The American political landscape is continually changing. Even the most casual observer can see how the current trend favors the Democratic Party.
Joel Kotkin, an “internationally-recognized authority on global, economic, political and social trends” writes here about the ascendancy of the Democratic Party. He only mentions in passing that the Republican Party is far weaker than it was in the 1990s. He says this is partially “a reaction to the Bush years,” but asserts that a bigger reason is a societal shift that began in the 1960s.
Today’s Democratic Party is no longer the party of the “middle class, of shopkeepers, skilled industrial workers, and small farmers.” The groups that brought the presidency to Bill Clinton twice have declined to the point that they were no longer sufficient to do the same for Sen. Hillary Clinton this year.
The “reformulated Democratic Party” of 2008, says Kotekin, “has four critical constituencies: the post-industrial new class, African-Americans, young “net-roots” activists, and, finally, the elites of the information age.”
In case you’re wondering, “the post-industrial new class” consists of affluent professionals that are mostly college educated. This group has grown substantially as the working class has declined.
To explain “elites of the information age,” think Silicone Valley. Think Microsoft and Google. And think Wall Street. Yes, Wall Street has significantly shifted from being a GOP stronghold to being Democratic. These new wealth elites “are as likely to dress in blue jeans as expensive blue suits, belong to the Sierra Club instead of the country club, or believe in holistic medicine more than the Holy Gospels.”
I’m not sure why Kotekin does not include Hispanics as one of the party’s significant constituencies. It is no secret that outside of Cuban ex-pat enclaves, Hispanics are now squarely in the Democrat’s corner. And this group is growing faster than any other demographic.
Please note that the need for the party to appeal to middle class America is gone — at least on the national level. There are definitely some regions where this is still necessary to win congressional and local races.
It would seem from what Kotkin says and from the results of recent WSJ polling, that the only reason Sen. John McCain can even be considered somewhat viable as a presidential contender at this point is because he is a “lone-wolf” Republican that has issues with toeing the party line.
While the Democrats are ascendant at present, Kotkin warns that they and Sen. Barack Obama could be undone by the excesses of the party’s core constituencies, becoming “the mirror image of Rove’s Republicans.” He opines, “Republicans are often far too willing to repress individual rights for security reasons but generally have proved less eager in reality to tell people how to live on a day-to-day basis.”
Kotkin worries that — as is currently happening in California — Democrats in complete control of national government will cheerfully employ public policy and law in “telling people where to live, what kind of house to buy, which store to patronize, and who should be preferred for a job” much more than is done today.
Democrats should “follow a broad winning strategy based on traditional middle class-oriented policies” rather than “adopt[ing] the ideological and economic predilections of [the party’s] core base,” per Kotkin’s prescription. What are the chances that anyone will follow this advice?