The Democrats’ Demographic Problem

Peter A. Brown has an interesting piece on why demographics won’t save the Democrats from minority party status:

Democrats see themselves as standing up for the victims of capitalism’s excesses. They back organized labor (union members were 14 percent of the electorate) against business and racial minorities (blacks were 11 percent) against alleged discrimination.

They fight for the poor against the rich, but they wrongly assume how much smaller that group is than the middle class. In 2004, 55 percent of voters had incomes above $50,000; another 22 percent from $30,000 to $50,000. Median U.S. family income is about $42,000, and the poverty line for a family of four is $18,850.

Democrats oppose what they see as rising U.S. militarism and unilaterialism, yet Americans see Republicans as much stronger on defense, even if a narrow majority does not think the president’s Iraq invasion made us more secure.

Democrats may argue they are following their moral compass, but large chunks of the middle class view that mentality as arrogance. They think Democrats see some voters as more important than others.

The fundamental problem the Democrats have is that they’ve become the party of vicious class envy. The two biggest Democratic constituencies are the super-rich and the super-poor. The super-rich because their wealth insulates them from the effects of taxation, and the super-poor because they’re the benefits of Democratic largesse. The rest of the country gets stuck with the bill. When the median income in the United States is $42,000 and a majority of Americans are invested in the stock market, the Democrats are still playing by a playbook written in the Great Depression. The cries against capitalism are far less convincing to someone whose retirement depends on the growth of big business. The notion that the investor class consists solely of the super-rich has been false for decades now, and until the Democrats get that through their heads they will remain a minority party.

The Democrats also remain stuck on the wrong side of the values issue. Especially with minorities, there is strong opposition to the effects of a culture that degrades the traditional family. Hispanics tend to be one of the most strongly pro-family voting blocs in the country, and the traditional values of marriage being between a man and a woman are stronger among Hispanic voters than nearly any other group. On social issues, both Hispanics and African-Americans are closer to the Republican Party platform than any other group.

The problem for the Democrats is that the Hispanic vote is becoming less reliably Democratic. President Bush garnered 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, up 9% from 2000 and his largest gain of any ethnic group. As Hispanics become increasingly less likely to be poor workers and more likely to be small business owners and entrepreneurs, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote will only increase. Furthermore, the Democrats have positioned themselves in such a way as to exacerbate this slide. Hispanic voters are not going to accept a party that is openly hostile to their values and arrogantly assumes that they’re all a bunch of poor immigrants who can’t achieve success without the paternalistic hand of government.

The Democrats are in the midst of a major battle for power between moderate Democrats and the far left MoveOn crowd. It appears that the latter is winning — and if they do the Democrats will remain a minority party for some time. The Democrats no longer speak to the interests of middle America either in values or in economic terms. The longer they stick to their losing formula, the worse their predicament will become.

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