Gentry Liberals

America’s major cities are being transformed by “gentrification,” as affluent white people move in, bidding up property values so that minorities and working class citizens can no longer afford to live there.  Today, America’s three largest cities–New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago–are dominated politically by “gentry liberals,” as is the Democratic party as a whole.

So observes Michael Barone in his column Affluent White Urbanites Now Own the Democratic Party.  A sample:

Gentry liberals — the term is urban analyst Joel Kotkin’s — are the political base of those cities’ mayors, Bill de Blasio, Eric Garcetti, and Rahm Emanuel. That’s something new in American politics. Modest-income Jews used to be the key group in New York. White, married homeowners were it in Los Angeles. “Bungalow ward” ethnics dominated in Chicago. In time, they faced challenges from candidates with nonwhite political bases — blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans in New York, Mexicans in Los Angeles, and blacks and Hispanics in Chicago. Now gentry liberals are on top. . . .

There’s irony in this. Gentry liberals have produced the metropolitan areas with the highest income inequality in the nation. They decry gentrification — and the accompanying movement of low-income blacks and Hispanics out of their neighborhoods — even as they cause it. They sing hymns to diversity even as they revel in the pleasures of communities where almost everybody believes and consumes exactly the same things — and votes Democratic.

Barone shows how “gentry liberals” have moved the Democratic party away from pursuing the interests of their old blue collar constituency in favor of policies in favor with our new upper class.  For example, environmental legislation that puts factory workers and coal miners out of work.  Democrats are outraged over the elimination of the tax deduction for state and local taxes, which only affects high income residents of  high tax Democratic states.

Barone also shows how “gentry liberals” are pushing the Democratic party away from some well-qualified presidential candidates with records of helping blue collar workers in favor of female and minority candidates who champion causes favored by the gentry.

Read the entire column.

Can you think of other examples of this?  Do you think the Democrats will squander their opportunities by refusing to run candidates who appeal to a broader constituency than that of our cultural elite?

 

Photo by the People Speak! via Flickr, Creative Commons License

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