Are the Educated Lost to the GOP?
yes, until their ox is gored
In the great Reagan and post-Reagan era, Republicans repeatedly won with big majorities, writes Alex Adkins at The American Spectator.
Pillars of Reaganism included adherence to federalism, deregulation, upward mobility, and free market economics.
But now the MAGA Republicans are done with the Reagan Agenda. Tweets Allie Beth Stuckey :
[W]e’re done with the old, corporate tax cuts GOP. We want you to use all the power available to you to crush the entities crushing us.
Trouble is, according to Adkins, Trumpism isn’t winning at the ballot box. Republicans used to win the educated vote, but not any more.
Data from the Washington Post revealed that Democrats won among voters with a bachelor’s degree in 2022. The suburbs have historically voted for Republicans but have increasingly shifted to the Democrats since 2016. The reason for this is increased education and population growth.
Actually, the economy has been pretty good to educated voters in the 2010s. What I’m reading from various commentators is that the post-2008 Zero Interest Rate Policy was particularly good for tech corporations: and that meant jobs for the educated.
And boy, was is good while it lasted. Put it this way, as I tweeted back in December 2022.
GDP up 77.5%
Real GDP up 31%
S&P up 300%
NASDAQ up 714%
Personal Income up 79%
Consumer Prices up 41%
Home Prices up 100%
If you were a tech worker or a retiree with lots of SPY and QQQ or you bought a home right after the bust, life has been good. For the rest of us, not so good.
There are signs that the 2010s boom is over and that corporations are retrenching. So maybe life won’t be so good in the near future for tech workers and people in the administration of big corporations.
Clearly, life has not been good for everyone since the Great Recession. In particular, it seems that the white working class has not done well. There’s a look at that at Powerline today, showing that the richest and the poorest congressional districts are Democrat, and that the center of Republican districts is below the median income. The richest congressional district? It’s CA-17, including Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and Cupertino, and it went Dem 70.9% to 29.1% in 2022. The poorest district is KY-5, a rural area southeast of Lexington, and it went Rep 82.1% to 17.8% in 2022.
The real takeaway on the Powerline chart is the big clump of GOP districts just below the US median income. What’s that all about? White working-class dying of despair? Or something else?
My take is that if life is OK for you you go with the narrative — particularly women. And the narrative right now is that the Dems are doing something about climate change and fighting the horrible bigotry of racist-sexist-homophobes. Not to mention transphobes.
But, in my view, the Dem agenda of climate change and victimology is going to hit the buffers pretty soon, perhaps with a recession and stagflation, perhaps with something worse. Because, you see, our rulers really have no idea just how much their climate agenda is going to disrupt the economy.
To make the question bigger, I think that the economists have pretty well proved that the more you transform the natural economy by extracting taxes and rewarding regime supporters the more you impoverish the anybodies in the middle that don’t have a powerful patron and don’t have exceptional skills.
The point is, and it echoes down the ages, is that if you really believe in “justice” you should be in favor of a political regime that exerts a very light touch on the economy. Because, the minute you start to marshal state power you are going to crush ordinary people that don’t have a powerful protector.
And, of course, the sufferers are going to rally to the Out party.
Ever since the 19th century the educated class has obsessed on doing specific projects: increasing the franchise, helping the workers, liberating women, ending racism, fighting bigotry, whacking the fascists, saving the planet.
It was all thought out a century ago in Frederic Bastiat’s essay on “What is Seen and What is Not Seen” — which comes from the Bible in 2 Corinthians 4:18. Bastiat starts with:
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.
In politics, everything is about what is seen. The point about the market economy is that it doesn’t need the rulers or the educated to see anything. People do their thing; they interact, they buy and sell, and the market tells them whether they are doing a useful thing, or not. But if there is a hurricane in the marketplace due to some political program mandating EVs or discriminating for or against people by race, then, eventually the unseen events of the marketplace erupt into the political space.
In my view the rise of populist national politics since 1965 is a result of the educated ruling class being blind to the “not seen” effects of their magnificent ideas.
The populist nationalist organic movement keeps erupting every decade or so, and every time our educated ruling class finds a reason to ignore or discount it.
Maybe Alex Adkins is right and the Trump eruption is over. But I think the next eruption will occur when the educated class, that has up to now sneered at the ordinary middle class, suddenly wakes up to find that their ox is being gored because of the various “things not seen” in the economy suddenly not just being seen by them, but grievously wounding them.
We shall see.