August 13, 2006

What's the Matter With Connecticut?

I notice, looking back, that I've posted more than once (here, here, and here) on the Lamont-Lieberman primary, but mostly about Lamont. Lieberman's no dummy, and he cares enough about his country not to fall victim to Bush Derangment Syndrome, but I can't come up with warm fuzzies for him. He's a bit boring.

Michael Barone, who writes for U.S. News and World Report, and is one of the most knowledgeable writers on nuts and bolts of politics, observes the class divide in the returns:
Lamont carried most of the small towns in the state, and by wide margins in the kind of Litchfield County towns where most registered Democrats are New York-oriented writers and artists . . .
Apparently Lieberman carried the less affluent and artsy-fartsy districts, while Lamont won support among the wealthy and the symbolic workers. This pattern has emerged in many elections, at least since Reagan, although it perhaps began as early as Nixon's "silent majority."

I've been irritated for some time by the thesis of Thomas Frank (not the general, who's plural) in What's the Matter With Kansas?, that somehow ordinary Americans have been bamboozled by the rhetoric of social conservatism into voting against their "true" interests, which are economic. Shouldn't we presume that some of the people, some of the time, know where their interests lie? If a secular-globalist-mulitculti élite from Pinch Sulzberger to Disney to the Episcopal Church to the Ivy League, is creating an America you don't recognize that threatens in various ways to devour your children, marginal tax rates are secondary.

Perhaps those who voted for Lamont, and indeed the millionaires and symbolic workers who now provide the main support for the Democrats, are also voting their interests. Why vote for people who will disrupt your cocoon with crusades motivated by a patriotism you don't feel, globalist as your consciousness is and your investments are? Financial markets are global, and labor markets are getting that way. Europe is ever more so sophisticated and interesting than say, Missouri. Immigrants, legal or otherwise, care for your kids. The Democrats aren't going to take away your tax breaks, except at the margins, and they sure won't cut subsidies to your favorite corporations and projects. Why allow details like terrorism and the danger of defeat in the Middle East to spoil the party?

Meanwhile, guys like Bush and Lieberman, who believe in God and the flag, well, they are ever so vulgar and provincial, the heirs of Mencken's booboisie.

Lamont's problem is that his natural constituency is not a majority of the whole electorate, even in Connecticut, and his followers' disconnects have a way of becoming public, whether it's putting Joe in blackface or spewing snobbish disdain ("where the forces of slime meet the forces of evil") for the electors of Waterbury all over the media.

Although Joe may eke it out, his kind of Democrat has no future in that party.

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