Why do the very wealthy vote Democratic?

When extremely wealthy voters support left-wing politicians, they are voting their wallets. How? The answer is surprisingly simple. Photo: Warren Buffet, looking left. (Associated Press)

FLORIDA, May 21, 2012 — Tea Party supporters often speak passionately about the state of the modern economy. After listening to them, one might conclude that Republicans are the party of Capitalists United. Democrats, on the other hand, stand beholden to creepy communists lurking in dark alleys.  

Look at election data from 2008, though, and it is clear that Barack Obama won an overwhelming majority of the country’s affluent counties. This year, he seems primed for a repeat performance. While some might find that counterintuitive, from a historical perspective it can be explained quite easily.

The oft-derided one percent consists of capitalists who have such tremendous net worths that their respective spheres of influence extend far beyond the private sector. Indeed, these billionaires have the money to buy entire legislatures, let alone the key committees that amend any given bill before it reaches a floor vote. 

It is not in their collective interest, financially and socially speaking, to support the very system which afforded them prosperity. As free enterprise requires constant change, after a period of time, each member of the one percent will almost definitely fall back into the remaining 99. This is generally a result of new entrepreneurs participating, and by far most threateningly, succeeding in the market.

The only way for the status quo to remain as it is entails restricting the market from within.

So, the extremely wealthy establish various special interest groups dedicated to crafting draconian regulations in the name of the public good, tackling hot-button social issues, and riling the hopes of easily led ideologues. These groups then contribute heavily to the coffers of receptive politicians. As word gets out that the aforementioned groups pay well — and do they ever — the number of public officeholders willing to listen grows exponentially.

Sometimes no groups are formed at all. Rather, a team of formidable lobbyists is hired to engage lawmakers directly. In any case, the ultra-wealthy secures its lofty perch by decimating the ladder that led to it in the first place. Thus it becomes clear why a startling number of anti-business organizations receive what can only be described as executive level funding. 

The decidedly none-too-affluent street activists in socialist/anarchist/radical green/whatever movements do not see what is really going on. The same goes for reactionaries on the right who consume themselves with such poignant issues as overturning a Supreme Court decision written nearly forty years ago: Roe v. Wade

As the extremists on either end of the political spectrum busy themselves building castles in the partisan sandbox, those select few men and women at the very top of the pyramid are quietly cashing in.

This is not to say that just because somebody is a successful entrepreneur, he or she is attempting to cripple capitalism; nor is it accurate to label all politicians as thoroughly corrupt. 

However, there is a profound reason for the one percent to support supposedly progressive or liberal policies and candidates. Quashing competition is smart business, and what better way to go about doing this than through readily accessible and totally legal means?

Ultimately, some things really are not that complicated.   


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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