The modern day Democratic Party has transformed into a political institution that is no longer the welcoming home of yesterday’s blue collar voter. Based on on the sentiment exhibited during the recent presidential election as well as the posture of the party during the DACA negotiations It has been increasingly clear that Democrats no longer consider the white working class as part of their core constituency.
As I noted in my book, Election 2016,
Since the end of the Carter Administration, the Democratic Party has slowly evolved from the party of the “working man” into an institution that speaks exclusively to a coalition of minorities clustered in urban areas, those in academia, wealthy elites and gentry liberals A glimpse of a blue/red colored map by county reveals a party whose support is predominately bi-coastal; its reach in the great heartland eradicated. Today’s Democratic Party welcomes as one of its new constituencies captains of the social media sectors, whose knowledge-based companies produce no tangible goods. Indeed, some of the party’s most affluent donors revile the manufacturing sector and its ancillary businesses, as they believe it contributes to the warming of the planet. As such, they have no compunction about putting people in the nations vast energy sector out of work if it will assuage their concerns about climate change. The Democrats posture towards those who will lose their jobs? Let them eat cake.
In large urban areas — regions that Democrats have traditional strength — due to recent demographic changes, whites now outnumber blacks and Hispanics. Michael Barone writing in the Washington Examiner, notes the political significance of this trend, “in our three largest central cities—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago—gentry liberals have become the dominant political demographic group.” According to Barone, “The trend is visible elsewhere—not only in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, but also in Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, even in Cleveland and Detroit. It’s widespread and strategic enough to be changing the face of the Democratic Party.”
Barone correctly observes that the philosophical bearing of gentry liberals are uniform as well as utterly hypocritical:
Gentry liberals have produced the highest-income-inequality metropolitan areas in the nation. They decry gentrification, and the accompanying movement of low-income blacks and Hispanics out of their neighborhoods, even as they cause it. They sing hymns to diversity even as they revel in the pleasures of communities where almost everybody believes and consumes exactly the same things—and votes uniformly Democratic.
The electoral consequences of the shift could prove difficult for Democrats in light of the fact that the most prevalent constituency of the party subscribe to the catechism of identity politics. Barone further notes that the most challenging aspect for Democrats, given the new composition of the party is its success in fielding candidates that can have appeal outside of liberal urban enclaves. Dominating the party is one thing; producing candidates and issues with appeal to the broader national electorate is another.
Gentry liberals have the microphone and the money to dominate the Democratic Party. Whether they can overcome their snobbish disdain and bitter contempt for those beyond their comfortable enclaves, and come up with a winning national strategy, is unclear.
It remains to be seen if Democrats learned their lesson from the last presidential election or if they will continue to alienate those voters who once formed the backbone of the party.