Opinion | Why Aren’t the Democrats Trouncing the Republicans?
My big lesson from this election season will be: We are where we stand. We enter this election season with a roughly evenly split House and Senate, with the Democrats having a slight edge. We’ll probably leave it with an almost evenly split House and Senate, with the Republicans having a slight edge. But we’re back where we were.
Nothing that the parties or candidates have done has really changed this fundamental balance. Republicans have nominated a pathetically incompetent Senate candidate, Herschel Walker, of Georgia, but polls show the race is essentially tie-in. Democrats have nominated a guy in Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, who has had a stroke and has trouble communicating, but polls show it. that the race for the Senate is essentially binding.
After all the campaigning, the money, and the shouting, the election balance is still on the razor’s edge.
What explains this? That is the basic structure of society. Americans are classifying themselves by education into two roughly equal groups. As people without college degrees flocked to the GOP, those with college degrees flocked to Democrats.
Eric Levitz write in New York Magazine, “it is a prominent feature of contemporary politics in almost every Western democracy.”
Over the past few years, Democrats have made heroic efforts to win back working-class voters and white as well as black and Hispanic voters who have veered towards the far right. Joe Biden’s domestic agenda largely revolves around this: jobs in infrastructure, extending the child tax credit, increasing taxes on corporations. This year Democrats nominated candidates designed to appeal to working-class voters, like sweatshirt Fetterman in Pennsylvania and Tim Ryan in Ohio.
It doesn’t seem to be working. As Ruy Teixeira, Karlyn Bowman and Nate Moore note In a survey of poll data for the American Enterprise Institute last month, “The gap between whites who don’t go to college and college continues to grow.” Democrats have reason to worry about losing working-class Hispanic voters in places like Nevada. “If the Democrats can’t win in Nevada,” a Democratic pollster told Politico, “We can complain about the white working class all you want, but we’re really facing a much broader working-class problem.” Even black voters without a college degree seems to be moving from Democrats, to some extent.
Forests were sacrificed so that Democratic strategists could write a report on why they lost the working class. Some believe that racial resentment is driving the white working class away. Some believe that Democrats spend too much time on progressive cultural issues and need to focus more on economics.
I would say these analyzes do not begin to address the scale of the problem. America is immersed in two different cultures. It is very difficult for a party of one culture to reach and win voters in another culture – or even understand what people in another culture are thinking.
Like I turned off my phone between red and blue America on Decades of reporting on American politics, I’ve seen social, cultural, ethical, and ideological rifts widen from rift to abyss.
Politics has become a religion for many people. Americans with a college education and Americans without a college education no longer have different ideas about the role of government, but they have created opposing ways of life. College-educated Americans and non-college-educated Americans have different relationships patriotism and trust, they dress differently, enjoy different dishes and have different ideas about corporal punishment, sex and of course, race.
You cannot isolate the difference between classes into one factor or another. That’s everything.
But even that is not the real problem. America has always had great cultural differences. Back in 2001, I wrote a long piece for The Atlantic compared the dark green area of Montgomery County, Md., with the red area of Franklin County in south-central Pennsylvania.
I note the great socio-economic and cultural differences that were evident, even then. But in my interviews, I see a difference without too much hatred.
For example, Ted Hale was a Presbyterian minister there. “There’s no place where there’s as much resentment as you’d expect,” he told me. “People already understand that they will have financial difficulties. It’s part of their identity. But economics is not their god. That’s what some other people don’t understand. People value a sense of community much more than their portfolio. “
Back in those days, I didn’t find much sense of class warfare in my travels across red America. I compared the country to a high school cafeteria. Jocks here, nerds over there, punks somewhere else. Live and let live.
Now people not only see the difference, they see the threat. People have put up barriers and see the other class as a threat to what is beautiful, true, and good. I don’t quite understand why this animosity has grown over the past few decades, but it has made it very difficult to change the stronger economic, social, cultural, and political alliances.
Historians once believed that while European societies were burdened by intense class antagonism, Americans had relatively little class consciousness. That has changed.