Monday, August 31, 2015

Same Party, Different Reasons

I'm reading a economic philosophy text that has this Captain Obvious moment: Political power seeks out economic power; economic power seeks out political power. In China, the state leaders became capitalists. In the U.S., business leaders became statists. Well, gosh, golly, people with one form of power like to hang with other people with power and they all see the world through the same elitist prisms.

Curiously, this power-like-power issue affects the Democratic electorate more than the Republican electorate. But is it money setting the agenda, or that people in power reflect the values of their party activists? I believe politicians are simply counting votes.

An analysis of voting trends found the super wealthy and the low-income voters occupy the same political party, but for very different reasons when they rank concerns. (Tangent: The GOP does not attract most millionaires – a little shy of half — but does receive the support of a majority in the top quintile, which starts at $187,000.)

Rich progressives: Green energy, climate change lead the concerns.

Low-income liberals: Minimum wage, unionization, and child care.

Is there overlap? Certainly, but the group with the money sets the agenda. As a result, "feel good" green policies receive priority among elected leaders. This isn't a result of the leaders not caring about workers, though green policies raise prices and have more consequence on the working lower- and middle-income than wealthy households. (Also, when you're poor, green issues aren't your top priority. Surviving is.)

It might be that because leaders are wealthy, they socialize with other wealthy people and hear the concerns of those voter-donors more often.

For the Republican party, something stranger happens. The activists who are loudest are not the wealthy and, in fact, the policies of the candidates conflict with the wealthiest donors. Most of the top-tier donors to the GOP support gay rights, legal reform, and relaxed immigration rules. Charles Koch loudly opposes most GOP orthodoxy on these social issues, particularly legal reform.

What explains the balance of power dynamics between the parties and their donors?

It is curious, that Republic politicians ignore donors and large business organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, on hot-button issues. It could be cynical, but I know some conservative politicians and they really do believe what they say on social issues. Maybe it is that these are not the key issues to the top donors, so these donors tolerate appeals to the socially conservative base.

No comments:

Post a Comment