The Great Realignment

Matt Taibbi offers a bracing assessment of the current political landscape at Racket News and YouTube. “Campaign 2024: Not Left Versus Right, But Affluent Versus Everyone Else.” It is the sort of thing that ten years ago, I wouldn’t have taken seriously. But now…

The realignment of major parties away from blue against red and toward a rich versus poor dynamic is America’s most undercovered political story.
***
There are now so many taboo subjects in American politics that even data journalists, whose job it is to give us the cold hard facts, are forced to communicate in allusions and metaphors, because what’s happening can’t be discussed.

American politics has long been a careful truce, in which natural economic tensions were obscured by an elegantly phony two-party structure that kept urban and rural poor separate, nurtured a politically unadventurous middle class, and tended to needs of the mega-rich no matter who won. That system is in collapse. Voters are abandoning traditional blue-red political identities and realigning according to more explosive divisions based on education and income. …

The only reason polls are 43-43 (or perhaps slightly in Biden’s disfavor) is because the other actor is Donald Trump. If Democrats should be panicking because they’re not trouncing an opponent whose biggest campaign events have been arraignments, it’s just as bad for Trump that he polls even with a man who’s a threat to walk into a propellor or carry a child into a forest every time he walks outside. Still, the abject horror Trump inspires in the Georgetown set may be his greatest political asset, and a reason the realignment seems to be proceeding even with him around.

As they say, read (or listen to) it all.

A couple of years ago, my college class–Dartmouth 1971–conducted a survey of class members. Among many other things, it asked about our political leanings when we were students, and today. The result was striking: a remarkable number of those who were on the left as students are on the right today, and vice versa. (I can’t track down the survey results to get the exact numbers.) That makes sense: rebels were on the left in 1971, and mostly on the right today. Likewise, the right was the establishment 50 years ago, while the left is the establishment today. A large majority of my classmates are prosperous, at a minimum, so many see their interests as aligning with contemporary liberalism.

I have no idea where our politics are going, and I don’t like the radicalism implied by a positing of intractable economic conflict. I am more comfortable with sunny Reaganism: conservative policies are good for everyone. Now I might say: conservative policies are good for everyone, except the rich and the privileged. But that wheel is still in spin.

Matt Taibbi calls himself a liberal Democrat, but he is a strong supporter of free speech. As things stand now, I consider any defender of free speech to be on my side. We can sort out the other issues later. That is why Taibbi will be the speaker at American Experiment’s Fall Briefing on October 14:

If you are interested in attending, you can see event details and buy tickets here. The event will sell out, so I encourage buying tickets soon.

UPDATE: One of my daughters just posted this. It bears on the above themes, I think:

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.

Responses