Good pieces by Bret Swanson in the Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Klinger on thenextright.com on the contradictions between the entrepreneurial mode of Barack Obama's campaign and the bureaucratic mode of his public policies. I remember making a similar point about 20 years ago, that the Democrats tend to produce better political entrepreneurs while Republican politicians tend to be stodgily bureaucratic. In the 1990s, the Republicans started pulling even with the Democrats in generating bright entrepreneurial candidates. Now the Republicans are far behind in that regard, as they were in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Democrats' near-monopoly on talented candidates is one reason that affluent professionals and entrepreneurs in our biggest metro areas—New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago—are so attracted to them. Another is that these people don't appreciate the downside risks of their policies. The private sector in these cities is so bountiful that it can support the hundreds of thousands of unionized public-sector jobs created by those policies. Manhattan, L.A., Silicon Valley, and Chicago's Loop, like the City of London, can bear such a burden. But it's a lot more disabling in the British Midlands or the American Midwest outside Chicagoland, because their private sectors are not so bountiful—and are being squeezed out of existence by high taxes and high government spending. You can see that happening in upstate New York, which once had a vibrant private sector but is now dependent on Chuck Schumer showering down Fannie Mae money on Watertown. Hospitals and universities have replaced firms like General Electric, IBM, and Kodak as major employers. This is economically harmful but politically self-sustaining. More public sector (and hospital) jobs means more public employee (and hospital) union members, and much of their union dues, paid by private-sector taxpayers, goes into electing Democrats. This is the contemporary version of Harry Hopkins's "tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect" politics. It doesn't trouble affluent metropolitan professionals, but it should.
- Click here to read more by Michael Barone.