Democrats: Party Of The Rich
In a world of Trumpism and Clintonism, Democrats would become the party of globalist-minded elites, both economic and cultural, while Republicans would become the party of the working class. Democrats would win backing from those who support expanded trade and immigration, while Republicans would win the support of those who prefer less of both. Erstwhile neocons would go over to Democrats (as they are already promising to do), while doves and isolationists would stick with Republicans. Democrats would remain culturally liberal, while Republicans would remain culturally conservative.
The combination of super-rich Democrats and poor Democrats would exacerbate internal party tensions, but the party would probably resort to forms of appeasement that are already in use. To their rich constituents, Democrats offer more trade, more immigration, and general globalism. To their non-rich constituents, they offer the promise of social justice, which critics might call identity politics. That’s one reason why Democrats have devoted so much attention to issues such as transgender rights, sexual assault on campus, racial disparities in criminal justice, and immigration reform. The causes may be worthy—and they attract sincere advocates—but politically they’re also useful. They don’t bother rich people.
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It’s a costly arrangement. The more that Democrats write off the white working class, which has been experiencing a drastic decline in living standards, the harder it is for them to call themselves a party of the little guy. The more that the rich can frame various business practices as blows to privilege or oppression—predatory lending as a way to expand minority home ownership, outsourcing as a way to uplift the world’s poor, etc.—the more they get a pass from Democrats on practices that hurt poorer Americans. Worst of all, the more that interest groups within the Democratic Party quarrel among themselves, the more they rely upon loathing of a common enemy, Republicans, in order to stay united.
Things get darker still, for, if the G.O.P. becomes ever whiter, failing to peel away working-class voters of other races, then partisan conflict could look more and more like racial conflict. That is the nightmare. Our politics are bad enough when voters are mobilized mainly by culture-war issues, such as abortion, because compromise is often impossible. But when voters are mobilized by issues of identity, something most people can’t change, then nothing works. It’s just war.
This is something that drives me nuts about the way our media cover race and politics. They never write critically about blacks and Hispanics who vote heavily Democratic. It is assumed that it is naturally in the interest of black and Hispanic voters to vote Democratic. Any criticism in the media is reserved for the GOP, for failing to attract black and Hispanic voters.
But if whites were to openly identify their interests with the Republican Party as whites, just as blacks and Hispanics do with the Democrats, then it’s freakout time. I agree with Frank that it’s not good for America for political parties to break down strongly along racial lines. But the double standard our media have for whites in this respect is galling. Is racial bloc voting only bad when white people do it?
Might as well get used to it. As whites in the US become a minority sometime this century, we should not be surprised to find many of them bloc-voting for one party. It might make as much sense for them then as it does for black voters to bloc-vote for the Democrats today. But the day will never come when you find someone in the national media chastising working-class blacks and Hispanics for voting Democratic, against their economic interests — even if it’s true.