It’s clear today that some sort of major spending cuts will have to be enacted at some point in the next few years. It’s natural that President Obama would want to protect the Democrats’ core voting groups from being affected by those cuts, but those core groups no longer include all senior citizens. Given that the chained CPI concession apparently comes with a carve-out for lower-income seniors, the strategy here is clear.
But it’s also problematic. Liberals were outraged at the proposed concession, and some Republicans were quick to pick up the mantle as protectors of Social Security — but also of their older, whiter base. This raises a question that few are asking, but more should contemplate: Will a Democratic Party comprised mostly of younger minority voters continue to be guided mostly by the concerns of white liberals? The interests don’t always intersect; the Social Security/Medicare issue is a good example of that.
Our politics haven’t always been driven by a liberal/conservative divide. That is a fairly recent innovation; ethnic and sectional divisions are more the norm. If the country does end up minority-majority by 2050, the Democratic Party will likely be supermajority-minority by that point; no one can predict with any certainty what effects that will have on the overall political cleavages in the country.
To be sure, the cleavages exposed here are of different sorts: young vs. old, minority vs. white, upscale vs. downscale. The Democratic Party has chosen to go in different directions with their coalition in different circumstances. And to be sure, Republicans have major issues of their own.