Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Inverted New Deal: Elites Vote Democratic; Working-Class, Republican

The party realignment is almost entirely complete at this point. The Democrats are the party of educated elites, and the Republicans are the party of the poor and working-class, with race being an outlier issue. This does not mean that the Republicans are becoming the party of “class struggle.” Rather, US politics are starting to look more like what you find in the Middle East, where elites, who are comparatively liberal on cultural issues, rule in the name of their own class interests and do nothing for the common people, with the common people being more culturally, religiously, and socially conservative, and where radicalism assumes the form of populism rooted in historic cultural traditions. A classic example is the Pahlavi regime from pre-revolutionary Iran. I’m not comparing anti-woke conservatives to the Iranian Shia revolutionaries in any sense (though that may exist on the far fringes of US political culture), but the “liberal but exploitive elites vs conservative oppressed masses” is the normal paradigm in Middle Eastern countries and much of the Global South.

By Bill Bishop, The Daily Yonder

The topsy-turvy 2020 election shows just how much the New Deal coalition has come undone.

Way back in 1976, political scientist Everett Carll Ladd, Jr., proposed that liberalism had turned “upside down.”

Coming out of the 1930s New Deal, Ladd explained, the American political system had clear class lines: Democrats represented the working stiff. Republicans were the party of the bosses, the professionals, the owners of small businesses, the families with college degrees. But beginning in the 1960s, Ladd found, there had been a slow “inversion of the relationship of class to electoral choice….” — a change that is readily apparent in the latest Presidential election.

In 1960, only 38% of white voters with the highest income and education voted for Democrat John Kennedy, according to Ladd. In the third of white voters with the lowest incomes and least education, 61% voted for Kennedy. That was the New Deal order — workers voted Democratic and bosses and college grads backed Republicans.

By 2020, the New Deal order was not only upside down, but inside out, topsy turvy and bassackward. The counties that have the richest families and the best-educated people are Democratic. Those with lower incomes and where college degrees are few and far between voted Republican.


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