Tuesday, August 03, 2004

"The Party of the Little People"?

Conjure with this:
Today's Democratic Party is the party of America's poorest people and of its very richest. (Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, George Soros and Donald Trump are all for Kerry. So is almost all of Hollywood and most of Wall Street. Kerry will probably win at least eight of the 12 richest zip codes in America. The four per cent of voters who described themselves to pollsters in 2000 as "upper class" decisively favoured Al Gore over George W Bush.)
The writer is David Frum, a former special assistant to President Bush, but I have no reason to doubt his facts. They're consistent with the vast sums that are pouring into the treasuries of pro-Kerry Section 527 organizations.

Why are the super-rich more likely to be Democrats than Republicans? Here are some possibilities:

1. Super-rich Democrats suffer from a certain degree of guilt about their wealth, especially those of the super-rich who became wealthy because they happened to have a marketable talent, such as singing or acting, or a remarkable streak of good fortune in notoriously volatile professions, such as investing. Thus, out of guilt, they feel compelled to side with the party that professes to favor the less-fortunate. (They might not call it guilt, but it sure smells like guilt.)

2. They rightly resent the attitude of some Republicans who are super-rich or who aspire to that status, namely, that government can be used to tilt economic outcomes in their direction.

3. The super-rich are little affected by taxes and therefore don't see why others should care so much about them. They can't understand, for example, why mere millionaires should resent the estate tax, when they, the super-rich, can so easily get around it with trusts and other devices. Similarly, they're so wealthy (already) that they don't care about progressive income tax rates, which they know how to avoid to the extent that they wish to do so.

4. They're good at what made them wealthy, but that doesn't mean they are especially well educated or insightful about the causes of poverty and corruption (in both cases, too much government, not too little). To the extent that they're good at business, they have a wrong-headed belief that government can "run" the economy in the way that a business is run.

5. Then there is knee-jerk opposition to war -- peace is good, war is bad -- which is fashionable, and easy for shallow minds to embrace. Shallow-minded or not, the super-rich have acquired a taste for consorting with pseudo-sophisticated "opinion makers" and left-wing "intellectuals".

A super-rich person may be a Democrat for any combination of these reasons, or others I haven't listed. Whatever the case, the Democrat Party is no longer "the party of the little people" -- if it ever was. That term is not only condescending, it's just plain wrong.