As a follow-up to my previous post, yes, honest liberals do exist. One of them is Michael Zuckerman writing in Atlantic Cities, who squarely confronts the reality that Democratic congressional districts experience far more income inequality overall than Republican congressional districts. He compiled the chart above which shows the Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Concludes Zuckerman: “As the data show, Democrats have a lock not only on the country’s richest districts but also on the districts with the highest in-district income inequality.”
He then advances an interesting hypothesis: “Considered alongside these well-established trends, the fact that Democrats represent districts that are (on average) more unequal than Republican districts suggests that the parties may have such divergent views on income inequality in part because their members (and constituents) have divergent experiences of income inequality.”
In a way, that’s a breakthrough concept because it attributes Republicans’ policy views not toward callous, unfeeling attitudes towards the poor or to racism — the main rhetorical thrust of the national Democratic Party rhetoric and its media allies these days — but to their different life experiences. Democrats are more sensitive to income inequality because they experience it more glaringly in their daily lives; Republicans are less sensitive because they see less of it.
There is, of course, one other possible explanation: Income inequality is worse in Democratic districts because Democratic districts tend to be governed at the state and local level by… Democrats. And, just as I argued in the previous post that Democratic policies lead to increased segregation as an unintended consequence, they also lead to more income inequality as an unintended consequence. Food for thought.
There is good news for Democrats — Virginia Democrats, at least — in Zuckerman’s data. The national trend aligning Democrats with inequality does not hold true in Virginia — the average Gini for three Dem districts, .429, is a hair lower than that for the eight GOP districts, .434. Indeed, the fifth most income-egalitarian district in the country is Virginia’s 11th, represented by Democrat Rep. Gerald Connolly!