Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Difference Between Yarmuth and Lally

Last night's debate between John Yarmuth and Todd Lally produced one moment of clarity, in which each candidate revealed his view of the voters -- the premise that animates all policy choices and explains the differences between these two men.

John Yarmuth thinks that voters are stupid. He's not mean about this condescension; he really worries about the poor imbeciles of Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District and beyond. He truly wants to save them -- us -- from making bad choices.

It is the elitism that forms the foundation of liberalism, a view that paternalism is not only appropriate but necessary to ensure that the masses do what is best for themselves. It's the philosophy that assumes that if poor people weren't stupid, they wouldn't be poor. Therefore, the government must mandate what they spend their money on lest they use food stamps to buy crack or junk food with trans fats.

Yarmuth revealed his view of the voters, and his role as our benificent philosopher king, last night. WHAS 11 (unlike the Courier-Journal) saw fit to include the sound bite. According to Yarmuth,

All of the disinformation that's out there, it's very tough for the average citizen to get a full sense of what's involved in the legislation. So what I try to do is talk to as many people as possible, figure out the challenges that they face, what they need and then craft policy that involves that.

Let's unpack that. First, Yarmuth is worried that voters are being duped by "all the disinformation out there." Though this is arguably the most informed electorate in history, Yarmuth is worried about where we get our information. Translate: the rubes are reading the Wall Street Journal instead of the Courier-Journal. And then there are the dangers of talk radio, Fox News and (dare we say it) conservative blogs! No wonder the people are confused.

Second, given that it's too "tough" for the "average citizen to get a full sense of whats's involved in the legislation" -- as a result of "all the disinformation" -- Yarmuth must rescue us. He purports to do this by mixing with the rabble ("I talk to as many people as possible"). Then he debriefs us to discern what we really need: "figure out the challenges that they face, what they need." Yarmuth is like the good father who hears a crying baby and investigates to see what it requires: a bottle? a nap? a diaper? Like the baby, the voters cannot articulate what they need.

Finally, Yarmuth solves the problem: He "craft[s] policy that involves that."

Todd Lally has a much different view of the electorate. And he is smart enough to recognize Yarmuth's underlying premise and call him on it. According to Lally,

The one thing that I've found from travelling all over the district is that people know what they're talking about. They're not this ignorant group of lemmings that just want you to take care of them.

Todd Lally looks at the voters and sees intelligent, informed, hard-working grownups, worthy of respect. Lally trusts the voters to sort through "disinformation" and make the best choice for not just for their individual lives, but for the 3rd Congressional District and the country.


1 comment:

Sloane Graff said...

Excellent post. Right on target