The policies of Obama and the Democrats are increasingly favoring Wall Street and the Washington Beltway elite while making the life at the bottom a bit easier but also locking people in and preventing them from moving up into the middle class. As for the middle class itself, only government workers have seen any improvement in their economic condition. As for the private sector middle class Democrat policies are in every way the exact opposite of what is needed to enable people to accumulate wealth and savings for their children’s education and their own retirement. You’d think Obama and big-city elite Democrats would be concerned. They aren’t. The reasons may surprise you.
Some recent commentary from social prognosticators:
A Glimpse Into the Political Future by Fred Siegel:
Despite a welfare state roughly as generous as Europe’s, American society is increasingly divided between those from two-parent families, who do okay or better, generally speaking, and those forced to struggle against the odds because of the absence of fathers. Today’s liberalism has little to say about how to help people rise from the bottom into the middle class. Rather, its proposals—like raising the minimum wage—are designed to make the already-working poor more comfortable. That’s perhaps an admirable goal, but it’s also a path to a class-stratified society.
The other great liberal political success story has been the rise of public-sector unions, which fueled both Obama’s reelection and Bill de Blasio’s victory in New York City’s mayoral race. They are now a key component of the liberal coalition. The upshot of Obama’s policies is that he has, Chicago-style, fed the top-bottom alliance of crony capitalists and the social-service state—the government-worker providers and the recipients of aid. This has left the private-sector middle class out in the cold.
The Liberal Top-Bottom Alliance by Fred Siegel
The Obama administration’s pursuit of electoral victory in 2012 seems to be based on abandoning private-sector middle-class and white working-class voters. As Thomas Edsall rightly argued recently in the New York Times, the Democrats have become a top-bottom coalition comprising, at one end, highly educated professionals—many of whom work for government or are beneficiaries of government subsidies—and, at the other end, low-income recipients of government welfare benefits. But this isn’t a new model. New Yorkers who remember John Lindsay’s mayoralty from 1966 to 1973 will recall the devastating impact that a similar top-bottom strategy had on the city.
But the top-bottom coalition wasn’t truly formed until the following election season, when Lindsay, facing a tough battle, hoped to create a new political alliance—black militants and well-to-do liberals—and to pit it against the remnants of the old ethnic Democratic machine.
What brought the socialites and the Panthers together was the sense that only the rich and the poor had a claim on righteousness. Only those at the top and the bottom could fully recognize, albeit for different reasons, the sins of American middle-class society. Liberalism had become a matter of style, and the rich were becoming part of the liberal coalition. The middle class was the problem—and soon enough, the middle class had a problem with New York liberals. The city, which hemorrhaged 600,000 jobs in the wake of Lindsay’s second term, suffered a massive emigration of middle-class residents during the 1970s. New York careened into the fiscal crisis of 1975 and near-bankruptcy. The city recovered from those calamities eventually, but the Left’s top-bottom approach in New York has never really changed since.
Now, under President Obama, the top-bottom alliance has gone national. Though the president may, like Lindsay before him, find a way to get reelected, the Democrats will pay a steep price for alienating the middle class.
Chicago’s Vanishing Middle Class by Aaron M.Renn
The plight of the middle class in cities like Chicago can’t be blamed entirely on liberal policies. The global economy has clearly benefited the talented, the educated, and the already wealthy, often at the expense of those in formerly middle-class occupations, like manufacturing. And it’s unlikely that the forces unleashed by globalization will diminish. One might expect, then, that big-city Democratic leaders like Emanuel or de Blasio would make a strong appeal to middle-class constituents.
They haven’t, because for liberal mayors, middle-class decline is convenient and politically advantageous. Much of America’s moneyed elite has already shifted its allegiance to the Left, especially in cities. Wealthy, educated urbanites hold generally liberal social values and can afford the higher taxes “blue” cities like Chicago impose—especially when those taxes help pay for the upscale amenities they desire. Even when the mayoral administration is less friendly, the urban elite tends to get its needs met. At the same time, the urban poor have remained loyal to the Democrats, no matter how little tangible improvement liberal policies make in their lives. And the various unions, community organizers, and activist groups that advocate for the poor profit handsomely from the moneys directed toward liberal antipoverty programs.
This is the Democratic Party’s new top-bottom coalition, one in which the traditional middle class—white ethnics, blue-collar manufacturing and trade workers, small business owners, and others—has no part. These “left-outs” are the urban equivalents of Reagan Democrats. Their instinct to vote Democratic may remain, but the economic interests that once bound them to the party have largely disappeared, leaving them politically unaffiliated. They are open to voting for a compelling Republican, such as Rudolph Giuliani—particularly if the city in which they live appears to be spiraling downward.
In other words, these independent-minded, urban middle classes are quintessential swing voters. They can create political trouble for an unsympathetic mayor—and that’s why leaders in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere aren’t going to lift a finger to try to halt their flight. Indeed, in Chicago, even the black middle class is bailing. The city’s leadership appears unconcerned.
Actually, the disdain for the middle class held by the left, liberal, progressives, or whatever they call themselves at any given time, began much earlier than when John Lindsay was mayor of New York City. Perhaps this strain of American history began with the writings of Woodrow Wilson in the 1880s, especially his book The State (1889). See also Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism (2005) by Ronald Pestritto; The Promise of American Life (1913) by Herbert Croly; and for a thorough history of the Left and it’s contempt for the American middle class see The Revolt Against The Masses, How Liberalsim Has Undermined the Middle Class (2013) by Fred Siegel.