The Democratic Party, in its Current Form, has No Worthwhile Future: 4
In the previous and third part of this series- I pointed out that the democratic party, in its current form, is highly dependent upon continued support by the professional (and wannabe professional) class. In that post, I also talked about why this particular socio-economic group has such an outsize influence on the actual policy positions of democratic party. To quickly summarize: a number of overlapping factors such as their geographic distribution, co-localization with other groups of reliably democratic voters, importance in fund-raising, filling the lower ranks of their party apparatus etc make them an especially important category of likely voters for establishment democratic candidates. It is worth mentioning that the professional (and wannabe professional) class also benefit and profit from their association with, and their support of, the democratic party.
The level and depth of support by this class of the democratic party does however bring up another seldom asked question- Why are members of the professional (and wannabe professional) class in USA so likely to support, and vote for, establishment democratic candidates? I mean.. why are people in the top 10-20% of the income distribution scale, at least on the national scale, so supportive of a party which still brands itself as pro-working-class? Now some of you will point out that not all people who make a decent income tend vote for democrats.. and that is true. There is however a big difference between people who make a upper-middle class level income for 5-20 years of their life and those who are part of that class.
A working class person with a decent paying job (cop, electrician, tradesman or some other blue-collar type) is not part of the upper-middle class even if they, in some parts of the country, make an almost upper middle-class income for a couple of decades in their life. On the other hand- somebody born in a family where both parents, and frequently close relatives, have post-graduate degrees will almost always end up as part of the professional (and wannabe professional) class. Curiously people born into that class tend to remain part of it even if they are not as financially successful, at least in the short-term, as their parents. So while the kids of a professor, doctor or lawyer might not end up in occupations similar to their parents, they are rather unlikely to end up as electricians or plumbers.
But what does our brief discussion on socio-economic class in USA have to do with future electoral prospects of the democratic party? As you will see in the remainder of this post- a lot!
To better understand what I am going to say next, ask yourself another simple question- What is the idealized self-image of the professional (and wannabe professional) class? Who, and what, do they see themselves as? What do they aspire to become? At the risk of making an over generalized statement, it is fair to say that this particular class sees itself as the truly deserving elite- though most of them would never admit it loudly in public. But why would they think like that? Well.. because it is kinda true. All highly unequal and pyramidal wealth distributions owe their continued existence to the striving of those in the levels immediately below the uppermost level of the social order. To put it another way, it is the professional class who do all the hard work that keeps the status quo going- which benefits the rich elites far more than it benefits them.
And this brings us to peculiar relationship between the professional class and the rich elites. The former, you see, want to become the later. There are however only two pathways for them to realistically achieve that goal. They can either replace them through violent revolution or ingratiate themselves further to the elites. If you have read enough history, it becomes obvious that ingratiation is by far more common than outright replacement- largely because most members of the professional class are clever but spineless creatures who are better at being courtiers than warriors. The professional class therefore spend a lot of effort imitating the moneyed elite. Such mimicry ranges from the fairly harmless copying of their masters tastes in food, drink, dress, mannerisms and leisure activities to the far more insidious process of adopting their worldview as their own.
But why is the false consciousness of the professional (and wannabe professional) class in USA so problematic for the future viability of the democratic party? And why now?
To better answer this question we have to ask ourselves: has the class composition of decision makers and their flunkies in the democratic party (aka the establishment) changed over the decades? As many of you know- the answer to that is a big fucking YES! The democratic party establishment, right upto the early 1990s, represented a far wider range of social classes than in 2016. My point is that, while the party establishment then was just as (or more) corrupt and hierarchical as it is now- it was not the near perfect echo chamber of ideological conformity we see in 2016. But why is having high levels of self-imposed ideological conformity in an organization dangerous for its future? I mean.. didn’t state communism in eastern European countries last for decades under similar levels of self-imposed ideological conformity?
Which brings me to the real reason why extensive support by the professional class is so damaging to the future of the democratic party. Rigid ideological conformity, you see, works pretty well as long as external conditions don’t change too much. Think about using cruise control on a car.. it works great as long as you are driving on a road (and under conditions) similar to the one under which it was turned on. However you cannot keep on using the cruise control setting you turned on a straight and uncrowded stretch of the freeway once you reach its more crowded sections or exit onto a smaller road with different speed limits. And you certainly cannot drive on a snow-covered road like you would do on a dry road in southern California. In other words, keeping yourself on the road requires you to adapt the way you drive according to prevailing road conditions and traffic.
Similarly large human organizations such as political parties have to adjust their mode of functioning and strategies to the prevailing conditions. But how do they “know” about changes in the political and socio-economic climate? In a democracy, elections are supposed to provide such a feedback. But what if they are unable to do so? What if the entire electoral process is so rigged and gerrymandered that most incumbent candidates of either political party keeps on winning “fair and free” elections until the whole underlying system is literally about to collapse? What if a political party is capable of consistently winning elections in certain parts of the country regardless of their policies and performance in office? In case you didn’t realize it- I was talking about the electoral process in USA.
Anyway.. my point, here, is that elections are basically unable to effect any real change in the policy directions of established political parties. Any change in that area (short of the public losing all faith in the system) has therefore to come from people inside the establishment of political parties. We already know that “leaders” and other high-ranking officials in any political party will never change their ways or accept the need for such change. And this brings us to the loyal rank-and-file of political parties. As far as the democratic party is concerned, its loyal rank-and-file = professional (and wannabe professional) class. To put it another way, the loyal rank-and-file of the democratic party is basically a large echo chamber which supports and vigorously defends the interests and worldview of rich elites.
That is why the democratic establishment and its loyal supporters have been able to consistently reelect their repeatedly unsuccessful leadership. That is why they keep on acting as if they were not badly defeated in 2016. That is why they keep on nominating mediocre insider presidential candidates like Dukakis, Gore, Kerry and HRC. That is why all the electoral reverses of the previous eight years had little to no effect on their political strategies. That is also why they are busy blaming everybody but their own strategies and policies for their electoral setbacks. That is also why they are so interested in getting the votes of “moderate” republicans rather than increasing their turnout among the working class.
To make a long story short, establishment democrats will very likely continue on their disastrous trajectory because everybody who has any real say in making that decision believes it to be the only path. Perhaps more troublingly, they will continue to win enough elections in certain populous parts of the party to keep them relevant as a national party and thereby allow them to dismiss (or stifle) emerging internal dissent in the party. Unless some combination of persons and events discredits the current democratic establishment and their flunkies, in the near future, to an extent which makes it impossible for them to be seen as a credible national political party- they have no worthwhile future.
What do you think? Comments?