It is interesting to watch the Democrats work to fashion “income inequality” into an issue they think they can use. Some Democrats bemoan income inequality as the paramount issue of our time, as if they have been chained, mute, helpless witnesses to policy development for the past six years. It takes a lot of gall for them to pretend that they had nothing to do with what they see as this great evil that has somehow been allowed to infect society.
The Democrats are completely uninhibited by the truth. Under even mild scrutiny, their claims that they are foes of income inequality are revealed as hollow at best and are loaded with hypocrisy. Do the Democrats really want to get rid of income inequality? Or do they see it as actually in their political interest to perpetuate the political forces that amplify it? The fact is, in crass political terms, income inequality is working for them.
After all, a Democratic theory of politics — most recently exposed by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s moments of honesty — is to say one thing, do another and count on the voters being too dumb to notice. While the Democrats are lamenting income inequality, they are pushing the very policies that create it. They give lip service to job creation and helping the middle class, but what they really do is increase energy costs, impose punitive regulations on businesses, demand higher labor costs, call for more taxes and make anti-free-market accommodations for labor unions. In the Democrats’ economy, the rich get richer and the poor get more promises — and it is the mega-rich and the very poor who form the bookends of the Democrats’ winning presidential coalition. The middle class is left in an economic dead zone — a zone that used to be populated with jobs in industries that melt steel, gather, consume and fashion raw materials or otherwise produce heat and emissions the Democrats find offensive.
What exactly is “income inequality”? Well, the U.S. Census Bureau regularly measures it by calculating the “Gini coefficient” for each state. And, as shown in a chart compiled by the New York Times, New York, Connecticut, California and Massachusetts — states where Democrats have an overwhelming advantage in presidential elections — have become increasingly unequal since 1980. In fact, New York and Connecticut actually top the list of the most unequal states, as measured by the Census Bureau, and California and Massachusetts are also in the top 10. Together, these four states had a total of 102 electoral votes in the 2012 elections — all of which went to Barack Obama. It looks like the Democrats’ electoral college base is anchored by the very states where income inequality has exploded under their rule.
Income inequality is the first step toward dependency — and as dependency has grown, the Democratic share of the vote in presidential elections has grown as well. But in 2016, can the Democrats really get away with railing against income inequality when, in fact, it serves them so well?
In politics generally and in campaigns specifically, it is important to start from an honest place. Over time, the parties and candidates can drift into a world of their own making, but if they don’t at least start with an honest proposition, they are almost certainly doomed to fail. The Democrats’ attempts to rally their base around the false notion that the Democratic Party is the answer to income inequality should be a non-starter for 2016. If the Democrats can bring themselves to be detached and honest about who they are and what they believe, they might be able to stop themselves before they go too far. The 2016 campaign needs to start with discussions about real challenges and real policy solutions; otherwise, the campaign will just be about personal attacks and phony assertions that don’t address our nation’s problems and that will only continue the deterioration of political participation in America.