top of page
Search

The Democratic Party Isn't The Party I Signed Up For-- And The GOP Is Worse Than Ever

It’s weird being the same age as old people

We celebrated last night with a couple of adult beverages… Metamucil & Ensure

Weight loss goal: To be able to clip my toenails & breathe at the same time




Last October, writing for the New Yorker, Joshua Rothman asked Are You the Same Person You Used to Be? Based on his own inability to remember almost anything of himself at 4, he wrote that he mourns for his 4 year old son’s “future inability to remember himself. If we could see our childish selves more clearly, we might have a better sense of the course and the character of our lives. Are we the same people at four that we will be at twenty-four, forty-four, or seventy-four? Or will we change substantially through time? Is the fix already in, or will our stories have surprising twists and turns? Some people feel that they’ve altered profoundly through the years, and to them the past seems like a foreign country, characterized by peculiar customs, values, and tastes. (Those boyfriends! That music! Those outfits!) But others have a strong sense of connection with their younger selves, and for them the past remains a home.


In the poem “The Rainbow,” William Wordsworth wrote that “the Child is Father of the Man,” and this motto is often quoted as truth. But he couched the idea as an aspiration— “And I could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety”— as if to say that, though it would be nice if our childhoods and adulthoods were connected like the ends of a rainbow, the connection could be an illusion that depends on where we stand. One reason to go to a high-school reunion is to feel like one’s past self— old friendships resume, old in-jokes resurface, old crushes reignite. But the time travel ceases when you step out of the gym. It turns out that you’ve changed, after all.


On the other hand, some of us want to disconnect from our past selves; burdened by who we used to be or caged by who we are, we wish for multipart lives. In the voluminous autobiographical novel “My Struggle,” Karl Ove Knausgaard— a middle-aged man who hopes to be better today than he was as a young man— questions whether it even makes sense to use the same name over a lifetime. Looking at a photograph of himself as an infant, he wonders what that little person, with “arms and legs spread, and a face distorted into a scream,” really has to do with the forty-year-old father and writer he is now, or with “the gray, hunched geriatric who in forty years from now might be sitting dribbling and trembling in an old people’s home.” It might be better, he suggests, to adopt a series of names: “The fetus might be called Jens Ove, for example, and the infant Nils Ove... the ten- to twelve-year-old Geir Ove, the twelve- to seventeen-year-old Kurt Ove... the twenty-three- to thirty-two-year-old Tor Ove, the thirty-two- to forty-six-year-old Karl Ove— and so on.” In such a scheme, “the first name would represent the distinctiveness of the age range, the middle name would represent continuity, and the last, family affiliation.”

“[W]ho you are,” he suggested, “is determined not by what you’re like but by what you do. Imagine two brothers who grow up sharing a bedroom, and who have similar personalities—intelligent, tough, commanding, and ambitious. One becomes a state senator and university president, while the other becomes a Mob boss. Do their parallel temperaments make them similar people? Those who’ve followed the stories of William Bulger and James (Whitey) Bulger— the Boston brothers who ran the Massachusetts Senate and the underworld, respectively— sometimes suggest that they were more alike than different. (‘They’re both very tough in their respective fields,’ a biographer observed.) But we’d be right to be skeptical of such an outlook, because it requires setting aside the wildly different substances of the brothers’ lives. At the Pearly Gates, no one will get them confused.”


As he concludes he noted that “The stories we tell ourselves about whether we’ve changed are bound to be simpler than the elusive reality. But that’s not to say that they’re inert… James Fenton captures some of them in his poem ‘The Ideal’:


A self is a self. It is not a screen. A person should respect What he has been.

This is my past Which I shall not discard. This is the ideal. This is hard.


In this view, life is full and variable, and we all go through adventures that may change who we are. But what matters most is that we lived it. The same me, however altered, absorbed it all and did it all.”


The GOP has nothing to do with Lincoln... Do The Dems have much do with FDR?

Yesterday, Thomas Edsall asked— in his column It’s Not Your Father’s Democratic Party. But Whose Party Is It?— if “the left’s half-century-long struggle to return the Democratic Party to its working class roots [has] become an exercise in futility?” He notes that “In recent years, the Democratic electorate has moved in two directions. First: The percentage of Democrats with a college degree has almost doubled, growing from 22 percent in 1996 to 41 percent in 2019. Second: While the percentage of Democrats who are non-Hispanic and white has fallen from 76 to 59 percent over the same period, according to Pew Research, nonwhite Democrats— Black, Hispanic, Asian American or members of other minority groups— have grown from 24 to 41 percent.”


Whites now make up just 58.9% of the U.S. population, down from 69.1% in 2000. Blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans have grown from 30.9% then to 41.1% now. Edsall talked with political scientist Eitan Hersh about America’s profound political realignment that has seem Democrats moving away from a blue collar constituency and towards socioeconomic elites. “For a while, Hersh told him, “it looked like the Republican Party could appeal to social conservatives but maintain the economic policy supported by business elites. But now, you start to see real attempts by Republican thought leaders to be more assertive in meeting the economic needs of their constituencies… Democrats can win with college educated whites plus nonwhite voters. They can’t win with more defection from nonwhite voters. The Republicans are making the argument that their cultural and economic values are consistent with working class Americans, and that their positions transcend racial categories… If the Republican Party, could move beyond Trump and focus on this vision (which of course is impossible with Trump there making everything about Trump), they’d be presenting a set of arguments and policies that will be very compelling to a large number of Americans.”


Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who has long argued that Democrats need both to regain support from whites without college degrees and stop defections among working class Black and Hispanic voters, argues that the socioeconomic elite— well-educated, largely white, liberals— are imposing damaging policies on the Democratic Party.
In a recent essay, “Brahmin Left Vs. Populist Right,” Teixeira writes
The fact is that the cultural left in and around the Democratic Party has managed to associate the party with a series of views on crime, immigration, policing, free speech, and of course race and gender that are quite far from those of the median working class voter (including the median nonwhite working-class voter)… Democrats continue to be weighed down by those whose tendency is to oppose firm action to control crime or the southern border as concessions to racism, interpret concerns about ideological school curriculums and lowering educational standards as manifestations of white supremacy, and generally emphasize the identity politics angle of virtually every issue. With this baggage, rebranding the party— making it more working class oriented and less Brahmin— is very difficult, since decisive action that might lead to such a rebranding is immediately undercut by a torrent of criticism.
… Michael Podhorzer, a former political director of the AFL-CIO, agreed that “There is no way to define ‘socioeconomic elites’ in which it isn’t obvious that both parties are dominated by socioeconomic elites” and added that “since the 1970s both left and right parties now represent different factions within the socioeconomic elites.”
In the process, Podhorzer argued, “Labor and working people have been demoted from a seat at the table to a constituency to be appealed to.”
The idea that the Democrat Party is a pro-business party, Podhorzer wrote, “is hardly a bulletin. It’s been pro-business since Carter. Deregulation (including Glass Steagall, holding companies, communications, etc.) as well as trade agreements (NAFTA, China WTO, proposed TPP, etc.) are all Democratic Party ‘accomplishments.’”
Podhorzer, however took sharp issue with Hersh, Shah and Teixeira. “I find Teixeira’s constant harping on Democratic ‘elites,’ as well as Hersh’s and others’ use of the term to be playing with fire at this moment,” he told me.
The focus on cultural elitism, in Podhorzer’s view, mask
billionaires’ collective influence over the political process or the ways in which their success is responsible for immiseration and what we call “inequality.” This enables fascist politicians to shift the blame to intellectual and cultural ‘elites,’ like liberals or people with college degrees, redirecting the inevitable resentments of the losers in the winner-take-all economy… Centrist commentators and Democratic strategists who have aggressively and continuously diagnosed the party’s capture by a woke “elite" unwittingly— and without justification— affirm the fascist worldview in which “cultural,” rather than economic or political, elites are the source of their disappointments.
However these disputes are resolved, there is clear evidence of the demographic realignment of the Democratic Party.
Brian Schaffner, a political scientist at Tufts, writing by email, demonstrated the evolution of the Democratic and Republican electorates by citing data from the Cooperative Election Study which he oversees:
We ask workers what industries they work in and just between 2014 and 2020 we saw some notable shifts depending on the category. In 2014, 42 percent of people working in construction identified as Republican and 38 percent called themselves Democrats, a 4-point advantage for Republicans. Just six years later, that group was 49 percent Republican and 29 percent Democratic, a 20-point gap. By contrast, Republicans had a 9-point edge among people who work in finance and insurance in 2014 (48 percent Republican, 39 percent Democratic), but by 2020 Democrats held a 3-point edge (45 percent Democratic, 42 percent Republican).
The Republicans advantage among manufacturing workers has grown from 7 to 13 points over those six years, according to Schaffner, and the 4-point Democratic advantage among transportation and warehouse workers has turned into an 8-point Republican edge. Workers in professional, scientific and technical industries were evenly split in 2014 but by 2020 Democrats had gained a 15-point advantage. In the education industry, Democrats increased their advantage from a 14-point gap in 2014 to a 22-point advantage in 2020.
Schaffner wrote that “these are pretty sizable shifts in partisanship which fit the narrative that white collar workers are shifting more Democratic at the same time that blue collar industries are becoming more Republican.”
There are, however, strong arguments that despite the ascendance of well-educated, relatively comfortable Democrats, the party has retained its commitment to the less well off, as evidenced by the policies enacted by the Biden administration.
…[N]ot reversed [is] the traditional class divide of the parties, [Michigan State political scientist Matt] Grossmann argued, “because high-income low-education voters are the most Republican and low-income high-education voters are the most Democratic” while “nonwhite voters also remain much more Democratic.”
Despite these shifts, Grossmann wrote that he does not “see evidence that the Democratic Party has abandoned redistributive politics or changed its positions on business regulation. Instead, they are increasingly emphasizing social issues and combining social concerns with their traditional economic concerns.”
David Hopkins, a political scientist at Boston College, is writing a book with Grossmann. Hopkins argued in an email that “we are in the midst of a realignment, in the sense that the education gap between the two parties (separating degree-holding Democrats from degree-lacking Republicans) is now much larger than the income gap.”
But Hopkins stressed,
Party change on economic policy is the dog that hasn’t barked here. For all its conspicuously populist style, the Trump presidency’s biggest legislative achievement was a tax reform package that provided most of its benefits to wealthy and corporate taxpayers. And the Democrats show no signs of rethinking their traditional advocacy of an expanded welfare state funded by redistributing wealth downward from rich individuals and businesses— with Biden’s policy agenda ranging from greater education spending to a federal child tax credit to subsidized child care and prescription drug costs… Democrats still fundamentally see themselves as the defenders of the interests of the socially underprivileged. And despite their own contemporary popularity among the white working class, Republicans still define themselves as the champions of capitalism and entrepreneurship.
…[A]s the Democratic Party continues to win college-educated whites by larger and larger numbers, the development of most concern to those determined to maintain the party’s commitment to the less well-off is the incremental but steady decline in Democratic support from nonwhite voters.
Over the past three presidential elections, according to a detailed Catalist analysis of recent elections, Democratic margins among Black voters without college degrees have steadily fallen: Obama 97-3 or a 94-point advantage in 2012; Clinton 93-6 or an 87-point advantage in 2016; and Biden 90-8 or an 82-point edge in 2020. The same pattern was true for Hispanic voters without degrees: Obama 70-27 or 43 points; Clinton 68-27 or 41 points; and Biden 60-38 or 22 points.
The current Democratic Party may actually be the best coalition that the left can piece together at a time when American politics is notable for contradictory, crosscutting economic, racial and cultural issues. But can the party, with its multiple factions, outcompete the contemporary Republican Party, a party that has its own enormous liabilities— most notably Donald Trump himself?

I suspect DWT readers wonder where the hell the 13.4% (on average) of Democrats are coming from you say they’ll vote for MAGA-plant RFK, Jr. He’s clearly running to be Trump’s VP— or to get a cabinet position (which DeSantis already practically offered him). Not counting the receipt, does this sound like a Democrat?



3件のコメント


ゲスト
2023年8月17日

Then why not sign up for a party that is more like what you imagine yourself to be?

Does the possibility of winning a seat mean repudiating all your principles? Why... yeah... it does.


During a recent adoption event, I saw a shirt that said "Life goal: pet all the dogs".

It didn't say 'only pet dogs that can be owned by the rich' and it sure as hell didn't say 'kick all puppies a little less hard than trump would'.


but I suppose to each his/her own?

いいね!

For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” Chuck Schumer, 2016.


Our (former) Majority* Leader made his views on the kind of party he wants abundantly clear, and the party clearly has headed in his desired direction.


*Thanks, in part, to his wisdom in putting the DSCC fully behind Cinema in an open AZ-Sen primary in '18, we now have a 49-49-2 Senate.

いいね!

ゲスト
2023年8月17日

... um... yeah, I KNOW, right?

I will disagree with many of the details "given" here about how your democraps are still a party that "has retained its commitment to the less well off, as evidenced by the policies enacted by the Biden administration."

Whatever democraps have done FOR the less well off since, well, slick willie's admin can be characterized as the crumbs that fell to the floor as the rich gorged on their bacchanalian feast(s). The proper context here is that the demorap party still knows they need some of those less well off to vote for them, thus, they still tangibly and rhetorically pander to those fools in that pursuit. MOST of that pandering, however, is rhetoric…


いいね!
bottom of page