Sometimes the best observers of American politics are non-Americans. That’s certainly the case with the following two analyses of what primarily plagues the Democrats today: their elitism. Democrats would do well to listen to Nick Cohen, a British writer for the Observer with strong leftist bona fides:
Journalists who believe in women’s equality should not spread sexual smears about a candidate, or snigger at her teenage daughter’s pregnancy, or declare that a mother with a young family cannot hold down a responsible job for the pragmatic reason that they will look like gross hypocrites if they do. Before Palin, we saw hypocrisy of the right when shock jocks who had spent years denouncing feminism came over all politically correct when Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky.
In Britain, the most snobbish attacks on Margaret Thatcher did not come from aristocrats but from the communist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who opined that Thatcherism was the ‘anarchism of the lower middle classes’ and the liberal Jonathan Miller, who deplored her ‘odious suburban gentility’. More recently, George Osborne, of the supposedly compassionate Conservative party, revealed himself to be a playground bully when he derided Gordon Brown for being ‘faintly autistic’.
Cohen is joined by his fellow Englisman Clive Crook, who writes in the Financial Times that:
Democrats regard their policies as self-evidently in the interests of the US working and middle classes. Yet those wide segments of US society keep helping to elect Republican presidents. How is one to account for this? Are those people idiots? Frankly, yes – or so many liberals are driven to conclude. Either that or bigots, clinging to guns, God and white supremacy; or else pathetic dupes, ever at the disposal of Republican strategists. If they only had the brains to vote in their interests, Democrats think, the party would never be out of power. But again and again, the Republicans tell their lies, and those stupid damned voters buy it.
It is an attitude that a good part of the US media share. The country has conservative media (Fox News, talk radio) as well as liberal media (most of the rest). Curiously, whereas the conservative media know they are conservative, much of the liberal media believe themselves to be neutral.
We’ve already seen the first result of liberal sneering at Sarah Palin: heightened interest in this political unknown, which led to a whopping 40 million viewers of her wildly successful convention speech. Democrats seemed to have learned a quick lesson from this trial by fire and will likely lay off the cultural condescension for at least a few days. But expect them to return to their What’s the Matter With Kansas-style rationalizing in no time.