America’s super-affluent live in Cloud Cuckoo Land……..for now

Michael Barone in the WSJ and here, on how Connecticut’s super-affluent are the most fervid of anti-war types. We see this attitude as self-destructive, but completely explicable:

Through most of the 20th century, American exceptionalism has been the creed of both of our major parties. Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, for all their sophisticated knowledge of foreign cultures, were exceptionalists just as much as Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Among voters, transnational attitudes were espoused by only a very few, in the odd corners of university faculty clubs, investment-banking firm dining rooms and the councils of shop floor socialist intellectuals.

Now it’s different. In 2004, pollster Scott Rasmussen asked two questions relating to American exceptionalism: Is this country generally fair and decent? Would the world be better off if more countries were more like America? About two-thirds of voters answered yes to both questions. About 80% of George W. Bush voters answered yes. John Kerry voters were split down the middle, with yeses outnumbering nos by small margins. That’s reminiscent of the story about the Teamster Union business agent who was in the hospital and received a bouquet of flowers with a note that read, “The executive board wishes you a speedy recovery by a vote of 9-6.” Not exactly a wholehearted endorsement. [we wrote about this here — ed.]

The Connecticut primary reveals that the center of gravity in the Democratic Party has moved, from the lunch-bucket working class that was the dominant constituency up through the 1960s to the secular transnational professional class that was the dominant constituency in the 2004 presidential cycle. You can see the results on the map. Joe Lieberman carried by and large the same cities and towns that John F. Kennedy carried in the 1960 presidential general election.

Ned Lamont carried most of the cities and towns that were carried by Richard Nixon. In Stamford, where Joe Lieberman grew up the son of a liquor-store owner, and where there are still sizeable blue-collar and black communities, Mr. Lieberman won with 55% of the vote. In next-door Greenwich, where Ned Lamont (like former President George H.W. Bush) grew up as the scion of an investment banker family, and where the housing values are now among the highest in the nation, Mr. Lamont won with 68% of the vote. If Mr. Lamont wins in November, he will be just one of several members of a Democratic caucus who have made, inherited or married big money.

The working class Democrats of the mid-20th century voted their interests, and knew that one of their interests was protecting the nation in which they were proud to live. The professional class Democrats of today vote their ideology and, living a life in which they are insulated from adversity, feel free to imagine that America cannot be threatened by implacable enemies. They can vote to validate their lifestyle choices and their transnational attitudes.

In the mid-20th century the core constituencies of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties stood foursquare for America’s prosecution of World War II and the Cold War. Today, as the Connecticut results suggest, it’s different. The core constituency of the Republican Party stands foursquare for America’s prosecution of the global struggle against Islamofascist terrorism — and solidly on the side of Israel in its struggle against the same forces. The core constituency of the Democratic Party wants to stand aside from the global struggle…

America’s super-affluent professionals have increasingly come to live in a dream world. They do jobs which are often sorts of meta-jobs, two or three or five layers up from anything that seems real. Imagine if your family got its vast income from your litigating logo infringement cases in India and China, for example (no insult intended to international logo-infringment litigators, mind you). These New Elite are a different sort of bird, different from the Organization Man, or the Lonely Crowd. They are newer and older: they live in Aristophanes‘ fantasy world cloud cuckoo land. We think their defining characteristic is this: like aristocrats, they feel entitled to much, but deep down they also feel that they do not truly deserve the lives they lead.

We have discussed their utopian views and their narcissism on many occasions. We have railed against the utter ignorance of the super-affluent and their disconnection from how life was in America a mere 130 years ago.

Education might be a good long-term medicine for the problem that affluence carries within it the seeds of decay. But it is not the medicine that the super-affluent might taste first. Our enemies, like Iran, aim at dealing the US economy mortal blows. They are working feverishly on the means to do so, and we have no doubt that they would use them if they deem it in their eschatological or political interests. In such a scenario, exotic positions in finance, law and related fields would be among the most vulnerable, and perhaps the hardest hit economically. When faced with their own personal riches-to-rags stories, these super-affluent may well suddenly become the most fervid hawks. We’ll see.

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