Posted 108 days ago
There are certainly some elements of Karp's piece that I don't agree with, but I have to admit that he makes very compelling arguments and seems to be in tune with the trajectory of modern politics. I'll avoid the comparison to the Gilded Age, as I don't know much about its history at all, but the fundamentals that the "coracious capitalist class at the helm of the economy...remained flexibly bipartisan" seems to ring true today. Centrism is more often associated with wealth, whether it's center-left insurance company CEOs of the Democratic Party or country-club small business owners of the Republican Party. Of course there are exceptions, but it's not often than billionaires are funding right-wing conspiracy theorists or democratic-socialist candidates against Prop 22.
The present day is always a slice of history, where we adhere both to the principles of the past and the future that we want to come about. Karp acknowledges this of the two parties
The Democrats, despite losing much of their working-class base, retain the entrenched support of organized labor. And the Republicans, while making feeble gestures toward populism, remain far more hostile toward the foundational democratic principle of majority rule.
Democrats want to keep their working-class voters, but the fact of the matter is that they are largely moving away from the party as this article showcases. Karp says that Georgia is a prime example.
[T]he decisive swing toward Biden and Kamala Harris came not from working-class black Georgians, whose Democratic turnout probably did not rise as much as other groups, but from voters in Atlanta's prosperous suburbs.
Of course, this is somewhat reductionist: it wasn't just the suberbs that did it, but turnout across the board. But Karp's point stands. The suberbs and precints "with median incomes over $100,000" broke the hardest for Biden-Harris. This may not seem crucial, but Karp breaks it down even more by analyzing data from Florida, Michigan, Arizona, and Illinois. In the primarliy working-class county of Sweetwater in Florida, the residents
voted for Obama twice and gave Clinton a 17-point victory in 2016. This year, they also voted for Florida’s $15 minimum wage amendment by a landslide margin of 33 points. But these same voters broke strongly for Trump, who carried Sweetwater by 16 points.
That is an insane swing. Karp says that you can justify it all you want as the Democratic Party, but the numbers tell the true story. The $15 minimum wage, which Democrats are "championing," but that got rejected in the Senate just a few days ago for "procedural purposes," was voted to pass by the same county that voted strongly for Trump.
A similar story occured in Illinois, where where the governor put a progressive tax on income above $250,000 up for a referendum. In Chicago, "nonwhite working-class voters strongly backed Pritzker's tax" with some counties "supporting the measure by over 50 points." The vote for Biden-Harris actually dropped in many of these counties, whereas it reached a "64-point Biden landslide in 2020 - but they only supported the tax by 7 points."
These numbers show an undercurrent that we are refusing to admit today. We need to reevaluate what we think we are voting for and what we actually are voting for. Karp sums it up perfectly here:
Summoning the democratic will for economic redistribution is difficult in the best of circumstances. But it is harder than ever under conditions of accelerating class dealignment — when the political party that claims to support progressive taxes depends, more and more, on voters who strenuously oppose them...If the future of the Democratic Party is in the rich suburbs, the future of American politics is another long Gilded Age.