Business

Obama’s Wealthy, Educated Supporters

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David Brooks has has an interesting analysis of Barack Obama’s donor base, which is heavily reliant on well-educated, information-age workers.

Once, the wealthy were solidly Republican. But the information age rewards education with money. There are many smart high achievers who grew up in liberal suburbs around San Francisco, L.A. and New York, went to left-leaning universities like Harvard and Berkeley and took their values with them when they became investment bankers, doctors and litigators.
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Amazingly, Democrats have cultivated this donor base while trending populist on trade by forsaking much of the Clinton Third Way approach and by vowing to raise taxes on capital gains and the wealthy. If Obama’s tax plans go through, those affluent donors could wind up giving over 50 percent of their income to the federal government.

They’ve managed to clear these policy hurdles partly by looking out for tort lawyers and other special groups. But mostly they have taken advantage of the rivalry between the two American elites.

Forget what’s the matter with Kansas. How about what’s the matter with Google executives? As Brooks points out, there are a lot of Democratic voters who are quite wealthy and who are voting in direct opposition to their economic interests.

Brooks thinks, if Obama wins, all his wealthy supporters will make sure those tax rates are never significantly raised. I’m not so sure I’d bet on that. But I know one thing: if elected, Obama will be our first information-age president and his victory will be thanks largely to the information-age class. Look for that group’s values and needs to drive his presidency.