There is a list of Democrats who will be present and speaking this week at the DNC in Charlotte, NC. There is another list of Democrats who have politely declined to speak at this year’s DNC. Eva Longoria will speak; Hillary Rodham Clinton will sail the antipodes on “previous business engagements.” This cycle’s DNC will truly feature a new and different Democratic Party.
The Republican Party lost the White House to a vastly different Democratic Party in 1992 than the one it lost to in 2008. The Democratic Party of 1992 represented an effort by the Democrats to communicate with poorer families, living in what are termed “working class neighborhoods.” The modern Democratic Party views these people as a legacy population that the state will just have to support. The difference in composition between the previous Democratic Party championed by Bill Clinton and the newer Democratic Party represented by Barack Obama has led to a situation that has put Barack Obama squarely on the defensive for the past three years of his Presidency. It may well have been the final impetus for The Jacksonian uprising that dubbed itself The Tea Party.
Joel Kotkin writes in the Daily Beast about this phenomenon. He opines that “Barack Obama’s New Chicago Politics Abandon Bill Clinton’s Winning Coalition.” He makes some particularly valid points about the Democratic Party and its new coalition that properly address the New Left gravamen of the new Democratics. This explains well the policy choices this organization would make if they were given unlimited power.
Obama in fact epitomizes the city’s new political culture, as described by the University of Chicago’s Terry Nichols Clark, that greatly deemphasizes white, largely Catholic working-class voters, the self-employed, and people involved in blue-collar industries. The Chicago that Obama represents is more Hyde Park or the Gold Coast than the Daley family base in blue-collar Bridgeport; more faculty club, media shop or Art Institute than the factory culture of “the city of Big Shoulders”.
This leads the Democrats to want to discard the old, traditional and somewhat parochial culture of Jacksonian America. These people just don’t interest President Obama or his political allies. They are seen as “bitter-clingers”; a legacy population. They are to be put on government life support until they can be replaced by the “thinking people.” This desire expresses itself in his fundamental contempt for The Catholic Church’s position on birth control and abortion. When older institutions such as churches stand in the way of Progressive Ideas, they are accused of being incapable of adopting to the new and the modern. As Thomas P.M. Barnett would put it, they are “caboose-dragging.”
The situation that arises when a country’s elites or more competitive segments (the engine) wire themselves up to globalization more quickly than the weaker portions of society (the caboose) can accommodate. The “caboose” is typically the inland, rural, more agricultural base of the population, which likewise constitutes the bulk of poverty in any country–including the US.
Cognitive elites are by definition an electoral minority. Having 50% plus one of the population think the same deep thoughts would ruin all the fun Modern Democrats have keeping the dirty-nasty Tea Party hobbits out of the tree-house, oops, I mean Ivory Tower. To actually win elections, while maintaining this small, snobbish clique of the elite, the Democrats require a vast army of clientela that live or die on their sportula. This gives the Democrats a large block of people who will vote Democrat without ever questioning or attempting to wrest power from the party elite.
The Democratic Party of FDR used organized labor to fill this roll. As the power of private sector organized labor waned, the Democrats then reached out to public sector employees and urban professionals. Organizations such as the Alabama Education Association unionized public school teachers and provided the Democratic Party with a life-line in places where it otherwise would have been defunct by the Early 1990’s. This, plus the rise of a charismatic and empathetic leader in Bill Clinton, allowed the Democrats to succeed far beyond what many people expected.
And yet the Democrats find themselves without enough clients. The Election of 2010 led to a phenomenal setback in their plans and a vast die-off of their membership in political office at the state and national level. This led Barack Obama to a point where he needed a new list of clientela to keep his progressive elite in power without questioning its beliefs or its prerogatives. He decided to go forth and recruit Julia- the composite of the perfect minion.
So that leaves the Democrats with what they have in Charlotte. They have professorial and professional elites that are small in number but great in ambition. They know how to take care of the rest of us whether we want it or not. They have a long list of clients that depend on these elites for sustenance and thus don’t question any of the brilliant ideas. Planned Parenthood gets a seat at this table. Actual two-parent families are strongly discouraged from raising an active voice.
This paradox explains why the Democrats have catered to Julia and have sent HRC to the antipodes. This explains why Mr. Jefferson is still welcome to dine at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner while Mr. Jackson is only offered a plate of the leftovers as alms. This explains why actual Leftist true-believers such as James Howard Kunstler call for a 3rd Party movement. I can only wonder what Former President Bill Clinton will say to a Democratic Party that no longer resembles the one that elected him to office 20 years ago this November.