Morning Jay: Democrats, Inc.
6:00 AM, Feb 17, 2012 • By JAY COST
Two news stories from this week underscored the most important development in Democratic party politics in the last thirty years. First, from the Washington Free Beacon:
Second, from Bloomberg:
The Democratic party used to be the party opposed to big business. Andrew Jackson was reviled by business elites, and William Jennings Bryan scared the living daylights out of them. Neither of those men would be caught dead asking for money from such lobbyists and bankers, who would never give them a dime, anyway!
But that is obviously no longer true. What we have instead is a party whose leaders simultaneously press the case for “fairness” while giving unfair access to wealthy donors such as these. And that has basically been the way of the world for the last 30 years; since the mid-1980s, the Democrats in Congress have usually matched or exceeded the GOP in terms of contributions from business and professional PACs.
Why has this happened? It has to do with the two sided nature of the modern Democratic party. On the one hand, the party promotes progressivism as its public-spirited governing philosophy. This is the ideology that animates the pages of The New Republic, The Nation, and well-intentioned liberals everywhere: The idea that a powerful central government can bring about social justice and true equality. But there is another side of the coin, less commented upon and much less noble: The Democratic party is also a massive patronage operation that uses the vast regulatory and redistributive powers of the federal government to attract and maintain political clients, whose loyalty stems not simply from the party’s public-spirited philosophy but also the special benefits they enjoy for being coalition members.