Traditionally, Republicans have been regarded as the party of big business, and Democrats as the party of the middle and working classes. This certainly seemed true when Franklin Roosevelt took over the presidency from Herbert Hoover, but is it true today? An increasing number of thinkers say it is not.
Take a look at our presidential candidates. If discard the Libertarian Party, whose presidential candidate usually garners a few percent of the vote at most, we are faced with a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is the handmaiden of the very wealthy elite, getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars each to make speeches that are probably no more enlightening than the speeches that you can hear at any political rally for free. As to Donald Trump, he is the epitome of the USA’s wealthy, elite society.
Yes, there is one candidate who is still nominally in the race who does stand up for normal working families, and that is Bernie Sanders, of course. However, he has already lost his chance to be nominated as a presidential candidate, even if his defeat has not yet been formalized.
Author Thomas Frank, whose books I have not yet read, but whom I have seen interviewed on TV talk shows, takes both the Republican and Democratic Parties to task for serving only the elites at the expense of other Americans. His current book, Listen, Liberal takes the super-educated Democratic Party elite to task for only being concerned with the well being of the meritocracy. Even with Barack Obama in the presidency, the man who promised to rein in financial inequality, the gap between the elite and the rest of us has grown. Barack Obama is himself, of course, a member of the professional class, those people who hold advanced university degrees.
Thomas Frank’s best known book criticizing the Republican Party is entitled What’s the Matter with Kansas? Thomas picked Kansas as the epitome of a Republican red state and also because he is from Kansas. In Australia and the United Kingdom, the book sells under the title What’s Wrong with America?
In the Republican Party, the attention of the middle and working classes is diverted from their own welfare by a war against cultural issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and the “right” to own guns. Republican propaganda convinces voters that these are the values of the Democratic elites, which is to some extent true, but by doing so, it channels working-class people’s discontent away from their own declining economic condition toward people who are not like them in race, religion, and values.
Is there any chance that one of the parties will change direction and begin to represent the interests of the middle and working classes. In my judgement, the possibility that the Republican Party will do so is close to zero. It has too long of a history of working for the benefit of the wealthy.
If the Democratic Party is to change direction, it will only be if pressure is exerted from below. The large amount of support that Bernie Sanders managed to accumulate among younger people hints of future pressure on the Democratic Party to once again become the party of normal people. Some members of the Democratic meritocracy see the injustice of their privileged positions, even if they have done nothing to change the situation. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are two examples members of the Democratic Party’s privileged class who see the injustice of the present system and are even dedicating a large part of their wealth to help mankind.
Yes, there is some possibility for change, but only if we, normal Americans, demand it.
Now that I have plugged two of Thomas Frank’s books, I would like to plug two of my own. A Senior Citizen Walks the Camino of Compostela is the day-by-day account of my 400+ mile pilgrimage across Spain on foot carrying a backpack. Running for President is a novel about a Donald Trump-like character who manages to get elected president of the United States. For more information on either book, click on the cover image in the left sidebar.