The Trustfunder Left
Examining the political map of America, as I am obliged to do
as I write the chapters of "The Almanac of American Politics
2006," reveals a previously unidentified segment of the American
electorate, one which has been growing for some years now but
has reached a critical mass and become a major force in one of
our two great political parties: the trustfunder left.
Who are the trustfunders? People with enough money not to have
to work for a living, or not to have to work very hard. People
who can live more or less wherever they want. The "nomadic
affluent," as demographic analyst Joel Kotkin calls them.
These people tend to be very liberal politically. Aware that
they have done nothing to earn their money, they feel a certain
sense of guilt. At the elite private or public high schools they
attend, and even more at their colleges and universities, they
are propagandized about the evils of capitalism and globalization,
and the virtues of environmentalism and pacifism. Patriotism is
equated with Hiterlism.
Their loyalties, as Samuel Huntington explains in "Who Are
We?," are not national, but transnational -- they are citizens
of the world with contempt for those who feel chills up their
spines when they hear "The Star Spangled Banner." They
are taught to have contempt for the economic contribution they
make to their country as investors and to feel guilty if they
make no other contribution. Their penance is that they must vote
Where can you find trustfunders? Not scattered randomly around
the country, but heavily concentrated in certain areas. Places
with kicky restaurants, places tolerant of alternative lifestyles,
places with lots of art galleries and organic food stores and
Starbucks competitors. The heaviest concentration is in the San
Francisco Bay area, which, Kotkin says, has the largest percentage
of trustfunders of any major metro area in the country.
The Bay area stands out in stark relief on the political map.
It voted 70 percent to 29 percent for John Kerry in 2004, up from
the 64 percent to 30 percent margin it cast for Al Gore in 2000.
Without the Bay area's 1.15 million-vote margin for Kerry, California
would have come within 82,000 votes of voting for George W. Bush.
Trustfunders stand out even more vividly when you look at the
political map of the Rocky Mountain states. In Idaho and Wyoming,
each state's wealthiest county was also the only county to vote
for John Kerry: Blaine County, Idaho (Sun Valley), where Kerry
stayed at his wife's imported Cotswold farmhouse on his much photographed
skiing and snowboarding vacation, and Teton County, Wyo. (Jackson
Hole), where Dick Cheney has a house and where Bill Clinton took
a pre-election holiday after his pollster Dick Morris reported
that a trip to the mountains focus-grouped better than Martha's
Speaking of Martha's Vineyard, it voted 73 percent for Kerry,
and nearby Nantucket, where Kerry's wife has another house, voted
63 percent for him -- indeed, Nantucket was one of only three
of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties that did not vote
for George W. Bush. Massachusetts Catholics gave their fellow
Massachusetts Catholic Kerry only 51 percent of their votes, but
he won 77 percent in Boston, 85 percent in Cambridge, and 69 percent
and 73 percent in trustfunder-heavy Hampshire and Berkshire Counties
in the western mountains.
Where Democrats had a good year in 2004 they owed much to trustfunders.
In Colorado, they captured a Senate and a House seat and both
houses of the legislature. Their political base in that state
is increasingly not the oppressed proletariat of Denver, but the
trustfunder-heavy counties that contain Aspen (68 percent for
Kerry), Telluride (72 percent) and Boulder (66 percent).
You can see the trustfunders' imprint as well in New York. In
56 of the state's 62 counties, the Republican popular vote margin
increased or the Democratic margin fell between 2000 and 2004.
Five of the six counties that moved away from George W. Bush are
trustfunder havens: New York (Manhattan), Ulster (Woodstock),
Columbia (trendy Hudson River country), Otsego (Cooperstown) and
Tompkins (Cornell University).
The political map shows the trustfunders' impact. So, I suspect,
would an analysis of the sources of the vast amounts of money
that flowed in through the Internet first to Howard Dean and then
to John Kerry and to outfits like moveon.org.
The good news for Democrats is that they have found a new source
of votes and money. The bad news is that an important part of
their core constituency has the characteristic that the British
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin ascribed to the press, "power
without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot throughout
2005 Creators Syndicate
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