Workers aren't on agenda of today's "gentry liberals"

What kind of liberalism is emerging in the Democratic Party?

baltimoresunLeading gentry liberals justifiably excoriate the Bush administration for its overall environmental record, but some of them - movie stars, investment bankers, dot-com billionaires - are quick to insulate themselves from charges that their private jets or 20,000-square-foot vacation homes in Nantucket spew prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide.After decades on the political sidelines, liberalism is making a comeback. Polls show plunging support for Republicans and their brand of conservatism among young, independent voters and Latinos. But what kind of liberalism is emerging as the dominant voice in the Democratic Party?

Well, it isn't the ideology that defended the interests and values of the middle and working classes. The old liberalism had its flaws, but it also inspired increased social and economic mobility, strong protections for unions, the funding of a national highway system and a network of public parks, and the development of viable public schools. It also invented Social Security and favored a strong foreign policy.

Today's ascendant liberalism isn't driven by the lunch-pail concerns of those workers struggling to make it in an increasingly high-tech, information-based, outsourcing U.S. economy - though it does pay lip service to them.  Rather, such "gentry liberalism" reflects the interests and values of the affluent winners in the era of globalization and the beneficiaries of the "financialization" of the economy. Just as the number of industrial workers and traditional middle-class households has declined, the ranks of the affluent class have grown. And although many of the newly affluent are - as is traditional - politically conservative, a rising number of them are turning left. Surveys by the Pew Research Center indicate that an increasing number of households with annual incomes greater than $135,000 are moving toward the Democrats.

The political upshot is that Democrats now control the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional districts, according to Michael Franc of the conservative Heritage Foundation...  Leading gentry liberals justifiably excoriate the Bush administration for its overall environmental record, but some of them - movie stars, investment bankers, dot-com billionaires - are quick to insulate themselves from charges that their private jets or 20,000-square-foot vacation homes in Nantucket spew prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide...  Baltimore Sun

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