Friday, June 6, 2014

The Party of the Ruling Class

How do we deal with the meme that sank Mitt Romney, the idea that he was an unfeeling rich man that didn't care about "people like me."  Mona Charen makes the point directly.
Many Republicans now recognize that they must propose reforms that speak to middle- and working-class voters, and shed their image as the party of the rich.
But what is it that makes the Republican Party the "party of the rich?"  Is it that the rich Koch Brothers push the Republican line?  Or that Mitt Romney laid off a union steelworker? Perhaps it's because the Republican Party does not rush in with a new program when people are hurting.

But it was George W. Bush who said: "when people are hurting, the government's gotta move."  And this was the guy that didn't care about New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina.

OK, so the Democratic Party is the Mommy Party that believes that you must rescue little Johnny from everyone of his escapades.  The Republican Party is the Daddy Party that believes that when Johnny goes off to college it's time for helicopter parents to fly back to the pad and let Johnny figure things out on his own.

But the Democrats still get a lot of mileage out of the "party of the rich" meme even though you and I know that most rich people -- especially 2nd generation liberal trustafarians, and certainly the ones living in the richest zip codes -- vote Democratic.  Of course they do.  Their mothers get them into selective colleges by hook or by crook and they come out as good conforming members of the ruling class.

William Tucker just went to a class reunion at his top-ranked New England college, and he was just about the only Republican voice there in a class that includes one Nobel prizewinner and one on the way. "All of my classmates have prospered to a degree that none of us would have anticipated when we were swilling beer and pulling all-nighters back in the day."
There’s a predictably high portion of doctors, lawyers, research scientists, and college professors, but also an uncommon number who seem to have stumbled into finance, almost inadvertently.
And they are all liberals.  Tucker attends breakout sessions where everyone agrees with the liberal agenda except him.
When I arrived around 9 a.m. an earnest group of about 50 classmates and their wives was already deeply engrossed in the question of how to save the nation’s spirit. This time the discussion was more unguarded. “We’ve got to make this non-partisan,” said one panelist. “We’ve got to get Republicans involved.” “Of course Republicans are wrong about everything but we’ve still got to make them feel like they’re a part of it,” said another. After another hour of this I stood up and said once again I disagreed with every word but didn’t want to take up people’s time. “No, tell us what you think,” they insisted. So I let loose.
Talk about a meeting of the ruling class!  You can't make this up.  Tucker tells the group to "several gasps of disapproval from wives in the audience" about "a small museum in Colorado" that spent two years getting regulatory approval to divert a stream to build a generator. I mean, you can't just let people run around diverting streams in Idaho, darling!

And they call the Republican Party the "party of the rich."

Now there's no doubt that if you called Tucker's classmates and their wives "the rich" to their faces they would be insulted and the wives would gasp.  They know they can't be the rich because they are Democrats and the Republican Party is the "party of the rich."

So what's the strategic thing to do?  It probably won't work to counterattack with "so's your father" stuff.  It doesn't matter that the Democratic Party is the party of the rich and the crony capitalists.  Frontal attacks tend to be very costly and end up achieving nothing.  See: World War I.

No, I suggest creating the meme that the Democratic Party is the "party of the ruling class," the people that won't let you alone, that want to boss you around about everything from stupid light bulbs to baking wedding cakes.

The point about the "party of the rich" meme is that liberals want ordinary people to think that Republicans are callous moneybags swilling martinis up at the country club that just "don't care about people like me."

The point about the "party of the ruling class" meme is that conservatives want ordinary people to think that liberals are bossy meddlers swilling Chardonnay up at the faculty lounge that won't leave you alone and insist on telling you how to live your life.  Everybody knows some stuck-up little academic Hitler that uses their teaching or administrative position to make life miserable for everyone around them.

I know.  Just one little meme isn't going to change the world.  But it's a start.

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