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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


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


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


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


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


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


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


Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


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