The Democrats: the research angle

It was fun to read this piece in the NYT from two researchers of suburban politics. "Turning Affluent Suburbs Blue Isn't Worth the Cost" argues that, in sum:

Democrats cannot cater to white swing voters in affluent suburbs and also promote policies that fundamentally challenge income inequality, exclusionary zoning, housing segregation, school inequality, police brutality and mass incarceration.

And the flip side of the Democratic catering to white swing voters in affluent suburbs is that, as the conclusion argues:

A political agenda fixated on turning affluent suburbs blue is capable of building neither a stable long-term majority nor a policy blueprint worthy of the progressive mantle.

Of course this is true. It's true because the Democrats are uninterested in forming a stable long-term majority. Affluent suburban voters have something a winning coalition doesn't have: big money. What's fun, you see, is hanging out with people from Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley, and the Hamptons -- or at least that's fun if you're Hillary Clinton.

Of the two authors of the NYT piece, Lily Geismer, professor of History at Claremont McKenna College, is especially interesting because she wrote a book on Massachusetts politics in the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, titled Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party. Massachusetts, as readers may recall, was the only state carried by George McGovern in the 1972 Presidential Election, and so there used to be bumper stickers which said "Don't Blame Me: I'm from Massachusetts." Apparently these stickers were reissued in 2016 after the election.

At any rate, the story that Geismer tells is that the liberal politics of Democratic Massachusetts in the Sixties and Seventies changed in the Eighties when the Democrats grew increasingly receptive to the opinions of suburbanites and as these opinions became increasingly neoliberal. Geismer argues that the template for Massachusetts politics after the Seventies was forged by 1988 Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, famed governor of Massachusetts, whose legacy spread to the "series of four consecutive Republican governors who succeeded him in Massachusetts after he retired in 1990" (279) as well as to the national Democrats thereafter. One especially recalls John Kerry, Massachusetts neoliberal and 2004 Presidential candidate.

Geismer, coauthor of the NYT piece, apparently believes that there's no longer any sense in trying to form a coalition between affluent suburbanites and working class inner-city people. Of course, the current coalition between the two groups, as characterized by the Democratic Party, sends different messages to the two different groups. To the rich it says: there's money in it for you. To the poor it says: STFU and vote for the Democrat because the Republicans are more obvious about their misdeeds. The world of human beings, however, does not benefit from a politics that shovels money into the bank accounts of those who already have enough.

BONUS COVERAGE: Elizabeth Warren:

In a new interview on Mehdi Hasan's "Deconstructed" podcast, Warren said she agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that too many Democrats lack the "guts" to take on Wall Street and argued that her party will keep suffering electoral losses until all of its members are "willing to take on the billionaire class."

But the Democrats like the billionaire class! (NB: Warren is also from Massachusetts.)

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GreyWolf's picture

.

Trumpism: It’s Coming From the Suburbs

Trump-yard-sign-suburbs-ap-img.jpg

"As the sun sets, a giant Trump campaign yard sign nearly dwarfs
the Antico family, six-bedroom home in Wayland, Massachusetts
."

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arendt's picture

@GreyWolf

I live in MA, so it was interesting to me to do some research. This will probably bore most of you to death. Apologies.

Wayland sits right next to Weston, the most affluent town in the state.

Ranking of Cities and Towns based on per capita income. (Wikipedia)

Rank Municipality PCI MHI MFI Pop #households
1 Weston $105,217 $192,563 $250,000+ 11,538 3,769
...
11 Wayland $75,144 $121,036 $204,033 13,166 5,084

Just FYI, the stats for the state are:
Massachusetts $35,763 $66,866 $84,900 6,605,058

PCI = Per capitaincome
MHI = Median household income
MFI = Median family income
Pop = population

-----------------------------

Surprisingly, a Bloomberg survey of the 100 richest US towns has only one entry in MA: Lexington.

Rank Town 2015 AHI 2014 AHI
93 Lexington, Mass. $197.1K $189.9K

where AHI = AVERAGE household income

This is possibly due to Bloomberg cutting off at a population of 10,000. No! Bloomberg says their cutoff is 2,000. Looks like we are in "lies, damned lies, and statistics" territory here.

-----------------------------

Lexington is ranked 9th in the list I showed above;

9 Lexington $69,959 $139,561 $164,480 31,886 11,541

However, the Bloomberg list shows AVERAGE income; while the Wikipedia list shows MEDIAN income.

For Lexington, the average is $197k, while the median is only $139k.

So, even in these fabulously affluent towns, there are very rich households which make the average income 50% greater than the median!.

--------------

Please feel free to use this post as a sleeping aid. Smile

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Cassiodorus's picture

@arendt @arendt What it suggests is that the Michael Dukakis policy mold has co-created not merely a two-tier society, but a two-tier society with an attic above it containing a small number of obscenely-rich residents.

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"Day-to-day life under crapitalism is so horrible and depressing." -- Sam Miller

arendt's picture

@Cassiodorus

(Just some more stats and facts. I seem to be on a campaign to educate c99p about Massachusetts.)

Neither party wants to get off the gravy train, so you get RINO's like our GOP Governor, Charlie Baker, or IP-correct corporatists like former Dem governor, Deval Patrick. Both parties got beaucoup patronage out of the $16 B "Big Gouge". While not noticed, Boston has a significant financial community (Fidelity) that adds to the state's bottom line. The old slur of "Taxachusetts" has been a lie for 20 years. State taxes are 6.25%, which is lower than that of many states, including Arizona and New Mexico.

The high tech boom of the last 30 years has pulled the state out of the slump, which was induced when all the industrial jobs fled to the South. So, the state has plenty of money; and wages are decent, even if living costs are too high. Those costs are kept high by (somewhere between) 250k-500k college and university students, whose parents (or student loans) pay the outrageous rental prices and university fees.

Of course, as you noted, the wealth is very unevenly distributed. They have euphemised blighted places like New Bedford, Lawrence, Fall River, Chicopee, etc. as "gateway cities". These are places with high minority populations and high unemployment. These places are usually medium sized cities whose industrial core died during the flight to the South and the Rust Belt era - and who have not shared in the high tech boom, which remains centered in the Boston-Cambridge academic cluster.

It was surprising to me that the demographics are close to average - roughly 75% white, 8% black, 11% hispanic, and 6% asian. The blacks and hispanics are just not that visible, except in the aforementioned Gateway Cities.

To conclude about your house + attic, the attic is pretty invisible. That is first due to the fact that there is a larger than normal middle class, which spends plenty of money on culture, entertainment, and sports. I once had a co-worker who had season tickets to the Red Sox. To afford that on a middle class salary amazed me, despite the fact he was a bachelor. With that kind of middle class, the super-rich can blend in. (Of course, by middle class, I mean over $100k.) Also, if you ask most civilians where the rich live, they will say Wellesley (#6) and Newton (#15), not Weston and Wayland.

All in all, except for flaming douchebags, like the Antico family in the picture, Massachusetts is full of "old rich", who know not to flaunt it.

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@arendt

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Wink's picture

@arendt
2018-06-10_20-16-53.png

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

"Democrats cannot cater to white swing voters in affluent suburbs and also promote policies that fundamentally challenge income inequality, exclusionary zoning, housing segregation, school inequality, police brutality and mass incarceration."

Since when do dems promote those policies listed above? (was the article snark?)

Yet another columnist too stupid to get the fact that the dems have no interest in promoting such policies. Do democrats 'fundamentally challenge" anything other than Trump's existence?

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dfarrah

Cassiodorus's picture

@dfarrah

the deliberate, long-term strategy by the Democratic Party to favor the financial interests and social values of affluent white suburban families and high-tech corporations over the priorities of unions and the economic needs of middle-income and poor residents of all races. It’s no coincidence that the bluer that suburban counties turn, the more unequal and economically stratified they become as well — a dynamic evident along Route 128 outside of Boston, in the once solidly Republican suburbs of Connecticut and New Jersey, in boom regions such as Atlanta and Denver, and along the West Coast from Seattle to San Diego.

In other words, it's quite clear at this point that the Democratic Party has co-created the two-tier society.

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"Day-to-day life under crapitalism is so horrible and depressing." -- Sam Miller

Wink's picture

party affiliation.
@Cassiodorus

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dfarrah Good enough article, but it suffers from the basic fallacy most such articles do: it assumes that the Dems are a political party in opposition to Republicans, trying to create and maintain power for themselves.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt-out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal @Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I mean, otherwise, we wouldn't talk about Dems as if they were making policy choices based on how those choices will affect their power relative to the Republicans, their relative appeal to various voting constituencies, etc. I mean, the bedrock truth (I think) is not that Dems have embraced all this world-ending folderol so the suburbs could like them; the truth is that they have embraced this damned sociopathic tomfoolery so the Masters of the Universe would keep hiring them. It ain't really the 10% that the Dems care about.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt-out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal @Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal engaged by Geismer and Lassiter (who is also a history professor) is also something I recall seeing when I took classes in the Politics department at UCSC when I was an undergraduate there. It's somewhat dry with occasional stylistic flourishes, and thus it's not really much of a wonder that Geismer and Lassiter do not speculate as to what the Democrats' ultimate motivations are. I, personally, think it's fair to assume that the Democrats co-created a two-tier society, of rich getting richer and of poor people working for nothing, because that's what the Democrats wanted.

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"Day-to-day life under crapitalism is so horrible and depressing." -- Sam Miller

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus You're right, but that wasn't really my point. My point is that the Democrats are no longer a political party by most definitions, and certainly not by most definitions that have been used historically in America. They aren't involved in a battle of ideas, they aren't trying to advance an agenda for the country that is different than the agenda of other political parties, they aren't trying to out-compete their rivals--they actually have no rivals. The policy decisions are, most of them, settled before the politicians arrive on the scene; the job of politicians is to present such decisions to the masses in a way that will create reactions that the powerful will like. Politicians are essentially second-rate actors, usually getting their lines from bad scripts. When they "compete" they're more like pro wrestlers than anything else, which may be why pro wrestlers have been getting into politics in the 21st century.

It's silly to analyze the Democrats' electoral strategies as if they actually are wooing anybody, suburbanites or otherwise. If you have less than 100 million dollars, they probably don't care what you think; if you do have 100 million or more, they will expect to do your bidding with little or no question. The electoral side of things is becoming increasingly more illusory, like a biannual wrestling pay-per-view.

That's why there's such consternation over Trump: unexpected results are not supposed to be possible in this best of all possible worlds.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt-out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Wink's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

@Cassiodorus Well, they always stress being able to work across the aisle in a bipartisan way as a positive. Of course the R's are all F you, you Dem scum, and the dems meet them half way.

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@dfarrah In order to get non-white votes. It's the "Demographics is destiny" strategy.

Republicans feed their base red meat in the form of racism, sexism, and promises of money.

Democrats feed their base red meat in the form of racism, sexism, and promises of money.

The same but different races and sexes are the demons and Democrats promise money from government benefits while Republicans promise money from tax cuts and "the magic of the market".

Neither party intends to deliver, except little dribbles to keep the sheep in the flock.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness So right:

Republicans feed their base red meat in the form of racism, sexism, and promises of money.

Democrats feed their base red meat in the form of racism, sexism, and promises of money.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt-out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Citizen Of Earth's picture

Great article on how Dems = Repubs = servants of the oligarchs.
Dems are not on Our side. And by Our, I mean workers as opposed to the money counters.

Rotten to the Heart: Authoritarian Chickens Roosting at Home
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/08/rotten-to-the-heart-authoritaria...

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Donnie The #ShitHole Douchebag. Fake Friend to the Working Class. Real Asshole.

@Citizen Of Earth

Although two points struck me as needing to be fleshed out a little more.

From the article:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/08/rotten-to-the-heart-authoritaria...

...Trump really is the arch-authoritarian malignant narcissist that liberals say he is. Trump thinks he deserves to rule the nation like an absolute monarch or some ridiculous Banana Republic dictator. He believes he’s above all the law, consistent with Louis XIV’s dictum L’etat, C’est Moi (“the state is me”). The notion that Trump can pardon himself from any crime really is the height of imperial arrogance.

Trump really does value nothing but the advancement of his own wealth and image. There is no person, no principle, no higher loyalty he is not willing to sacrifice on the altar of self. ...

Hillary's name could have been accurately substituted here - and she was deemed, by those within the web of The Psychopaths That Be, to be 'above the law' and a 'valuable political figure' despite not having been in public office since she was a place-holder in the Senate (for a resume entry prior to those 8 years for Bill, 8 years for Hill) and a venal and sadistic wrecker in the State Department, during her last Presidential run using a claimed utter and blank-brained incompetence as her get-out-of-jail - and officially accepted - excuse for abusing her public office and hazarding US national security in the pursuit of personal wealth and power.

On the other hand, adequately detouring into that can of vampiric worms might have proven time-consuming and distracted from the other points...

Another point was that Bernie didn't 'tap into the public anger', as did Trump; he tapped into the American public's forgotten power to organize into a movement capable of forming a democracy truly of, by and for the people. Some have, and are still fighting the system in various ways, while others lacked the resources/desperation, but as long as the potential of people-power is recognized and kept alive, there is always hope.

One or more of any of multiple approaches may help to turn the tide toward democracy - but this must always come from the 99% and can only be enabled/supported or not from the positions of power, attracting psychopaths like moths, currently swarming against the grassroots moving into what should be their own citadel.

If the American people don't stand against the authoritarian chicken-hawks and their propaganda war against the public, who can or will?

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

@Ellen North how anyone could assert that Bernie did not tap into the public anger like Trump did.

IMO, both sides were motivated by a hell of a lot of anger.

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dfarrah

@dfarrah

but the difference was that Bernie was not trying to encourage more anger/direct it at other victims, as occurred on the Repub side, but trying to encourage people to accept and put aside differences in order to come together in a movement toward forming government themselves for a better life for all.

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2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

detroitmechworks's picture

When I think of Democrats.

Hypocritical, tossing the poor out with constant raids, Kowtowing to an old money system, and complaining about the underclass that they rely on to do everything for them.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.