Monday, September 18, 2006

Karl Rove's Juggernaut Karl Rove's Juggernaut

Thomas D. Edsall in the New Republic: Karl Rove's Juggernaut: The GOP machine is tougher than you think makes a lot of good points about the status of both political parties. One of the Democrats' biggest problems is that it is run by a societal elite totally out of touch with their base, and, more imporantly, with those it needs to reattract to the party:
Consider the most prominent Democratic politicians and power brokers of recent years: Nancy Pelosi (daughter and sister of Baltimore mayors, net worth $14 million); Harold Ickes (son of FDR's secretary of the interior, Sidwell Friends, Stanford, Columbia Law); Howard Dean (Park Avenue, St. George's, Yale); George Soros (Hungarian currency speculator, net worth $7.2 billion); Ellen Malcolm of Emily's List (heiress to the IBM fortune); Jane Fonda (record-breaking contributor to a liberal nonprofit in 2000 with a gift of $11.7 million); Michael Dukakis (son of a Harvard Medical School graduate, Swarthmore, Harvard Law); John Kerry (St. Paul's, Yale, Skull & Bones, net worth nearly $167 million); Al Gore (St. Albans, Harvard, son of a U.S. senator); Hillary Clinton (former first lady, Wellesley, Yale Law, now worth $10 million).
Sounds just like Joe Sixpack whom they want to reenlist. He did miss though some other big targets here, i.e. Ted Kennedy and Jay Rockefeller. Kennedy's father, of course made his money running booze during Prohibition, and he would have graduated from Harvard except for a little cheating episode. Oh, and his mother's family was the First Family of Boston politics. And Rockefeller is of course descended from the old Robber Baron himself.
Many Democrats--and writers such as Thomas Frank--have called for the party to reconnect with the white, working-class, male voters it has lost over the decades. The problem with this call to populism is that the party's most influential wing is not populist; it is elitist--affluent, welleducated, urban, indifferent (or hostile) to organized religion, and, on the controversial social issues of abortion and gay marriage, well to the left of the general public. The values of this elite tend to prevail in party debates and in the crafting of Democratic platforms. Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union--and himself an Ivy League graduate--recently said that the perception of Democrats as "Volvo-driving, latte-drinking, Chardonnay-sipping, Northeast, Harvard- and Yale-educated liberals" isn't a perception at all, but rather "the reality. That is who people see as leading the Democratic Party. There's no authenticity; they don't look like them. People are not voting against their interests; they're looking for someone to represent their interests."
I think that a lot of people now see the rank hypocricy of these multimillionaires coming from elite backgrounds and having attended top schools trying to preach about what is good for the common man. How would they know? We all remember Al Gore trying to convince us that he really had worked in the fields growing up (amidst his summers in Europe, home from school in D.C.) To John Kerry's credit, he really didn't bother trying.


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