Democrats Becoming “Party of the Rich”

When following the trackback from Michael van der Galiën’s link to my earlier post today on socially liberal, fiscally conservative voters backing the Democrats I found what amounts to a related story at his site. Michael is surprised by a story in the Financial Times which shows that the Democrats are becoming the “party of the rich.”

For the demographic reality is that, in America, the Democratic party is the new “party of the rich”. More and more Democrats represent areas with a high concentration of wealthy households. Using Internal Revenue Service data, the Heritage Foundation identified two categories of taxpayers – single filers with incomes of more than $100,000 and married filers with incomes of more than $200,000 – and combined them to discern where the wealthiest Americans live and who represents them.

Democrats now control the majority of the nation’s wealthiest congressional jurisdictions. More than half of the wealthiest households are concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats control both Senate seats.

This new political demography holds true in the House of Representatives, where the leadership of each party hails from different worlds. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, represents one of America’s wealthiest regions. Her San Francisco district has more than 43,700 high-end households. Fewer than 7,000 households in the western Ohio district of House Republican leader John Boehner enjoy this level of affluence.

The story, coming from a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, only tells part of the story, but there is considerable truth to this–and it comes as no surprise. I’ve previously noted how businessmen and affluent suburbanites are increasingly voting Democratic. An increasing number of people have rejected the Republicans as they identified them with the Iraq war, the policies of the religious right, and incompetent government.

There’s also the realization that Republican economic policies don’t work, except perhaps from those receiving Republican corporate welfare. Even some of the Republican business owners I know who are not yet willing to vote Democratic admit that their businesses do better under Democrats. The stock market also does better under Democrats on the average. While none of us like higher taxes, it is preferable to pay higher taxes on a higher income if it means that in the end we do better than under the Republicans. There’s also a certain degree of infrastructure necessary for a successful business climate, and the slash and burn tactics of the Republicans create the fear that they will destroy the necessary infrastructure while enforcing their no-tax increase pledges.

Whether this trend continues depends largely upon which the direction the Democrats go. If the Democrats adopt populist style economic policies as advocated by John Edwards they will lose the new voters who helped them achieve victory in 2006, while a candidate such as Obama is far more likely to appeal to affluent and independent voters. Some on the left see the 2006 victory as a mandate for their views, but we saw what happened when the Republicans earlier misinterpreted an election as a mandate in 2004.

Barack Obama on SNL


The skit on Saturday Night Live (video above) has the Clintons hosting a Halloween party where all the Democratic candidates are mocked. Finally Barack Obama walks out wearing an Obama mask and says, “I have nothing to hide. I enjoy being myself. I’m not going to change who I am just because it’s Halloween.”

Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Voters Change New Hampshire

I’ve stated many times that John Edwards‘ attempts to win the nomination as John Kerry did by using an Iowa victory to gain momentum in New Hampshire, and move on to win the rest of the primaries, is unlikely to be successful. Edwards’ populism receives some support in Iowa but his conservativism on social and civil liberties issues along with his economic populism are the opposite to the views of many New Hampshire voters. The Chicago Tribune has reviewed the demographic changes which made New Hampshire flip to the Democrats:

“The independents are not listening to the Republican candidates,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the state Democratic Party. For Democrats, he said, “suddenly there’s 100,000 or more new voters who are listening to them.”

For the Democratic presidential candidates, that may mean moderating their message for a broader audience, such as independents who traditionally have voted Republican. For the Republicans, it may mean tailoring their conversation to appeal more directly to registered Republicans, with undeclared voters increasingly out of reach.

The shift stems largely from an influx of voters drawn by the state’s booming software and defense industries. Many share what one observer calls a “Silicon Valley” sensibility — a mix of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism that currently is attracting them to the Democrats.

Both parties have a growing segment of socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters. The “Starbucks Republicans” were forced to abandon the Republicans as the religious right took control. Some might see Ron Paul’s candidacy as an alternative, but Paul’s social conservativism and affiliation with extremist right wing groups limits his support to a minuscule (but noisy) segment of the population.

In 2004, led by socially liberal and somewhat fiscally conservative candidates such as John Kerry and Howard Dean, the Democrats laid the groundwork for an influx of such voters in 2006. At present it remains uncertain whether the Democrats will continue to offer a home to these voters or, believing victory is certain, move to the left on economic policy (and continue to compromise on social and civil liberties issues). If the Democrats fail to understand the changing demographics in New Hampshire, as well as much of the rest of the country, we may see a resurgence of the Republican Party, or perhaps even the development of a viable third party which represents those of us whose views have not been represented well by either party in the past.

Desperate Attempts to Promote Religion

As someone who deals with patients with dementia on a daily basis and sees their cognitive decline, I found this story in The New York Times rather pathetic. Anthony Flew, a long-retired atheist philosopher with impaired memory, has fallen under the influence of opportunists who seek to exploit his senility to promote their religious views. They find some perverse satisfaction in attaching his name to a book promoting views which were counter to the views he held when alert.

This episode proves nothing regarding the philosophical arguments under discussion but does shed more light on those who are exploiting him. Imagine if Ronald Reagan’s care in his later years had fallen to unethical liberals who applied Reagan’s name to a book which contradicted the views he promoted when healthy. Such a book would not mean anything more than the latest book published under Flew’s name.

Latest Edwards Attacks Shot Down As He Violates His Own Rules


As the race goes on it becomes increasingly clear that, with the exception of Rudy Giuliani, who is in a league of his own with regards to demagoguery, John Edwards is the candidate who is most wiling to say anything for potential political gain. We are also reminded, as was painfully apparent in 2004, that John Edwards is not ready for prime time as he doesn’t even consider the consequences of what he says.

After Hillary Clinton had difficulties answering the question on drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, John Edwards responded with an internet video. His stock comment to reporters was “What we saw in the debate were the politics of double talk. I have a really simple rule — if you get asked a yes-or-no question you shouldn’t give a yes-AND-no answer.”

I guess this simple rule was as short lived as Edwards’ belief that Democratic candidates should not disagree with each other. Edwards does not seem to realize that he is performing on a bigger stage than a southern court room and his grand standing is not enough to win without his statements ultimately being challenged. After criticizing Clinton for not having a yes-or-no answer you would think he would realize that sooner or later someone would ask him the same question. You would also think he’d be prepared with a yes-or-no answer. He wasn’t.

Edwards returned to face George Stephanopoulos, who previously humiliated Edwards with repeated examples of how he has flip flopped on the issues as he decided to recreate his personae for a new political race. Stephanopoulos asked Edwards the question which he argued Clinton should have had a yes-or-no answer to. Edwards required eighty-eight words to answer, contradicted his 2004 position, and conceded his current answer was the same as Clinton’s. From the show:

Mr. Stephanopoulos: “Do you believe illegal immigrants should be denied driver’s licenses?”

Mr. Edwards: “Well, I think, first of all, that’s for states to decide, not for the President of the United States to decide. But beyond that –“

Mr. Stephanopoulos: “So the 40 states that deny illegal immigrants driver’s licenses that’s okay with you?”

Mr. Edwards: “Let me finish. I think that is their decision to make, not the president’s decision. But here’s what I believe. I believe that, first of all, we have to have comprehensive immigration reform. And for anybody in this country who is making an effort and on the path to obtaining American citizenship, yes, they should have a driver’s license. If they’re not making any effort to become an American citizen, and we have a system for doing that, my own personal view is, no, I would not give them a driver’s license.”

In further back and forth to clarify, Mr. Stephanopoulos noted that Mr. Edwards, when he first ran for president in 2004, unequivocally supported giving licenses to illegal immigrants. Then the moderator played a video of Mrs. Clinton’s debate response — in which she said the controversy underscores the need for comprehensive federal immigration reforms — and Mr. Stephanopoulos suggested her stance sounded like Mr. Edwards’ position now: “You’re saying the same thing, right?”

Mr. Edwards: “That’s true.”