November 6, 2012

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Soda Wars Spread to California, Point to Future of US Politics.

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg concentrated on monitoring soda sizes in the months before Hurricane Sandy turned large stretches of his city into dark and freezing refugee camps.

At least one city in California shares the mayor’s sense of what matters. The New York Times reports that Richmond, California is now preparing to become the first city in the country to tax businesses for selling sugary drinks, rather than simply taxing the drinks themselves. The ballot initiative has become a contentious issue, and the rhetoric is already getting rather heated . . . The measure has its share of supporters, but it has drawn the ire of the city’s minority communities, who worry that the proposal could seriously hurt minority-owned businesses. . . .

The 2012 presidential election has brought the coalition of white “progressives” and African American and Hispanic groups together into a powerful force that may well re-elect President Obama. But that coalition is more fragile than it looks; many liberal white “progressives” scoff at the economic growth agenda that minority communities desperately need. Win or lose tomorrow, GOP operatives and policy wonks should think deeply about what is happening in Richmond; the biggest long term divide in America may be between those who think we need more growth and those who think our economy is too big and too vulgar already.

Indeed.