The media has fomented a narrative whereby the Republican Party is divided between corporatist RINOs and Tea Party activists. By the terms of the narrative, the two factions are dividing the party, to the point where they will eventually bring it to wrack and ruin.
One expects as much from the mainstream media. After all, they are no longer about providing the best and most accurate information. They have refashioned themselves into the drivers of the narrative.
Whatever you think of it, it's not journalism.
In the meantime, Republicans have bought the narrative. They have taken up residence in it, to the benefit of Democrats. To the dismay of more conservative voices in the party, far too many Republicans have gone to war against their fellow Republicans, leaving Democrats to pick up the spoils.
After all, Mitt Romney, the last standard bearer, won the nomination by trashing other Republicans. When it came to the presidential election he could not bring himself to attack Barack Obama. He lost.
Now, he seems to be angling for another shot at losing an election. A smart Republican Party would reject him.
In the meantime, it takes a sensible Democrat like Joel Kotkin to expose the fault lines within the Democratic Party. As the cognoscenti ponder whether capitalism suffers from internal contradictions, we do well to examine Kotkin’s analysis of the internal contradictions within the Democratic Party.
If Democrats did not have Republicans to hate and if the Republicans were not wasting themselves attacking each other, the Democratic Party would likely implode from its own internal contradictions.
As Kotkin sees it, the Democratic Party is divided among the gentry (tech oligarchs and Wall Street bankers, the populist progs (leftist intellectuals and minorities) and bubbas (the DLC and labor unions).
Their interests are not the same, so they seem to be held together by a common enemy—the Republican Party.
Kotkin begins with the gentry liberals, the group that has profited from Obama administration policies:
This group currently dominates the party, and have the least reason to object to the current administration’s performance. All in all, the gentry have generally done well in the recovery, benefiting from generally higher stock and real estate prices. They tend to reside in the affluent parts of coastal metropolitan areas, where Democrats now dominate.
The liberal gentry have been prime beneficiaries of key Obama policies, including ultra-low interest rates, the bailout of the largest financial institutions and its subsidization of “green” energy. Wall Street Democrats also profit from the expansion of government since, as Walter Russell Mead points out, so many make money from ever-expanding public debt.
These 1%ers have no real conception of how their policies impact other members of the Democratic electorate:
What most marks the gentry, particularly in California, is their insensitivity to the impact of their policies on working-class and middle-class voters. They may support special breaks for the poor, but are in deep denial about how high energy and housing prices – in part due to “green” policies – are driving companies and decent-paying jobs from the state. The new “cap and trade” regime about to be implemented figures to push up gasoline and electricity prices for middle-income consumers, who, unlike the poor, have little chance of getting subsidies from Sacramento. High energy prices, one assumes, have less impact on the Bay Area or West Los Angeles Tesla- and BMW-driving oligarchy than to people living in the more extreme climate and spread-out interior regions.
Gentry liberals dominate important social institutions. One might even say that they have completely monopolized the marketplace of ideas in those areas:
The gentry liberals’ power stems from their dominion over most of the key institutions – the media, the universities, academia and high-tech – that provide both cash and credibility to the current administration.
And then there is the populist, progressive wing of the party. Kotkin describes them:
Many more traditional left-leaning members of the Democratic Party – whom I would call the populist progressives – recognize that the Obama years have been a disaster for much of the party’s traditional constituencies, notably, minorities. Although the nation’s increasingly wide class divides and stunted upward mobility has been developing for years, they have widened ever more under Obama, as the wealthy and large corporations have enjoyed record prosperity.
This segment of the party militates for redistributionist policies, policies that will, in principle, help the poor at the expense of the rich, but that will, in practice, help the poor at the expense of the middle class.
In Kotkin’s words:
But the populists’ often-blunderbuss redistributionist tendencies – seen most notably in deep blue big cities – could alienate many middle-class voters who, for good reasons, suspect that this redistribution will come largely at their expense.
And then there’s the group that Kotkin calls “the old social Democrats.” These are the bubba voters, most especially the labor unions that have generously funded Democratic campaigns.
Kotkin calls them the “weakest part of the Democratic Party:”
This group is the most closely associated with private-sector labor, manufacturing and areas dependent on fossil-fuel production. Long dependent on white working-class voters, they are the most threatened by the increasingly hostile attitudes among them to President Obama and his gentry liberal regime. Already, some building trade unions in Ohio, angry about delays on the Keystone XL pipeline and other infrastructure projects, have even shifted toward the GOP.
One suspects that the group also includes public sector labor unions.
The power of labor unions has depended on their ability to finance political campaigns. What will happen to that influence when more billionaires are capable of contributing the same amount of money by writing a check? What will happen when they try to unionize Silicon Valley?
And, what will happen to the party when minority voters learn that voting en masse for one party, no matter what, causes that party to take them for granted. What will happen when minority voters demand results for their votes? What will happen when they cannot be so easily manipulated by cries of racism and amnesty?