Should-Read: The cross-breeding between the white Bourbon Democratic Party Herrenvolk South and the old-line Republican Party—the curse of Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan—has produced something uniquely toxic in American history. The old-line Republican Party was the party of wealth and enterprise. It valued the rich and their wealth, yes, but its need for a mass base drove it to be the party of upward mobility and creative destruction—of those for whom the American economy had not yet worked but was working, and of those who expected the American economy to work for them. Strivers, not inheritors. Creative destruction, rather than ossified wealth. But when they discovered that playing on ethnic animosity and cultural fear could work and bring a mass base of activists into the tent, all of a sudden the party shifted its policies from seeking to advance those who expected to gain something to seeking to protect those who feared to lose something: Paul Krugman: “The central fact of U.S. political economy, the source of our exceptionalism, is that lower-income whites vote for politicians who redistribute income upward and weaken the safety net because they think the welfare state is for nonwhites…

…Now, the truth is that they’re wrong: consider how much, say, West Virginia—a depressed state with a very white population—benefits from Medicaid and food stamps. Yet it voted overwhelmingly for Trump. And by voting against its own interests, the white working class isn’t just making itself poorer, it’s literally killing itself https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/6_casedeaton.pdf

Will this ever change? I have no idea. Things looking pretty good for Democrats this year, but it’s mainly because of nonwhite turnout and educated whites, especially white women. We shouldn’t give up on persuasion, but don’t expect miracles…

AUTHORS:

Brad DeLong
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