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Meet the Wealthy New Egomaniac Helping Bankroll the GOP

Ancient Tea Partyers aren't Republicans' only problem. They've got some much bigger miscreants now: Rich donors.

As long as I can remember, the Democrats have been running from their hippie left. It all goes back to 1968, when the dean of the press corps of his day, Joseph Kraft,  sounded the alarm: The Democratic Party and the elite media were out of touch with Real Americans and those Real Americans were not amused by what they saw in Chicago that summer:

Most of us in what is called the communications field are not rooted in the great mass of ordinary Americans–in Middle America. And the results show up not merely in occasional episodes such as the Chicago violence but more importantly in the systematic bias toward young people, minority groups, and the presidential candidates who appeal to them.

To get a feel of this bias it is first necessary to understand the antagonism that divides the middle class of this country. On the one hand there are highly educated upper-income whites sure of and brimming with ideas for doing things differently. On the other hand, there is Middle America, the large majority of low-income whites, traditional in their values and on the defensive against innovation.

In these circumstances, it seems to me that those of us in the media need to make a special effort to understand Middle America. Equally it seems wise to exercise a certain caution, a prudent restraint, in pressing a claim for a plenary indulgence to be in all places at all times the agent of the sovereign public.

From this was born the media’s decades-long effort to prove that they were the voice of Real America, even as the right relentlessly attacked them for being the tools of liberalism. And the 1972 convention fully convinced the Democratic establishment that the inmates had taken over the asylum and it was time to put a stop to it. From that point forward it was an article of faith that the American left was to be kept at arm’s length at best. In fact, “triangulating” against it became the Democrats’ favorite political strategy. For many years, metaphorical hippie punching was the best way for a Democrat to prove his Real American bona fides.

The Republicans, on the other hand, had no such problem. They systematically went about rebranding themselves from country club elites to the party of Real America. They too engaged in metaphorical hippie punching, but did so with an almost tongue-in-cheek glee by portraying the hawkish, economically conservative centrist Democratic elites as counterculture freaks and then sitting back and enjoying their howls of protest as they twisted themselves into pretzels trying to prove otherwise.

Those days finally ended about half a decade ago. No, it’s not that Democrats finally stopped running from their left. You’ll recall  the disdain with which an administration that won with young people, weeping over  Will.i.Am‘s hipper-than-thou “Yes we can” video, held the “professional left” when it spoke out against some of its policies.

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

(All the best hippie punches contain the words “Michael Moore” or “Dennis Kucinich.”)

No, the recent change came from the other side. These days it’s the Republicans who are dealing with a bunch of radicals dressed up in funny clothes, spouting crazy slogans, yelling at politicians and basically acting out in public. Sure, it was useful in the short run to trip up the Obamacrats but it has become clear that despite the fact that they are a little bit gray and a little bit paunchy, they are every bit as embarrassing as those hippies were to the Democrats back in the day. Indeed, it turns out that the vaunted white middle America of Joseph Kraft’s day is rapidly turning younger and browner, so the process whereby the GOP establishment must try to distance itself from its “wacko-birds” has begun. (And the Democrats, naturally, will do everything in their power to ensure they are bound to each other with duct tape and super glue.)

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