Bipolar Democrats bracket Republican middle

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 11, 2004

Glancing at The Wall Street Journal leads one to believe it’s a dry compendium of finances, facts and figures.

So it is, but it’s also a surprising source for non-financial information.

Such was the case last Thursday evening, when I picked up a free copy at a hotel in Louisville.

On the editorial page was an article penned by Karl Zinsmeister, editor in chief of The American Enterprise magazine, in which he argued convincingly of an intriguing transformation taking place in the Democratic and Republican parties, one that began decades ago and continues today.

Zinsmeister’s thesis is the parties are trading places in American politics, each gradually becoming the other, the phenomenon being mostly overlooked by mainstream media and hidden from the average citizen’s view by generations old stereotypes of each party.

Stereotypes are often as wrong as they are right, but would you agree that the Democrats are the party of the little guy and the Republicans the party of the wealthy?

Of course, you say; but, not so fast, let’s peek at some revealing information.

In the 60’s and 70’s, as the baby boomers entered voting age, major segments of &uot;little guys&uot; began registering as Republicans: rural residents, ethnics, evangelicals, cops, construction workers, homemakers, military veterans.

Meanwhile, large chunks of the elite drifted into the Democratic Party, including financiers, academics, heiresses, media barons, software millionaires and entertainers.

To demonstrate the impact, the Ipsos-Reid polling firms points out that in 2000, pro-Gore counties had twice as many households earning more than $100,000 per year as did pro-Bush counties.

Pro-Bush counties had almost a third more households earning less than $38,000 per year.

Trial lawyers (read mega rich), Hollywood entertainers (read super rich) and megabucks businessmen (read unbelievably rich) now control the purse strings of the Democrats and, as a consequence, exert considerable influence over the party.

If the little guy is the Democratic stalward, doesn’t it seem like somebody let the fox in the hen house?

We can’t call the lawyers cheap.

Up to July, lawyers had donated $112 million to political candidates during this election cycle, with nearly $80 million going to Democrats.

Compare this with the measly $15 million contributed to all candidates by the entire oil and gas industry; so, the next time you hear somebody claim the Republicans are in the hip pocket of the oil and gas industry, consider where the Democrats must be with the trial lawyers.

Zinsmeister writes that another long-time Republican bastion, Wall Street, also now has many left leaning proponents.

Of the top 15 donors to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, six are partners at firms like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan.

Kerry, Democratic Senators Jon Corzine, Jay Rockefeller, John Edwards and Ted Kennedy are among our richest citizens.

President Bush, by contrast, while undeniably the latest in a family line of Ivy League educated public servants, is a financial nobody when compared to Kerry and the others.

So far, Kerry has been able to raise more money than Bush, a feat unthinkable for a Democrat just a few years ago, with monthly fund-raising totals as much as three times those of Bush. Kerry raised $3 million at a back yard party in the Hamptons, summer romping place of the rich and richer.

Bush’s money tends to come from thousands of smaller donors, according to Zinsmeister.

Americans hate elitism, which easily became dislike for Republicans, where, according to the long-time generalization, the elitists reside.

But now that NASCAR Republicans outnumber country-club Republicans, can such dislike be on target.

Zinsmeister writes, &uot;One authoritative study of a dozen different elites, including top civil servants, lawyers, religious authorities, military officers, entertainment moguls, union leaders, non-profit managers, business executives, and media chieftains, found that every one of these groups but two (business people and military) was twice to three times as liberal as the public at large.&uot;

This flip flop has been uneven.

Democrats now dominate at the very top and the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

Most Republicans reside in the middle, between these two extremes.

This partially explains Democratic dominance in urban areas, where the populace tends to be upper and lower class, with little in between.

According to the Federal Election Commission, the very top financial contributors to John Kerry are college and university faculty groups.

High school graduates and those with bachelor’s degrees are predominately Republican donors.

&uot;So,&uot; Zinsmeister concluded, &uot;we’re in an interesting new era….Conservatism has laid claim to America’s quiet but multitudinous middle class.

And during the same period, the Left has come to dominate among the overclass and underclass that bracket the conservative middle.&uot;

The other day a smiling African-American man approached me at Ace Hardware.

Sticking out his hand in friendly greeting, he said to me, &uot;I just wanted you to know I’m a Republican!

My daddy was, too.&uot;

&uot;Good Gawdamighty,&uot; I shouted, &uot;I can’t believe it!&uot;

That’s how I met Collis Jenkins, who is that rarest of people, an African-American Republican in Hertford County.

I asked for his autograph.