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Opinions & Editorials Discuss Why Democrats Are Becoming the Party of the 1 Percent at the General Forum; Rich Americans still have it pretty good. I don’t mean everything’s perfect: business regulations can be burdensome; Manhattan zoning can ...

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Old 05-19-2017, 09:12 PM
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Default Why Democrats Are Becoming the Party of the 1 Percent

Rich Americans still have it pretty good. I don’t mean everything’s perfect: business regulations can be burdensome; Manhattan zoning can prevent the addition of a town-house floor; estate taxes kick in at over $5 million. But life is acceptable. Barack Obama has not imposed much hardship, and neither will Hillary Clinton.
And what about Donald Trump? Will rich people suffer if he is elected president? Well, yes. Yes, they will. Because we all will. But that’s a pat answer, because Trump and Trumpism are different things. Trump is an erratic candidate who brings chaos to everything. Trumpism, on the other hand, is the doctrine of a different Republican Party, one that would cater not to the donor class, but rather to the white working class. Rich people do not like that idea.
Yesterday’s primary handed victories to Trump and Clinton, and, if Michael Lind is right, Trumpism and Clintonism are America’s future. Lind’s point, which he made last Sunday in The New York Times, is that Trumpism—friendly to entitlements, unfriendly to expanded trade and high immigration—will be the platform of the Republican Party in the years going forward. Clintonism—friendly both to business and to social and racial liberalism—will cobble together numerous interest groups and ditch the white working class. Which might be fair enough, but Lind didn’t mention rich people. Where will they go?
The Democratic Party has not been a total slouch, offering policies friendly to health-care executives, entertainment moguls, and tech titans. In fact, financial support for Democrats among the 1 percent of the 1 percent has risen dramatically, more than trebling since 1980. Traditionally, though, the Republican Party has been seen as the better friend to the wealthy, offering lower taxes, fewer business regulations, generous defense contracts, increased global trade, high immigration, and resistance to organized labor. It’s been the buddy of homebuilders, oil barons, defense contractors, and other influential business leaders.
Trumpism changes the equation. If homebuilders face workplace crackdowns on illegal hiring, their costs go up. If defense contractors see a reduced U.S. military presence in Asia and Europe, their income goes down. If companies that rely on outsourcing or on intellectual property rights see their business model upended by discontinued trade agreements, they face a crisis. Sure, many rich people hate Obamacare, but how big a deal is it compared to other things they want: more immigration, sustained and expanding trade, continued defense commitments? Clintonism, by comparison, starts to look much more appealing.
All good, say some Democrats. The more people that Trumpism scares away, the broader and more powerful the liberal-left coalition will be. But nobody offers their support without expecting something in return. It’s not dispassionate analysis that causes Chuck Schumer to waffle on the carried-interest tax loophole, Hillary Clinton to argue for raising the cap on H-1B visas, or Maria Cantwell to rally support for the Export-Import Bank. The more rich people that a party attracts, the more that the party must do to stay attractive.
In a world of Trumpism and Clintonism, Democrats would become the party of globalist-minded elites, both economic and cultural, while Republicans would become the party of the working class. Democrats would win backing from those who support expanded trade and immigration, while Republicans would win the support of those who prefer less of both. Erstwhile neocons would go over to Democrats (as they are already promising to do), while doves and isolationists would stick with Republicans. Democrats would remain culturally liberal, while Republicans would remain culturally conservative.
The combination of super-rich Democrats and poor Democrats would exacerbate internal party tensions, but the party would probably resort to forms of appeasement that are already in use. To their rich constituents, Democrats offer more trade, more immigration, and general globalism. To their non-rich constituents, they offer the promise of social justice, which critics might call identity politics. That’s one reason why Democrats have devoted so much attention to issues such as transgender rights, sexual assault on campus, racial disparities in criminal justice, and immigration reform. The causes may be worthy—and they attract sincere advocates—but politically they’re also useful. They don’t bother rich people.
VIDEO: Where Stars Will Move If Donald Trump Becomes President

It’s a costly arrangement. The more that Democrats write off the white working class, which has been experiencing a drastic decline in living standards, the harder it is for them to call themselves a party of the little guy. The more that the rich can frame various business practices as blows to privilege or oppression—predatory lending as a way to expand minority home ownership, outsourcing as a way to uplift the world’s poor, etc.—the more they get a pass from Democrats on practices that hurt poorer Americans. Worst of all, the more that interest groups within the Democratic Party quarrel among themselves, the more they rely upon loathing of a common enemy, Republicans, in order to stay united.
Things get darker still, for, if the G.O.P. becomes ever whiter, failing to peel away working-class voters of other races, then partisan conflict could look more and more like racial conflict. That is the nightmare. Our politics are bad enough when voters are mobilized mainly by culture-war issues, such as abortion, because compromise is often impossible. But when voters are mobilized by issues of identity, something most people can’t change, then nothing works. It’s just war.
Seen in this light, Bernie Sanders suddenly looks quite different from his counterpart, and quite shrewder a politician than many give him credit for. One effect of focusing on economic conflict, as Sanders has done, is that it helps reduce other types of conflict. With his calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and helping young people with tuition, Sanders is uniting people across lines of identity by directing them to a cause that has nothing directly to do with identity. Moreover, while economics cause serious and passionate fights, compromise is possible. Maybe Bernie supporters will have to settle for less tuition help than they wanted, or Wall Street will have to give up more than it expected. But people will be left standing. With economic negotiations, adversaries can arrive at something other than total victory or annihilation.
Of course, to be a credible player at all, Bernie has had to signal fealty to Black Lives Matter and effectively vow to stop enforcing the border. But Bernie’s worldview and visions still feel like products of a different time, probably of Bernie’s own youth. His popularity may be a fluke, ill-suited to the politics of today. I doubt Bernie would be an effective president. Nevertheless, Sandersism is starting to look better and better in light of Trumpism and Clintonism. Though I presume the rich might disagree.

Why Democrats Are Becoming the Party of the 1 Percent | Vanity Fair

And there you have it, Democrats are the wealthy Global elite in America. Most are to stupid to know.

Regards, Kirk
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:19 PM
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Powerless Elite
How the Democrats have abandoned majoritarian politics for the monied set.
By Thomas Frank ShareThis

By all objective standards, this ought to be a Democratic year. The recovery isn’t recovering. The national adventure in Iraq has not only gone sour, it is now clear to everyone that it was launched on a contrived and specious premise. Meanwhile, the president’s economic policies perfectly express the mean-spirited self-interest behind the conservative revolution that he leads, while he seems oblivious to the disaster. Besides, he didn’t win the popular vote last time around. John Kerry ought to be mopping the floor with him.

And yet it is George W. Bush who is drawing the adoring throngs in the dying steel towns and the hard-bitten coal-mining regions. It is his team that is always there with a comically vicious TV commercial or a well-targeted counterpunch. Even the falsehoods are breaking Bush’s way, with conservative lies stirring up damaging doubts about Kerry’s service in Vietnam and liberal lies about Bush’s days in the Texas Air National Guard reflecting discredit only on the bearers—despite the absence of any evidence linking said lies to the party. This election is beginning to seem like a terrible mismatch: the New England Patriots versus the squad from Ball State.

The reason, as ever, is the intensity and internal coherence of Republican populism. Beneath all the so-called issues, beneath the overpowering force of Republican organization, lies a simple idea: John Kerry is an “elitist,” as are all liberals, while George Bush expresses in his person and bearing the essential down-home nobility of Republicans. Liberalism is snobbery; it is weakness; it is rule by intellectuals and experts; it is the opposite of patriotism.

That Republicans were going to elitist-bait Kerry was obvious from the get-go, since they’ve elitist-baited every other Democrat to come down the pike for nearly 30 years now. The strategy is no secret, it is impossible to miss if you read even a single popular conservative book, and it would have been applied to whomever the Democrats chose this year.

The mystery is why Democrats have proved so vulnerable to the charge, and why they can’t fend it off even when it’s hurled at them in a hypocritical or self-refuting fashion.

One of the reasons Democrats are never able to mount a convincing comeback is because, at the bottom of their hearts, many of the party’s biggest thinkers agree with the “liberal elite” stereotype. They can’t simply point to their working-class base and their service to working-class America, because they aren’t interested in that base; they haven’t tried to serve that constituency for decades. For them, the real divide between the parties is—or ought to be, anyway—an industrial one: Republicans represent one sort of business and Democrats another; Republicans are Old Economy while Dems are New; Republicans represent square, repressive capitalism while Dems speak for the hip, creative, tolerant new breed.

In this new political arrangement, the working class is to have no role at all, except maybe as loyal and grateful employees of one or the other sort of enterprise. The constituency that such thinkers hanker after is “professionals,” upper-middle-class but sensitive voters who might support a Democratic Party that takes a liberal stand on cultural issues but who are also believers in free trade and the neo-laissez-faire economy. In such thinkers’ minds it is only natural that, say, steelworkers or coal miners would decide to vote Republican: Such people toil in old-school industries, survivals from the Republicans’ beloved nineteenth century, and it is fruitless for cool people like us to try to speak to them or understand their concerns.

“Many of the party’s biggest thinkers agree with the ‘liberal elite’ stereotype.”

The transition rightward in the Democratic Party was gradual, commencing under Jimmy Carter and gathering force all through the eighties. Democrats were simply no longer content, in this era of costly TV campaigns, to be the party of the outsiders and the have-nots. They wanted to play with the big boys, and ditch their thirties-era reputation as the “anti-business party.” By the end of the Clinton years, the leaders of both parties had essentially reached a point of consensus on the big economic issues: NAFTA, the WTO, welfare, deregulation, antitrust, even partial Social Security privatization. And although Democratic thinkers in 2004 would like to take credit for the New Economy boom of the nineties, they must ultimately share the limelight for that dubious achievement with hard-core conservatives like Ronald Reagan, George Gilder, and Newt Gingrich. Achieving economic unanimity with the GOP may have enhanced the Dems’ respectability among the professional class, but it also means that dissent, at least as we used to know it, has become a disrespectable and in some ways a forbidden pursuit; the anger and the sense of victimization that are out there on the edge of every town get channeled instead into the cultural realm, where the Republicans’ enormous alienation-harvesting apparatus awaits.

The GOP likes to refer to John Kerry as one of the most liberal Democrats of them all, but in fact he is yet another representative of the “safe” wing of the Democratic Party, a budget-balancer and free-trader (if you go to the “trade” section of his Website, you will find an essay feigning outrage at Bush for . . . not filing enough grievances with the WTO) whose triangulating instincts led him to vote Bush the authority to prosecute the Iraq War and thus cripple any effort to use what ought to be, after all, the strongest Democratic issue of the campaign.

It is true that Kerry enjoys an easy rapport with the much-coveted professional class, but he just can’t seem to turn it on with the party’s traditional working-class base. (Which may also explain the campaign’s boneheaded inclination to keep populist powerhouse John Edwards in the shadows.) Kerry’s politics may jazz the centrist D.C. pundit set, but they will serve the candidate poorly as the campaign heads into its final month and the emphasis shifts to getting out the vote. Like all the triangulators before him, Kerry will have little to offer his base on November 2, few incentives to mobilize them apart from the candidate’s simply not being George W. Bush.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:21 PM
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Nevertheless, for some of the party’s big thinkers, 2004 is turning out to be the year that all their fence-mending paid off. Consider, for example, the flurry of stories that appeared a few months ago in which Democratic brass enthused over the venture capitalists and Silicon Valley industrialists whose donations were promising to erase the Republicans’ longtime advantage in political fund-raising. Their enthusiasm was so contagious, evidently, that certain journalists were moved to borrow from management theory to describe the shift. Writing in The New York Times Magazine, Matt Bai told readers that the heroic millionaires coming to the Dems’ rescue “have come to view progressive politics as a market in need of entrepreneurship, served poorly by a giant monopoly—the Democratic Party—that is still doing business in an old, Rust Belt kind of way.” All that was needed was a little free-market magic, a little reengineering, a little outsourcing, a little de-unionization maybe (at one point Bai refers to labor leaders as “union bosses” whose time has come and gone), and this lumbering dinosaur could be transformed into an agile competitor.

Not that Democrats should be turning away the votes or the money of anyone in these parlous times. They should be aware, however, that adopting the language of consultants, buyout artists, and billionaires isn’t an unalloyed good; that it just might complicate their claim to be the “party of the people,” not to mention infuriate certain members of their electoral base. A particularly egregious case in point is the item I noticed in a San Francisco city magazine about the efforts of the local beautiful people to raise money for Kerry, including a campaign to persuade the fashion-conscious to give up on expensive new shoes until the election is won. The story concludes with the musings of the wife of a prominent “VC” who has donated millions to the effort: “I tell my girls I’m investing their inheritance.” Words to get out the vote with, surely.

Were Republicans to settle on a single figure who embodies and even celebrates the “liberal elite” stereotype, they would do well to choose Richard Florida, the sociologist whose musings on urban revitalization are much revered by the Democratic Establishment. In particular, Florida is concerned with what he calls the “creative class,” an economic cohort whose hunger for art institutions, specially targeted tax cuts, and edgy urban bohemias must be fed, on peril of terminal decline, by cities across the land. These “creatives” are liberal in the sense that they like rock music and ethnic restaurants while shunning homophobia; they are an elite in that Florida says the rest of us must either service the cool people or die.

So when Florida advises Republicans to “stop sneering at the elites,” as he did in a Washington Monthly story back in January, he does so not because it is hypocritical or delusional of Republicans to pretend to oppose elites, but for precisely the opposite reason: GOP anti-elitism genuinely scares elites away. Florida reminds us of the blockbuster movies that have been filmed overseas since Bush took office and the high-powered academics who have moved to countries where stem-cell research is less heavily regulated, he protests the shabby treatment meted out to scientists visiting the U.S. and decries the visa troubles experienced by “the Bogota-based electronica collective Sidestepper,” and he generally laments the “disastrous economic consequences” of Bush’s “Know-Nothing views.” The global creative class is “highly mobile and very finicky,” and by loudly proclaiming their Middle American populism, the GOP has committed precisely the transgression that Republicans have accused liberals of for years: By failing to cater to these tasteful transnationals’ every whim, they have damaged our country’s ability to compete. That’s right: The problem with Republicans is that, in being so square, they aren’t pro-business enough.

A nice trick if you can pull it off—and if you feel comfortable with the idea of bosses’ being better and cooler and even more rebellious people than their employees. For most Americans, though, I suspect that this is a fundamentally loathsome perspective, and my guess is that the tighter the Democratic Party hews to it, the more its troubles will grow. For me, the most disheartening aspect is watching this collection of bad ideas, crushingly discredited years ago in the economic sphere, be embraced so cocksurely by a party that ought to know better. And that would have every shot at winning if it would only follow its instincts.

Democrats seeming back the wealth Global elite, at the expense of the working men and women of our Country.

They better get used to loosing elections.

Regards, Kirk
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