Friday, May 3, 2019

Elites vs. the Rank and File in Both Parties

Interesting comment from David Brooks:
Both of our major political parties are undergoing fundamental disruption, but the disruption is coming from different directions. The Republican Party has been disrupted from the bottom. In 2016, the educated Republican elites were happy to embrace conventional Republican themes. It was the Republican base that was fed up and wanted Trump — something completely different.

The Democratic Party is facing disruption from the top. In the early stages of the current political season, Democratic rank and file seem to be embracing Biden and his traditional Democratic themes. It’s the coastal, highly educated elites who are fed up and want something transformative.
I'm not sure this is right; I think age is probably a more important factor dividing Democrats than class. But it is striking that none of the political pundits I read or the twitter mobsters I read about like Biden, but he has rocketed to the top of the polls. Of course, that's before he has done much talking to the camera, something the he is, for a lifelong politician, remarkably bad at.

The Trump era has many Americans, like me, longing for normalcy. We want to turn down the partisan rancor, the outrageous lying, and the ignorant megalomania and get back to what we remember as normal politics. So far as we can tell, the nation is doing ok economically and making real progress in some areas: clean energy, holding sexual abusers to account. We just want to get Trump and the spasm of reaction he represents out of the way so we can get back to slow, steady social progress and boring press conferences.

Other Democrats are furious, and they want to fight back with determined radicalism of their own. They want impeachment now, and moderate politicians who caution that this would be a disaster for the party and possibly for the nation fill them with scorn.

This is America today. Many people, perhaps a majority, think things are basically ok and would like some tweaks. But there are big factions of Americans in both parties who are not at all satisfied with normalcy and long for some kind of radical change. On the Democrat side they gravitate toward socialism and social justice, and they seem to believe that the world could somehow be brought to a new birth of freedom.

I am a moderate because I believe that radical change via politics is an illusion. I think there is a lot we could do to make the world better but nothing that could lift us out of the sometimes grim reality of post-industrial life: dragging yourself every morning to a bureaucratized job, coping with obnoxious people, being constantly bombarded by bad news. Really, your life isn't hard because of Trump or rich capitalists or neo-Nazis, but because everybody's life is hard. I mistrust today's radicals because they seem to be saying that the basic laws of human life and society could be politically repealed and then we will all be happy.

I would happily vote for Biden, if he is the nominee, but not because I think he would do any amazing things for the country. More because I want normal politics to return.


Anonymous said...

I give up on you and your endless recycling. Why wake up to David Brooks' re-imbibed vomit? I can hear your arteries hardening as you compose.Enjoy your tenured retirement!

A nostalgic return to the politics of yesteryear is not a return to "normalcy," as the Democratic party will discover to its sorrow if it nominates Biden.

ArEn said...
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