Like Aunt Em, I have waited all my life for the Democratic Party to split. Now, finally, Michael Barone has reported on a possible split between gentry liberals and public-sector unions. But because I am a realist, I can't get too excited about it.
Actually, what he reports is not a split but the public-sector unions beating the pants off the gentry liberals in places like Washington DC. In the mayoral primary last week the tony liberal areas voted for reform Mayor Adrian Fenty. Too bad. Fenty was defeated in the Democratic primary by Council President Vincent Gray. Fenty has been working to reform the schools and the city government, but that cuts no ice with teacher unions and government employee unions. They don't care about lousy schools and overmanned, inefficient city services. They just care about their jobs, their paychecks, and their pensions.
Does this mean trouble for the Democrats? Barone:
Gentry liberals and public employee unions were allies in the Obama campaign in 2008. But now they're in a civil war, in city and state politics.
Civil war? Really? I suspect that there is less here than meets the eye. Gentry liberals may not be unionized and they may like the idea of helping kids and fixing up municipal services, but not if it means breaking a sweat.
Gentry liberals occupy the sweet spot in the big-government universe. They are the managers, the directors, the principals, the government lawyers, the journalists. Their boat is floated by the sea of rank-and-file employees that deliver the votes.
Expect to see gentry liberals wringing their hands about welfare and family breakdown, about underperforming schools and inefficient municipal services. But don't expect them to vote to cut their cushy jobs in the higher reaches of the education blob or the university or the regulatory maze.
But the gentry liberals will be perfectly happy to let their union thugs take all the incoming rounds from the Tea Party and others. While they stay above it all.
I'd say that the chaps who ought to be thinking about splitting are the educated youth. They should realize that they are screwed, and better forget about their idealistic careers in government. But it may take them a while.