Turning a Profit: How to Be Rich and a Democratic Voter-and Still be Voting Your Self-Interest

Let’s face it folks, no matter how much we care for our neighbors if we’re gonna vote for a candidate, there’s gotta be at least something in it for us. I’ve written before how folks making less than $50,000 a year voted for Kerry 55%-44%-and how Kerry won the under 50K crowd in as many as 34 states! On the one hand its an excellent development: The “Reagan Democrats” are coming home! Hooray. On the other hand, it’s not totally surprising: most of the obvious beneficiaries of Democratic policies make under 50K. But while Bush beat Kerry 56%-43% among the over 50K crowd, its not as though Bush won all voters making over 50 grand.

Yes its true, we want to get more middle, working, and poor class people to vote. Yes Democrats should strive to do as good, or better than, Kerry did among the under 50K crowd. Still, voters making over $50,000 are still 43% of all households-and made up 55% of voters in 2004! How can Democrats appeal to these people without selling out middle and lower income voters? Does being an “enlightened affluent” voter mean voting against your own self-interest?

No, not at all. There are plenty of reasons, economic reasons, for someone making over 50K-or even over 200K- to vote Democrat:

1. Economic growth- Since the 1940s, the economy has tended to grow at higher rates under Demcoratic than Republican presidents. Even the much maligned Jimmy Carter oversaw more economic growth and growth in after-tax income than any post-1968 Republican. Who doesn’t benefit from economic growth, rich or otherwise?

2. Job growth- High paying or not, there’s gotta be at least some rich folks out there who want to tell their boss “take this job and shove it”. The question is which party has been more successful at creating the jobs that allow workers of all income groups to say that?

Well, since WWII, job growth per year has been better under Democrat than under Republican presidents. Job growth per year has averaged 2.3 % or better under every post-WWII Democrat president. In contrast, job growth per year was only 2.1% under Reagan, and less than 1.0% a year under to the two Bushes.

Your worried your rich friend will have a kaniption fit if you mention the job growth under Cl-in-ton? JFK and LBJ seem too far away in time to cite? That’s okay. Once again the Carter years are quite instructive. 2.3 million private sector jobs were created under Carter; only 1.8 million private sector jobs were created per year in the Reagan years. Sure Reagan cut your taxes, but who has been more successful at creating the jobs that put you in the top tax bracket to begin with?

3. Trade and dumping. In the past two elections, Democrats have nominated candidates who promised to crack down on illegal dumping of imports, manipulation of currency (e.g. China), and to insure that trade agreements don’t put American workers and businesses at a structural disadvantage. Meantime, not one Democrat nomninee since the Civil War has proposed to raise tariffs through the roof. Not only have Republicans not promised to do anything about this, they haven’t done anything about these issues and they’ve been in charge for the past five years. If your concerned about these economic issues, you really wanna trust this crowd in charge? If nothing else it’s hard to see how the Dems could be any worse.

4. The Environment- OK so there are some tree huggers among Democrats, but they don’t constitute a majority of the party. Yes Nixon and Bush Sr. signed some important environmental laws. But look at the current crop of Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. You trust these folks to keep the environment clean? Or do something about global warming? I can’t trust these guys to clean up a spilled drink in the Congressional cafeteria. And besides, who doesn’t benefit from a cleaner environment? Arsenic filled water doesn’t wonder what the size of your bank account is as it’s poisioning your internal organs. A clean environment will also save you and your business a bundle on health care costs; which brings us to

5. National Health Insurance (NHI)- Some NHI ideas may be better than others, but any NHI plan will be a big help to businesses, big and small, that are being crushed by the rising cost of health care. The Democrats have several plans to deal with the rising cost of health care. What do the Republicans have?

6. Education- Regardless of how you did in math in high school, this is an easy equation to understand: Well-educated workforce=productive workforce=growing economy=growing profits and rising incomes. Which party will fund education?
Oh, but the Democrats just want to throw money at education. Where’s the accountability for results?”

Hmmm, I assume you mean No Child Left Behind which requires states to create tests that children must pass in order to graduate. The man who proposed that law in the Senate and guided it to passage? Must be some guy the teachers unions really hate, right? Nope, it’s that libera Republicans love to hate-Ted Kennedy. Who rountinely gets 100% voting record ratings from the AFT and NEA. The guy who underfunded NCLB? George W. Bush. States with the highest rates of high school dropouts? All red states. States that had developed tests required to pass in order for graduation even before NCLB was passed? Mostly blue states.

Republicans just want to bust teachers unions, (think John Stossel). Not because they care about education, they just hate unions. Unlike say, the steelworkers or communication workers, they can’t outsource teaching jobs to low paying India. In any event, we all agree that if education is to be improved we must attract other professionals into the field of teaching and encourage already good teachers not to quit their profession. This can best be accomplished by reducing teacher pay? Why was I not taught that in my economics class?

But what if the school is not teaching values I consider appropriate? First of all, no matter how much tenure a teacher has, a totally lazy and/or immoral teacher can be fired under fair dismissal laws like what they have in Massachusetts. Yep, that Massachusetts. Second, schools can be safe and have a strong educational environment if they are allowed to stay open later and have ample amounts of security. Budget cutting Republicans are gonna do that? Christian Coalition Republicans are gonna push the teaching of science and math? Anti-intellectual Republicans are gonna push reading comprehension and writing skills? I think not.

Finally, schools do have a responsibility to teach safe behaviour and responsible citizenship in a democracy, in addition to the “three “R”s” and other subjects. For some reason I don’t see the party of secret torture chambers, illegal wiretapping, and “Katrina who?” being the group that I want teaching my children about personal or citizenship responsibility. Do you?

Coming up: Even more Reasons For Them That’s Got To Get a Ballot Marked Democrat.

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About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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