November 5, 2004


Why They Won (THOMAS FRANK, 11/05/04, NY Times)

[T]he power of the conservative rebellion is undeniable. It presents a way of talking about life in which we are all victims of a haughty overclass - "liberals" - that makes our movies, publishes our newspapers, teaches our children, and hands down judgments from the bench. These liberals generally tell us how to go about our lives, without any consideration for our values or traditions.

The culture wars, in other words, are a way of framing the ever-powerful subject of social class. They are a way for Republicans to speak on behalf of the forgotten man without causing any problems for their core big-business constituency.

Against this militant, aggrieved, full-throated philosophy the Democrats chose to go with ... what? Their usual soft centrism, creating space for this constituency and that, taking care to antagonize no one, declining even to criticize the president, really, at their convention. And despite huge get-out-the-vote efforts and an enormous treasury, Democrats lost the battle of voter motivation before it started.

Worse: While conservatives were sharpening their sense of class victimization, Democrats had all but abandoned the field. For some time, the centrist Democratic establishment in Washington has been enamored of the notion that, since the industrial age is ending, the party must forget about blue-collar workers and their issues and embrace the "professional" class. During the 2004 campaign these new, business-friendly Democrats received high-profile assistance from idealistic tycoons and openly embraced trendy management theory. They imagined themselves the "metro" party of cool billionaires engaged in some kind of cosmic combat with the square billionaires of the "retro" Republican Party.

Yet this would have been a perfect year to give the Republicans a Trumanesque spanking for the many corporate scandals that they have countenanced and, in some ways, enabled. Taking such a stand would also have provided Democrats with a way to address and maybe even defeat the angry populism that informs the "values" issues while simultaneously mobilizing their base.

What do you suppose Truman would have thought of a party that stands for abortion, gay rights, and cutting and running from the war against Islamicism? Those are all things it's easier to associate with the liberal Republicans--Dewey, Ike, Nixon, Ford--of the New Deal epoch than the Southern Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2004 11:08 AM

Obviously your knowledge of Ike is rather lacking.

PS- Could you put up a mega post of all the links relating to what Bush has planned for the next 4 years?

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at November 5, 2004 11:28 AM

The Dem's didn't want to get into the corporate scandal business because they were as deeply or even more deeply involved than the Reps. Also they were the darlings of the busts that left many an investor hurting. At best it would have been a wash, at worst it might have wounded some Dem legislators severely.

Also, for some reason it doesn't resonate all that much among the general population. Governor Kernan in Indiana put most of his medium to late money into a corporate scandal attack on Mitch Daniels and in the end it hardly moved the polls at all.

He might have wanted to speak to his colleague Mr. Krugman before he trotted that one out.

Posted by: Jeff at November 5, 2004 11:47 AM

Working class people realize today that if they are to thrive, the corporation that they work for has to thrive. It's that simple. 50 years ago, when America ruled the international marketplace, it was a luxury that the left could indulge. Nowadays, in the Global Economy, such attitudes will kill the jobs that their supposed constituency depends on for survival. It is time to put away childish things.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 5, 2004 11:58 AM

Thomas Frank and the opiners at the NYT are still twisting and contorting like the geo-centrists with their epi-cycles. They will remain tortured until they pitch what they knew and accept the new point of reference, the Son.

Posted by: luciferous at November 5, 2004 12:03 PM

And thanks to 401k's they own the company. Ownership is the tool God gave the Right to defeat the Left.

Posted by: oj at November 5, 2004 12:03 PM

Which partiular Democratic party are we talking about?

The one which Truman and JFK belonged to which is constantly being touted by conservatives as tthe last time the Dems were sane?

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at November 5, 2004 1:54 PM

They weren't, but how did Ike differ?

Posted by: oj at November 5, 2004 2:00 PM

Well, OK.

Not much.

But I don't see how Ike would be in favour of "abortion, gay rights, and cutting and running from the war against Islamicism".

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at November 5, 2004 2:28 PM

Ran from Korea. Nixon and Ford were pro-abortion and bugged out of Vietnam.

Posted by: oj at November 5, 2004 2:38 PM

A party entirely dependent upon the contributions of trial lawyers, Hollywood megastars, K Street influence-peddlers and gays cannot appeal to working class Americans on economic grounds.

They would either have to lie to working class Americans every bit as much as Mr. Frank feels the GOP does or would have to lie to their paymasters. If they lie to their paymasters, they get their funds cut off.

Posted by: Bart at November 5, 2004 7:38 PM

"A party entirely dependent upon the contributions of trial lawyers, Hollywood megastars, K Street influence-peddlers and gays"

You left out the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 5, 2004 10:21 PM

Jesse and Al don't give any money to the party, which was the point I was referencing.

Posted by: Bart at November 5, 2004 11:49 PM

The Democrat Party is the folk-enemy party. Their dream is of a coalition of outsiders--the "minority-majority." This isn't happeneng, as, one person at a time, the erstwhile minorities "become White."

At the times turn, as the Great Depression fears extinguish and the Vietnam draft-dodging hypocracies dissipate, all they are left with will be those minorities whose hatreds are so powerful that they cannot be reconciled to their country.

I submit that the future will look very different. I am not happy about all the trends, for I have altogether no confidence in the capacity of the commonality to work out its salvation without guidance. We should not predict the future beyond noting that both God and evolution have been very good to the United States of America.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 7, 2004 12:29 PM
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