For a long time, the United States had one economy. Now we have two economies that compete for America’s wealth: A private economy and a public economy. The 2012 election will decide which will be subordinate to the other. One economy will lead. The other will follow.
How the U.S. arrived at the need to choose between two competing economies reveals a lot about the political polarization in the country. Any history of the Democratic Party in the 20th century will recognize its roots in the American labor movement. The party was defined by the names of those unions. The United Mine Workers. The United Auto Workers. The Brotherhoods of Teamsters and Railroad Workers. Consider what those names represented: Both Democrats and Republicans were rooted in the private economy. Unionized workers knew then that this private economy was where they made their living. The arguments were over dividing the productive fruits of that economy. That was your father’s Democratic Party.
From the 1960s onward, the professional Democratic Party began to lose its relationship with the private economy. Democratic politicians drew closer to a rising public-sector union movement and its campaign financing, while the private unions declined. This meant the party itself was slowly disconnecting from the machinery of the private economy and becoming part of a rising parallel economy, the public economy of government.