Tuesday, February 02, 2016

economic trauma and political drama in the left behind hump of the IQ-75 majority...,


NYTimes |  The intelligentsia on the left rarely lets a moment pass without reminding us of the demographic eclipse of white middle-class voters. Sometimes, those voters are described as racists, or derided as dull suburbanites who lack the élan of the new urban “creative class.” The message: White middle-class Americans aren’t just irrelevant to America’s future, they’re in the way.

Conservatives are no less harsh. Pundits ominously predict that the “innovators” are about to be overwhelmed by a locust blight of “takers.” The message: If it weren’t for successful people like us, middle-class people like you would be doomed. And if you’re not an entrepreneurial “producer,” you’re in the way.

Is it any surprise that white middle-class voters are in rebellion?

Democratic and Republican Party establishments appeal to the interests of these voters, promising to protect them (Democrats) or spur growth that will renew economic opportunity (Republicans). But these appeals miss the point.

Our political history since the end of World War II has turned on the willingness of white middle-class voters to rally behind great causes in league with the wealthy and political elite: Resist Communism! Send a man to the moon! Overcome racism! Protect the environment! Today, white middle-class voters want to be reassured that they can play an active role in politics. They want someone to appeal to their sense of political self-worth, not just their interests.

This is precisely what Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders offer. Mr. Trump speaks about restoring American greatness, rhetorical gestures akin to Barack Obama’s vague 2008 slogan, “Yes, we can.” We can mock both as empty. But voters who feel disempowered and marginalized latch on to this promise. They want to be partners with the rich and powerful in defining our future as a country, not recipients of their benevolent ministrations, which explains why they’re untroubled by Mr. Trump’s great wealth.

Mr. Sanders also appeals to the strong desire that the white middle class has to recover its central role in the national project. While he attracts support from a wealthier stratum of the middle class than Mr. Trump, the appeal is the same. He asks them to join him in fundamentally remaking our political economy. We can dismiss his socialism as an unworkable throwback, but he’s doing something our political establishment can’t or won’t: asking middle-class voters to undertake a nation-defining transformation.

If these candidates have traction, it’s because over the last two decades our political elites, themselves almost entirely white, have decided, for different reasons, that the white middle class has no role to play in the multicultural, globalized future they envision, a future that they believe they will run. This primary season will show us whether or not they’re right.