Friday, November 28, 2014

The Forgotten Americans

From Victor Davis Hanson, at National Review, "Obama’s coalition is held together only by his personal mythography":
Political analysts still are arguing over why the Democratic party was washed away in the midterm election. Since 2008, ascendant progressives had been crowing over a fresh mosaic of energized minorities, newly franchised immigrants, single young urban women, greens, gays, and — less often mentioned — upscale professionals and the 1-percenter super-wealthy.

These groups were united by their support for the expansion of entitlements, higher taxes, neo-isolationism, amnesty, opposition to any restrictions on abortion, curbs on carbon-energy development, and gay marriage. But what really held them together was Barack Obama. His exotic name, his racial background, his leftwing ideology, and his Ivy League training appealed to each of these diverse groups. Without him on the ballot — as in 2010 and 2014 — most of these identity groups apparently were not energized enough to turn out in sufficient numbers to make up for middle-class voters turned off by progressive rhetoric and the by-any-means-necessary distortions to achieve its ends.

Indeed, a cynic would sum up the unlikely liberal coalition as a bridge over the middle class. Wealthy, influential progressives had enough capital and income to support new efforts at government redistribution, higher taxes, and the sort of green projects that, at least in the short term, would slow the economy and cost blue-collar jobs — but not really affect the 1 percenters’ own livelihoods much.

At the other end, the underclass welcomed expansions of federal entitlement programs and the idea of an activist state guaranteeing an equality of result for the less-well-off, with the taxes to pay for it all falling on someone else.

Note that the new progressive coalition was largely abstract. In their own personal lives, the upscale denizens of Santa Monica, Chevy Chase, and the Upper West Side did not put their children in diverse public schools, much less live among undocumented immigrants or give up their Mercedeses and Volvo SUVs for fleets of Priuses. None promised to take two fewer trips by jet each year.

Ideally from its point of view, the new progressive partnership would end up with America looking something like California. Sky-high income, sales, and gas taxes and soaring electric rates, coupled with prohibitive housing costs along the state’s 700-mile-long coastal corridor, have turned the once golden state into two cultures strangely united by a common Democratic party.

The coastal elites champion wind and solar mandates, transgender restrooms in the public schools, gay marriage, and high-speed rail. In the interior, rarely visited by the elites or the journalists friendly to them, the preponderance of poorer and minority residents largely explains why of all the states California has the largest number of welfare recipients and the highest percentage of the population below the poverty line, and why it is nearly dead last in public-school performance.

For liberals for whom power is the true goal, California is seen as a success because there are no more conservatives like Ronald Reagan or Pete Wilson in statewide office. Over the last 30 years, unchecked illegal immigration, an influx of high-income urban liberal professionals to the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas, and a steady exodus of the white middle and working classes explain why this liberal blue state has the largest number of both poor and wealthy people in the nation — and a shrinking conservative percentage of the electorate.

But is the California progressive future applicable throughout the United States? This month’s election suggests maybe not, and for reasons that transcend the fact that Californians can bail out of their state in a way that Americans cannot their country...
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