The Democratic Party is often called the party of government. Ideologically, this is so obviously true it’s not worth belaboring. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. We have a federal government for a reason, and there are things it should do. Reasonable people can debate what those things are.
But there’s a difference between being the party of government in the ideological sense and being the party of government in the literal sense. A core constituency of the Democratic Party, both in terms of voters and donors, is people who work for the government.
Members of teachers’ unions regularly constitute around 10 percent of delegates to Democratic Party conventions. There are about 3.5 million public school teachers in America, comprising about 1 percent of the U.S. population. That means teachers’ union members are overrepresented among the activist base of the Democratic Party by a factor of about 1,000 percent. In 2019-2020, according to Open Secrets, of the roughly $52 million that the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association spent on political donations, $130,000 went to Republicans or Republican groups, and the rest went to Democrats or Democratic groups—a ratio of about 400-to-1.
Of course, it’s not just teachers’ unions. In the 2020 election cycle alone, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) dedicated 99.1 percent of its political spending to Democrats. The American Federation of Government Employees gave 95.6 percent to Democrats.