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Starbucks Republicans

by RonChusid

Newspaper writers continue to want to over-simplify politics by pretending that one group they have written about determines the next election. We’ve had soccer moms, security moms, NASCAR dads, and other such groups. Now we have Starbucks Republicans:

This year, it’s “Starbucks Republicans” — mostly young suburbanites who are fiscally conservative and socially moderate and won’t hesitate to pay $4 for a triple grande iced caramel macchiato. And, with a midterm election looming that could change the balance of power in Congress, polls show they have become increasingly disenchanted with President Bush and Republicans.

I’ve written here many times that social issues (along with foreign policy) have replaced economics as the more significant division between the two parties. Democrats have dropped old leftist economic ideas for pragmatism, while Republicans have become the party of big government, deficit spending, and redistribution of wealth (except that their redistribution of wealth is from the middle class to the wealthy).

Those who desire a socially moderate and fiscally conservative course may be incorrectly named “Starbucks Republicans.” As one Democratic candidate puts it, “They call themselves Demo-crats now.”

Whether Democrats will benefit from the dissatisfaction with Republicans will depend upon how well they get out their message this fall. One Democrat pollster warns, “They may be disappointed in Republicans, but they are not convinced yet that Democrats will do better. They view what is happening in Washington, D.C., as a childish food fight.”

21 Responses to “Starbucks Republicans”

  1. A childish food fight? Well it’s clear that some of these folks still need to wake up and smell the coffee.

    I’m not a fan of the one on every corner Starbucks, never have been.

  2. Stararbucks Repubicans is just a name. Opinions on the coffee chain have nothing to do with the idea of attracting suburban and other previous Republican voters who are now open to Democrats. The journalists are over simplifying by their use of labels but the idea is real. This is a real battle over a group of voters, not a food fight.

    If Democrats wait for them to “wake up and smell the coffee” they won’t pick up the votes. Democrats need to make the case as to why they deserve the votes.

  3. I’ve been a so-called “Starbucks Republican” by way of relative comparison, and here’s what I see wrong with the GOP…wrong for us, immigrants, everybody.

    It’s truly remarkable that the President and GOP cause so many people to doubt everything isn’t connected to the war on terror, and that the GOP aren’t the only ones capable of decisively defeating terror and increasing prosperity, especially when they represent in the nature of:

    “Prior to September the 11th, the NSA was collecting phone numbers we have no idea belonged to who or what the conversations were about (q.v., http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB24/nsa25.pdf), while Able Danger roamed our nation (q.v., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Danger).”

    “Since September the 11th, we’ve allowed in scores more of ‘death to the white race or Americans generally’ people and given them preference, together with other immigrants, for faith based and economic programs without regard to their backgrounds or the national debt. We’ve also shut more of our own military bases, kept the Guard in Iraq, not cared where bin Laden is, won’t mass decisively against al-Qaeda (in fact, Gen. Franks was ordered off bin Laden at Tora Bora), found $10 billion for the PLO, insisted citizens should be detained forever even on junk data while guest workers take their place, suggested we use the Guard in non-Federal status to enforce State laws on pretense they’ll be enforcing Federal laws Posse Comitatus says they can’t, and are urging non-citizens to vote this November (http://www.iamaproudamerican.com, run by a longtime consultant for Senator McCain).”

    “And yes, we are a nation of immigrants and a free society and anyone who wants to come here must be allowed to, even those who hate us on their own imperical absolutisms (q.v., http://media.yaf.org/libertas/Spring06/41354_YAFcx%204.pdf). But don’t worry…just like before September the 11th, the NSA is gathering all these phone numbers we don’t know anything about”.

    “There is no capitulation here, just compassion for those foreigners who come here for freedom, benefits, work, or combinations thereof. To those who gleefully take the place of citizens of every stripe, we ask you not notice as you come food standards and wages go down, prices go up, taxes for benefits are erased, bankruptcy becomes no option, more work is outsourced to China and Vietnam, and your countries of origin improve only if you stay here.”

    “Lastly, those who question us probably have something, could be anything, to hide, so don’t trust them and as applicable, feel good about replacing them.”

    One might even run the risk of being “of interest” just for agreeing with the sentiments of Bob Barr re the Hayden nomination (q.v., http://www.bobbarr.org/default.asp?pt=newsdescr&RI=746).

    Indeed, hats off to that spin machine, powered by some of the best target market, retail politics hot air there is.

  4. It is a shame that Bush decided to play politics with 9/11 rather than really doing anything to protect the country.

    Initially it worked well for Bush, giving Republicans firm control of Congress and narrowly getting him reelected. However it was inevitable that sooner or later people would see through them. It was also inevitable that there would be Repulbicans who do not go along with the actions of the Bush Administration, including opposition to their restrictions on civil liberties.

  5. For this, Starbucks represents all the fad chains that are doing well getting people to pay 3-4 bucks for a cup of fancy coffee, some every day. If it is every work day @ $3 that comes to over $6000 per year.

    This is a group that may chose coffee over health insurance if their job doesn’t have it. And given the other statistics, have probably not started serious retirement accounts.

    My impression is that this fiscal irresponsibility is not limited to Republicans of this generation.

  6. Ron says

    “Democrats have dropped old leftist economic ideas for pragmatism.”

    What are these old leftist ideas anyway? Is Medicare an old leftist idea? Or was it pragmatic to pay for the health care of the most elderly and (at the time) poorest segement of society?
    Is national health insurance an old leftist idea? Or is it pragmatic for the US to not have over 43 million Americans without access to health care. I consider myself pretty pragmatic, and I like the idea of living longer through better health care. Democratic presidents from Wilson through Carter made a point of increasing government regulation of business-but never looked to replace the free-enterprise system with socialism. So were FDR, Truman, et. al traditional leftists for increasing government regulation of business and working to redistribute wealth downward? Or were they pragamatists who understood that a huge concentration of wealth would be a moral AND economic disaster for this country?
    Was it all that pragmatic of CLinton to preside over a continuing gorwth in the gap between rich and poor as Reagan had done before him?

  7. Nick,

    You left out the pragmatism of government regulation for the bad apples in business.

    I keep wondering what our society would be like without medicare and social security. A whole lot of new medical treatments and drugs would not have been developed when they were. Durable medical goods and providers of care for the elderly would not be the thriving business’ they are today.

    Then there’s the landlords, grocers, phone companies, manufacturers and distributors of all kinds of goods – cars, clothes, appliances, etc as well as service providers: roofers, yard care, auto maintenance; credit card & insurance companies, who have all made money from elderly who live longer and have money to pay for basic needs and services.

    What about the grandkids who have had more time to know their grandparents and have those bonds and links to their heritage. The volunteer work so many have done during ‘the best job I ever had: retirement’.

    I think what the Democrats finally caught on to was FDR’s initial approach to all the programs: don’t think of them as sacred cows, improve them as effects and changes emerge that require alterations.

    We use more pilot programs now to ‘beta test’ the user interface. The willingness to drop unnecessary, outdated programs is much higher. The flexibility to change based on real world changes is getting better.

    I think what we have is the Honest answer to Compassionate Conservatism:

    🙂 Pragmatic Progressives 🙂

  8. Ginny,

    I would concentrate on the prospect of picking up new voters as opposed to the way the media characterize them. There are many components to suburbanites and professionals who are now looking at switching parties beyond money wasted at Starbucks.

    Personally I prefer my Tassimo, allowing me to make a healthy low fat latte for well under a dollar. Much more pragmatic and fiscally conservative.

  9. Nick,

    The Democrats have been dominated by economic conservatives for several years. Of course this isn’t the same

    Carter describes himself as an economic conservative, and has written about how his major opposition came from liberal Democrats.

    Clinton was far more concerned with triangulation to survive politically, but became much more successfl (if not without some flaws) when he abandoned economic liberalism for conservativism in order to deal with the GOP Congress. No doubt there were mistakes, but all in all this contributed to a period of prosperity and a budget surplus.

    Currently the Chairman of the DNC, Howard Dean is an economic conservative. The last Presidential candidate, John Kerry, also describes himself as a fiscal conservative.

    With the collapse of the private insurance system appearing imminent, with the number of uninsured growing rapidly, and with American businesses becoming less competitive internationally due to health care costs, finding solutions to this problem certainly falls under pragmatism as opposed to ideology.

  10. Ron,

    This has nothing to do with media portrayal. It’s called psychographics, the other side of demographics – possibly more important. While you would rather make your own low fat latte, this group wants to buy something ready made. Are they also making a statement by carrying the cup of $4 coffee?

    The GOP database on psychographics is a big reason they hit their targets so well. Someone from the Clinton administration started working on this for the Dems recently with backing from Soros. (There were concerns that they were doing it to help Hillary. If they do it right, they should find there is no way to help her)

    Of course this is not limited to buying coffee. What people spend money on is an indicator that can be more important than what they claim their values are. The lesson we can’t seem to learn is why their votes and stated values do not connect. Getting them to connect may involve figuring out a way to clarify values without coming across as bossy Uncle Sam.

    BTW, the budget surplus was more related to the shift from 401 plans to Roth accounts than the balanced budget.

    “With the collapse of the private insurance system appearing imminent,” Wow, I’ve missed this. What is going on?

  11. Ginny,

    By media portrayal, I mean to look at potential voters beyond whether they buy Starbucks. This is a typical media oversimplification in taking one characteristic to define a variety of people.

    Imminent may be an exageration but the private insurance system is certainly falling apart with more and more people being uninsured or seroiusly underinsured and more and more companies dropping coverage.

  12. Ron,

    I’ll give up. But try to let your mind go somewhat beyond the totally literal.

  13. Ginny,

    That’s what I’m doing–gong beyond just the literal diescription of Starbucks Republicans to consider the actual people wihtout dwelling on the Starbucks aspect.

  14. I’m confused because the demo-psycho stuff makes sense in looking beyond the lable of starbucks repubs or soccer moms etc.

    Of course living in L.A. starbucks is now where people go to be seen… go figure.

  15. Ron,

    I am down loading all the DOL info on EEOICPA coverage for a job interview on Wednesday. These docucments are easier to follow than some of your non arguments. And if I want the job, which is becoming really intriguing, I’d best go start absorbing the highlights.

  16. The Republican Party has two major wings.

    The libertarian economics wing. These people want to make as much money as they can, and never mind that a lot of people remain out of work despite the so called 4.9 percent unemployment lie, never mind that regulations have gotten relaxed or government has taken a more relaxed attitude in helping people, ooops people died in the Sago Mine, and on Vioxx, and in Ford Explorers, or in New Orleans, never mind that the congresspeople in their party have turned into courtesans for big business and we have $3 a gallon gas. ( Well I don’t care for me, I drive and electric motorcycle, but I do care about other people )

    These libertarians make money on illegal immigrants and ship other jobs to china and india and the phillipines. They choose money over the lives of people.

    Then you have the wackos who want to tell people to a too great extent how to live life. We have laws to tell us to live to an acceptable degree but these wackos want to go beyond the normal extent and turn our country into a kulturkamp. I do not consider these people good christians and most likely not christian at all.

    Actually I have proper names for the 2 major wings of the RepubliKKKlan party.

    The libertarian wing: The Ayn Rand Wing.

    The wacko social wing: The Tomas De Torquemada wing.

    Join the Campaign for progressive legislation forum http://tinyurl.com/lyqw

  17. mmm… chocolate.

  18. Ginny says

    ” I think what the Democrats finally caught on to was FDR’s initial approach to all the programs: don’t think of them as sacred cows, improve them as effects and changes emerge that require alterations.”

    I think your right. Especially the point about pragmatism. While I consider many of our leaders to be pragmatic, I odn’t consider Clinton pragmatic- more like an opportunist who basically sold most of his soul to the ultra-right wing chamber of commerce crowd.

  19. Ron

    Yor right that Carter has written about criticism of him from liberals- that doesn’t mean that he didn’t support the the liberal viewpoint on most positions.
    For all of his political problems with Ted Kennedy he was much closer to Ted Kennedy ideologically than say Ronald Reagan whom Carter said “is as different from me in almost every basic element of commitment and experience and promise to the Americans people.” Carter (Keeping Faith, pg. 554)
    Where Carter did differ with the liberals was inflation. Although he didn’t like it Carter understood that Volcker’s plan for high interest rates to bring down inflation was painful-but needed to be done. Many liberals (with the exception of Walter Mondale) didn’t get how much inflation was hurting the public and didn’t acknowledge the degree inflation was undermining faith in progressive government. Mondale warned in 1978 that if the Dems didn’t get inflation under control “we’ll get turned out by inflation just like Vietnam did to us in 1968.” Too bad more liberals didn’t listen to one (or two) of their own.

  20. Nick,

    Of course Carter was closer to Kennedy than Reagan, although Carter has written about how he often received more cooperation from a coalition with Republicans than members of his own party. Carter describes himself as being more conservative on economic issues (which does not mean extermist like Repu blicans) while more liberal on social issues.

    Such fiscal conservativism and social liberalism places him with current Democratic leaders such as Kerry and Dean. Clinton was at his best when he practiced this, but we all know that Clinton’s positions changed depending on political forces.

  21. […] he fold. Starbucks Republicans Posted by Ron Chusid May 14th, 2006 @ 9:31 pm Newspaper writers continue to want […]