Monday, September 8, 2008

Another salvo from David Frum: GOP really is in trouble

I just noticed an interesting piece that David Frum wrote yesterday in the NYT's Sunday Magazine section, a little over a week after he assailed John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as running mate.

Frum notes something that many others in the press have missed -- a seismic shift in politics due to the growing gap between the wealthy and the much less so. Surprisingly, says Frum, it's leading the even the wealthy in those areas with the greatest disparities to vote for the Dems.

He cites as an example Fairfax County, Virginia (next to Washington DC), once a rural to suburban swath of land with relative equality in family incomes, but in the last thirty years or so exploding in population to over a million people. While the median family income there is over $100k (the highest of any county in America), it disguises the fact that there are half below that figure and they're restless that the good life is escaping them. The other half is above that and they're upset they can't enjoy the good life. Urban sprawl and poor land planning decisions were made while the GOP were in control of the county. So how have people reacted? They vote in solid numbers, and they vote Democratic. The county council, long Republican, is now Democratic.

In fact, says Frum, the narrow wins of Gov. Tim Kaine and Sen. Jim Webb statewide were due to their relatively huge wins in Fairfax; as well as in neighbouring Prince William, about as straight up middle class as it gets. While John Kerry got clobbered in Virginia four years ago, he got a majority of votes in the northern-most part of the state.

You see GOP candidates rally against "the elite." Problem is most of the elite are themselves Republicans. Resentment of the elite -- usually Republicans -- is leading people to vote the other way. Or not to vote at all. They understand their pocketbook is just as important as values. And in the last decade while the elites have gotten richer, the middle class has stagnated. If their wages have risen -- if -- it's been eaten up by skyrocketing health care premiums.

Frum also says that people have become distracted by issues such as same-sex marriage rather than the fact that single-income parents usually earn less than the lesser earning partner in a two income marriage -- and that the state has failed to develop policies to ensure healthy families and more marriages rather than two people just shacking up.

I don't agree with some of what Frum says -- that the higher rates of immigration during the Bush Administration have contributed to America's current economic crisis. I think immigrants create jobs, they don't take them away from others. He also misses an important point as to why the wealthy and poorer parts of DC consistently vote for the Dems -- the donkey supports voting rights for the national capital and the elephant wishes DC to continue to be a protectorate. But for the most part, he's onto something. The GOP may be in for the whacking of a lifetime on November 4th at all levels of government.

I think McCain's pick of Palin may be the neo-cons' last gasp at clinging onto whatever power they may have left. But in the hallways of schools, the shop floors, and by the water coolers, people are talking revolution. And as Thomas Jefferson once said, a little revolution now and then is a good thing.

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