Friday, November 30, 2012

Who, What And Where Are California's Economic Conservatives?

An old reference from the 1960's gives a concise analysis of the mechanics of one-party politics in Jim Crow South:
A politics that lacks coherence, i.e. that is insufficiently structured to give voters a meaningful choice or to impose responsibility to voters both when campaigning and when in office, tends to impede the formation of aggressive popular majorities and to play into the hands of the adherents of the status quo. Consequently the principle beneficiaries of southern one-partyism have been those groups and interests which are cohesive, alert, informed, well-organized, well-financed and capable of effective action, and which have a tangible material stake in government policies to impel them to political activity. The adverse effects of the one party structure on state politics, in short, have been borne most heavily by the disadvantaged elements of the population, by "have not" persons who score low on the characteristics just cited. It is well to remember, in connection with subsequent analysis in this paper, that economic conservatives have a considerable stake in maintaining politics at a low level of clarity and coherence.
Sindler, Allan P. "The South In Political Transition." in The South In Continuity And Change, edited by John C. McKinney and Edgar T. Thompson, Duke University Press (1965), p. 302.
Sindler's analysis dates from 1964, but relates to any one-party political state like Mexico, Cuba, or Venezuela. Sindler's message is that two-party competition is good in politics. Note especially the term "economic conservatives" which back then meantand still does meanvested interests; there is an alliance between political power and economic power.

Apply Sindler's analysis to modern day California politics. Who are the modern day "have nots" in California and who are the modern day "economic conservatives"?

The "have nots" are still the traditional minorities, but now also includes the young, and single-parent families, etc. They are the so-called low information voters in modern political parlance. And they were largely Obama voters in the last election. A growing class of "have nots" is anyone caught out without a job or a decent pension.

Who are the modern day "economic conservatives"? Nationally, we know who they are--"evil republicans" like Mitt Romney.  But who are they in California, where one-partyism is even more entrenched than ever? Are they just the wealthiest Californians--the ones with the greatest economic stake in the state?  The same ones vilified in the last election? Yes and no. According to Sindler's analysis of one-partyism, economic interests align with political power. It boggles my mind that "economic conservatives"those in favor of the status quoare the Bay Area and Hollywood moneyed elite, even though they fit the description of being aligned with the one-party political class.

Another choice for "economic conservatives" are the California State Employee Unions members--the teachers, firefighters, prison guards, University employees and the coterie of supporting administrators spread liberally throughout the State and clustered in Sacramento. Their political influence is gaining in strength--they are the real vested interests here. And they are conservative in the sense of being opposed to change in the status quo.

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