Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Where do the workers live?

I did not know much about the late Senator "Scoop" Jackson of Washington.  The July/August Commentary includes (one-time Jackson staffer) Joshua Muravchik's "'Scoop' Jackson at One Hundred: The conscience of a neoconservative giant" (gated).  The author presents a refreshingly modest, even shy and self-effacing, but yet successful, politician.  This sounds like a rare breed.

The essay is also interesting in how the author describes the evolution of the Democratic Party. "In those innocent days before it absorbed an admixture of angry, arrogant 1960s leftism, liberalism was a vaguely defined creed that attempted to give political expression to the impulse to do good. ... The two cardinal programmatic ideas of that philosophy were devotion to the 'common man' and the conviction that government had nigh limitless power to make people's lives better.  The common man was an American concept more elastic than the European notion of class. ..."

I know a few people who describe themselves as "Truman Democrats".  Muravchik claims many of these folks were also "Reagan Democrats".  I imagine the huge question for 2012 is whether any of them can see themselves as "Romney Democrats".

I have the occasional academic visitor from Europe who, new to LA, asks "where do the workers live?" I want to say "all over the place".  Whereas I see lots of "common man" folks all around me, I do not think of them as a class of "workers" as the label is used in Europe. 

This is where we usually go into social-economic mobility stories -- and data.  Here Rampell sees a glass half-empty. I do not.  Even those U.S. politicians who feed on class-warfare rhetoric claim to champion "the middle class" rather than "the workers".