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Back to Basics Defining the Modern Foundation

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The Party of Aspiration

by Christopher Chantrill
November 08, 2008 at 12:26 am

THE NEW Republic was nosing through the election results earlier this week, and discussing the long-term trend in party affiliation.

Over the last several decades, the country has seen two swing groups move in opposite directions: Working-class whites exiting the Democratic Party, and more affluent, educated voters leaving the GOP.

But in this election the working-class white trend bifurcated.

Among all whites without college degrees (40 percent of the electorate), Obama lost by a whopping 18 points. But among whites making $50,000 per year or less (a quarter of the electorate), he lost by a mere 4 points.

Which makes sense, if you ask me. Because the Republican Party is the party of aspiration. It is the party of people who are aiming to improve their lot in life. That is why aspirational working-class whites are exiting the Democratic Party and non-aspirational working-class whites are not.

The Democratic Party is the party of credentials. Get the right credentials, and get a government job (as a union worker, a teacher, health worker, or professor) and you get set up for life.

You often learn more about yourself when you fail than when you succeed. In the greatest failure in modern Republican Party history, the election of 1964, the party faithful found out that they had a rising star in Ronald Reagan. For the next twenty years, Democrats sneered at him as a lightweight and a B-movie actor. But he still became president of the United States.

The standouts of the recent election were, obviously, Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Both of them are aspirational Americans, in the process of improving their lot, or at least dreaming of improving their lot. So we may look back at the election of 2008 and say: that was they year that the Republican Party as a Middle America party of aspiration was truly born.

Maybe not. You can never tell. The sky is always full of portents. But most of the portents signify nothing.

The telling part about it all was the viciousness of the liberal attack on Palin and Joe. There was obviously something profoundly offensive in Sarah and Joe to the liberal mind.

It’s not hard to understand why. Liberals don’t like aspirational people. They don’t like them because they don’t fit in the liberal plantation. In fact you could say that aspirational people look like troublemakers to the overseers of the liberal plantation.

But it is still astonishing to realize that, for our liberal friends, people like Sarah Palin and Joe Wurzelbacher are an offense to all good-thinking people, and must be destroyed.

I’m still finding it a bit hard to get my mind around that.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


 TAGS


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill