Saturday, January 22, 2005

Blue Unions, Red Suburbs?

What's fueling the bizarre political divide we're seeing these days? I don't know (and I abhor the terms "red" and "blue", but there you are), but the following two posts seem to seem to shed some light on a confusing situation.

First, this interesting post by Paul Musgrave. Is it all about public-sector unions with their noses in the trough?
The growing, or at least persistent, power of municipal governments has the effect of turning naturally Blue cities even more azure. Most private-sector employees in New York City backed Mike Bloomberg; most public employees voted for Democrat Mark Green. Bloomberg's anti-tax, anti-spending campaign was a direct threat to the jobs of many city workers, who feared having to find new ways of earning their living. Because their jobs are on the line in every election, government workers are especially mobilized in politics: Although they account for only a third of the workforce in New York, Malanga notes, public sector employees represented 37 percent of the electorate in 2001.

Not only local politics but national politics are affected by this shift in composition. Because government workers are reliably Democratic, and because Democrats need to maintain their metro base even as they woo suburban voters with promises of middle-class subsidies, the municipal and government workers' unions are big players in the national Democratic movement. This is a predictable, if unconscious, response to the unions' power at the local level. The natural result of overregulation and business-hostile bureaucracy is economic weakening within cities as firms flee to the suburbs and friendlier areas. The unions have turned their cities and school systems into private fiefs. Now, to preserve their power and their members' paychecks, then, public sector unions have to try to extend their reach beyond municipal boundaries.

For generations, the Democratic party was the party of private-sector unions. Now that the trades union movement in the States has been broken, the donkey has a new rider. If Republicans want to ensure better government and preserve their political predominance, weakening these public sector unions has to be high on our agenda.


Then, this interesting comment by the ever-interesting Thibaud, a frequent commenter on Roger Simon's blog. Is it about families living in the suburbs?

The red-blue divide does not run along state or even county lines. It's primarily a divide between a shrinking inner-city blue core population and a swelling red-to-purple nonurban population. The natural allies of the municipal government unions are all those social groups that comprise large downtown populations: the very poor and very rich; childless secular yupsters; gays. From a Democratic perspective, what's wrong with this picture? Aside from the very poor, whose real needs (eg good schools, secure neighborhoods, honest local pols) often go unaddressed by the Dems' platform, none of these groups is much inclined toward bearing and raising children. So along with the replacement problem you have a substantive problem: the Dems are, increasingly, out of touch with US families and family life. Secondly, it's not a good idea for any party to be so heavily dependent financially on downtown gazillionaires like Soros, Lewis and the other guy who gave Kerry and his allies more money than they could figure out how to spend intelligently. How to break out? Try traveling a bit, say, ten miles or so, to a suburban mall or church or soccer field, and TALK TO PEOPLE. LISTEN TO THEM. I'm willing to bet that Pelosi, Kerry, and Kennedy have not set foot in a suburban mall or ballfield more than once or twice in the last decade. Pitiful, really, when you realize that Tip O'Neill's faithful have all moved to the suburbs. That's where elections are won and lost today, and yet O'Neill's party is now led by downtown goldiggers, socialites, rich kids and investment banker types.

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