There’s an interesting piece in Politico this week about the stark choice that the Democratic Party leadership has been striving to avoid making. Sure enough, though, they will have to stake their flag sooner or later. Because allegiance to the insane progressive activists who are yanking the party to the socialist left is not compatible with the (former?) base of the party: The workers, the minorities, and the everyday urbanites who have voted straight-ticket for years.
Increasingly, the Democratic Party features what social scientists call an hourglass structure, with a smattering of elites at the top and a vast working class on the bottom. It is those on the top who drive policy, and their interests don’t always coincide with the party’s longtime base. Lee Drutman, senior fellow on political reform at New America, puts it more bluntly: “Democrats have an upstairs/downstairs coalition with an affluent class that does quite well. And they are in a coalition with a poorer set of voters who don’t seem to get ahead.”
The problem, the author points out, is that too many of the Democratic Party’s less-educated, rural voters are far more conservative in their values than the metropolitan elitists who are running the party right now. These elitists – Schumer, Pelosi, etc. – are steeped in San Francisco, Manhattan ways and norms that do not translate to the Rust Belt. This is doubly true for the new crop of superstar Democrats like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and that’s not even getting into your Elizabeth Warrens and your Bernie Sanderses.
“As the upper end of the party gets more and more liberal, it risks moving away from what the base really wants,” the article says. “Surveys show that less-educated Democrats tend to harbor a host of more conservative views—more skepticism of government regulation, for example, more concern about illegal immigration, less interest in the environment and gay rights, and even less interest in a robust social-welfare state.”
This alone could go a long way to explaining why the Democrats in the Midwest largely rejected Hillary Clinton in favor of Donald Trump in 2016, and it could spell upset time in the midterms as well. At the very least, this gap between the progressive elites and the common man will pose a significant challenge to Democrats as they seek a contender for the White House. Throw up a Kamala Harris or an Elizabeth Warren, you could risk watching the white working class once again choose Trump. Throw up a Joe Biden or a Michael Bloomberg and the insane progressives on the ground will crush your candidate with tweets, blogs, and protests.
Should be fun to watch!