Friday, June 27, 2008

The great switch

The talk of the day is the new book by Douthat and Salam. There are at least two reasons why it is getting attention: first because the political right-wing is desperate for new ideas. More importantly because the book reflects the big, dramatic, unimaginable (only a generation ago) 'change of seats' that has been taking place in American politics. The Democratic party, which used to represent the (largely "ethnic" and Catholic) working classes, has become the party of the more ideological, affluent liberal bourgeoisie. Conversely, the authors argue, the Republican party (traditionally regarded as the party of the moneyed elites) is bound to become the party of the "socially conservative" working classes, while keeping its allegiance to the principles of limited state intervention in society and in the economy. Obviously, this shift is extremely relevant to the Catholic presence in the US, which for many decades identified itself politically with the Democratic party. It is not by chance that several of the young new writers mentioned by David Brooks are Catholic (e.g. Douthat and Ponnuru).

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