All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.Now, of course, the Democrats have always been an over-under party. But the point of the New Deal coalition was that the "under" included the working stiff, the white working class.
It's interesting that the Dems are trying this right now, especially in the light of an article on the same day from Michael Barone. He points out, using a study done by the indispensable Paul Ryan (R-WI) that entitlements actually contribute to inequality. How? Well, a smaller share of entitlement spending is going to the poor these days. According to Ryan:
[T]he distribution of government transfers has moved away from households in the lower part of the income scale. For instance, in 1979, households in the lowest income quintile received 54 percent of all transfer payments. In 2007, those households received just 36 percent of transfers.Can anyone spell "Medicare"?
Now, I'm all in favor of reducing middle-class entitlements. I think that middle-class people like me in their 60s should be paying for their own retirement and their own health care. But I also understand Irving Kristol's argument that, in order for government to do something for the poor you have to deal in the middle class.
You can see what the Democrats are planning. They are planning to energize their over-under coalition by taking monies from the middle class, including the white working class, to fund their redistributive programs. They want to send more money to the poor (oh, and quite accidentally, the overclass that will manage the redistribution.)
There is one problem with Baldrick's cunning plan. If the Dems start moving money away from the middle class they will reduce middle-class support for entitlement programs and government spending in general. The middle class likes to vote itself free money like anyone else. But if the ruling class decides that the middle class doesn't need so much of the free stuff then the middle class is liable to make the obvious judgment. It will say that if I can't get my share of the loot then nobody else should either.
All of which just shows what we knew already. The upcoming 2012 election will be a momentous election that decides the direction of US politics for decades to come. It won't just be a "wave" election. Or even a "realignment." It will be an earthquake.