|Only a grocer's daughter...|
Interesting how Canadians, Brits, Bessarabians and Jordanians always have a favourite in US elections. Nothing could make clearer America’s status as “leader of the free world.”
Why does my friend like Obama? H answer is straightforward. He is well-educated and has a decent teaching job, but considers himself, on the whole, one of society’s “have-nots.” The Democrats he sees as the party of the poor; the Republicans are the party of the rich and of the big corporations.
If I believed this, I would also support the Democratic candidates, so long as competence and honesty were equal. I believe, however, that the Republicans are really the party of the poor, and the Democrats are the party of the upper class.
|Formerly on welfare.|
But look at where the Democratic leaders, or the Republican leaders, went to school. Here my case becomes, I think, clearer. While both parties tend to favour Ivy League, Dems are more consistent about it. This, where you went to school, far more clearly than annual income, indicates class. Ivy Leaguers will tend to be the second or third or fourth generation of wealth in their families. More importantly, they will all know each other, will have grown up together, will have belonged to the same fraternities and gone to the same parties. They will think alike. They will be conscious of themselves in class terms.
|University of Saskatchewan, class of 1919.|
For the Republicans: Romney—Harvard. McCain—Naval Academy. Bush—Yale. Dole—Washburn University. Bush I—Yale. Reagan—Eureka College. Ford—Yale. Washburn University? Eureka College? Not exactly Ivy League. Definitely more diversity here.
Both parties, in sum, are dominated by an old-money ruling class, but the Democrats more so. If you did not come up through the right schools and the right connections, you have a far better chance of reaching the top among Republicans. This speaks to class consciousness.
Not incidentally, it is the same in Canadian politics. Quick tally of Liberal leaders: Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff, as is well known, were actually roommates at U of T. Rae: U of T, Oxford. Ignatieff: U of T, Oxford, Harvard. Stephane Dion: Laval, Sciences Po. Paul Martin, U of T. Jean Chretien: Laval. John Turner: UBC, Oxford, Sorbonne. Anyone who did not know each other at Oxford, Laval, or U of T? We’re talking one degree of separation at most.
Conservative leaders: Stephen Harper: University of Calgary. Stockwell Day: no degree. Joe Clark: University of Alberta. Preston Manning: University of Alberta. Brian Mulroney: St. FX, Laval. Kim Campbell, UBC. Jean Charest: Sherbrooke. The most obvious difference between Conservative and Liberal here is East vs. West; but the Western schools are on the whole less well-established, and the Western establishment is often first-generation. And apart from that, we have a far greater spread. Sherbrooke? No degree?
Okay, how about the NDP? They’re the party of the working class, right? Thomas Mulcair: McGill. Jack Layton: McGill. Alexa McDonough: Queen’s, Dalhousie. Audrey McLaughlin: Guelph. Ed Broadbent: U of T. David Lewis: McGill, Oxford. Give them credit for Guelph. Everything else is Canadian Ivy League, with a special shout out to McGill. Could this be why their teams are called the Redmen?
Sure, the Liberals and the NDP want to look after the poor. The upper class has always wanted to look after the poor: part of their mandate and their justification is to look after the poor. In the Arabian Gulf, sheiks are obliged by custom to have a free water tap on the outside wall of their compound, so that the poor can always get fresh drinking water, a major issue in the Arabian desert. The English lord was socially obliged to see to the health of anyone ailing on his estates. And I do not want to be cynical about this; ruling classes are not altogether a bad thing.
But invite them to your parties? Go to school with them? Let them marry your daughter? Elect them to a leadership position? I shouldn’t think so.
And there is a fundamental problem with a ruling elite that claims it is not a ruling elite, but instead “the party of the poor.” This is dishonest, and suggests there may be other dark deeds afoot. A ruling class is only tolerable when it is bound by a strict sense of honour to work for the general good; this speaks of a lack of any such strict sense of honour, and so of a corrupt ruling class.
In the meantime, the choice for those who are poor or on the outside of society in some way is this: do they want to be “taken care of,” by the Liberals or the Democrats or the NDP? Or do they want to move up, no longer being poor, no longer being on the outside? Then you go with the Republicans or the Conservatives.