It’s Economy, Stupid

No, there is not a misprint in the title of this post. The article (the) is missing for a reason. My recent post on the sayings of Howard Dean was commented upon with a misunderstanding that I think is common in America today.

The commenter challenged my critique of Dean’s almost snobbish assessment of southerners when he said that those in the South shouldn’t base their votes on cultural issues. I challenged back saying that if anybody (namely the Democrats) really voted on financial issues alone, why do they hold so stringently to their liberal cultural agendas?

There are many today, in both political parties, who like to think that in matters of government, finance is of sole importance, and other issues are just window dressing. These people love to sing the anthem of the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.” This strategy makes the assumption that in the end, money is all that drives people. If people have a full wallet, then issues like character, abortion, gun control, gay rights/marriage, and religion won’t matter quite as much.

I believe that this type of thinking is dangerous, and few actually parlay this thinking into practice. Economy (sans article) is much bigger than the economy. Economics is about human action, and as evidenced by financial developments after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, events in the culture can have a huge influence on how people spend money. The culture in which we live in has bearing upon how we act. Economy is inseparable from culture.

If, in our voting, we push cultural issues aside solely for supposed financial gain, the greater economy will suffer. Should then, cultural issues supercede all other issues? Should a person vote for a candidate simply because he or she is pro-life, but a lousy financial manager? Not necessarily, but with an issue like abortion I don’t believe that I could vote for even the world’s greatest financier if his or her position were not pro-life. The magnitude of the issue should be taken into consideration, and abortion and freedom of religion are issues that, like it or not, have high magnitude for how our culture operates. Financial matters should be given their proper magnitude as well, but not to the point that they overshadow everything else.

Smart voting should take into consideration the whole of economy—not, as Dr. Dean suggests, just financial matters. How we live is affected by more than just the green stuff in our pockets—it’s economy, stupid.