New Jersey 2006 — Year of the Democrats?

New York liberals — and independent voters — appear to be changing the political landscape of the Jersey ‘burbs. Republican strongholds in towns like Millburn, Westfield, Summit and
Madison are eroding as Democrats find themselves winning Council seats and
even mayoral races. An influx of young families looking for luxury homes is the driving force behing the shift, academics and realtors tell today’s Star Ledger :

The towns experiencing the shift are similar. They’re old-money communities on commuter rail lines, each offering a pleasant blend of downtown shopping, historic homes and shade-tree neighborhoods. Until recently, they’ve also been some of the most reliable bastions of Republican votes in the state. Ten years ago, the four towns boasted only a single Democratic official among them. But an influx of liberal-leaning New Yorkers seems to be changing the politics of these GOP strongholds.

Joseph Marbach, chairman of Seton Hall University’s political science department, said the shift is indicative of a larger state trend that can also be seen in some of South Jersey’s well-to-do Philadelphia suburbs. He said successful young professionals are pouring in from the cities, bringing their liberal values and "middle-class conscience" with them. "They’re pretty well off, so they can afford property taxes and they don’t necessarily need a lot of services from government," Marbach said. "But they’re also willing to take care of the poor; they have that middle-class conscience. So those folks are going to line up with the Democrats on a lot of those social issues."

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12 COMMENTS

  1. What the devil is a “middle-class conscience?” As opposed, say, to an “upper-class” one or a “lower-class” version?” My own born and bred in NJ conscience (he, oddly enough, resembles a top-hatted insect) tells me that academics from 3rd and 1st string institutions alike are simply too fond of phrase-coining to do any real work.
    If these young professionals can afford the high property taxes found this area, for example (as a kind of Newark-levied dhimmitude upon the rest of Essex County, perhaps), then why are they so prone to moaning about them, both here and in other forums? And to considering “secession” as a means of responding to such taxation?

  2. That’s the way relative morality works – a slippery slope of buck passing. What was once “Sin” which meant misdeeds requiring active atonement morphed into “Guilt” which required mostly the psychological suffering of the guilt itself and perhaps (if you felt so inclined) an effort to make things better (via your own action). “Conscience”, however, means it isn’t really your fault and you can make someone *else* pay for it all. Like Montclair’s new zoning rule which makes housing developers sell one in five houses at a loss to increase “economic diversity”. Guilt would be a tricky thing -it might lead to honest (though misguided) policies such as the township purchasing (with tax dollars) houses at full price and selling them at a loss so the burden of “social engineering” would be shared by all. But “conscience” means you can make some other bastard pay for the thing!

  3. Worst of all (so far, that is) will be whatever replaces “conscience.” Whatever it is, of course, I trust those most afflicted will run it by, for example, the editorial board of the New York Times.

  4. Well Montclair is well ahead of the “progressive-lingo” curve cathar. What follows “middle-class conscience” (the awareness of others’ responsibiliy to solve social ills) is “middle-class activism” (the enforcement phase).

  5. For which phase I might even suppose that several posters here have already applied for “supervisory” positions. Et tu, butch?

  6. There has to be a middle ground between the give-away-the-store, social conscience ‘liberal democrats’ who inadvertently excuse corruption-ladden, wasteful political machines just because some of the spoils do actually go to those in need — and the hypocritical, take-my-money with-me to the grave conservative republicans, who only demand tax breaks, and want no government-driven inititives except price support and industrial corporate welfare programs that put the money right back into their own pockets.

  7. Of course there is a middle ground. Your question is such a polarized exaggeration it is answered in its asking.

  8. And therefore you have now proved my point. You would have to agree that the real question is “how much.”
    Nonetheless, you continuously post various philosophical crys of ‘no and stop’ – each time someone argues a policy here that involves what you perceive to be either a taking of right, or what you call social engineering – if it’s something you don’t agree with. And thereforek, you are being hypocritical.
    It’s clear ‘the people’ have willingly surrendered rights and government has used those powers for the ‘social good’ since the founding of the country.
    Canals, zoning, price supports, grants, federal reserve policies, forced military services etc. etc. etc. all benefit some..and sometimes hurt others at various points in time.
    Therefore, the issue always is not that government intervention happens or even how, which you seem to forget is constant — but how much, for whom and fairness in the process.
    Therefore, stop arguing the ‘governmental process’ as if it’s some big new usurption of freeddom each time. It’s just the democratic will in motion.
    Stick to the end results. For example -you wrote you feel the town’s affordable housing policy is wrong. Fine, argue that and why. Don’t focus your attack on the intervention itself or the engineering process by which the town seeks to implement the policy. Those are just types of tools used all the time for policies to the left or to the right.
    Stick to your underlying criticism of the policy itself.

  9. And therefore you have now proved my point. You would have to agree that the real question is “how much.”
    Nonetheless, you continuously post philosophical crys of ‘no and stop’ – each time someone argues a policy here that involves what you perceive to be either a taking of right, or what you call social engineering – if it’s something you don’t agree with. As a result, you are being hypocritical.
    It’s clear ‘the people’ have willingly surrendered rights and government has used those powers for the ‘social good’ since the founding of the country.
    Canals, zoning, price supports, grants, federal reserve policies, forced military services etc. etc. etc. all benefit some..and sometimes hurt others at various points in time.
    Therefore, the issue always is not that government intervention happens or even how, which you seem to forget is constant — but how much, for whom and fairness in the process.
    Stop complaining about the ‘governmental process’ as if it’s some big new usurption of freeddom each time there is action. It’s just the democratic will in motion.
    Stick to the end results. For example – you wrote you feel the town’s affordable housing policy is wrong. Fine, argue that and why. Don’t focus your attack on the method of intervention itself, or the engineering formula by which the town seeks to implement the policy. Those are just tools used all the time for policies – left or right.
    Stick to your underlying criticism of the policy itself.

  10. Having, just now, returned from gargling in order to flush out the salty reside of your hands made busy by producing words from my own mouth, I sputter “oh, please!”
    My acknowledgement of your, no doubt, carefully crafted “surely there must be something between black and white” tautology proved no point at all – because there wasn’t one. To say that because there is “gray area” it must therefore follow that there is no “out of bounds” in the role and proper use of government and taxes is nonsense.
    “We exist therefore we tax”?
    “in for a penny, in for a pound” eh?
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
    Notice that it says we have the right to the pursuit of happiness, not its achievement. This is precisely where liberal “progressivism” goes wrong. Liberal policies like Montclair’s middle-income zoning proposal seeks to guarantee the “good” outcome rather than simply insure the fairness of the pursuit. A person is no more entitled to discount housing anymore that I am entitled to a half-price BMW. Having said that, I don’t think it un-Constitutional, but rather, a oft practiced tyranny of the majority and a misuse of government policy.
    I think that if the good liberal townsfolk of Montclair think that this insured result is a good use of public policy, then we should ALL pay for it. To compel the developer, or more accurately, the owners of the *other* now more *expensive* four homes amounts to a “tax” applied to a powerless minority by a tyrannical majority. Let’s be honest, that is why this proposal is popular with the good liberal people of Montclair in the first place. We can be “activist” and it won’t cost *US* anything! This is symptomatic of modern liberalism. In the old days liberalism meant “we are ALL going to make the world a better place”. Everybody had to pay for Johnson’s “war on poverty”, everybody had to (and still has to) pay for the “New Deal”. But in the last few decades the people have grown tired paying for failed utopias and have resisted the creation new ones. So what is a “Progressive” to do? Make someone *else* pay of course! If we can make housing developers pay for social policy, or “ratepayers” pay to subsidize un-profitable. Liberalism has gone from “ask what you can do for your country” to “demand that some other bastard pay for what you can take credit for doing to your country”. Sad really. If this proposal were “framed” (to borrow a phrase popular with the Chopra-groupee Bluewavy set) in a fair way the township would purchase one in five homes at the market rate and resell it at a loss to a middle-income beneficiary. Think that would pass? Would the goals of progressivism withstand the cost of progressivism?
    While, yes, there is “grey area” in many things (QED!), there are also things out of bounds because they are unfair, unreasonable and a misuse of government. This is one of them.

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