an economic relationship. Amy Pezzani, the executive director of the Larimer county food bank in Colorado, explained that politicians are reluctant to refer to “the poor” and “poverty” because it turns low-income voters off. “People who find themselves in these situations don’t want to consider themselves poor. They’re more likely to refer to themselves as the ‘struggling middle class’.

We still want and need to believe in the American Dream. Social mobility is the reason many of us get up in the morning. The dream of a better life is still attainable, or so we tell ourselves. But do we even know how the world works anymore? The quintessential anecdote about this disconnect is the senior citizen yelling at the legislator in a town hall, demanding that the legislator “keep your government hands off my Medicare!”

bookmark_borderA Failed Experiment

Timothy B. Lee has a feature article up at Ars Technica today on the state of e-voting in America. It isn’t pretty.

A decade ago, there was a great deal of momentum toward paperless electronic voting. Spooked by the chaos of the 2000 presidential election in Florida, Congress unleashed a torrent of money to buy new high-tech machines. Today, momentum is in the opposite direction. Computer security researchers have convinced most observers that machines like the ones in Fairfield Township degrade the security and reliability of elections rather than enhancing them. Several states passed laws mandating an end to paperless elections. But bureaucratic inertia and tight budgets have slowed the pace at which these flawed machines can be retired.

Voter-verifiable ballot advocates may have won most of the battles, but they’re in danger of losing the war. The reason? There was plenty of money under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help counties and municipalities buy electronic voting machines, but there isn’t any money available to help those that want to go back to more secure voting systems.

Close Bitnami banner