Doctors were once overwhelmingly male and usually owned their own practices. They generally favored lower taxes and regularly fought lawyers to restrict patient lawsuits. Ronald Reagan came to national political prominence in part by railing against “socialized medicine” on doctors’ behalf.
But doctors are changing. They are abandoning their own practices and taking salaried jobs in hospitals, particularly in the North, but increasingly in the South as well. Half of all younger doctors are women, and that share is likely to grow.
There are no national surveys that track doctors’ political leanings, but as more doctors move from business owner to shift worker, their historic alliance with the Republican Party is weakening from Maine as well as South Dakota, Arizona and Oregon, according to doctors’ advocates in those and other states.
One of the immutable laws of modern American politics is that no candidate who wants to win the Iowa Presidential caucuses can afford to oppose subsidies for ethanol. So it's notable—make that downright amazing—that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty launched his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination Monday by including a challenge to King Corn.
He's certainly right about that, though that hasn't stopped nearly every other candidate from deploring the federal deficit while supporting the most egregious of corporate welfare subsidies. This marks a change for Mr. Pawlenty, who over two terms leading Iowa's northern neighbor first fought farmers on subsidies but later supported their push for a 20% ethanol mandate for gasoline. But in refusing to stick to the script for candidates looking to harvest votes in February's Iowa caucuses, Mr. Pawlenty has passed an early test of fortitude. By opposing ethanol despite the political risks, Mr. Pawlenty will also gain credibility to tackle other energy subsidies that drain the federal fisc to little good effect.
Intriguingly, Mr. Pawlenty said he's also ready to take on other taboos of modern politics. "Conventional wisdom says you can't talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street," he said. "But someone has to say it." Maybe this Presidential season will be more interesting than we've imagined.