The incomparable Michael Barone, author (for four decades) of the Almanac of American Politics, makes a wide-sweeping point which might actually explain quite a bit in a recent interview at Uncommon Knowledge. (One of my favorite stops – host Peter Robinson does a great job, asks extremely intelligent questions and stays out of the way. The result is a product with a very high substance-to-ego ratio.)
The wealth the American economy produces in a year has doubled since 1972, which Barone argues has changed our politics back to a “property owning representative democracy” a la the early 19th century. The urbanization of the late 19th/early 20th century had created an American “proletariat” that did not own property or accumulate substantial financial assets and so supported the New Deal’s efforts to “spread the wealth around.”
Starting in the 1970s we’ve “come to a different place” where we don’t see government as a source to “plunder the rest of the economy” and spread it around. Despite the recent financial crisis, the political response to BHO’s “New New Deal” indicates we are a “property owners republic that doesn’t favor redistribution” – yet we remain the most charitable people in the world.