Friday, December 15, 2006

Did the workers unite for tolerance?

I always enjoy it when the Left runs off with their own rhetoric and seems to take themselves seriously. One example was a little diatribe in People’s World Weekly. As you might guess from the absurd name they are on the far, far Left. And there is an article there by Joe Bernick of what is called Salt of the Earth Labor College (yawn).

And his article is about the defeat of Proposition 107 in Arizona which was the constitutional measure to ban same-sex marriage. Bernick says the “corporate-owned press” said “our rejection of Prop. 107 was due to the western libertarian traditions, the spirit of Barry Goldwater...” But Bernick has another argument.

It was class consciousness and the solidarity of the working peoples of the world with the oppressed peoples of the world standing up the corporate power. He says “a quick check of election returns would have demonstrated to these so-called pundits that Prop. 107 was defeated in working-class and liberal university precincts...” It was explaining how working people would be harmed that did it. It showed “working-class Arizonans that this was an attack on working people. When working people learned that 107 was an attack on all working people, they responded with a resounding ‘no’.” It is surprising how many times one can say “working people” in a row.

But you have enough to figure out his claim. The workers of the world, well at least of Arizona, united and defeated this proposition. I did find it funny that he mentioned the major newspapers, corporate-owned everyone of them, had opposed the measure as well. Apparently the working people include the corporate masters of the newspapers. But let’s ignore that contradiction and concentrate on the main thesis. The working peoples (always plural in Left-wing jargon) defeated Prop 107. It wasn’t the well off but “working class Arizonans” who defeated the measure. Is this actually the case?

We do have exit polls showing roughly who voted and how they voted by various categories. The exit polls I used for this article can be found here. Bernick’s data, well, he doesn’t cite any source for his claims.

So do the exit polls support his thesis. Not at all. Surely income is some sort of gauge to tell who is working-class and who isn’t. If Bernick is correct then those at the bottom of the economic ladder coalesced together to defeat the measure while those at the top opposed it. If we look at those who earn less that $50,000 and compare them to those who earn more than $50,000 per year we find that 55% of the wealthy group rejected the measure while 48% of the poorer group did. In other words if the the poorer group were the only voters Prop 107 would have passed.

Individuals who earned $150-200,000 per year voted against the measure by 68 percent. In comparison those earning $15-30,000 supported Prop. 107 by 53% to 47%.

Education is also a good indication of working class or not. Most people who fail to graduate high school are working class, most people with postgraduate degrees are not. Well 65% of those who did not graduate high school supported Prop. 107 while 67% of those with postgraduate degrees opposed it. Sixty percent of high school graduates vote for the measure but 52% of college graduates opposed the measure.

If you look at race as a factor you find that 52% of white voters opposed the measure but 61% of black voters supported it. Which of those groups is usually described more at the working class? Latino votes were split down the middle on the measure and other (I assume mostly Native American, were against the measure by 53%.

Now it is true that the poll didn’t ask people if they were “working class” or not. But income, education, are often strong indicators for that category. And what we do find is that the working class groups tended to support Prop. 107 not oppose it.

Bernick does say it failed in university areas and that is true. Young voters tended to oppose the measure but most college students are not what you would call working class. And opposition to Prop. 107 in this age group was strong across all political lines.

These polls are not surprising though they do contradict this idea of a coalition of the working peoples of the world uniting against oppression. One reason for the Republican push against gay marriage was that surveys showed black, working class Americans to be the most antigay group around except for fundamentalist Christians. This was supposed to be a wedge issue to bring black voters over the Republican Party. That is why Rove came up with the strategy.

Historically it was the wealthier groups in society that were supportive of gay rights and the poorer groups that opposed them. Individuals deemed working class are more likely to want to bash a gay person than embrace them.