Democratic Party Facing Huge Schism

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 08:05 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The next generation of liberal-leaning white Democrats has less faith than their elders that government can solve problems and fears that government is overreaching, writes journalist-academic Thomas Edsall in The New York Times.

Edsall notes that 73 percent of older Democrats believe government can be the solution. Fifty percent of the younger group thinks "government is trying to do too much," a Pew Research Center study found.

The younger cohort tends to be libertarian on social issues while more open to market capitalism. They tend to believe that with effort people need not be defined by their circumstances. And a majority maintain that blacks are accountable for their own situation, Edsall wrote in a commentary.

He wrote that when faced with the choice of supporting Gov. Chris Christie because of his economic outlook — which they embrace — or Hillary Clinton because of her social views, a majority of all millennials would side with Clinton, according to Reason magazine.

Edsall says the rationale for the generational divide is that government was not working during the formative years when the younger group was coming of age, citing a recent paper published by Yair Ghitza and Andrew Gelman.

The generational split within the Democratic electorate manifests also in how the elders embrace communitarian solutions while young people place greater emphasis on individualism, political scientist David Leege told Edsall.

Some 77 percent of younger people think hard work is key, as opposed to 67 percent of the older cohort which thinks hard work is no guarantee of upward mobility.

The Reason survey found that millennials favor a social safety net that takes care of the poor, guarantees health insurance, and provides a living wage — even if taxes need to be raised.

Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg said that with Republicans pursuing a social conservative agenda, the commonality among Democrats override the schisms, according to Edsall.

"Under this scenario, Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce will enjoy increased leverage in the policy-making arenas of Congress and the executive branch despite — or even because — of Democratic political success," Edsall wrote.

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