On Tuesday evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews, usually a reliable Democrat shill, noted that his party has a problem.  It started in his interview with current vice president and railfan Joe Biden.
MATTHEWS: Why do they – why is it the Democratic Party? Is it because of all the contributors with their money have made it more of an elite party, Ivy League?
BIDEN: This is not – you know, there`s no malarkey. The fact of the matter is, those people we`re talking about built this country.
BIDEN: They built it. And they are smarter than we give them credit for. There`s almost, like – what`s happened in both parties is there`s sort of a – a yielding to pedigree.
BIDEN: You know, the guy who goes to Penn State or University of Delaware and the guy goes to Yale or Penn, well, the guy at Yale or Penn must know more. It doesn`t work that way.
MATTHEWS: I haven`t noticed that.
BIDEN: Oh, you haven`t?
Mr Biden uses the "deferring to pedigree" phrase a second time.  The vice president goes on to discuss Charles Murray's snob test.
BIDEN: And because it`s now at the point where there is – it is merit-based, where you – whether you`re part of the elite, we`ve kind of forgotten about ordinary Americans out there.
BIDEN: And so it`s like – it drove my boys crazy. I had them take the test in the book, and it said, Have you ever been on a factory floor? Have you – were you raised in a neighborhood where over 60 percent of the people didn`t go to college, where you – if you get a chance to go to Starbucks or McDonald`s for coffee, where do you go? Do you know anybody who has whole milk in their refrigerator? I mean, there is…
MATTHEWS: Because everybody else has skim milk, the elitists, yes.
BIDEN: No, but so – so part of it is that it`s understandable. The good news is it`s based on merit advancement in many cases now. But the bad news is that these folks who were the people who are – not the salt of the earth, they`re the stuff that makes everything grow.
BIDEN: And they`re capable of so much more. That`s why I think our focus on free college education, our focus on making sure that there`s child care to get women back in the job market, our focus on things that are just basically simple fairness, minimum wage.
I mean, people want to know that we really do – my dad used to have an expression, Chris. He said, I don`t expect the government to solve my problem, but I expect them to understand it.
Let's leave for another day whether Mr Biden really understands the problem. It's the transition of the blue collar voter from reliably Democrat to Hillary Deplorable that I'm focusing on.

Here's Mr Matthews, setting the conversation for the evening's panel of Democrat Operatives.
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now for their reaction individually is Robert Costa, national political reporter at “The Washington Post” and MSNBC political analyst. Howard Fineman is global editorial director, of course, Huffington Post, also an MSNBC political analyst. And Katie Packer is a Republican strategist formerly with the Romney campaign.

I`m going to leave the pugilistics aside for a second here.

Robert Costa, I have never heard Biden lay this out so clearly, this sense that we have this meritocracy gone bankrupt, whereby only the people at the very top academically are given any consideration by the Democrats in terms of policy.

He speaks with personal experience, it seems, for a guy that went to University of Delaware for example, about this almost British-style system, where, if you didn`t go to Oxford or Cambridge, don`t talk, we`re not listening.
Let's also leave aside, for the moment, whether we're seeing an American Oxbridge at work, or whether Mr Biden is a bit of a jerk and he gets treated accordingly.  The discussion that follows is less than edifying, and I really don't care to worry about what the shape of the 2020 presidential ticket will be before the 2016 votes are counted, or stolen.

Mr Matthews, however, returns to that Democratic crackup during his sign-off.
My sit-down with Joe Biden in Pittsburgh today tells me that at least one top national Democrat understands the Trump phenomenon. While others may look down their noses at the Trump voter, the longtime senator from Delaware gets it. He sees their failure to connect with those white working class voters excited by Trump. He sees the economic but also the cultural factors that have driven the majority of white non-college educated Pennsylvania voters to line up with the New York billionaire, which is what we`re seeing in polling right now. He`s winning among those people, Trump is.

Biden talked today about what he calls the pedigree problem, how the Democratic Party at the top views anyone not an Ivy Leaguer as below intellectual consideration. How the party has kind of forgotten about ordinary Americans out there, how those people are smarter than they`re given credit for.
The Social Register set have been using poor and non-white voters as mascots for years; that is another disconnect in the making.

1 comment:

David Foster said...

More intelligent than what we usually expect to hear from Biden. Still, he's a little bit late...50 years ago, Peter Drucker wrote about the danger of 'schools for leaders' versus 'schools for followers':

"One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman. Yet this is the flexibility Europe needs in order to overcome the brain drain and to close the technology gap."

America has come much, much closer to accepting Harvard Law School (and equivalents) as Grande Eccoles than it had when Drucker wrote. And this tendency has been especially reflected in and driven by the Democratic Party.

And this is much less about meritocracy than is usually advertised. There are large numbers of extremely high-quality people who have chosen not to play the Ivy League game. Indeed, admission to these universities these days is probably as much a test of conformism and conventionality (on the part of both the applicant and his parents) as of a particular kind of narrowly-defined merit.