Here's Alex Roarty, writing at The Atlantic:
It took David Perdue about 20 seconds of speechifying to expose a tension roiling the Republican Party. Speaking in January, the former business executive turned Georgia candidate for U.S. Senate asked a group of local Republicans to parse the resumes of his primary foes.Yes, Roarty actually wrote that: The GOP has long ago shed its stereotype of being the party catering to the wealthy.
"There's a high-school graduate in this race, okay?" said Perdue, referring to his opponent, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. "I'm sorry, these issues are so much broader, so complex. There's only one candidate in this race who's ever lived outside the United States. How can you bring value to a debate about the economy unless you have any understanding about the free-enterprise system and what it takes to compete in the global economy?"
The two-pronged swipe elicited cries of condescension and elitism that eventually forced Perdue to apologize. And it revealed a vital reality about the state of the Republican Party as its members prepare to select a standard-bearer for the 2016 presidential primary: The GOP has long ago shed its stereotype of being the party catering to the wealthy.
Maybe it's shed its stereotype of being the only party catering to the wealthy -- Democrats do a pretty good job of that too, though they still have a lot of catching up to do -- but on my planet, Republicans still do a damn fine job of constituent service for the 1% (and the 0.1%, and the 0.01%).
More from Roarty:
These days, the GOP tone and agenda are set by a voting bloc of mostly white, blue-collar workers whose sensibilities skew more toward NASCAR than golf.... In 2008, according to a tabulation of exit-poll data acquired by the National Journal, blue-collar workers made up 51 percent of all GOP primary voters.Actually, the poll he's quoting doesn't say "blue-collar workers" made up 51% of the GOP primary electorate -- it says that "voters without a four-year college degree made up a 51 percent majority of the total vote." Not the same thing. And lacking a sheepskin doesn't automatically mean identifying with the have-nots: quite a few of these voters could have quite comfortable middle-class lives (they could have been successful farmers, ranchers, career military, or even, in the North, unionized workers, especially the many retirees among them; some might even have been white-collar workers from the days when college degrees weren't required). Roarty's jumping to a conclusion if he assumes that they consider themselves class warriors. (Why do they enjoy watching Donald Trump so much on Fox News? For that matter, why did a 2010 New York Times CBS poll find that tea party members were wealthier and more educated than the general public?)
It's why Perdue's remark was so costly. He wasn't just mocking Handel; he was mocking many of the very voters whose support he wants during the May primary. Sarah Palin, whose anti-elitist message best personifies the party's working-class turn, summed up the feelings of many Republican voters when she campaigned for Handel last month: "There are a lot of good, hard-working Americans who have more common sense in their pinky finger than a lot of those Ivy League pieces of paper up on a wall."Yeah -- Perdue's remark was so costly that he's moved into the lead in that race ever since he made that remark, while the candidate he insulted -- Palin's preferred candidate -- is mired in fifth place:
What's happening in the GOP now is that fat-cat donors are choosing their candidates more carefully, while the establishment/elitist candidates those fat cats are backing are moving far enough to the right not to alienate the crazies. Result: conflict averted.
The two political parties have essentially traded places over the last few decades. Democrats, who once depended heavily on blue-collar workers, have become increasingly the party of white-collar workers, at least among whites. And as downscale whites leave the Democratic Party, they've joined the GOP, whose cultural values often align with their own.Yeah, maybe -- but one of those "cultural values" is a worship of capitalism and its heroic "makers." There's class anger, but it's against the cultural elites on the coasts, who are presumed to be simpering metrosexual Democrats (Trump and various Wall Street wolves excepted).
There is no culture war in the GOP, Alex -- that's so last election cycle.