Moe Lane marvels that, after so long a time, the Democrat Party’s New Deal coalition, consisting of “unions, city machines, blue-collar workers, farmers, blacks, people on relief, and generally non-affluent progressive intellectuals,” is being pronounced dead by the New York Times. The new coalition of the American left is simply writing off the white working class, period.
Whether you agreed with the New Deal program or not, you could always actually define it in terms that were internally self-consistent. Broadly speaking, it was a broad agreement among various groups that America’s most pressing problems could be managed and ameliorated on a broad scale through ‘expert’ and judicious government intervention; and that such intervention dampened the uncertainty and anxiety that might otherwise cause societal panics and economic dislocations. Again: you don’t have to agree with that (I don’t) to recognize that it existed as a coherent policy.
But now that has gone by the wayside, to be replaced with a system that . . . apparently plans to trade support for permanent government dependency programs for minorities, in exchange for legislating the fringe progressive morality of affluent urbanites. Aside from the utter lack of an unifying intellectual or moral framework to such an arrangement, it’s unclear exactly who benefits less from it; while it’s certainly not in minority voters’ long, medium, or short-term interests to become a permanent underclass, it’s not exactly clear that minority voters are even particularly ready to vote for a progressive social policy (as an examination of recent reversals in same-sex marriage movement in California and Maryland will readily attest). But then, that is not really the goal, is it? The goal is to re-elect President Obama — which is something that poor African-American and rich liberal voters both wish to do — and if that is accomplished, then anything else is extra. Which is just as well, because nobody really expects Obama to have much in the way of coat-tails this go-round.
Jim Geraughty, in his Morning Jolt email, responds:
Ah, but look, today’s Democratic party isn’t really about addressing economic opportunity or even dealing with America’s most pressing problems. For starters, many Democrats are not persuaded in the slightest that the annual deficit, accumulating debt, and ticking time bomb of entitlements are pressing problems at all. If Democrats really expected electing Obama would solve problems, they would be angrier with him than we are. No, for most Democrats, their political party is about a cultural identity. That identity is heavily based on not being one of those people — i.e., Republicans or conservatives. As far as I can tell, there are three inviolate principles in the modern Democratic Party:
Any form of consensual sexual behavior is to be accepted — if not celebrated. With that central belief comes the policies of abortion on demand for any woman at any age free, free contraceptives in schools, and gay marriage, and the insistence that Bill Clinton’s lying under oath about Monica Lewinsky didn’t matter because it was about sex. Complaining about explicit sexual content in pop culture reaching an audience that isn’t ready for it — e.g., Tipper Gore in the 1980s — is the sign of the square and the prude. As no less an expert political philosopher than Meghan McCain told us, “the GOP doesn’t understand sex” and has “an unhealthy attitude about sex and desire.” (Republicans are supposedly repressed and sexless, even though they generally have more children.)
America is a deeply racist country, even though you have to look far and wide to find anyone who openly expresses the belief that one race is superior to another. Everybody recoils when Imus says something snide and obnoxious about the Rutgers womens’ basketball team. Racism is never found in the central tenet of affirmative action, that minorities must be judged by a lower standard, or in the until-recently all-white lineup of MSNBC, or in the claims that Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain are Uncle Toms, or in the career of Robert Byrd. The fundamental belief of the Democratic party is that racism remains a serious problem in America today, and that the problem is found entirely in the GOP.
Credentials are to be respected, and any scoffing or skepticism at, say, the Ivy League is a sign of anti-intellectualism, ignorance, jealousy, and insecurity. Those who go there are indeed the best and the brightest; undergraduate and graduate degrees from those schools are key indicators of one’s intelligence, good judgment, and overall character. The success of dropouts Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg are strange anomalies, and no serious reevaluation of the higher-education system is needed. As Rush Limbaugh observed, Bill Clinton said he wanted a cabinet that “looked like America” and declared he had achieved it after assembling a group that consisted almost entirely of Ivy League-educated lawyers.
Everything else is negotiable. For a while, it appeared that Democrats were organizing themselves around the principle that almost every dispute with every other nation and group can be resolved through “tough, smart diplomacy.” But now President Obama has started killing foreigners left and right, and not too many Democrats complain at all. Obama even used a drone to kill an American citizen, Anwar al-Alwaki, with nary a peep. Don’t get me wrong, Alwaki had it coming, but this is precisely the sort of don’t-bother-me-with-legal-details-I’m-fighting-a-war philosophy that Democrats spent seven years denouncing.
You think the Democratic party cares about wealth? Come on. In their minds, George Soros spending his money to help out his political views is noble, but the Koch Brothers are evil incarnate. Higher taxes are good, but no one will complain if Tim Geithner or Charlie Rangel cut corners on paying them. One might be tempted to argue that the righteousness of unions represent an inviolate principle to Democrats, but in New York, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo is trimming here and there and living to tell the tale.
No, the party really is about identity politics now — us vs. them. And everybody knows which side they’re on.