In a previous thread, the venerable DaveG noted the following:
The fact of the matter is that the average 35-year-old, college educated, white collar professional voted for Reagan in the 1980s, and now this sort of voter won’t touch the GOP. Simply won’t touch it. Even though this sort of voter disagrees with the Democrats on 8 out of 10 issues, the GOP just seems abnormal to the increasing portion of Americans who fall under the following demographic tent: well-educated, creative class, under 40, multicultural, secular, urbane, modern. It’s hard to beat a party that seems incapable of governing the America of 2012 with a party that seems woefully inadequate at even comprehending what the America of 2012 looks like.
There is a lot of truth to this. The fact is we aren’t doing as well in the cities and suburbs as we used to. The common reason given for this, by those not committed to social issues, is the so called “culture war.” We talk too much about abortion, and God, and guns, and gays. And while it is true that Gen Y is more secular than their seniors, it is also true that they are more pro-life than the Baby Boomers. And while they are also more accepting of homosexuality and homosexual marriage, we should note that even California- the capital of American Hedonism- passed Prop 8 just a couple years ago. But it is true that to the degree that the Republican Party is perceived as anti-science, anti-environment, and intolerant, we are going to struggle with that cosmopolitan demographic.
As luck or providence would have it, another commentator noted the following, in the same thread as Dave:
This month’s New York Times poll found that 86 percent of moderates, and 74 percent of independents, support deficit reduction through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. It also found that 65 percent of moderates, and 57 percent of independents, favor tax hikes on those over $250,000.
Last month’s Marist-McClatchy poll found that 80 percent of moderates, and 68 percent of independents, support dealing with the deficit by raising taxes on income over $250,000.
Last month’s CNN poll found that 74 percent of moderates, and 62 percent of independents, think the deficit supercommittee should raise taxes on businesses and higher-income Americans.
And so that got me thinking. What if it isn’t just Young Earthers who handle snakes and speak in tongues that are driving young urbanites away? What if the Fiscal Young Earthers- those who declare taxes can’t go up as a matter of holy dogma- are also turning off those young hipsters we need to woo? Indeed, Obama has set a trap for us, and we’re walking right into it. He is going to make the Republican Party live or die on its insistence that taxes not go up a single dime for the top 1%. He will incessantly remind people that Warren Buffet pays a lower rate than his secretary, and we will shrug, and thoughtful Americans will wonder at the justice of that, and our defense of it. And while some are embarrassed for Presidential candidates who raise their hand in debates to indicate their belief in Intelligent Design, I am just as embarrassed for our Presidential candidates (all of them) who raised their hand and insisted they would rather not balance the budget than accept $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts. Our supply siders will insist that if we raise taxes on Buffet, it will wreak our economy. Buffet- widely considered to know a thing or two about economics- will say “No, it won’t.” Our libertarians will insist that he is overtaxed as it is, to which he will respond, “No I’m not.
And we will lose that debate.
Ponder the lunacy of that hand-raising moment, in the minds of pragmatic Americas. Here we have a group of would be Presidents, effectively saying it is better that we stay on the precipice of fiscal disaster rather than accept modest tax increases. Our candidates declared themselves as Fiscal Young Earthers- panderers to a narrow subset of the populace who hold a position untenable and unrespectable in the face of overwhelming consensus. Consider these numbers:
The first number is the percentage, in inflation adjusted dollars, that the income of the top 1% of earners increased between 1979 and 2007. The second figure is the percentage increase for the middle class over the same period. The third figure is the increase in incomes of the poorest fifth of Americans, and the last figure, the increase of incomes of the middle class between 1996 and 2010 (in the 2000s middle class income fell 7%).
One needn’t Occupy Wall Street or be a Marxist to be troubled by those figures, or see in them an electoral challenge. Just as fossil records make it hard to believe Adam and Eve were riding dinosaurs, so too do such figures make it difficult to sell Trickle Down Economics to a chaffing electorate. As we prepare to nominate a man worth nine figures, we ought to reconsider the efficacy of dogmatically adhering to a position that is absurd to the broader electorate, and madness to the Independents who will decide this race.
And yet, some of those who insist we need to soft peddle our defense of life and religious liberty to appeal to the sensibilities of secular urbanites, seem ready to go down to defeat for the sake of a particular marginal tax rate. Should we continue to insist that returning rates to where they were in the Roaring 90s is going to destroy America? Is this really the hill we want to die on? At least SoCons can say God is the author of the rights we seek to protect, whereas the tax code is a creation of man.