I’m experiencing a phenomenon that may explain the “Reagan Democrat” or whatever you want to call it. I’m in a situation where I’ve come to rely on unemployment—basically a form of insured welfare—when my main escape is through the meager remaining social safety net of bankruptcy, and I would really love it if the government’s program to help people prevent foreclosures was somewhat effective… all of this while expecting a child.
Despite that, the situation is making me start to have my internal though process—my “gut” reaction—is not to hope for a program for me, or whatever, but wishing that others would be so harshly judged. It’s silly, really. Even my situation as terribly as I described it means only a reduction in my standard of living well within the 1-sigma range of middle class. Yet the sense of loss is palpable and it is not causing me to reflexively feel more empathy towards others. I kinda just want everyone else to have to deal with this.
I think when I was a bit younger, these feelings would have manifested themselves in a more concrete way. Now, I know better. I know my impulse is childish and stupid and no way to make decisions for others. So, I guess I’m being elitist. Or not. Because I certainly think I understand the feeling.
You kind of want to see everyone who breaks “the rules” get theirs. And, of course, just about everyone is doing something against “the rules.” Isn’t being gay immoral? etc. To me, the people breaking the rules are still your usual liberal suspects: the money power and corporate rule, but it’s sure hard not to wonder if the government is even capable of providing relief along these lines and if we won’t just have to live out our lives enjoying the schadenfreude we can get.
I’m sure this has been studied in depth by all the right people, but it’s entirely different to go through this, of course, than to read about it.