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2008 July 19 Saturday
Thinking About Democratic Party Upper Class

An article in the Washington Post observes the Democratic Party is making in-roads among affluent voters in formerly solid Republican states that have become more urban and developed.

But the Democrats' ascendance in prosperous areas leaves them with weak spots in key swing states such as Ohio. And it presents questions about their identity: The party that fought for the little guy against the party of the wealthy has, while still representing racial minorities, increasingly become defined by the metropolitan middle and upper-middle class.

Theorists have spent years debating what is behind the shift, but they generally agree that the parties are in a cycle in which each plays to its emerging strengths. By pressing issues such as gun rights and same-sex marriage, Republicans tightened their grip on the South and snared such states as West Virginia, but lost many business-minded voters and alienated areas such as Fairfax County, where one in seven Virginians live.

I see the Republicans losing ground due to a combination of immigration, rising population density, and higher energy costs. All these factors are pulling people into more dense and smaller housing in more dangerous areas and this reduces affordable family formation and swings white voters leftward. If the career advantage of living in and near cities rises then the economic incentive to live in urban areas will reduce baby-making by Republicans while creating incentives to vote for Democrats.

The Dirt Gap, Mortgage Gap, Marriage Gap, and Baby Gap might all be pushing many upper middle class whites toward voting for the Democratic Party. But leave aside what this does to the Republicans for the moment. What does it do to the Democrats? The smarter and more affluent people will tend to dominate any organization they join. The affluent people who have shifted toward the Democrats are bringing their brains and money with them. How have they changed the party?

The decline of the unions makes it harder to measure how the influx of affluent people have changed the Democratic Party. How much of the change is due to declining union power rather than to the arrival of upper middle class professionals and business owners? I put this out there as a question to those who might think of analytical approaches to use to come up with answers.

My guess is that the biggest change in the Democratic Party as a result of the influx of the urban affluent comes from more of a faux concern for poor people. Noblesse oblige impels the Democratic Party upper class to support more health care and educational spending for the poor. But on wages the Democratic upper class sees the poor as domestic servants. Maids, nannies, yard workers, and other servants should be cheap. Prices at the local dry cleaner should be low. So the elites of the Democratic Party want cheap labor.

We can see how far the Democratic Party has fallen under the influence of its more affluent voters with this: Obama doesn't want to alienate his upper middle class supporters with tax increases on them.

"If you are a family making $250,000 or less, we will not raise your taxes," he said. "Not your income tax. Not your payroll tax, not your capital gains tax. Not any tax. We will cut your taxes. So I'm happy to have a debate about taxes with John McCain."

Those who earn very high salaries are going to pay more taxes under President Obama. But do not be fooled by this. Clearly the Democratic Party does not represent the interests of manual labor.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 July 19 11:01 PM  Politics Demographics


Comments
HellKaiserRyo said at July 20, 2008 12:00 AM:

Even though people at the Daily Kos cannot stop talking about Barack Obama, I can predict that the Democratic Party will be washed up like the British Labor Party.

Lord Vader said at July 20, 2008 12:31 AM:

"We can see how far the Democratic Party has fallen under the influence of its more affluent voters with this: Obama doesn't want to alienate his upper middle class supporters with tax increases on them.

"If you are a family making $250,000 or less, we will not raise your taxes," he said. "Not your income tax. Not your payroll tax, not your capital gains tax. Not any tax. We will cut your taxes. So I'm happy to have a debate about taxes with John McCain."

The Democrat coalition of upper middle class whites and low IQ minorities is not sustainable over the longterm - and the above quote from Obama shows why. It has been well documented that the Social Security shortfall cannot be covered by raising taxes only on people earning over $250,000. Economists agree, in order to close the budget hole, Obama will have to raise taxes on ALL income groups. The income/payroll tax hikes which are needed will be so large that economic growth would be put in jeopardy.

Also, deciding which type of tax cuts a POTUS Obama would have to decide to hike poses a major problem for him. If he tries to raise payroll taxes, the GOP will hammer him for raising a tax that is (correctly) seen as a huge burden on the middle class. Payroll taxes are also much harder to cut than income taxes are, which makes raising them so much more threatening from the perspective of the taxpayer. You can bet the GOP will wield payroll tax hikes like a club against the Democrats. Expect to see the GOP to return to power in Congress in 2010 should Obama be foolish enough to try and raise payroll tax.

If he tries to raise income taxes, the urban business class will turn massively against him and against the Democrats because income taxes will hurt the rich and business the most.

The tax issue illustrates a broader problem for the Democrats.

The flood of third world minorities is coming at the same time the baby boomers are retiring. These demographic pressures will put enormous stress on the affordability of entitlements and the welfare state. The only way to keep those programs funded is to massively hike taxes on the middle, upper middle, and upper classes. The threat of huge tax increases would immediately revive the popularity among all classes of whites for traditional, pre-Busheron, Republican tax cuts and fiscal austerity.

The Democrats were able to make inroads among white ubranites and wealthy suburbanites in 1990's and 2000's because Clinton was a centrist on economic policy and he did not go on a spending spree after 1994.

But Obama is going to find it impossible to fund all of his projects without blowing a gigantic hole in the US budget - unless he hikes taxes.

A Democrat return to high tax and high spend policies will just send those suburban professionals back into the arms of the GOP, ie, instead of just winning lower, middle and working class whites on cultural issues, the GOP will also win over upper middle class whites on economic issues, and increase the GOP share of the white vote from 58% to at least 66%.

Yet, if the Democrats do not raise taxes to fund the welfare state for minorities, their minority base will revolt against them.

The Democrats are going to find it impossible to govern a coalition of moderate, upper middle class whites and uneducated minorities because their economic interests are so divergent and because years of bad Bush economic policies will keep Obama in a fiscal box Obama will come to find impossible to break out of.

HellKaiserRyo said at July 20, 2008 3:44 AM:

"The flood of third world minorities is coming at the same time the baby boomers are retiring. These demographic pressures will put enormous stress on the affordability of entitlements and the welfare state. The only way to keep those programs funded is to massively hike taxes on the middle, upper middle, and upper classes. The threat of huge tax increases would immediately revive the popularity among all classes of whites for traditional, pre-Busheron, Republican tax cuts and fiscal austerity."

I question this (because it seems to be derived on an assumption that right-wing politics is solely economic)... people will remember whether the Bush tax cuts made them better off. However, I do not doubt that the impact of "third world minorities" would make the Republican Party popular again. I do not think advocating supply-side policy would attract votes for the Republican Party as people want the security of the welfare state. Since people want the security of the welfare state AND they dislike the "third world minorities," this does not lead one to revile the welfare state or higher taxes on the wealthy. It would make restricting the influx of "third world minorities" along with deporting the ones who are already here a political priority among conservative politics. I do not think rhetoric such as "the magic of the marketplace" would sell the conservative brand. So instead of imitating Milton Friedman, the GOP might imitate someone such as Nick Griffin. This would mean the GOP has to abandon the wealthy since most of them support the access of cheap labor (a point that Randall Parker stresses) but those people ignore the externalities of illegal immigration.

However, the wealthy can have the best of both worlds and the major political parties can evade the temptation of adopting a populist political agenda regarding immigration (i.e. restricting in the influx of illegal immigration) if they disenfranchise voters with lower economic status. In this scenario, the GOP does not need to adopt anti-immigration as one of their main planks (right now, it is a peripheral issue.)

Randall, what scenario do you think is more likely? Do you think adopting an anti-immigration platform is a winning strategy for the GOP?


Besides, most people believe the wealthy do not pay enough taxes... they support the tax cuts if they believe that they will pay too much. I think people will support taxes if it increases their security. I think the welfare state will be strongly supported by the majority if the wealthy are taxed higher and I do not see any significant aversion to this. However, this is not Scandinavia with a strongly ethically homogeneous population.

HellKaiserRyo said at July 20, 2008 4:00 AM:

I will say this... I do not think Democrats have the political will to do what is necessary in immigration policy. My question is whether the Republicans would actually do something about it. Furthermore, I am also interested in a stricter immigration policy would attract votes. I do not think that it will as in most surveys, the Iraq War, health care, and the economy trump immigration as concerns for voters. (Which is another reason why I do not think conservative economic policies would be politically attractive.)

The issue of immigration seems irresistable to the right -- it has the ability to divide and conquer the lower classes.

Randall Parker said at July 20, 2008 11:12 AM:

Lord Vader,

The upper classes in Mexico successfully dominate the lower classes. Can the upper classes in the US maintain control of the Democratic Party? The lower classes are pretty poorly informed. Maybe the elites can placate and fool them and continue to use the supposed party of the lower classes for upper class purposes. I hope so. Rule by the dummies would be bad.

HKR,

I do not think that taking the vote away from the dummies is possible now and I do not expect it to become possible in the next 10 years at least. Though we already have criminal convictions as a way to disenfranchise. Maybe a more efficient criminal justice system could tag more dumb youths with criminal convictions when they are young and take away their voting power that way.

I think opposition to immigration is a key plank in a platform which the GOP could use to appeal to the lower classes. The GOP could go populist while still remaining fairly free market oriented. This could be a winning strategy. Though it is not a strategy I expect them to follow this year. Still, the the "Grand New Party" book by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam is promoting ideas that could lead to a Republican resurgence.

Lord Vader said at July 20, 2008 3:54 PM:

"Since people want the security of the welfare state AND they dislike the "third world minorities," this does not lead one to revile the welfare state or higher taxes on the wealthy."

HKR,

White people will not support the welfare state if the tax burden becomes too large and/or the welfare state continues to be diverted to service the growing low IQ minority underclass. Whites like the safety net when it primarily helps whites.

Randall,

"The upper classes in Mexico successfully dominate the lower classes. Can the upper classes in the US maintain control of the Democratic Party?"

The elite whites may remain in control of the Democrat Party.

However, my main point was not that white leaders would be thrown out of the Democrat Party, so much as upper middle and upper class white VOTERS - not leaders - would flock back to the GOP as the Democrats are slowly forced to pay more attention to non-white minorities, whose economic interests conflict with the economic interests of white college educated professionals.

I'm glad you brough up Latin American politics, Randall.

If you look at Latin America, the Euro-middle/upper professional classes overwhelimingly vote for the pro-big business parties like the Mexican PAN party, or Alviro Uribe in Colombia. Obviously, the European middle class votes for the pro-business parties because they have little in common, economically speaking, with the not so white lower classes.

In the US, the trend has been for upper middle class whites to drift towards the Democrats, because Bush has been such a disaster and because Clinton restored the economic image of the Democrats. Thanks to Bush and Clinton, the Democrats don't seem so bad on economic issues, and so, the professional classes have been moving towards the Democrats.

But this will not last as the minority base of the Democrats demands more and more left wing policies.

During a leftwing Obama presidency, I fully expect upper middle class whites to start voting for the pro-business party just as all white income groups do in Latin America.

The GOP will simply become the white party and the Democrats will become the party of everyone else.

Randall Parker said at July 20, 2008 4:21 PM:

Lord Vader,

Your logic makes sense. Yes, the Demoes will eventually get pulled leftward by the growing Hispanic vote.

Whites will lose some influence in the Democratic Party as more elected officials become Hispanic. I'd like to see a chart thru time of the percentage of elected officials at each level of government who are Hispanic.

Will the Jews ever abandon the Democratic Party when most whites bail from it? The Jews fund, what, half the money that the Democrats get in donations? Their money buys them influence in the party - especially on Israel, immigration, and a few other issues. Will their money work for or against tax increases?

Also, which way will East Asian and South Asian voters go? I see better prospects for South Asians to go Republican than for East Asians to do so. I think it will depend on which occupation they are in. Entrepreneurs will go Republican. Government apparatchiks will stick with the Donkey.

HellKaiserRyo said at July 20, 2008 5:06 PM:

Do you have any information about the history of the PRI and PAN in Mexico? I am interested in the how the PAN party obtained power and dominated the lower classes. (History might repeat itself in the United States.) In addition, I want to know that if socialist policies in Mexico decrease immigration to the United States. If socialist policies can discourage immigration, I guess it is not a bad thing for Mexico from our point of view.

Unfortunately, it seems Mexico's prosperity during the reign of the PRI is due to its oil reserves; exactly what would be expect for a country with an average IQ of 92.

Regarding deporting the illegals, I think there is a small window of opportunity to do this.

JSBolton said at July 20, 2008 9:07 PM:

an analysis of the rich part of the democratic coalition, would need to distinguish the types of occupations involved. There are all these professionals who would not have those jobs without a redistributional regime of great size. In terms of the number of children, this would seem to relate to the quality of population as shown in the public schools. When the upper income have two incomes and high minimum standards as to what sort of school is good enough for their children, a liberal death cycle ensues, if the population quality around them is low and declining from the sort of immigration which accelerates this cycle, this vortex into leftist oblivion.

Lord Vader said at July 21, 2008 10:40 AM:

Randall, I don't know what Jews and Asians will do. Jews do vote conservative in the UK and Australia, though. Perhaps Jews will gravitate to the GOP if Democrat politics becomes too dominated by non-white minorities (Btw, Jews also give a lot of donations to the GOP). Asians, I don't know much about. East Asians don't seem very active in American politics, so far as I can tell.

I do remember Peter Brimelow writing in VDare that the GOP would remain the majority party up to the year 2080 - regardless of immigration trends - if they increased their average share of the white vote from 58% to 66%.

HKR,

I am not familiar with the history of the PRI. I just know the wealthier, whiter Northern half of Mexico, such as Sonora and Nuevo Leon, votes PAN while the less white South votes for the Socialist parties.

Audacious Epigone said at July 23, 2008 10:38 AM:

That whiterpeople helped nominate a candidate they cannot criticize, even satirically, who commands the black vote in his party like the Democratic candidate controls the black vote in the general election, while the white vote continues to shrink as a percentage of the total Democratic vote does not indicate to me that the Democratic party of the future will be more focused on hip liberal causes like environmentalism (which blacks and Hispanics really don't give a damn about or are opposed to), libertine open access on social issues, universalist causes like fighting for a "free Tibet" or southern Sudan (again, blacks and Hispanics tend to be very disinterested in what's going on in the Middle East), etc. Blacks are far more likely to consider themselves "conservative" than uber liberal groups like Jews are, even though blacks are also more likely to vote Democratic. I suspect something similar in the case of many Hispanics.


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