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Investor Class Fun

Ross Douthat has a nice post debunking the "investor class" theory of the emerging conservative majority, drawing on my post from yesterday and an article by Matt Continetti. The more I think about it, the more this GOP approach seems misguided. What would really seal the Democrats' fate would be if Republicans could get culturally conservative working class African-Americans and Latinos to vote more like culturally conservative working class white people. I don't know exactly how you would bring that about, but the smallish trends in that direction between 2000 and 2004 are the real threat to liberal politics. Widespread stock ownership is, perhaps, good policy (it would depend what you had to do to get there) but as politics it should be a wash.

February 27, 2005 | Permalink

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The GOP is like a man climbing a rope that's looped around a couple of pulleys. He's going hand over hand so fast that it looks like he's gonna make it to the top. Then, he sees the other end of the rope pass him.

Bush's deficits and other economic policies are gonna kill whatever hope the GOP has for long term dominance.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis | Feb 27, 2005 7:30:09 PM

"What would really seal the Democrats' fate would be if Republicans could get culturally conservative working class African-Americans and Latinos to vote more like culturally conservative working class white people. I don't know exactly how you would bring that about, but the smallish trends in that direction between 2000 and 2004 are the real threat to liberal politics."

Even if the GOP does succeed in the short term (ie the next ten or fifteen years), social conservativism is still a matter of diminishing returns (the younger the voter is the more tolerant and pluralistically minded he or she tends to be), which is to say that once the numbers of the pre-boomers have diminished significantly there will be little constituency left for rolling back the 1960s.

There is a catch to this though, which is that although younger voters tend to be more socially and culturally liberal (with a majority of under 30s supporting even gay marriage) they/we also tend to be more open to things like school vouchers and faith-based funding. Hence, its not only more benevolent on the part of Democrats to reach out to more socially conservative voters with *positive* initiatives like vouchers and faith based funding for social services rather than by mean-spirited pandering to social conservatives by restricting gay rights or repealing abortion rights, it makes good politics too. And anyone who says the young don't matter, or don't vote apparently hasn't been paying attention of late. Civic particpation declined dramatically for generation x, and remains low among them, but civic participation (including voting) has risen dramatically among the young in the last few cycles now that the much more civically minded generation y has begun to enter the electorate. Generation y is already trending heavily Democratic, and is larger than generation x, but Democrats absolutely should not take this bloc for granted.

Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Feb 27, 2005 7:46:26 PM


There is a catch to this though, which is that although younger voters tend to be more socially and culturally liberal (with a majority of under 30s supporting even gay marriage)


Maybe.


they/we also tend to be more open to things like school vouchers and faith-based funding.


Who exactly are you talking to who supports these "school vouchers?" I live in the suburbs, and everyone seems pretty happy with their public schools. I perpetually wonder who these pro school vouchers people because I don't know any of them. Maybe in the big city, but if we're talking about white surburbian middle class America I'm still looking for one of those people. I've never heard anyone (Democrats or Republicans) being an advocate for school vouchers.

As for faith-based funding, the only people who seem to care about this issue are the deeply relgious. For others, it's a non-issue they don't think about. I myself have no problem with faith-based funding so long as the government is able to regulate the religious teachings and employments of people who receive these fundings. Requiring the faith-based organizations to teach racial and religious tolerance might be a good idea for example.

Posted by: Dan the Man | Feb 27, 2005 9:01:23 PM

Even if the GOP does succeed in the short term (ie the next ten or fifteen years), social conservativism is still a matter of diminishing returns (the younger the voter is the more tolerant and pluralistically minded he or she tends to be), which is to say that once the numbers of the pre-boomers have diminished significantly there will be little constituency left for rolling back the 1960s.

There are a whole lot of hippies who vote Republican now. The flower children were more culturally liberal than the current crop of young adults are, and the flower children grew up to be unbearable, oppressive, preachy moral busybodies. I see no reason to think my generation isn't going to grow up and shed cultural liberality for social conservativism like the much more liberal hippie generation did.

- Josh

Posted by: Wild Pegasus | Feb 27, 2005 9:39:18 PM

Dan,

On gay marriage, more than half of young people (meaning generation y - my post probably should've read 18-25, rather than under 30 because that age group also includes xers) support extending the right to marry to same sex couples. Combined support for same sex marriage and and civil unions among generation yers is about 75%.

http://www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/tolerance_release.pdf#search='young%20people%20support%20gay%20marriage'

On school vouchers, a majority of young Americans generally support them (http://www.prospect.org/print-friendly/print/V14/9/greenberg-a.html)
and "polls show that 60 percent of African-Americans, and 75 percent of *younger* [my emphasis] African-Americans" support them."
(www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/5679222.htm)

The point here is that Democrats can't reach more socially conservative older voters except by demagoging gays and abortion, which is mean-spirited, probably won't earn them the support of those older, more socially conservative voters anyhow, will more than likely alienate crucial segments of their base, and every year more and more of these voters die off, and become increasingly irrelevant.

The key here is *younger* more socially conservative voters, including younger more socially conservative people of color.

Gay rights are the present and future. Abortion rights are more or less here to stay. However, faith based funding is also probably the future, and school vouchers could (hopefully, as far as I'm concerned) be. Clearly the party who is beholden to secular fundamentalism and teachers's unions is a whole lot less likely to be able to reach out and improve their numbers among the anarcho-libertarian and conservatarian generation xers (who lean Republican - this is the generation where the GOP could really make lasting gains among African-Americans and Latinos) and increase their majority among generation y.

Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Feb 27, 2005 9:56:58 PM

"...get culturally conservative working class African-Americans and Latinos to vote more like culturally conservative working class white people. I don't know exactly how you would bring that about..."

You mean, "What's the Matter With Kansas?" doesn't explain how?

Posted by: Grumpy | Feb 27, 2005 10:02:42 PM

" I see no reason to think my generation isn't going to grow up and shed cultural liberality for social conservativism like the much more liberal hippie generation did."

Look at the trendline on gay rights issues. Every successively younger generation is more supportive of gay rights than their elders, and yet at the same time *every* generation has become more tolerant of gay rights over the past several decades (including older generations.)

The boomers were *never* as liberal or as tolerant as they believed themselves to be on a wide range of issues (supporting every war of the last 40 years, for instance, to a greater extent than any other generation alive at the time) and have in a fundamental senes always been a generation of messianic moralists. The "flower children" and the counter-culture, despite having a revolutionary and lasting impact on the culture and indeed on "social issues," were only a subset of the baby boomer generation. The overall picture is different than you seem to imagine it.

Also, you're making the mistake of generalizing the experience of your generation to others, not to mention seeming to fall prey to the notion that there isn't broad and effectively irrereversible progress on many fronts over time. Some generations start out as more socially conservative and become less so over time (the greatest generation is a good example), others like the boomers tend to assert their moralism in middle age (even while demanding fewer strictures when they're younger), but all of this misses the fact that a new politics of consensus is slowly emerging in America that seeks to give everyone, from gays to religious conservatives their own private piece of the pie without trampling on the rights or "space" of others groups. You might call it the "Dutch solution" - a country with gay marriage and school vouchers, legalized marijuana and faith-based funding for social services.

Boomers have a better grasp of this than earlier generations but not as good a grasp (particularly white male boomers) as generation xers and yers, who both understand (if only intuitively) that its the best way to hold all of America's contradictions together, and keep everyone appeased.

Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Feb 27, 2005 10:12:14 PM

Hmmm. I am not so sure about this. Since Reagan, the upper class and upper middle class quintiles have been increasing in wealth compared to the lower three quintiles, and Democrats(or the left) have been losing elections. These people donate, work on Madison Avenue and in the media, vote their economic interests, work on campaigns. The MSM is a fine example of control thru class change.

Maybe it just this class they want to be the "ownership society".

The politics of class structure is not so simple. A structure where 1% of the population gets 90% of the income is unstable. But a society where 10% of the population gets 90% of the income, with some added brutality, might work as an oligarchical neo-fuedalism. This is probably the goal.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 27, 2005 10:28:33 PM

Hmmm. I am not so sure about this. Since Reagan, the upper class and upper middle class quintiles have been increasing in wealth compared to the lower three quintiles, and Democrats(or the left) have been losing elections.

Over that same time period, Democrats have made huge gains amongst the upper and upper middle class quintiles. That's not the reason Dems have been losing elections. The good folks of West Virginia and Iowa haven't exactly been amassing massive portfolios and they're the ones we're losing.

Posted by: WillieStyle | Feb 28, 2005 12:13:06 AM

Robin, I don't think you'll ever convince me that many people outside of the policy wonks care much for school vouchers. I have never heard anyone in real life say "there are problems with the schools... maybe school vouchers will fix them!" Have you ever heard that in real life? I just find it weird. Most of us like our high school football and basketball teams and consider it to be part of our community. We identify each other by what high school we graduated from. Public schools are part of our community and not just some place we send our kids to for 7-8 hours a day. Maybe the big city folks don't care because that's not part of their community, but here in the land of Jesus of Suburbia it's part of our life. If some politician starts offering policies which will eliminate those institutions, we're more likely to kick him out of office than to congratulate him on innovative new policies.

Of course I might be entirely wrong on this. I have to admit you got me on those polls although the fact allegedly 60% of black polled support school vouchers makes me think that it's a totally irrelevent issue. After all, 90% of blacks still voted for Kerry, so what makes one think that changing it from 60% to 75% makes one iota of difference?

Posted by: Dan the Man | Feb 28, 2005 12:17:29 AM

This is NOT what I want to see, but what if Republicans embraced the New Deal and Great Society, as well as affirmative action, but stuck to the Christian cultural conservatism?

The only real debate between the two parties would be over gay marriage, abortion, and national security.

Somehow I don't really think this would work, because there is a very powerful class that supports economic libertarianism.

Hmmm.. But then again, you could have economic libertarianism in the area of tort reform and deregulation, while keeping the welfare state intact. Sounds like a pretty cynical way for Republicans to gain a permanent majority.

personally, I'd like to see BOTH parties move more in the direction of liberty, as opposed to nanny-statism and social conservatism.

Posted by: Adam Herman | Feb 28, 2005 12:32:35 AM

"Most of us like our high school football and basketball teams and consider it to be part of our community."

Private schools have football and basketball teams too.

"Maybe the big city folks don't care because that's not part of their community, but here in the land of Jesus of Suburbia it's part of our life."

That strikes me as a rather peculiar way to frame the politics of this issue, given the fact that the voucher movement began and remains strongest among white evangelicals, including white suburban and rural evangelicals (and of course the suburbs and rural areas are where white evangelicals tend to live.) My support for vouchers is derived more than anything else from my own personal experience attending both (suburban) public and private (and parochial) schools, and the exponentially better experience on every front (academic, social, etc) I had in the latter. I'll go further than that. I don't know anyone who has attended both public and private schools in their life and doesn't have a strong preference for the latter, and in no small number of cases deeply ill feelings for the former. I have continued to send money to my alma mater (even when I haven't really had money to send them) because I believe that everyone should have a chance to have the kind of experience I did (my point here simply being that it wasn't just a place where I spent 7-8 hours a day, but a deepy and profoundly positive, transformative experience.)

I'm not some sort of libertarian fundamentalist, although I do freely admit to believing that in many cases the private sector, non-profits, and churches and religious organizations do a better and more efficient job at things than government - particularly k-12 education.

There's a lot of polling out there about vouchers, but here are two polls showing 60% support (cutting across demographics and regions) for vouchers in Massachusetts and Kansas:

http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=10961

Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Feb 28, 2005 1:08:06 AM

"This is NOT what I want to see, but what if Republicans embraced the New Deal and Great Society, as well as affirmative action, but stuck to the Christian cultural conservatism?"

It could happen. In fact it did happen. The Republican Party of course didn't field any candidates until 1856, but the Democratic Party was between at least the time of Jackson and the time of Bryan the party of small government, state's rights, open markets, and cultural laissez faire (opposing prohibition and other kinds of nanny statism.)

Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Feb 28, 2005 1:30:04 AM


Private schools have football and basketball teams too.

That information is going to fail miserably when you try to explain to ordinary people in Midwestern states like Indiana their favorite Cougar basketball team might disappear.


That strikes me as a rather peculiar way to frame the politics of this issue, given the fact that the voucher movement began and remains strongest among white evangelicals, including white suburban and rural evangelicals (and of course the suburbs and rural areas are where white evangelicals tend to live.)


We have some rather noisy evangelicals living around my area, and their influence on public school policy is nil. Those evangelicals who have problems with the public schools go to private schools. This is just as true in the more conservative areas as in the more liberal areas.


I'll go further than that. I don't know anyone who has attended both public and private schools in their life and doesn't have a strong preference for the latter.


I'll go further than that. I don't know anyone who's living within a 20 mile of where I live who has gone to a private school regularly from kindergarten up. The only people I know who've gone to private schools are distant relatives who went to elite prep schools in the East. Even the rich snobs among us send their kids to public schools. Seriously, you don't sound like any real person I've met in real life ever before.


There's a lot of polling out there about vouchers,


How nice. By the way you still haven't answered my question of why 60% of blacks allegedly support vouchers but 90% still voted for Kerry.

Posted by: Dan the Man | Feb 28, 2005 1:32:55 AM

"That information is going to fail miserably when you try to explain to ordinary people in Midwestern states like Indiana their favorite Cougar basketball team might disappear."

I would hope that people in the rust belt, whose economies have been in near-freefall for several decades, would be more concerned about the quality of education their kids are receiving than how well their basketball team is doing.

"Seriously, you don't sound like any real person I've met in real life ever before."

You're right. I'm not real. I exist only in your darkest, and most foreboding dreams.

"By the way you still haven't answered my question of why 60% of blacks allegedly support vouchers but 90% still voted for Kerry."

Rove considers every voter a potential swing voter. His plan is not to peel off a majority of African-American or Latino support for Democrats (he knows that's probably unrealistic.) The idea is to peel off perhaps ten or fifteen percent of African-American and Latino support for Democrats to help secure a generation-long "big government conservative" GOP majority, and he's already made a fair amount of progress in that direction.

Vouchers will ultimately be probably a matter for individual states to decide for themselves, and clearly it would be a political winner for Democrats in crucial inter-mountain west and southwest states (with their strong libertarian leanings, and large evangelical populations), but I'm less interested in the politics of this issue than the fact that public schooling in America is in many cases an abomination, and that privatizing education is the best solution in the long-term.

Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Feb 28, 2005 1:52:16 AM


I would hope that people in the rust belt, whose economies have been in near-freefall for several decades, would be more concerned about the quality of education their kids are receiving than how well their basketball team is doing.

That's what happens when you start proposing policies which are contrary to the cultural values of the people you are purportedly helping. Maybe you should stop being so elitist about it.


You're right. I'm not real. I exist only in your darkest, and most foreboding dreams.

I'm awake right now so that can't be true. Are you sure you aren't snorting crack right now?

Rove considers every voter a potential swing voter. His plan is not to peel off a majority of African-American or Latino support for Democrats (he knows that's probably unrealistic.)

Since the plan by the boy genius has landed 90% of African-Americans voting for Kerry, his plan has failed miserably on that score.

Vouchers will ultimately be probably a matter for individual states to decide for themselves, and clearly it would be a political winner for Democrats in crucial inter-mountain west and southwest states (with
their strong libertarian leanings, and large evangelical populations)

Or maybe it'll be utterly irrelevent. After all if 60% of blacks allegedly support vouchers but 90% still voted for Kerry who was against vouchers, what makes you think those other alleged voucher supporters are going to vote any differently?

Posted by: Dan the Man | Feb 28, 2005 2:12:14 AM

"That's what happens when you start proposing policies which are contrary to the cultural values of the people you are purportedly helping. Maybe you should stop being so elitist about it."

This discourse is hillarious. Really. I want to give you and every other American thousands of dollars a year so you can send your kids to Catholic school, or Baptist school, or maybe some school that has no affiliation to any church and I'm somehow out of touch with American values? Well I guess the 60% of Americans who support vouchers are un-American and elitist...

"Are you sure you aren't snorting crack right now?"

I think you smoke it.

"Since the plan by the boy genius has landed 90% of African-Americans voting for Kerry, his plan has failed miserably on that score."

Bush increased his share among African-Americans by several percent, and his share among non-Cuban Hispanics by a good deal more. There's a reason Democrats are scared, and they should be.

"After all if 60% of blacks allegedly support vouchers but 90% still voted for Kerry who was against vouchers, what makes you think those other alleged voucher supporters are going to vote any differently?"

As I said, its a regional thing, and support will be particularly strong in certain parts of the country, including the crucial inter-mountain west and southwest.


Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Feb 28, 2005 2:22:07 AM

Abortion, gay marriage, and funneling $ to Black and Latino churches through faith-based initiatives. So far, Republicans are doing VERY well peeling off Black and Latino voters, and as long as "values" refers to these things, Democrats will continue to bleed these constituents.

Posted by: theorajones | Feb 28, 2005 9:36:54 AM

So far, Republicans are doing VERY well peeling off Black and Latino voters

Only if by "VERY well" you mean 1 or 2 per centage points.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis | Feb 28, 2005 9:50:01 AM


This discourse is hillarious.

So what? Then people vote based on "hillarious" issues. If you weren't so elitist about it you might understand.

By the way you never answered my question. Are you sure you aren't snorting crack right now?


Bush increased his share among African-Americans by several percent

There's no evidence of that. Any differences in the exit polls between the 2000 and 2004 elections are within the margin of error.


and his share among non-Cuban Hispanics by a good deal more.


One poll says Bush had a 5 percentage point increase in hispanics from 2004. Another poll said he had the same as 2000. Since Hispanics make up a greater share of the population today than 2000, the latter would benefit the Democrats while the former might mean it's a wash depending on the increase in the Hispanic population.

As I said, its a regional thing

Cute theory and believe it for all you wish, but there is no evidence to believe it.

Posted by: Dan the Man | Feb 28, 2005 9:55:10 AM

What would really seal the Democrats' fate would be if Republicans could get culturally conservative working class African-Americans and Latinos to vote more like culturally conservative working class white people. I don't know exactly how you would bring that about, but the smallish trends in that direction between 2000 and 2004 are the real threat to liberal politics.

How you would do it is to do everything possible to minimize the importance of economic issues in the public discourse, and where they did pop up make sure they came off as too confusing for most people to understand, and then maximize the prominence of cultural issues.

Which, since that's the way that the right has gotten culturally conservative working class whites to vote against their economic self-interest for years, is probably not exactly a hard strategy for them to implement, but short of complete capitulation of the left, its probably hard for them to get any better at, since they've already been pushing it as hard as they can for the last couple decades.

Posted by: cmdicely | Feb 28, 2005 12:17:59 PM

Any inroads into the African-American community by the GOP would necessarily be made at the expense of suburban and rural whites whom the GOP attracts with its veiled racism (e.g. "Southern Strategy"). This is why the GOP cannot cross the racial divide in any meaningful way.
Hispanic/Latino vote is a different case, but there again, the GOP knows where it's bread is buttered, and xenophobia will win out every time.

Posted by: DukeJ | Feb 28, 2005 12:18:35 PM

I don’t know about Latinos: immigration, and especially illegal immigration, is a wildcard issue that could complicate either party’s appeal to Hispanics. As for African Americans, memories are long there. As lon gas the Republican party is still seen as the party that cozied up to Southern racists I doubt the GOP will make any significant gains there.

Posted by: JonF | Feb 28, 2005 12:35:34 PM

The results of one year don't make a trend. We've got no guarantees that some blacks and even more Latinos will vote for Republicans in the same way that they did this year. And even if they do, what about Democratic groups that might be growing, such as single white women and professionals?

I think it's not so much a nationwide problem as it is a state-by-state problem. For instance, I remember reading that 16% of blacks in Ohio voted for Bush. That's at least five points higher than the national number. So we have to ask, what made them vote for Bush and what can we do to not only mobilize more black Democratic voters but more Democratic voters in general in Ohio and other states?

I don't remember exactly how much of an impact issues like gay marriage had in the election, but as many have said, the thing to remember is that campaigning on social conservatism means that you do almost nothing about it. It's a bit different for things like gay marriage, since states that pass legislation banning it can't do it again.

Posted by: Brian | Feb 28, 2005 2:06:11 PM

Dan the Man,

Your comments about school vouchers brings me to a point that I've wanted to make. The first part is that, like you, I am not sure how far the support of school vouchers goes, particularly outside of the city. The second part is, how would they work that well outside of a city? Maybe I'm failing to imagine something simple, but it seems kind of hard to imagine school vouchers working in the suburbs, particularly if part of the plan is to allow public schools to compete with other public schools.

Third, and this is more general, I think part of the problem is not that there are so many who are failing--a problem that is likely in many societies--but that the median is falling. In other words, it's not that we have so many students performing poorly, it's that the average performance has dropped. But relating back to school vouchers, I am not sure how they would manage to improve this problem, either.

Posted by: Brian | Feb 28, 2005 2:12:17 PM

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