Does It Mean Anything to Be a Democrat Anymore?
"The market is the best mechanism ever invented for efficiently allocating resources to maximize production . . . I also think there is a connection between the freedom of the marketplace and freedom more generally." -President Barack Obama
Where have you gone, donkey?
We live in an era where income inequality is its greatest since shortly before the Great Depression. The income gap between the rich and poor is the largest it has been in nearly a century. Between 1993 and 2012, the income of the top 1 percent grew by over 86 percent; for the rest of us: 6.6 percent. (The top 1 percent, by the way, is comprised of those families who make more than $394,000 per year). But if you live in the truly rarefied world of the top .001, the goalpost starts at $11 million dollars per year, and the average yearly income is $31 million. Since the official end of the Great Recession in 2009, largely caused by the top 1 percent and their reckless actions, the top 1 percent have seen their incomes grow by 31.4 percent; the rest of us, 0.4 percent.
Political scientists have definitively shown that politicians are responsive to the policy preferences of the affluent -- by which I mean the top 90 percent ($135,000 yearly income) and the policy preferences of the vast majority of Americans opinions simply do not matter. The American Dream -- intergenerational income mobility -- appears to be on life-support. Since 1980, the proportion of campaign contributions by the top 0.01 percent has become increasingly significant. For example, in 1980, the biggest contributor was Texan Cecil Haden at $1.72 million (in 2012 dollars) versus the Nevada casino owners the Adelsons who donated over $100 million dollars in 2012.
This has not been a recent phenomenon, but something that began with, generally speaking, the Reagan era. But even with the advent of the relatively elevated fortunes of the Democratic party, there has been no sign of campaign reform.
As exemplified by the above President Obama quote -- who, is accused by conservatives of being a socialist! -- the Democratic party has come to fully accept free market capitalism along with deregulation to almost the same extent as the GOP. This is a marked change from what it meant to be the party of the left in this country for over 100 years.