Arnold Kling sees the culture wars spinning further and further out of control and experiences despair.
I think the long-term significance of what is going on, both at the progressive end and at the Tea Party end of the political spectrum, is an open rupture. In the 1960’s, a Hubert Humphrey or Robert Kennedy could connect with uneducated white voters. The idea of blowing them off was unthinkable, if only because they were such a large majority of the voting population at the time.
Now, the elitism of President Obama and his supporters has reached in-your-face levels. They have utter contempt for the Tea Party-ers, and the Tea-Party-ers know it.
I wouldn’t want the Tea Party-ers at the faculty picnic, either. But my sense of class solidarity with Obama and other educated progressives does not make me want to see them exercise power. If anything, being a member of the educated elite and knowing knowing them as well as I do makes me share the Tea Party-ers’ fears.
I come back to my view that this is white, small-town America making its last stand. However, I think, also, that the progressive elite is making a last stand. My guess is that doubts are mounting among many independent voters about whether they want such a highly-charged politics. I am sticking with my bet that the Democrats will hold onto their House and Senate majorities as well as the Presidency through the elections of 2016, but relative to six months ago I feel that I am depending more on Republican incompetence than overall political trends to win that bet.
One could argue that this country is on the verge of a crisis of legitimacy. The progressive elite is starting to dismiss rural white America as illegitimate, and vice-versa. I see the chances of both sides losing as much greater than the chance of either force winning.