In the great struggle between liberty and collectivism, the latter has always enjoyed a strategic advantage. Liberty fights a never-ending struggle, but collectivism has an endgame, a point of no return. Stated in its simplest form: once 51% of the population is dependent upon the government, its growth can never be halted, because those who place a high value upon economic freedom will always be outvoted by the dependency class.
The point of no return is actually more difficult to calculate with precision, because national elections are fought across widely varied local terrain, at both the presidential and congressional levels. An article in Monday’s New York Times by Thomas Edsall suggests that some Democrat strategists think the singularity has finally arrived:
For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.
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.
It is instructive to trace the evolution of a political strategy based on securing this coalition in the writings and comments, over time, of such Democratic analysts as Stanley Greenberg and Ruy Teixeira. Both men were initially determined to win back the white working-class majority, but both currently advocate a revised Democratic alliance in which whites without college degrees are effectively replaced by well-educated socially liberal whites in alliance with the growing ranks of less affluent minority voters, especially Hispanics.
Teixeira, a joint fellow at the Center for American Progress, co-authored a book ten years ago called The Emerging Democratic Majority. It looks as if that majority won’t be emerging after all, but the unhealthy elitist-dependent alliance described by Edsall will have to do.
Edsall’s piece has caused jaws to drop with its unabashedly racialist overtones:
The 2012 approach treats white voters without college degrees as an unattainable cohort. The Democratic goal with these voters is to keep Republican winning margins to manageable levels, in the 12 to 15 percent range, as opposed to the 30-point margin of 2010 — a level at which even solid wins among minorities and other constituencies are not enough to produce Democratic victories.
One could rewrite that paragraph as a warning to white working-class voters that they’re committing suicide by voting for Democrats, and their only hope for escaping the Big Government vampire is to hand Republicans a 30-point or higher victory margin. I wonder if the New York Times would have published Edsall’s analysis, if it had been written that way.
The racial stuff is just a sledgehammer Democrats use to break apart the middle class, which they properly hate and fear. The middle class combines the voting power to dismantle collectivism with a dangerous appetite for economic liberty. They can’t be bought off as easily as key members of the upper class, and the government can’t afford to cocoon all of them in public-sector jobs. The middle class, in short, is likely to agree with Ronald Reagan’s analysis that “government is not the solution to our problems – government is the problem,” and they have the numbers to make something of that insight at the ballot box.
This is why Democrats are so keen to make the growing middle-class segment of minority populations forget about their middle classness, and focus on whatever comes before the hyphen in their qualified American designation. It’s also why they’re so desperate to shrink the middle class by telling its lower echelons how hopeless their situation is. The “income inequality” canard is useful for this purpose, as it convinces Americans to forget about the astonishing level of income mobility they enjoy. Hopelessness is vital nourishment for socialists, who love to posture as the sole purveyors of “hope.”
Edsall mourns the demise of the New Deal coalition… without pausing to note that it dissolved because the New Deal has been exposed as a ridiculous, and increasingly vicious, lie. A time traveler with a stack of newspapers from 2011, 2001, 1991, or even 1981 could get Franklin Roosevelt laughed out of office. Not even the most dedicated opponents of his agenda, in their most heated speeches, would have dared predict Obama-scale failure… or Bush-scale failure… or Clinton-scale failure. Our “new normal” of fiscal insolvency would have struck the members of the original New Deal coalition as the darkest and most improbable fantasy.
Aware that the population of middle-class suckers is not strong enough to sustain them, the Democrats have set about creating a massive buffet of expensive programs for the underclass, and manufacturing a huge permanent underclass to consume them:
A top priority of the less affluent wing of today’s left alliance is the strengthening of the safety net, including health care, food stamps, infant nutrition and unemployment compensation. These voters generally take the brunt of recessions and are most in need of government assistance to survive. According to recent data from the Department of Agriculture, 45.8 million people, nearly 15 percent of the population, depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to meet their needs for food.
The better-off wing, in contrast, puts at the top of its political agenda a cluster of rights related to self-expression, the environment, demilitarization, and, importantly, freedom from repressive norms — governing both sexual behavior and women’s role in society — that are promoted by the conservative movement.
Rarely has a pampered elite so openly boasted of its shallow vacuity. Take all our other rights, as long as you encourage our libertine arrogance, and promise to keep us safe from the warped caricature of “the conservative movement” routinely peddled to readers of the New York Times! You can have the rest of the house, commissars, as long as you promise to stay out of the bedroom… aside from the occasional foray to ensure we’re using the proper type of government-approved light bulbs in the bedroom lamps, of course.
Have we reached the point of no return, where Democrats can cobble together a political perpetual-motion machine from those who work for the State, those who depend upon the largesse of the State, and those who worship the State? I have the sense we’re a few elections away from the optimal launch date. Obama’s excesses have jump-started this new political strategy out of desperation. The middle class is still too large, and too keenly aware that the Democrat future is a death trap. The methods necessary to cloud their senses in 2012 will be… what’s the word? Divisive.
Edsall concludes by noting perceptively that “neither party can safely rely on a secure path to victory over time.” That won’t be true for much longer. The collectivist endgame is approaching. On that day, we’ll learn exactly how many non-negotiable demands it takes to make a permanent majority.