--Thomas Sowell, Stanford’s Hoover Institution
Sowell is being polite. Those he calls “politicians” are class warfare Democrats who both attack and take money from the rich. Jay Cost of the conservative Weekly Standard wrote more bluntly that Democrats are “a party whose leaders simultaneously press the case for ‘fairness’ while giving unfair access to wealthy donors.” According to Cost:
the Democratic party. . . has become the opposite . . .of what it claims to be today. [Its model is old] Tammany Hall, and [Tammany’s] coziness with Wall Street . . . Tammany [won] through the support of the Irish, [and] by keeping its financial sponsors on Wall Street happy. . . That is the modern Democratic party in a nutshell.Cost’s reference to Tammany Hall’s “Irish” alludes to the Democrats' earlier base among ethnic minorities, including Italians, Poles, and Jews. Today’s Democratic base includes America's non-white—25% of the voters and rising, 80% of whom support Obama. Combined with the paid-off rich, the “modern Democratic party in a nutshell.”
Cost added that the party’s embrace of the privileged “has basically been the way of the world for the last 30 years.” What? It’s been the way of the world forever. The rich make their way under whatever system governs.
Since the old GOP collapsed under Herbert Hoover in 1932, the elite has been playing ball with Democrats. Cost corrects the record in a more recent article:
the modern Democratic party. . . was founded by General Andrew Jackson – “Old Hickory” as they used to call him – back in the 1820s to fight political privilege, on behalf of the “humble members of society,” as Jackson called them. Old Hickory was a straight shooter [who] hated the idea of the government playing favorites.
But . . .Franklin Roosevelt transformed the Democratic party . . . using the power of big government to buy off special interest groups, like the big city machines and organized labor. . . later Democratic presidents [added] African Americans, government workers, environmentalists, feminists, corporations, gay rights groups, trial lawyers and more . . . And today [Democrats have] become [the] party of special interests. . . benefit[ting] privileged groups.Back then: the Irish + Wall Street = power. Now: minorities (including unmarried women) + money = power.
Cost also recognizes the deep divisions we see in American politics today stem from an economy so weakened that Democrats are no longer able to seize enough wealth to care for their base constituencies:
The American political process is starting to break down because of major changes to the political economy of this country. For half a century after World War II, the economy grew at such an incredible pace that we could have low taxes, high social welfare benefits, and a low deficit. . . there could be bipartisanship [because] economic growth bankrolled . . . compromises. It had very little to do with the foresight, courage, or moderation of the pols in Washington. They were just riding the wave generated by the private sector.Again and still: the economy, stupid.