9.2.18

NOT EXACTLY A COALITION OF THE ASCENDANT.

Betsy Newmark's morning roundup is a literature review of pundits contemplating the Democrats' coalition.  I found this visual in a Power Line "Week in Pictures" a few weeks ago that summarizes.


That might not be an easy coalition to hold together.  (Worst case scenario: the California of Kurt Schlichter's People's Republic.)

The Serious Thinkers see what's happening, and it might not be pretty.  First up, Joel Kotkin.
[Democrats] should focus on how to build sustained economic growth that would provide better opportunities for upward mobility for middle and working class voters, and in particular millennials. If they choose however to listen primarily to causists and oligarchs, they may win in the short run, given the ineptitude of their opponents, but may prove unable to sustain their ascendency over the longer term.
Yes, particularly to the extent that the causists depend on the continued suffering of dependable voters to win elections.  "The well-to-do get doughnuts. Those dependable Democrat voters get the hole. And the Lakers and Kings fled the district."  That might not be sustainable.  Michael Barone.
Gentry liberals have produced the highest-income-inequality metropolitan areas in the nation. They decry gentrification, and the accompanying movement of low-income blacks and Hispanics out of their neighborhoods, even as they cause it. They sing hymns to diversity even as they revel in the pleasures of communities where almost everybody believes and consumes exactly the same things—and votes uniformly Democratic.
Michael Walsh extends the argument.
You can’t make the point too strongly that California in the ’50s was probably the greatest place in the world. So I had a very blessed boyhood, having spent the years from ’54 to ’62 there. It was at its apogee, as I say in this piece. You know, again depending on your point of view. If you’re obviously a member of Aztlan or some other radical organization, you’re going to think it was a white, male, colonialist, you know, blah, blah, blah.

But it was the place where . . . First of all it was Republican. Second of all, moderate Republican. Sort of Rockefeller Republican. It was very strong on defense. San Francisco, believe it or not, was one of our major naval bases. San Diego had the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, where my father was at first stationed. And the Naval Air Station in Coronado. Los Angeles was huge in the aerospace and defense industries. So it was as solid and an all-American place as you can get.

And since then, now that’s what, 50 plus, 60 years, it’s changed completely. And it actually shows you the death wish of liberalism, that once you start to give in to the liberalizing forces. You know, why don’t you do it this way? Why do we have to do that? Why, why, why? It’s something I covered in “Devil’s Pleasure Palace.” Once you start to give in to that, you lose it. And California has lost it steadily over the years, and now it’s basically gone. And it’s a shame because it should be the best place in the world.
Put another way, the California of the Beach Boys is gone, and it's unlikely any contemporary singers could offer similarly cheerful tunes. (That might parallel the decline of Christmas songs we documented earlier this winter.)

Further, the Academic-Entertainment-Media types have developed a hectoring, deplorable-shaming way of communicating that antagonizes people. "Gentry liberals have the microphone and the money to dominate the Democratic Party. Whether they can overcome their snobbish disdain and bitter contempt for those beyond their comfortable enclaves, and come up with a winning national strategy, is unclear." Let's suppose that the Donks win back the House in the fall. Pyrrhic victory, as their focus will be more on attempting to impeach the president, rather than passing any sort of useful legislation.  Easier said than done.  Matthew Continetti.
Trump’s State of the Union was well crafted and moving, but what made it especially important was the ease with which the president took the Democratic economic message of a few years ago and pocketed it without protest. If Bill Clinton had M2E2 — Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment — then Donald Trump has T2I2: terrorism, trade, immigration, and infrastructure. He has framed these issues in ways that leave the Democrats in the cold, and oh, by the way, he’s taken family leave away from them too. He’s for tight labor markets within the original free-trade zone, the United States, and all the Democrats have left is virtue signaling and grievance mongering. Maybe that’s why Nancy Pelosi looked so unhappy Tuesday.
There's another salient passage in Mr Continetti's essay.
The fate of working-class people in the country’s interior is a defining domestic issue. For the Democrats to win nationally, they must stanch their losses among this key voting bloc, just as Clinton’s husband and Barack Obama did. “If Clinton could simply have reduced the shift toward Donald Trump among these voters by one-quarter, she would have won,” Ruy Teixeira wrote a few days ago on Vox.com. Even more remarkably, Teixeira found that Doug Jones’s victory in the Alabama special election “was not attributable to his strong showing among black voters alone, or even a combination of black voters and white college graduates. My analysis indicates that Jones benefited from a margin swing of more than 30 points among white non-college voters, relative to the 2016 presidential election in the state.”
Democrats, this P. C. Brown essay suggests in Politico, might be thinking about getting beyond the causists and the gentry.
From the Appalachian regions of Ohio to the Iron Range of Minnesota and the northern reaches of Michigan and Wisconsin, across Iowa and Missouri and through the southern swaths of Indiana and Illinois—areas in which Bill Clinton triumphed and Hillary Clinton tanked—the quotes from the 72 rural Democrats [Monmouth College political scientist Robin] Johnson interviewed read like a pent-up primal scream. And [Indiana Congressman] Terry Goodin’s comments pop out in particular. In the report, he says the Democratic Party is “lazy,” “out of touch with mainstream America,” relying on “too much identity politics” where “winners and losers are picked by their labels.” The Democrats in his district, he laments, “feel abandoned.”
Representative Cheri Bustos, from a district just to the northwest of Cold Spring Shops, commissioned this study. So far, though, it's the gentry Democrats and the causists continuing to hold serve in Congress.

The Republicans, also, might benefit by considering expanding their message.  Kevin D. Williamson gets the final word.
If real estate cast votes, the United States would be practically a one-party state. And, to be sure, as things stand, the Republicans are doing well, controlling the presidency and both houses of Congress while enjoying a commanding position in the states. “Who needs California?” they ask, often with a sneer. “Who needs New York and New Jersey?”

The answer: America does.

Conservatives, too.

In its quest to “Make America Great Again,” the Republican party, and to a lesser extent the conservative movement that animates itself, has taken a position of enmity toward much of what made America great in the first place. With all due respect to those amber waves of grain, coastal urban America has in many ways led the way: Hollywood, Wall Street, Ronald Reagan, punk rock, Ellis Island, Edison, Apple, Facebook, Google, J. P. Morgan, General Electric.

The modern conservative movement was not a product of the Old South or the Midwest but an intellectual phenomenon that percolated up in Southern California and New York City.
Perhaps the way forward from political polarization is for both major parties to make some effort to woo marginal voters from the other party.  "[S]omething other than polarization is the equilibrium, but minimum differentiation is still lost."

That's an outcome I could live with.  The current political competition (and we're having a doozy of a primary season in Illinois) is one that offers me very little.

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