There has been a lot of talk recently about how young Americans are going to turn against the Democratic Party because the economy is so bad under President Obama. Jonathan Chait provided a good rundown of it, Teenage Republicans Still Not Happening Yet. It all started with an analysis by The New York Times that found that how white people voted depended upon when they “came of age.” It only looked at white people, because all other groups skew Democratic regardless of when they came of age. Chait noted that this is interesting and all, but the Democratic advantage going forward is not about young people being liberal, but rather about the fact that young people are less white.
Let me add a couple of points. First, there is this idea that conservatives have that people who came of age during the Bush the Younger administration turned against Bush because of the bad economy. Actually, until the last year of Bush’s presidency, the economy was pretty good. What they didn’t like was that the administration was just dreadful at everything it did and it was dishonest and proudly committed crimes against humanity. And the idea that young people now look at Obama and think that the modern Republican Party is a good alternative is absolutely one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard.
But we don’t need to talk about age or even race. The issue here is income. The poor vote Democratic. And the Republicans—even the smart ones—push policies that make the rich richer by creating more poor people. The only reason that the Republican Party hasn’t been reduced to a regional power is because the poor don’t vote as much as the rich. And there’s a good reason for that: it is hard to find time to vote when you are working three part time jobs and have to pick up the kids from school.
The whole point of the Republican Party is to increase income inequality. Sadly, half the Democratic Party either doesn’t care about it or is actively hostile to doing anything about it. Children starving to death? Fine! Class warfare? Never! But as inequality gets worse and worse, the Democratic Party will be forced to tackle the issue. And income inequality is getting worse and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In fact, I believe that things will get so bad that even the Republican Party will be forced liberalize and come up with some ideas other than, “More tax cuts for the rich!”
The history of America has been one of competing interests of egalitarianism and individualism. As the economic plight of the lower classes gets better, the country tends to tilt individualistic. But when things get too far out of balance and there are too many people who are too poor, the country tilts to egalitarianism. We have been on a four decade bender to the make the rich ever richer at the expense of the poor. As long as we have a democracy, things will turn around. But increasingly, we do not have a democracy. And the more unequal we become the less democratic we become.
But this should not make the Republicans think they are going to win this fight with the Democrats. Because if we make the full trip to oligarchy, the parties won’t matter. We will just “elect” President whomever the richest man is, and that will be that. Meanwhile, the Republicans’ continued hindrance of any policies that will help the economy only create more people who will agree with the Democrats and will bother to show up to vote. The fault, dear Republicans, is not in demographics, but in your policies.