Politics Without Minorities


Ross Douthat sketches out a vision of American politics in which it seems that everyone’s a non-hispanic white:

Here I’m starting from the premise that American politics has been fitfully sorting itself into a meritocracy-versus-populism dynamic, with one party (the Democrats) dominated by the mass upper class and the other party (the GOP) representing the middle and working-class voters who resent this newish elite, for good reasons and for bad.

You can see where he’s coming from. But what’s happened to the staff at the Safeway on my block? These are unionized workers, mostly black, mostly female—it’s a pretty hard-core Democrat-loving group. Nor do the good people of José Serrano’s congressional district seem to me to be members of the “mass upper class.”

Now perhaps what Ross means is that the Democratic Party is “dominated” by the mass upper class in the sense that the leaders of the Democratic Party establishment tend to come from the party’s upscale wing rather than its downscale wing. That’s true—to a first approximation the leadership is a multiracial group of lawyers from fancy schools. But by the same token it’s also true that the Republican Party is dominated by its upscale wing. Johnny Isakson may in some sense “represent” a middle-and-working class constituency but his personal fortune is valued in the $8-24 million range. Mitch McConnel who likes to play a Europe-hating rube in TV is in the $3-13 million range.

Long story short, the fact of the matter is that Republican voters are richer on average than Democratic voters.