July 19, 2011


Why The Democratic Party Is Doomed (Richard Miniter, Jul. 18 2011, )

This week’s fight over raising the federal debt limit exposes a key weakness in the warfare-welfare state that has bestowed power onto the Democratic Party: Without an ever-growing share of the economy, it dies. Every vital element of the Democrats’ coalition — unions, government workers, government contractors, “entitlement” consumers — requires constant increases in payments, grants and consulting contracts. Without those payments, they don’t sign checks to re-elect Democrats.

Like it or not, Obama is not the new FDR, but the new Gorbachev: a man forced to preside over the demise of a political system he desperately wants to save.

Democrat champions in the punditocracy confidently predict that the future of the world’s oldest political party is bright. But in fact, the coalition that is the modern Democratic Party is doomed. Every pillar upholding its heavy roof is crumbling.

The Democratic and Republican parties are structurally different.

The Democrats are a coalition, forged in the New Deal, of diverse interests that do not get along well. Imagine the deer-hunting union member sitting down with the vegetarian college professor and the lesbian lawyer and you will begin to see the trouble party leaders have holding the horde together. So far, money and government preferences have been essential. It is largely a party of unions, government workers and retirees, “green” industries, “entitlement” payees, professors, teachers and social-change activists — all of whom require government payments in one form or another. The only major element of the Democratic base that doesn’t receive government payments is the professional class (lawyers, engineers, stock brokers and so on). These high-earners amount to less than 5% of the population and are not reliable Democrat donors.

On the other hand, the Republicans are a consensus party. Activists and leaders fight like hell — leading Democrats to periodically predict the Republicans’ demise — only to settle on some principle that is then adopted by the majority. Tax cuts and preemptive invasions were once battlegrounds, now they are cornerstones. Significantly, very few of its supporters receive government payments. Yes, defense firms, farmers and small-business owners get contracts, subsidies or loans. Yet the overwhelming majority of Republicans pay more than they receive. They want to pay less, not get more.

The exception is retirees, who want their Social Security and Medicare while sometimes voting Republican. Since this group is large and reliably votes in large numbers, its entitlements will never be severely trimmed in the foreseeable future. But that fact actually spells trouble for the Democrats. The only way to pay retirees is to 1) raise taxes, 2) borrow more or 3) cut funding to other members of the entitlement class. As I explain below, options one and two are essentially off the table. Option three is a nightmare for Democrats and, if not today then very soon, a political reality.

This crisis comes at a very bad time for Democrats. Their coalition is either dying off or going broke.

... is that the Third Way buys off the Democrats' coalition members better.

Posted by at July 19, 2011 6:20 AM

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