the democratic party sucks hard, part 2

The Democratic Party sucks hard, part 1.

One of the most elementary strategies in electoral politics is protecting your base. Give them stuff, be nice to them, make sure they stay in the party. A recent study suggests that the Democratic party failed even in this task. A recent article from The Nation by Sean McElwee suggests that right to work laws had an appreciable effect on decimating Democratic vote totals. From the article:

In this new NBER paper, the researchers compared counties in states that became right-to-work with counties in neighboring states that did not become right-to-work, or that were previously right-to-work, and how they voted from 1980 to 2016. (This method that has also been used to study the minimum wage on employment and Medicaid expansion on political participation.) A simple state-by-state comparison might not be as useful here: Obviously, Republican-controlled states likely to pass right-to-work laws tend to have different voting patterns and outcomes than blue states. But by looking at bordering counties that are very similar politically, demographically, and economically, the effect of right-to-work laws can be more easily measured.

The chart below shows the dramatic effect—for 12 years before right-to-work the counties are quite similar, while in the 12 years after there are deep gaps in Democratic vote share.

The key chart:


This trend has many parents, but McElwee notes how active choices within the Democratic party made it possible: “This all has tremendous importance for the future of the Democratic Party, which mainly has taken unions for granted for years. The legislative priorities of unions have taken a back seat when Democrats are in power, despite the fact that unions are a central organizing institution for the Democratic Party. Pressured by centrist operatives in the mode of the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council, who were looking to win over suburban professionals, Democrats sat on the sidelines as Republicans waged an assault on the ability of unions to act on behalf of working-class people. But while Democrats looked away, the corporate assault on unions increased dramatically in intensity.”

There is an interesting story to be written about how the Demcoratic party changes, not just in terms of embracing Civil Rights, but slowly allowing urban elites to shift the part’s priorities away its traditional base.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 7, 2018 at 5:15 am

2 Responses

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  1. Yes, there was an assault on unions, much of it was led by impersonal market forces, such the ascent of overseas competition to many manufactured products.

    But union management itself should not be slighted. In a number of ways, unions forfeited much of the legitimacy they once held as the voice of the country’s workers. Deals that resisted innovation and created a two tier wage structure that protected old timers at the expense of new hires were among them. And union members’ prominence in protecting racism and attacking the antiwar movement severed any remaining connection to the left.

    Liked by 2 people

    Donald Frazier

    February 7, 2018 at 6:14 am

  2. Ideology is malware. Its most reliable outcome is human suffering. Political parties perpetuate ideologies: they are causing human suffering. We should reconsider out choice to allow political parties (and other proponents of ideologies) in our culture at all rather than try to rehabilitate them.



    February 8, 2018 at 4:04 pm

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