Dems Give Priority to Following the Money Trail?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Adam's Apple, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    A Short History of Deanism
    By David Brooks for The New York Times
    February 5, 2005

    As you may recall, Ralph Kramden was a member of the Raccoon Lodge in "The Honeymooners."

    Back in the 1950's, tens of millions of Americans were members of fellowship associations like the Elks Lodges, the Rotary Clubs and the Soroptimists. These groups had lodges or chapters across the nation, where the affluent and not so affluent, the educated and not so educated, would get together once a week or so for schmoozing and community service.

    But as Prof. Theda Skocpol of Harvard has demonstrated, these fraternal associations lost members in the 1960's. Instead, groups like NOW, Naral and the Heritage Foundation emerged as the important associations in American life. But these groups were not like the old fellowship organizations.

    Many of these groups were formed to champion some specific cause. Instead of relying on a vast network of local chapters, they tend to organize their work from central offices in New York or Washington, with a professional staff. They raise money through direct mail appeals or by asking for foundation grants.

    These new groups are dominated by experts - people who live within the network of grant officers, activists and scholars. Being a member of one of these organizations doesn't generally involve going to a local lodge once a week and communing with your neighbors; it involves sending a check once a year and reading a newsletter.

    Furthermore, as Skocpol observes in her book "Diminished Democracy," these new organizations tend not to bring people together across class lines. In 1980, at a time when about 15 percent of the electorate had a college degree, roughly 80 percent of the members of the Sierra Club and Naral were college graduates.

    The decline of fraternal associations and the emergence of these professionally run groups for the educated class diminished communal life. The change also reshaped politics.

    Since the 1960's there has been a breakdown in the machinery that allowed Americans to work together across class and other divisions. The educated class has come to dominate, and the issues of interest to that class overshadow issues of interest to the less educated and less well off.

    But the two major parties were affected unequally. The Republican coalition still contains some cross-class associations, like the N.R.A. and the evangelical churches, which connect corporate elites to the middle classes. The Democratic coalition has fewer organizations like that. Its elite - the urban and university-town elite - has less contact with the less educated.

    Not coincidentally, Republicans have a much easier time putting together electoral majorities.

    The story doesn't end there.

    Over the past two years, what we might loosely call the university-town elite has come to dominate the Democratic Party not just intellectually, but financially as well.

    Howard Dean, in his fervent antiwar phase, mobilized new networks of small donors, and these donors have quickly become the money base of the party. Whereas Al Gore raised only about $50 million from individuals in 2000, John Kerry raised $225 million, including $87 million over the Internet alone. Many of these new donors are highly educated. The biggest groups of donors to the Dean and Kerry campaigns were employees of the University of California, Harvard, Stanford, Time Warner, Microsoft and so on.

    They tend to be to the left of the country, especially on social and security issues. They may not agree with Michael Moore on everything, but many enjoyed "Fahrenheit 9/11." Perhaps they are among the hundreds of thousands of daily visitors to Daily Kos and other blogs that savage Democrats who violate party orthodoxy.

    Many Republicans are mystified as to why the Democrats, having lost another election, are about to name Howard Dean as party chairman and have allowed Barbara Boxer and Ted Kennedy to emerge unchallenged as the loudest foreign policy voices.

    The answer, as Mickey Kaus observes in Slate, is that the party is following the money. The energy and the dough are in the wing, which is not even a wing of the party, but the head and the wallet. Only the most passionate and liberal voices can stir up this network of online donors from the educated class.

    Howard Dean may not be as liberal as he appeared in the primaries, but in 1,001 ways - from his secularism to his stridency - he embodies the newly dominant educated class, which is large, self-contained and assertive.

    Thanks to this newly dominant group, the Democrats are sure to carry Berkeley for decades to come.
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  2. Johnney

    Johnney Senior Member

    Dec 9, 2003
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    smelling money like a fat man can smell a ding dong a block away

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