Posts Tagged ‘democrat’

The Vanishing Republican Voter (NY Times)

Monday, September 8th, 2008
[Editor’s note: Following the general election? This NY Times Magazine article by David Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again”, is an informative read with a geographical focus. Thanks Jo!]

[Related content: I published two maps (here and here) in the Washington Post last year showing voter trends and election results in Northern Virginia where the author, David Frum, takes examples. One of the maps uses a hybrid choropleth and point symbolization to solve the problem of small but dense and large but sparse enumeration units found in maps with both urban and rural areas. This technique helps prevent geography from overpowering overall trends in the data.]

I LIVE IN WASHINGTON, in a neighborhood that is home to lawyers, political consultants, television personalities and the chief executive of the TIAA-CREF pension fund. Not exactly an abode of the superrich, but the kind of neighborhood where almost nobody does her own yardwork or vacuums his own floor. Children’s birthday parties feature rented moon bounces or hired magicians. The local grocery stores offer elegant precooked dinners of salmon, duck and artichoke ravioli.
  

Sophia Martineck

Four miles to the southeast there stretches a different Washington. More than one-third of the people live in poverty. Close to half the young children are overweight. Fewer than half the adults work. The rate of violent crime is more than 10 times that of the leafy streets of my neighborhood.

Measured by money income, Washington qualifies as one the most unequal cities in the United States. Yet these two very different halves of a single city do share at least one thing. They vote the same way: Democratic. And in this, we are not alone. As a general rule, the more unequal a place is, the more Democratic; the more equal, the more Republican. The gap between rich and poor in Washington is nearly twice as great as in strongly Republican Charlotte, N.C.; and more than twice as great as in Republican-leaning Phoenix, Fort Worth, Indianapolis and Anaheim.

My fellow conservatives and Republicans have tended not to worry very much about the widening of income inequalities. As long as there exists equality of opportunity — as long as everybody’s income is rising — who cares if some people get rich faster than others? Societies that try too hard to enforce equality deny important freedoms and inhibit wealth-creating enterprise. Individuals who worry overmuch about inequality can succumb to life-distorting envy and resentment.

All true! But something else is true, too: As America becomes more unequal, it also becomes less Republican. The trends we have dismissed are ending by devouring us.

THE TREND TO INEQUALITY is not new, and it is not confined to the United States. It has manifested itself just about everywhere in the developed world since the late 1970s, and for the same two reasons.

The first reason is the revolution in family life. Not so long ago, most households were home to two adults, one who worked and one who did not. Today fewer than half of America’s households are headed by married couples, and married women usually work. So America and other advanced countries have become increasingly divided between families earning two incomes and those getting by on one at most.

The family revolution coincided with another: a great shift from a national to a planetary division of labor. Inequality within nations is rising in large part because inequality is declining among nations. A generation ago, even a poor American was still better off than most people in China. Today the lifestyles of middle-class Chinese increasingly approximate those of middle-class Americans, while the lifestyles of upper and lower America increasingly diverge. Less-skilled Americans now face hundreds of millions of new wage competitors, while highly skilled Americans can sell their services in a worldwide market.

As long as all Americans were becoming better off, few cared that some Americans were becoming better off than others. But since 2000, something has changed. Incomes at the middle have ceased to rise. The mood of the country has soured. Conservatives who disregard the mood of unease may forfeit their power to defend the more open and productive American economy they did so much to build.

STEP ACROSS THE COUNTY line between Washington and suburban Fairfax County, Va., and you see the forfeiting process at work.

A third of a century ago, Fairfax had only recently evolved from farm country to bedroom community. Some rich families clustered in the village of McLean, where Robert Kennedy had his Hickory Hill estate. Otherwise, Fairfax housed middle-class families looking for inexpensive housing and excellent schools. These middle-class families voted Republican, leading the Old Dominion’s political transition away from its reactionary segregationist past to a modern business-oriented conservatism.

Continue reading at NY Times . . .

Shaky Economy Challenges Ambitious Obama Agenda (WSJ)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

 

[Editor’s note: Glorified timeline with head shots and key issues and economic conditions facing the past three democratic presidents near the beginning of their terms, and the conditions Sen. Obama would face if elected. Republished from the Wall Street Journal. View full size graphic.]

Stocks and Housing Falter as Democrats’ Convention Opens

By BOB DAVIS and T.W. FARNAM
August 26, 2008; Page A1

Democrats convened in Denver on Monday with the economy’s woes muscling to the top of political concerns, as reflected in further drops in stocks and housing prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 241.81 points, or 2.1%, to 11386.25, amid continuing worry over the economic and credit problems. Inventories of unsold homes rose to a record, while prices continued to slip, threatening to delay the housing market’s recovery.

Sen. Barack Obama, whom the party will nominate for president this week, addressed one of the key issues, the parlous state of the government-sponsored buyers of mortgages. “I don’t think we can allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to collapse,” he said at a town-hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa, adding that their shareholders “shouldn’t be protected.”

Against this backdrop, Sen. Obama is proposing to use the government to remake economic policies in a way that hasn’t been seen in Washington in decades.

The last two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, were hamstrung by rising deficits, feuds with Democrats in Congress and antigovernment sentiment in Washington. Sen. Obama’s advisers argue that he would be largely free from those constraints, easing the way for him to put in place big government programs, tax increases on the wealthy and trade restraints.

An Obama victory would be nearly certain to usher in a larger Democratic majority, which could give his proposals smoother sailing through Congress. If the economy is faltering if and when he takes office — as most economists and policy experts predict it will be — Mr. Obama would push for a stimulus plan with a price tag of $115 billion, his aides say. The plan would include $1,000 rebates for moderate-income and middle-class families, aid to state and local governments and heavy spending on roads, ports and levees and other infrastructure to create jobs.

Sen. Obama, in campaign appearances and discussions with staff, has said that he would start his term in office with three big economic priorities, apart from a possible stimulus plan. One would be a government health-care plan to cover millions without insurance. Another would be a system of tradable pollution permits to reduce emissions and bankroll alternative-energy projects. He’d also push the first increases in income-tax rates since 1993 and in capital-gains taxes since 1986.

In total, his top priorities would cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and some of them might require a stiff increase in regulation.

Rice University presidential historian Douglas Brinkley compares Sen. Obama’s approach on economic issues to the last Democrat to occupy the White House before Mr. Carter: Lyndon Johnson. But, he says, “it would be a Great Society with a small ‘g’ and a small ‘s’” because Sen. Obama isn’t planning anything as sweeping as the creation of Medicare, Medicaid and antipoverty agencies.

No matter what he plans, he might confront circumstances that divert him from his agenda, whether foreign threats from Iraq, Iran or Russia or a recession. Any such contingencies could consume his attention and divert many billions of dollars he would rather use otherwise.

Still, many presidents have pushed through their priorities despite major setbacks. President George W. Bush drove through two rounds of tax cuts while pursuing an unanticipated global war on terror. Ronald Reagan won tax cuts and deregulation despite years of Soviet challenges.

Continued at the Wall Street Journal . . .