The Millionaire Party

Leo Sell, Legislative Committee Chairperson

Last issue some were disturbed by what they viewed as a partisan attack. Honestly, it is difficult to be “nonpartisan” when there is so much economic injustice, incessant attacks on: human rights (women, GLBT persons), labor/worker rights, workplace protections, environmental protections, and on and on.

All that aside, though, one might ask if the Democratic party truly offers a credible alternative. Frankly, in many ways, that party does not. Why am I inclined to say that? Because of the “Millionaire Party”.

I just encountered an interesting observation in a posting at the Washington Post wonkblog. On May 6, Ezra Klein cited the work of Duke Professor Nick Barnes regarding an active (but not formal) political party composed of the millionaires (and above) within this country. Although less than 10 percent of the population is so wealthy, if they composed a political party, it would have a super-majority (more than 2/3, therefore veto-proof) of the U.S. Senate, a majority of the House, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court, and the Presidency.

It’s no wonder the interests of the average middle class person fare so poorly…..

Professor Barnes went on to state that if the “class composition” of the Congress reflected the American populace, there would be from one to three additional progressive economic policies passed, PER CONGRESS.

In a May 7th column by Dylan Matthews examined various premises regarding wealthy interests and political outcomes. There are leanings and there are cause and effects related more to the composition of legislative districts than to income per se. And while much gets passed that is supported by both high income and low income constituencies, there is a built-in prejudice toward the views of the rich. From BOTH parties. The views of the rich get enacted, to quote specifically.

This has made for some interesting outcomes. To quote directly from the column:

The poor hated the MX missile and the rich weakly favored it; they were deployed. The rich like free trade, the poor opposed it; NAFTA and GATT were enacted.

Democrats’ social views are much more representative of rich elites than most people. The rich tend to have laissez-faire attitudes toward abortion, same-sex marriage, and school prayer, while the poor are more conservative. The former attitude is better represented than the latter.

….representativeness may not be the be-all and end-all of a democratic system. Mark Schmitt, responding to Gilens’ book, noted that the nadir of representativeness of all income groups, according to Gilens, was Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, which featured the enactment of the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and the rest of the Great Society, and the peak was during George W. Bush’s first term. Everyone hated Johnson’s agenda, while Bush’s enjoyed broad support, including from the poor. That just goes to show that just because the poor want something doesn’t mean that it actually advances their interests.

Suffice it to say that the wealthy and corporate interests have done an excellent job of distracting much of the voting population away from their own interests. They do this with what I refer to as “bright shiny objects”. We can examine that proposition more fully in a later issue.

Meanwhile, I suggest you all join me in having a healthy skepticism about the motivations  all  the well-to-do politicians and work more to find and vote for people like you and me. Trust me, those we are electing, whether Dems or Republicans, are really not all that benign when it comes to the interests of working people. Quite the opposite, in fact.