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The GOP and the Upscale Vote

by Christopher Chantrill
March 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm


GOOD NEWS! The upscale vote is moving towards Mitt Romney, according to Michael Barone. Says he:

One constant factor in the 14 contests with exit polls is that Mitt Romney has tended to run best among high-income and high-education voters.

This is a good thing, apparently, because in the 2000s the upscale chaps went for Democrats, as “affluent suburbanites, especially women, were repelled by Republicans’ stands on cultural issues like abortion.” The suburbanites around Philadelphia, for instance, went 57 percent for Barack Obama in 2008.

Charles Murray in Coming Apart asks another question. Where was the upscale voter as the sturdy working class in the United States was ripped apart and transformed into the unmarried, non-working, single-parent underclass?

Things are going nicely among the top 20 percent of Americans, according to Murray. They work hard, get married, have children, and don’t get divorced. They live, you might say, an ideal that the bitter-clinger cultural conservatives can only worship from afar.

The problem that Murray identifies with the top 20 percent is what I would call a reverse hypocrisy. The true hypocrite stands for morality but practices vice. The reverse hypocrite practices morality but winks at vice. How come the top 20 percent doesn’t stick up for the values it practices and sneers that those who do?

And how come the top 20 percent is sitting by in silence while liberals flush the bottom 30 percent down the welfare-state toilet?

The great achievement of the Progressives a century ago was to make a scandal out of the sufferings of the working class. How could you sit in your Victorian mansion and remain indifferent to the exploitation of the working class and the squalor in which it was forced to live? The Progressives made the bourgeoisie ashamed.

More than that, they cowed the bourgeoisie into doing nothing while all the middle-class verities were torn up and thrown on the bonfire of history: sound money burned up into inflationism, contract into intimidation, character into self-expression, rule of law into administrative discretion, checks and balances into the presidential cult of personality.

So the upper-income voters did nothing while the liberals passed program after program that demolished the authentic culture of the working class. In their safe enclaves they sneered while the liberals waged cultural war on people who wanted to push back against the cultural nihilism of abortion.

But now that liberalism is threatening to demolish the culture of the upper-income folks, as “affordable housing” programs led to a housing meltdown and “clean energy” is leading to a demolition of the rest of the economy, now the upper-income folks are forgetting their snobbery and sneaking back to the Republican Party.

Charles Murray wants the upper 20 percent to do something more than just vote Republican. He wants it to help rescue the bottom 30 percent from its cultural meltdown by sticking up for its principles and abandoning its reverse hypocrisy. But this would just be a rerun of the Progressive program. First, we are to rescue the lower orders because of their material poverty; now we are to rescue them because of their cultural poverty.

That’s not the American way. The American way, as told by William G., McLoughlin in Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform, is that you don’t get social change from a benevolent elite extending a helping hand to the bottom 30 percent. You get it instead in the great American tradition of a Great Awakening,

the awakening of a people caught in an outmoded, dysfunctional world view to the the necessity of converting their mindset, their behavior, and their institutions to more relevant and more functionally useful ways of understanding and coping with the changes in the world they live in.

On this view a religious awakening comes first, and then the political movement and then the political reform, as in the Great Awakening followed by the American Revolution, the Second Great Awakening followed by the Civil War, and the Third Great Awakening followed by the Social Gospel and the welfare state.

On this view, the social and Christian conservatives at the core of the Republican Party are an avant-garde saying that the current liberal welfare state is an “outmoded, dysfunctional world view.” Walter Russell Mead calls it the end of the Blue Social Model. See “Beyond Blue Part VII”. After a decade of supercilious disdain, perhaps the upper crust is coming around to a parallel view.

In Coming Apart Charles Murray calls on the upper 20 percent to get out of their upper-class enclaves to instruct the lower class and lead them out of their cultural swamp. But Yuval Levin thinks that such a transformation would require a more general renewal.

It’s telling that the central event of the Tea Party summer in 2010 was Glenn Beck’s quasi-religious revival meeting on August 28: “Restoring Honor.” Maybe the upper crust should start an Earl Grey Party.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Liberal Coercion

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