The Grand Jury gas returned a “no bill” in the case of the Policeman Darren Wilson and the riots have erupted as anticipated. We still have silly demonstrations around the country. Even interrupting Christmas tree lighting.Why ?
I have been following this all along, and even see some merit in some of the resentments of the black residents. That does not excuse rioting, of course.
SO WHY ALL THE FERGUSON HOOPLA? Last time the Dems and Sharpton made a big deal of a shooting, it was the Trayvon Martin case, hyped to keep up black turnout for 2012. But now there’s not an election. So why Ferguson, and why now? Polling indicates that most people aren’t all that sympathetic, and protests that tie up Interstates, etc. aren’t going to attract swing voters.
So why now ?
But it’s not about swing voters. It’s about the base. And it’s not about the Democratic Party’s base, but about certain leaders’ base within the Democratic Party. This may be best understood as an intra-party struggle. Obama is the champion of the urban-black wing of the party, and because of him that wing has been on top. But his star is fading, black voters are beginning to realize that they haven’t benefited economically, and the next Dem nominee — whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, or Elizabeth Warren — will be from the white gentry-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The riots, the marches, the traffic-blocking are a way of telling them that the Sharpton wing is still a force to be reckoned with, and to improve its bargaining power between now and 2016. At least, that’s the only way this — not at all spontaneous — street theater makes sense.
Nothing good is happening to the Democrats right now. Jim Webb, who could be a typical working class Democrat is being ignored as he tries to organize a presidential run.
I think Webb, an angry man if I ever saw one, would be a terrible president but I can’t think of a Democrat who would be a good one these days.
Most significantly, there’s no space for candidates appealing to working-class white voters anymore in the party, even though they played an essential role throughout the Democratic Party’s history.
In a vacuum, Webb would be a compelling candidate. While independent-minded groups like No Labels obsess over liberal Republicans or independents (Jon Huntsman, Michael Bloomberg) as credible third-party candidates, Webb’s profile better fits that bill. He’s one of the few politicians who caters more to the populist grassroots than to elite public opinion. He has angered Democrats by expressing skepticism about increased immigration and has been downright critical of affirmative-action policies, but he is passionate about the issue of income inequality.
First, white working class voters are fleeing the Democrats for the past twenty years.
The Democratic Party styles itself a fighter for the working class. But a substantial part of that class—the white part—wants nothing to do with it. If we count the white working class as whites without college degrees, then congressional Democrats lost them by 30 points in last week’s elections, contributing to losses in states as diverse as Iowa, Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, and Florida.
But then none of this is new. Democrats lost working class whites by a similar margin in 2010, with almost identical results: A wipeout of Senate seats, House districts, and governorships across the country, in states as liberal as Michigan and Wisconsin. They recovered somewhat in the presidential election—losing working-class whites by just 20 points—and winning the race (and a stronger Senate majority) as a result.
Who does vote for Democrats these days ? Two groups are the base, blacks and white urban “gentry liberals.”
Webb’s record on the subject is as impressive as Elizabeth Warren’s. That he’s treated more like a fringe figure these days is a testament to how far his party has drifted from its roots.
Consider: There will be only five red-state Senate Democrats left in the next Congress if, as expected, Sen. Mary Landrieu is defeated in next month’s runoff. Even more striking, there will be only five House Democrats left representing districts that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. The once-influential Blue Dog Caucus of fiscally hawkish Democrats is all but extinct. Republicans now boast twice as many blue-state senators (10) and five times as many blue-district representatives (25) than their Democratic counterparts in red territory.
What is left is the two groups that have widely differing agendas. The Gentry left is concerned about gay marriage, “climate change,” abortion and immigration. Social issues. I have children who are members of this class and they never mention economics. The blacks are concerned about race when they should be concerned about economics and immigration. Neither cares about foreign affairs which is in crisis.
Low oil prices could set Putin on a far more aggressive path.
If history is any guide, Vladimir Putin’s iron grip on Russia could be threatened by the lowest oil prices in a decade. It also partly explains his increasingly belligerent stance toward the West.
Crude oil and natural gas prices have been central to Russian prosperity for decades. As they fluctuated, so did the country’s fortunes. And they have led Russia to outward aggression before and could again.
I think there is some evidence that Reagan and the Saudis cooperated to crash oil prices in the 80s and kill off the USSR.
In the 1970s, the explosion of crude oil and natural gas prices—linked in Russian export contracts—brought relative wealth to Soviet Union. That ushered in a brief “golden” season during the last years of the Brezhnev regime. The collapse of oil in 1986 undermined the stability of Gorbachev’s government, spreading discontent.
Putin may be determined to avoid a repeat. The political left doesn’t care.
The Ferguson riots and the demonstrations by the usual leftist agitators in other cities may be aimed at keeping the blacks in line with the modern equivalent of bread and circuses. It won’t play well with working class whites, however.
Specifically, whites were bewildered and infuriated with liberals who defended rioting communities—correctly noting the decades of deprivation and abuse that led to those violent outbursts—and pushed anti-poverty programs to address the underlying conditions. Black incomes rose while at the same time, many white incomes were beginning to stagnate or even fall. Why was the government spending our tax dollars on them, working-class whites asked, when they destroy their neighborhoods and refuse to work, and we’re losing our jobs and our homes?
The disparate agendas of Democrat supporters were discussed in Jay Cost’s 2012 book, “Spoiled Rotten.” The subtitle is “How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic.” I read it then and liked it. Too bad Romney lost but I still think it makes valid points. We may be seeing one of them now.