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Democrats: the party of Truman is no more
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Or subtitled: "How the Liberal Elitists Won."

In a December 2nd opinion piece in the LA Times, Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel discuss exactly that point. Once the party of the middle and working class, it has been taken over by what Kotkin and Siegel call the "gentry liberals".
Today's ascendant liberalism has a much different agenda. Call it "gentry liberalism." It's not driven by the lunch-pail concerns of those workers struggling to make it in an increasingly high-tech, information-based, outsourcing U.S. economy — though it does pay lip service to them.

Rather, gentry liberalism reflects the interests and values of the affluent winners in the era of globalization and the beneficiaries of the "financialization" of the economy. Its strongholds are the tony neighborhoods and luxurious suburbs in and around New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and West Los Angeles.
Increasingly you hear old and dependable constituencies of the Democratic party complaining about being taken for granted. And the argument could be made that such complaints are always made during elections since no politician can fully fulfill the wants or desires of any constituency to the point of complete satisfaction. But those complaints have some validity now. The old Harry Truman Democrat that Zell Miller was going on about, is no more. And that has to have an impact on how the party deals, or doesn't deal, with its traditional constituencies.

This new paradigm was never more evident that in a recent Heritage report which claimed that Democrats now control the wealthiest Congressional districts in the country.

It also has to do with attitude. The "New" Democrats are more of the Arthur Schlesinger type rather than the Harry Truman type.
In "The Vital Center," Schlesinger dismissed both the then-largely Republican business class, as well as mainstream Democratic politicians like Truman, because he thought they were too craven in their appeals to middle- and working-class interests. He believed that government should be in the hands of "an intelligent aristocracy" — essentially men like himself — whose governance would be guided by what it considered enlightened policy rather than class interests.
One only need hear the Dems on the stump to understand how entrenched that belief has become. Hillary Clinton tells us she's going to have to take away some things from us for the common good. And you have John Edwards, while touting his "health care" plan, telling us that we'll have no choice but to comply.

Gentry liberalism is also common on line:
Gentry liberalism has established a strong presence on the Internet, where such websites as MoveOn.org and the Huffington Post are lavishly funded by well-heeled liberals. These and other sites generally focus on foreign policy, gay rights, abortion and other social issues, as well as the environment. Traditional middle-class concerns such as the unavailability of affordable housing, escalating college tuitions and the shrinking number of manufacturing jobs usually don't rank as top concerns.
That's been my impression as well as I read many of the leftosphere blogs. Traditional middle-class concerns get lip-service at most. However the issues mentioned - gay rights, foreign policy, abortion and the like - are the predominant issues blogs cover. A few posts here and there about the "disappearing middle class", not much addressing blue collar or middle class issues.

As an aside, this was also demonstrated in the CNN YouTube debate when CNN chose questions which primarily focused in precisely the areas the authors note.

Kotkin and Siegel conclude:
The ascent of gentry liberalism remains largely unchallenged, in part because of the abject failure of the Republicans to address middle-class aspirations in a serious way and in part because of the absence of a strong pro-middle-class voice among Democratic presidential contenders, with the exception of former Sen. John Edwards. As a result, Democrats are unlikely to stop, let alone reverse, the current economic trend that dispenses major benefits to gentry-favored sectors such as private equity firms, dot-com giants and entertainment media.

Over the last half a century, liberals have moved from strong support for basic middle-class concerns — epitomized by the New Deal and the G.I. Bill — to policies that reflect the concerns and prejudices of ever more elite interests. As a result, neither party speaks for broad middle class concerns.

The nation deserves better than that.
As you may have surmised, the authors are not from the right side of the isle. But they see a developing institutional weakness within the Democratic party which is being allowed to bloom because their opposition, they claim, has basically ignored the same constituency and it has nowhere else to go. It's a warning to their party that continuing this trend risks Republicans finally waking up and figuring out how to take advantage of the situation and woo that constituency away.

I personally think they give Republicans too much credit, but I also think they've described the present Democratic party pretty well. And the end result is the supposed natural constituency of the old Democractic party is no longer represented by the "New" Dems. And that could end up as an opportunity for a smart Republican party (yeah, I know, "smart" being the operative word).
 
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So many of the remedies for middle-class anxiety—lower corporate taxation to fuel jobs or free trade—do not lend themselves to the kind of simple-minded boob-baiting these comstituencies have become accustomed to. We saw in the Social Security debates how willing the Democrats are to sell fear and tell outright lies in order to close ranks and end discussion. As dumb as the GOP has proven to be, I’m not sure anybody’s clever enough to craft a message that will win over the voters the Left pays only lip service to.
 
Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
The Party of Washington is no more, the Party of Jackson and Lincoln is no more...things change. If the Democrats remain in power this is true, but also irrelevant, to quote the apocryphal North Vietnamese Colonel.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
i think the authors have it pretty much spot on. Clearly the guys who provided manual labor for a middle class living are having a tough time of it. That said it’s not going to change much. As the third world becomes more educated they will continue to suck such jobs away from the US. if anyone has any remedy’s (besides abandoning free trade) for that i’d sure appreciate hearing them.
 
Written By: paladin
URL: http://
Simple. Abandon unilateral free trade.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
This is the latest right wing meme, namely, that the Dems only care about the rich. The cited proof today?
This new paradigm was never more evident that in a recent Heritage report which claimed that Democrats now control the wealthiest Congressional districts in the country.
Got it? The proof that the Democrats don’t care about the middle class is that Democrats represent wealthier districts than Repubilcans do.

Right.

The truth is, districts/states/regions tend to be wealthier because they are represented by Democrats. It is Democratic policies that tend to make incomes rise, particularly those of the middle class.

Want proof? Check out state poverty rates for 2005:

http://www.deed.state.mn.us/lmi/publications/rankings/figure25.htm



State Percent State Percent State Percent
Mississippi 21.3%
Louisiana 19.8%
New Mexico 18.5% U.S. 13.3%
West Virginia 18.0%
Texas 17.6%
Arkansas 17.2%
Alabama 17.0%
Kentucky 16.8%
Oklahoma 16.5%
South Carolina 15.6%
Tennessee 15.5%
North Carolina 15.1%
Georgia 14.4%
Montana 14.4%
Arizona 14.2%

Nevada 11.1%
Nebraska 10.9%
Iowa 10.7%
Delaware 10.4%
Massachusetts 10.3%
Utah 10.2%
Wisconsin 10.2%
Virginia 10.0%
Hawaii 9.8%
Wyoming 9.5%
Minnesota 9.2%
Connecticut 8.3%
Maryland 8.2%
New Hampshire 7.5%

Source : Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Look at the bottom 15 states. Primarliy if not overwhelmingly red. Look at the top 15 states. Primarily blue.

Question: If Dems care so little about the poor and the downtrodden, why are the states at the bottom so overwhelmingly red? Indeed, if the average is 13.3, the only two states below that line that are solidly blue are New York and Oregon.

It’s understandable why wingnuts would want to further the notion that Dems don’t care about the poor. Of course, the facts are opposite. But since when has that ever bothered wingnuttery?
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
The rest of the world is not "sucking jobs away". The US is still the leading producer of manufactured goods in the world. US manufacturing jobs are declining due to productivity improvements. This will continue even if we mess up our economy by erecting trade barriers.
 
Written By: newshutz
URL: http://
This is the latest right wing meme, namely, that the Dems only care about the rich
No mk, this is the latest left wing meme. The right has always maintained that the primary and overwhelming concern of the left is keeping in power irrespective of the means employed.

You guys are represented (in the Presidential race) by folks who have said numerous times that they are better suited than I, to make my decisions. Love your visions of liberty - I hope to keep them to yourself.

(and yeah, there is a bit of irony in there if you have a shred of intellectual honesty.)
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Technology steals more jobs than China ever does. Just review the following and think about who lost their jobs:

ATM cash machines
Fax/E-mail
Spreadsheets
AutoCAD
Self-check out
Forklift
Backhoe / Bulldozer

I recently read that China lost 25 million industrial jobs in the past few years - mainly to machines and technology.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It’s understandable why wingnuts would want to further the notion that Dems don’t care about the poor.
Further the notion????

You dont give a damn about the poor, moonbat, you just want to use them for electoral victory. Hey, make some more promises you cant keep, just as long as your socialist totalitarianism reigns...
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Sorry folks... lingering anger with family members who are as intentionally clueless as mk and glas... much easier to lash out against unknown internet ____ than sisters, mothers, and brothers-in-law.

It’s disappointing when family members chose to be as ill-informed as internet trolls.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
"It is Democratic policies that tend to make incomes rise, particularly those of the middle class."
You are a certifiable moron.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
The rest of the world is not "sucking jobs away". The US is still the leading producer of manufactured goods in the world. US manufacturing jobs are declining due to productivity improvements. This will continue even if we mess up our economy by erecting trade barriers.
Technology steals more jobs than China ever does. Just review the following and think about who lost their jobs:

ATM cash machines
Fax/E-mail
Spreadsheets
AutoCAD
Self-check out
Forklift
Backhoe / Bulldozer

I recently read that China lost 25 million industrial jobs in the past few years - mainly to machines and technology.
Firstly job loss to technology is a good thing. It means efficiency. And although there is transient jobs loss, they jobs are recovered elsewhere. What is important is to retain the capability.

But that isn’t all that’s happening. Unless tires, toasters and tractors can come out of a spreadsheet, you can witness the health of industry by the factories. Making stuff requires space. Quite a lot of it. I grew up in a city filled with factories. There were areas where block after block that you couldn’t throw a stone and not hit one. As I grew up they emptied one after that other. Countless buildings became empty hulks. The capability they represented didn’t require less space. Its just left.

As for those nasty trade barriers, they haven’t hurt China too much have they? They are doing exactly what the US did when the US decided it wanted to be more than an overgrown wheat field and timber yard.

 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
History has a way of being very ironic.

It once was that the Democrats were the party of the "little man" and the Republicans were the party of "the rich": that, to people like my parents, voting for a Republican was voting for the rich against the poor (my parents thinking of themselves as being one of the poor) in a sort of treason to one’s economic class.

But now it’s very much the reverse.

(And I would argue that the GOP of today is just as different from the GOP of, for example, Dewey).

BTW—is mkultra Erb’s new pseudonym
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
The truth is, districts/states/regions tend to be wealthier because they are represented by Democrats.
This might be the stupidest thing you’ve ever said. And, remember, you’re the one who claimed conservatives don’t like traffic circles because they’re too European. But today’s howler tops even that.

What you are saying is that certain specific districts are wealthier because they have Democrat representatives in Congress. By what mechanism? Exactly what does the delegation to Washington do that’s more important than the state, county, and municipal goverments?

Before you get into another tirade about how the poor states are "red", you should probably do a more thorough analysis: what party is the governor? what party dominates the legislature. what party does the mayor, city council, and county board lean toward?

Face it, mk: you strip out any info that might argue against your wild claims.

And, kishnevi, mkultra is not the same person as Erb. Although, maybe they are two different personalities harboring the same body...has anyone ever seen the two of them together? :)
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
"The truth is, districts/states/regions tend to be wealthier because they are represented by Democrats. It is Democratic policies that tend to make incomes rise, particularly those of the middle class."

If Democratic policies enacted by the national government are responsible for increased wealth, why is that wealth concentrated in Democratic districts? Sounds more like Democrats are better at getting Pork for their own districts.


"Want proof? Check out state poverty rates for 2005: "

Perhaps you should learn the difference between a Congressional district and a state. Wealth is not uniformly distributed within states.


" It’s disappointing when family members chose to be as ill-informed as internet trolls."

I understand completely.

" Countless buildings became empty hulks"

Perhaps if the environmentalists did not make it so expensive and difficult for someone to use that land, and taxes were not so high on it, and transportation for people and goods was not so difficult, someone would use those hulks. Most city governments do not seem to really want manufacturing plants in their cities, anymore. Sports facilities, condos, convention centers and hotels are much more popular with municipal politicians.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
FWIW, Fred Siegel is probably the world’s biggest Rudy booster. (I’m not knocking Siegel, I’m impressed by that support. If I ever want to write pro-Giuliani material, Siegel is the source to turn to.)
 
Written By: soccer dad
URL: http://soccerdad.baltiblogs.com

 
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