Welcome David Callahan, and Host Stanley Greenberg.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread.  - bev]

Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and Remaking of America

Stanley Greenberg, Host:

Shortly after the 2008 election, I wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times in which I declared I was shifting my focus from studying the white middle class Macomb County, Michigan (which I had first examined in 1985) to the neighboring Oakland County, Michigan—the home of affluent Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills. As I noted then, from 1972 to 1988, Democratic presidential candidates lost the county by 20 points. Over the past two decades, the towns of Oakland County began to change from rust belt suburbs to affluent communities that are representative of the new knowledge economy—home to lawyers, high-tech professionals, and the educated elite.

These changes have produced a more tolerant and culturally liberal population in Oakland County—its affluent and well-educated residents are uncomfortable with today’s socially conservative Republican Party. More diverse, more cosmopolitan, and firmly engaged in the knowledge economy, they are socially progressive and trending Democratic. Oakland’s residents typify the major transformation in partisan demographics in recent years described in Fortunes of Change.

Fortunes of Change documents the recent phenomenon of the rising class of super-wealthy liberals—who overwhelmingly financed Democratic campaigns in 2006 and 2008, have donated generously to build infrastructure on the left and center-left (groups like CAP, Democracy Alliance, and Human Rights Campaign), and whose participation in political causes and organizations is shaping the progressive agenda.

These are the new rich, who predominantly live in coastal cities, who were educated at elite institutions, and who are the progenitors of the new knowledge economy. Framed in this way, their left-leaning politics seems obvious. Nonetheless, most were not driven to support politically progressive causes until the early years of the 21st century. While many were dedicated to philanthropic causes in the 1980s and 1990s, several forces conspired to drive them to politically active progressivism in the years since 2000—the emergence of the socially conservative, white working class GOP, the Bush administration’s foreign and economic policies, and the more rural worldview that came to dominate the Republican Party during the Bush years.

While many of us welcome a well-funded base of support for progressive causes and candidates, Callahan offers some caution. First, he seems to substantiate the reality of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party’s symbolic enemy—‘the liberal elite.’ Second, he offers caution that “rich ‘super-citizens’” might “drown out the voices of ordinary Americans.” Finally, he fears that “many rich liberals are not in the business of dismantling their class privileges” but are rather more focused on liberal social and environmental causes than mitigating structural economic inequality (“Some rich liberals are more apt to champion the plight of polar bears than of the janitors who clean their offices at night.”)

Fortunes of Change raises new and important questions. If, as Callahan suggests, and as I suspect, the wealthy and well-educated will be a driving force in liberal politics for years to come, we will need to know much more about their politics and priorities than we do at present. While the book is ethnographic in scope, the research is anecdotal by necessity. Callahan rightly points out that public opinion survey research cuts off at high income earners who make over $150,000 a year. As a result, we know little about their priorities except from their contributions to causes and campaigns. How will they shape American progressivism in the future? We do know that these new liberal elites are not the paternalistic, pandering progressives of the last Gilded Age. Their commitment is real. Liberalism is in their genuine economic self-interest as they rely on the new knowledge economy to supply their wealth.

The book also raises questions for our current environment. Over the last year, big donors have begun to pull back from financing progressive infrastructure and Democratic candidates. While some were angered by the Obama administration’s more forceful approach to regulating Wall Street, many have in fact pulled back because they are concerned that Obama has not gone far enough to push progressive policies. How will they respond to trade issues and the global economy when fissures emerge among Democrats and many progressives? How will they respond if enduring inequality becomes central to the progressive project in years ahead?

This is a good place to start facing these issues.

106 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Callahan, Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and Remaking of America”

egregious October 2nd, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Welcome to Firedoglake – happy you could join us today!

BevW October 2nd, 2010 at 2:00 pm

David, Welcome to the Lake.

Stanley, Thank you for returning to the Lake and for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

dakine01 October 2nd, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon David and Stanley and welcome to FDL this afternoon.

David I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me please if you address this in it but isn’t one of the bigger issues facing us politically going forward not so much the old fashioned left versus right dynamic but one more on the dichotomy between the haves and have-nots where the haves are provided all the benefits such as the tax cuts while the have-nots are left working minimum wage burger flipper jobs (if they can find anything at all)?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Hello all,

Hope you are well. If fortunes so important, why is it the New York Yankees can’t put this season away?

And the real issue, does this book really mean that Sarah Palin is right about the liberal elite running the Democratic Party — and by extension — “liberal” America?

Stan

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:05 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

Hi everyone,

Great to be here. Thanks to FDL for hosting this and thanks to Stanley for his thoughtful initial post.

David

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:06 pm

You are talking about the New York Yankees?

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Welcome David, and thanks Stan for hosting.

David your book is one of the most interesting tomes I’ve come across in quite some time.

How do you think the decision of Lewis, Soros and other wealthy Dems to sit out 2010 is going to impact things? And why do you think it happened?

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Stanley,

I think the point you raise — that the rise of wealth liberalism may seem to confirm the right’s arguments about elites — is a good one. There is some truth to the charge in that big liberal money is pushing positions that are well ahead of where the public is. For instance, the millions spent to advance marriage equality. On the other hand, there is plenty of big money on the other side, too, especially in this election cycle. On the whole, also, the right’s economic positions are deeply antithethical to the interests of ordinary people. We need to just keep pointing that.

David

masaccio October 2nd, 2010 at 2:13 pm

David, you talk about the issues that the liberals really care about, like global poverty, the environment, pot and social justice. There doesn’t seem to be any interest in the problems facing the American working class. In fact, you say that they are anti-union.

I don’t see how this kind of liberalism is going to save the middle class. Did I miss something?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I was also thinking about the issue at the end of my post. Some of the financial elite has pulled off — disaffected. What is your interpretation from the perspective of the book?

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Stan, thanks so much for being here today. I have to confess I was up late last night reading your fascinating poll: http://bit.ly/cwCO36

For those who haven’t read it, it says that the messaging that many Democrats are using — Blame Bush, “look forward not backward” — actually result in net positive gains for the GOP.

I realize you’ve been testing these messages for quite some time. Why do you think the Democrats continue to embrace these messages if we know empirically they’re not working?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:18 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 11

I’ve really puzzled over Democratic leaders stuck in a message that demonstrably doesn’t work. I’m sure there is more to it. I think the president genuinely wanting to persuade that there is progress and the economic team saying the president has to set a tone in order for confidence to come back.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I don’t mean to be off topic, btw, but I actually think the questions to Stan and David are not unrelated. The messaging of this election cycle is sending out very mixed messages, and I can’t help but believe that big donors picked up on that ambivalence and decided to stay out.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:21 pm
In response to masaccio @ 9

I think you raise a serious issue. This post-financial crisis will test the liberalism of the fortunate. With incomes not rising and growing inequality — and perhaps a reaction against globalism — will this hold? Stan

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:21 pm
In response to masaccio @ 9

Some of these wealthy liberals certainly do care about economic equity issues. For instance, Rob McKay — heir to the Taco Bell fortune and chair of the Democracy Alliance — bankrolled the fight for a living wage in California. Herb and Marion Sandler donated heavily to ACORN and also scaled up the Center for Responsible Lending. I could give plenty of other examples, so we need to careful in generalizing here.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:22 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 15

And Soros has talked of the limits of market fundamentalism.

GlenJo October 2nd, 2010 at 2:24 pm

David, Stan,

Thanks for being here. I’m afraid, I have not read the book. Could you list what the top three political priorities are for the liberal rich?

Thanks

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:24 pm

It is worth recalling that many business leaders embraced liberal economic ideas after World War II. I cite a 1971 poll that found that a majority described themselves as Keynesians and backed Nixon’s Family Assistance Program, which was quite radical by today’s standards. But the hard times of the 1970s helped turn many business leaders against liberalism. Today’s hard time could switch some of the liberal rich into a more reactionary stance, too.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:27 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 18

That would be represented by the peeling off of some of the financial sector in this election.

Though I think your argument is more enduring. More seem disaffected because not bold enough on economy and climate change.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:27 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 8

One of the unintentional consequences I’ve seen on the dependence on “big donor” activism is that many progressive organizations start catering their programs to what donors will fund, rather than what will do the most good.

I realize it’s a catch-22 — you can’t run programs you can’t pay for. But I’ve always believed that the challenge of progressive organizations is to develop an economic model that has broad-based, low-dollar popular support. Otherwise it means that you’re always dependent on a few individuals, and in the end, those individuals — no matter how well-intentioned — are rich people.

For example, it’s a sore spot for a lot of progressive organizations in DC that it’s so easy for people who are politically powerful to cut off their funding support with a few phone calls. It has often kept them silent and forced them into a position where they can’t be critical of the party, even when they do not feel that the party is not serving the best interests of their members.

Do you see any evidence of this dynamic changing?

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:27 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 7

On the topic of why the big liberal money is sitting this election out, I think Stanley’s initial post got it right that many of these people are disappointed with Obama for not going far enough. Certainly that is the case for Steve Bing. If this is true, it’s ironic, since conventional wisdom holds that Dems are hurting on fundraising because the wealthy have shifted to the GOP.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:31 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 20

Jane, you raise a very good point about the dangers of relying on a few big donors. More broad-based support would be better, but that can be hard to sustain judging by the experience of Common Cause and other member supported groups.

I would add another danger to the ones you listed, which is that donors don’t tend to be that interested in structural and long-term issues or idea development. They tend to gravitate more to sexy causes of the moment. The right’s donors are more visionary in that respect.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:33 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 20

I’m sure David will want to respond to this comment. It is central to his argument.

Donors interest and issues have their own dynamic. Environment and climate change are pretty durable and predictable — re-enforced by the Republicans’ turn against this agenda.

But we are clearly going into a period where inequality and globalization are center stage – if you are talking about jobs and bringing back the middle class.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:36 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 21

I do agree that the perceived lack of commitment to progressive issues is a factor. I wrote about it the other day:

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/09/30/soros-lewis-other-big-donors-abandon-democrats-for-progressives-weed/

But since that time I’ve been asking around, and Stan’s post has really been sticking in my craw. I don’t know why, but it set off my “spidy sense.” It seems like there’s something else at play here.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:40 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 24

It is more to do with human nature. I wrote about this on other political leaders, including Bill Clinton. In 1994, he insisted on running on the accomplishments of the Democratic Congress and the president. Voters were not ready for that argument, but they were by his own re-election. So, more to do with the nature of leaders — even ones very in touch with people.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm

While most of the liberal rich are uncritical of globalization, I think many would support policies that would help buffer the position of the working class in this global era — such as much larger investments in education and job training, better wage support in the form of expanded tax credits for the working poor, bigger investments in clean energy technology to help create a new “green” manufacturing base, more spending on infrastructure, and more. Many of these people are deeply worried about America losing its competitive edge globally.

fuckno October 2nd, 2010 at 2:43 pm

We should be ashamed to elevate Soros. a stock investor, hedge fundie, and currency speculator.

Progressives should point to Soros as part and parcel of the destitution wrought upon the 50 million Americans living below the poverty level.

I just don’t get it.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:43 pm

There is an interesting hand-off happening in the marijuana movement that I’m sure you’re aware of, Stan. For years Soros, Lewis, Sperling and sometimes Zimmer were the lead funders for ballot initiatives and state legislative action across the country. But those efforts led to the rise of a new crowd of marijuana entrepreneurs. When the big donors decided it was better to wait until 2012 to put legalization on the ballot, Oaksterdam’s Richard Lee had the money to say “I’m going to do it anyway.”

Big donor activism led to the growth of a business class that could fund the continued expansion of the original objective themselves, which seems like the best possible outcome.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:43 pm

David,

This book captures something very important — and has been building up at the heart of liberalism. But what do you think the impact will be of the financial crisis and the great loss of wealth? They are at the center of it. Does this change coming out?

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:45 pm

The question then arises, was Bill Clinton pushing a message that helped him lay the groundwork for 1996, at the expense of the party in 1994.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:46 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 30

Some early triangulation. He was starting to talk with Dick Morris. But I don’t think so. I think he believe it.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:48 pm
In response to fuckno @ 27

It’s not a question of “elevating” anyone. It’s self-defeating to limit the universe of people you can work with when you agree on a particular issue, even if you don’t agree with them on everything. Unless you can find people you agree with 100% of the time, you’re going to be short of collaborators.

To say I don’t agree with Bart Stupak on much would be an understatement, but Stupak is very anti-NAFTA. I’d happily work with Bart Stupak to end NAFTA if I thought it would work.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Interestingly, for all the talk about the financial elite ditching the Democrats, more of them have stuck with the party than you might expect. For instance, more hedge fund donations have gone to Democrats than to Republicans in this election cycle. Wealthy lawyers have not defected to Republicans to any significant degree judging by the campaign data. Three quarters of this money is still going to the Democrats.

MayDaze October 2nd, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I’m about halfway through your book and saw a quote you provide from Ted Turner that “ten percent of the people have ninety percent of everything,” in a global context. Reminded me of a video I saw of Robert Rubin repeatedly saying that the American standard of living would have to decline (the context here was as part of increasing living standards worldwide). It does seem from recent economic events and the inadequate reactions of our elites that at least some of them agree with this assessment, e.g., the Catfood Commission and failure to address unemployment.

Did you notice much of this type of thinking in your research? I’m wondering just how far they will go.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:52 pm

In terms of Stanley’s question about the impact of the loss of wealth from the financial crisis, I think these losses have been much less than many think. The super rich are still much richer today than they were in 2000 or even 2004. The affluent class as a whole just has so much wealth that the financial crisis didn’t radically change their position. And new people are getting rich all the time — like the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who now is worth $7 billion and just gave $100 million to the Newark schools.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Well, that sort of gets to the point that’s been bugging me. If you’re out there hectoring the base and you say it’s because you want to get them to the polls, anyone who has worked on a campaign for so much as one day knows that’s not going to work. And if your messaging is actually designed to drive people over to the GOP camp, and then you’re cutting off support for people in tough races who run against the health care bill, what’s the real objective here?

Rich people generally don’t like to throw good money after bad. There’s a lot of ambivalent messaging going on here, as you rightly pointed out.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:56 pm
In response to MayDaze @ 34

Overall, our wealth elites have failed to respond effectively to America’s relative decline. No question about that. However, it’s worth noting that a variety of liberal wealth types — including Bill Gates — have been arguing for years that we need much bigger government investments in scientific research, infrastructure, science education, and so on. Of course, the anti-government wealth elites on the right don’t want any of this spending. So there is significant polarization about the role of government at the pinnacle of the income ladder.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 2:56 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 33

Is that direct campaign donations from individuals, as opposed to corporate donations to IEs?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 2:57 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 35

So, if they’ve not been impacted so much, but the rest of the country is in trouble and likely part of a slow return. What is the impact of that for liberalism?

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 2:58 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 38

Yes, individual giving. Most research finds that the big campaign donors are ideology donors, not access donors. They give to the same party regardless of how much power they have. But PAC money is much more opportunistic and that money tends to follow power, or the promise of power.

econobuzz October 2nd, 2010 at 3:00 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 36

Rich people generally don’t like to throw good money after bad.

Why would rich folks who would otherwise support progressive causes possibly open up their wallets when the President can’t come up with 3 or 4 specific promises to pursue policies that the majority of Americans support?

How could they not see the situation as being utterly hopeless?

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I think it’s a huge problem when the Democratic Party’s affluent base is doing okay while its working class base is getting killed. Of course, that is not new and helps account for the Democratic Party’s longstanding failure to channel the economic pain of the working class.

fuckno October 2nd, 2010 at 3:01 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 33

Why would that surprise us considering that the Democrats have bailed them out rather than using those funds for say, cramdowns?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:02 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 42

Though surely this scale of the gap is unique. It will also be hard to escape economic issues, when the donors probably have an agenda that may look more remote.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Good points.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:07 pm

What’s interesting, though, is where the most intense opposition comes from to policies that would alleviate the economic pain felt by white working class voters. Blue Dog Democrats from downscale white districts opposed a larger stimulus, the healthcare reform, and financial reform. In contrast, Dems representing the wealthiest districts were often ready to go further in all those battles. So it’s not clear to me that remote liberal wealth elites are the real problem here. Anti-government views among middle and lower income white heartland voters stand as a possibly greater obstacle at this moment.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:09 pm

David,

Would you reflect on what this book would look like if your are writing about the the fortunes and the sustaining of conservatism. Thinking now — not the historic process — how is that playing out now in the current ideological polarization and tea party movement?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:10 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 46

Good point. I wanted to tease this out. Though the resistance to stimulus spending has also come in the more affluent suburbs as well — if you look at the districts.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 3:10 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 42

It seems like the struggle with labor is getting more pronounced, too. Donors like Soros and Lewis have worked hand-in-hand with labor. But newbie billionare Mark Zuckerberg is giving Corey Booker a hundred million dollars for education in New Jersey, tied to charter schools.

Strong unions have always meant a strong middle class, but unionization hasn’t been something that the wealthy have shown particular sympathy for. Zuckerberg is just the latest model.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Of course, protectionist efforts on trade or pressure on China on currency typically does face strong opposition from liberal coastal wealth elites, for reasons mentioned earlier. On the other hand, these people would be more willing to back public job creation, say, than your typical Blue Dog in Congress.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:14 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 49

All true. Warren Buffett was a big supporter of Obama but announced in early 2009 that he didn’t support the Employee Free Choice Act. I don’t see antipathy to unions among the liberal rich, exactly, just little thought about them. Many of them have made money exploiting software programmers whom they pay six figures as opposed to laborers. Facebook is a perfect example. The union issue is nonexistent there.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 3:14 pm

It seems like the Democratic messaging this cycle has more to do with keeping this graph from changing significantly:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/143024/bush-takes-brunt-blame-economy-obama.aspx

How important do you think it is for Obama going into 2012 that Americans continue to see the country’s economic woes as Bush’s responsibility? Most certainly do now, but how long into the next President’s cycle do such numbers typically hold up?

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Haven’t read comments yet, so forgive if this has been covered. As a long time Manhattan resident, it used to include the kind of upper middle class enclave you are talking about. Nostalgia. Now, the super rich control Manhattan, and much of NYC politics. There was a financial industry tipping point, when compensation got sooo large that the super rich just took over. Bloomberg is a perfect example, a person who doesn’t even need to declare a single political party, let alone policies. He just buys elections. What makes you think this won’t happen everywhere in the country where the librul upper middle class currently reside. The income distribution shift is going in one direction & one direction only.

GlenJo October 2nd, 2010 at 3:15 pm

There has been much discussion in the blogs about the “whining” of the “not-so-rich” University of Chicago Law Professor Todd Henderson:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/10/james-fallows-on-the-whinging-rich-as-exemplified-by-university-of-chicago-law-professor-todd-henderson.html

Is there any sense among those in the $250K to 500K “liberal rich” that they are next on the chopping block?

Because they are.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 53

You raise a good point. I observe in my book that the liberal rich pose a special threat to democracy because they believe in government enough to go into public service themselves and can use their money to push aside veteran politicians. Bloomberg is a perfect example. He clearly believes in government and has enough money to buy his way into office.

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:19 pm
In response to GlenJo @ 54

You & I are thinking along the same lines, as my comment preceding yours coveys another aspect of your point.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:19 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 53

You raise an interesting point. Bloomberg is the least of it. You have Meg Whitman at 120 million and Linda McMahon committing to 50 million in a state with 6 congressional districts. With the Supreme Court lifting limits, aren’t we entering a new phase of this?

Rayne October 2nd, 2010 at 3:20 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 37

Re: your comments at (26) and (37) both — Soros was prescient in early 2008 when he foretold the scope of the financial crisis and economic downturn based on the credit crisis at that time. He’d developed a new model which suggested that the concept of market self-correction as deeply flawed because the market was based on false assumptions and knowledge. But he was also of the opinion that we’d dodge the worst possible outcomes; I’m wondering now if he’d formulated that opinion on his own false assumption that a well-financed Democratic president would implement the right fixes to prevent the worst from happening.

Which explains to me personally why Soros is not funding candidates at this time; he may have decided to go where results are more assured.

In early 2008, though, he did say in a conference call promoting his book (The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means); I’d taken the following notes:

Q: What would you recommend as a financial advisor as to where America can develop economic growth?

A: first thing is to minimize downturn, need to minimize foreclosure. American consumer has been acting as mortar of world economy, coming to an end, need to find a new mortar. Global warming provides a new opportunity for investments in reduction of carbon emissions, power plants, could be the next mortar to maintain economic activity. Believes we are going into an economic slowdown, may not be global yet…

This is what went missing, in addition to failing to deal with the foreclosure crisis as it erupted. As a nation we failed to invest adequately in alternative energy and energy conservation, when it could have been a means to turn around the economic freefall and begin to build a different kind of economy no longer pegged on petroleum.

I’m wondering if you see any other opportunities for national investment which might also create jobs while changing the U.S. economy.

Peterr October 2nd, 2010 at 3:20 pm

One of the reactions of a non-trivial segment of the LGBT community to Obama’s lack of action on LGBT issues was to twist “Don’t Ask — Don’t Tell” into “Don’t Ask — Won’t Give.” That is, they told the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC “don’t come asking for money from the LGBT community until you deal with DADT, DOMA, ENDA, etc.”

Do you address LGBT donors in your book?

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:23 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 55

The super rich not only push aside other pols, which could be a good thing. But my point is bigger than that. In the process of becoming super rich, they cease to be progressive. Bloomberg is just the tip of the iceberg. He still retains a shadow of his earlier liberal tendencies. But if you watched the financial execs at the hearings on the financial meltdown, and if you tune into cnbc at any random moment, you quickly learn that there ain’t no one left among the newer super rich with any progessive tendencies at all. And they will be the pols (or the buyers of the pols) in the future, because they have the bucks.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Yes there is a lot of self-financing in this cycle. Keep in mind, though, that three quarters of big self-financers since the mid 1980s have been Democrats, according to research by Jennifer Steen. That’s because, as I said, Dems believe in government. Corzine spent a fortune as well. I don’t think the Supreme Court decision will change much.

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Exactly.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:25 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 60

In terms of whether people become less liberal when they get rich, I disagree. Often people become more liberal when they get rich because they are no longer worried about Democratic policies that make it harder to get rich. Particularly after they sell their businesses, which is common. I also disagree about Bloomberg as a long-time New York resident. I think he is a strong liberal on most issues, including social welfare policy and housing.

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:25 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 61

And what makes you think that Ds have any progressive tendencies left at all? Certainly O shows no evidence of any.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:27 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 62

True historically, but I wonder if this election at his moment, the self-financing by conservatives represents anything beyond the quirkiness of California — with a history of such things.

fuckno October 2nd, 2010 at 3:27 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 60

bingo!

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:27 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 63

Bloomberg’s ‘affordable’ housing proposals, as near as I can tell, mean that peeps with more than $100,000 in compensation are allotted a small fraction of gigantic apt blocks that are a blight on the land. If that’s progressive, I’ll eat my hat.

econobuzz October 2nd, 2010 at 3:28 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 64

Certainly O shows no evidence of any.

I think this is an enormously important factor in all of this. He actually dampens progressive hopes and expectations.

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:28 pm

And Bloomberg’s ed program seems to come straight out of Heritage.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:28 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 64

Excuse me, but we have seen more progressive legislation passed in the past 18 months than the previous 18 years. On a more empirical note, all the analyses of roll call votes shows that the Democratic Party is more liberal today than in the past few decades. Eight percent of delegates to the Democratic National Convention called themselves “very liberal” in 1972. That figure in recent years has been over 20 percent. Not a single primary candidate showed up at the DLC convention in 2007. All showed up at the Daily Kos convention.

fuckno October 2nd, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Thanks David, I hope the rich liberals will buy your book, good luck.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:30 pm

In any case, I return to my original point about which Democrats have blocked more progressive policies in recent years. It has been those Democrats representing downscale, not upscale, America.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Bloomberg, by the way, is not in my book because I don’t consider him liberal enough to illustrate my story.

econobuzz October 2nd, 2010 at 3:33 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 72

It has been those Democrats representing downscale, not upscale, America.

Are you referring to the folks in the states that they were supposed to be representing or the folks that bought and paid for them?

leftdcin72 October 2nd, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Born in Manhattan, I would say that without a doubt, Bloomberg is better that Mark Green. I fear that Green will run again. So there is some benefit to Bloomberg and at least he made his money contemporaneously with hiring and creating jobs. As opposed to the Clintons multimillion dollar speech making cottage industry and others such as Guiliani and the other lifetime government employees who have served as New York’s Mayor, Bottom line Bloomberg is a godsend compared to what could have been.

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:34 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 70

Name one piece of progressive legislation that has passed. Health care reform is all about forcing 30 million more suckers to buy shitty insurance that will raise prices double digits every year & not pay medical expenses when claims are filed. Financial industry will circumvent new finregs in an eyeblink; every cnbc anchor & guest agrees on that. O expanded wars to several more countries, and cemented imperial powers that W instated. What is progressive about that?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:34 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 72

I think David’s point is important. At least the members representing more white blue collar districts are resistant. Don’t fully understand. I know those voters are quite economically populist, which their reps do not embrace particularly.

I would not underestimate the fiscal conservatism of the more suburban members, however. This issue will be joined in the years ahead.

GlenJo October 2nd, 2010 at 3:35 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 70

DON’TS:

* Try to convince people things are good/getting better – that is out of step with what they see and feel everyday.

* Read your resume of accomplishments. Things as they are aren’t good enough – explain how we will do better.

The above is part of Stanley’s recommendations on how to talk to voters. Consider it, it’s very, very, very good advice.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 3:35 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 53

In addition, how much of the philanthropy is cover for self-interest?

Michael Bloomberg’s “Partnership for a New American Economy,” for instance. I mean, who’s he kidding? What does the immigration problem along the Arizona border have to do with the Mayor of New York?

OTOH, courting the Hispanic vote would be something of great interest to anyone who plans a 2012 White House run.

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:36 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 73

Exactly. You illustrate my point. Once the superrich attain the reins of power, they cease being liberal, let alone progressive.

MayDaze October 2nd, 2010 at 3:38 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 72

Doesn’t this just show that, as you state in your book, the elites in downscale areas (flyover) are conservative, while those on the coasts are liberal? Aren’t these politicians just reflecting the views of their area’s economic elite?

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:38 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 79

Don’t get me started on ‘philanthropy.’ Two of my fave bete noirs are Central Branch of NYPL and Met Museum. Think they must have the best cocktail weenies of all.

econobuzz October 2nd, 2010 at 3:40 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 70

Excuse me, but we have seen more progressive legislation passed in the past 18 months than the previous 18 years.

With all due respect, I don’t think the majority of rich progressive donors agree with this. I could be wrong, however.

But if I’m right, it means that you may be overlooking a main reason for closing pocketbooks.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Still wonder whether you would reflect on American wealth and conservatism. Is that the next book? Is there a book to be written that is as relevant for our contemporary politics?

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:41 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 80

Healthcare is the biggest redistributory policy passed since Medicare. It taxes the rich to subsidize the poor, in part. As for whether the rich in powerful are progressive, take a look at Jon Corzine’s voting record. He was rated as the Senator with the most liberal career voting record of anyone in 2005 by National Journal. Then there is the multi-millionaire Ted Kennedy, Howard Metzenbaum, Mark Dayton, and so on. And did I mention FDR?

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:41 pm
In response to MayDaze @ 81

Well, there’s always Warren Buffet. I don’t know enuf about the causes he supports to opine, but at least some I’ve heard about seem less than medieval. Exception that proves the rule?

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Plenty of rich people are backing a conservative agenda, that is for sure. But I would predict the scales continue to shift in favor of more liberal money thanks to the rise of the information economy and the decline of the old economy.

MayDaze October 2nd, 2010 at 3:43 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 86

Having lived here (OK) for almost 30 years, I’d have to call Buffet the exception.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:44 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 87

So how long do we have to wait for our hegemony?

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:45 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 87

And do we have to wait on Murdoch’s children?

fuckno October 2nd, 2010 at 3:45 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 86

Warned us that derivatives were financial weapons of mass destruction, then bought stocks in the Vampire Squid.
Talking out of both sides of his arse. – They all do.

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:47 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 85

Your illustrations are verrrry dated. Corzine is out of politics and having a liberal voting record by contemporary standards means being to the right of Richard Nixon. Ted Kennedy is dead, and BTW conspired with W to pass NCLB, that as we now know is dumbing down America. And as we also know about Ted, he conspired against Carter to ditch HCR 3 decades ago. Some liberal. And I’ll bet you my entire net worth that HCR will take from the middle class, perhaps subsidize the poor a teainsy bitty, and the rich will find a way around it.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:48 pm

That is anyone’s guess. I have a whole chapter on liberal heirs. There will be many more of them in coming years as the Millennial generation inherits trillions. That generation may be the most progressive in history. It will also have a huge of number of independently wealthy people.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 3:49 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 85

Healthcare is the biggest redistributory policy passed since Medicare.

If by that you mean allows health insurance companies to capture the youth market who don’t want and probably don’t need their product, agreed, it redistributes wealth. To unregulated, monopolistic insurance companies.

dakine01 October 2nd, 2010 at 3:50 pm
In response to David Callahan @ 93

David I think the key to most of the conversation this afternoon is the difference between the folks who are liberal on social issues (such as Pro-choice, marriage equality, the environment and so on) are not all the liberal on economic issues – or at least don’t appear to be so to those of us who are not worth millions.

Edit: At one time, folks who fit this description were often called “Liberal Republicans” but that breed of human seems to be mostly extinct nowadays

eCAHNomics October 2nd, 2010 at 3:50 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 94

That too. Thanks Jane.

BevW October 2nd, 2010 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon.

David, Thank you very much for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and Liberals.

Stanley, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:
David’s website
Stanley’s website

David’s book

Thanks all,
Have a great evening.

Stanley Greenberg October 2nd, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Thank you as well. All the best

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 3:53 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 95

I think that is a very good analysis of what’s happening within the Democratic party.

fuckno October 2nd, 2010 at 3:53 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 95

precisely, and that’s why the primary issues of concern to progressives ought to be not to get distracted by social issues at this point of the game, and hone in on economic justice. That done, we’ll solve the rest.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:53 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 92

Well, you made a general assertion that rich people can’t be liberal. There’s a whole historical body of evidence that contradicts that. Also, look at the voting records of the wealthiest people in Congress. You’ll find that many are among the most liberal members. I’m talking today, not in the past.

Jane Hamsher October 2nd, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Thank you so much for being here today Stan and David. We really appreciate it.

David Callahan October 2nd, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Thanks to FDL and to Stanley. It was fun.

GlenJo October 2nd, 2010 at 3:56 pm

David and Stanley,

Thanks!

TheLurkingMod October 2nd, 2010 at 4:01 pm
danw5 October 2nd, 2010 at 9:07 pm

“the wealthy and well-educated will be a driving force in liberal politics for years to come” is something I think a lot of us have known was the case as the statistics sure perhaps is there. Unfortunately those progressives do not play by the same non-rules or dirty politics that the right seem to come up with year after year like the Koch brothers are in my small state of NH where brother Rove is spending their money on ad’s like it is water.

Progressives need to do the same as the playing field is not level, nor has it ever been. Pull out those wallets!

Welcome aboard!

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