“the country has sorted itself into two distinct, roughly equally sized groups. . . We battle over a whole host of economic and cultural issues that did not divide us in the past.”
--Jay Cost, “RealClearPolitics,” August 25, 2010
Cost is asserting what I have argued for four years. The country’s pretty evenly divided. Liberals are a minority, but Democrats reach beyond liberalism to unmarried women, blacks, Hispanics, government workers, and others.
Yet the liberal-Democratic elite move around in their own cocoon. They are like “The Truman Show,” where Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) lived oblivious to the fact that he was an act billions observed daily on TV. Here’s why:
1. The liberal elite is monocultural. The statement is counter-intuitive. Liberals are worldly, travel when possible, and enjoy mixing the best of home and abroad. But liberals do so in a surprisingly uniform way, taking their cues from the New York Times and the rest of the Times-influenced media. They talk to each other and bounce ideas off each other, using Times-inspired talking points. They have little use for non-elite America, don’t take it seriously, and are largely ignorant of life that goes on there, including how to make a business grow.
2. Those living outside liberal monoculturalism enjoy two or more cultures—the liberal host culture and their own. One can’t think or talk in America without knowing the American elite’s language. We may not speak or write it as well as the elite, but it is our native language too. We learn it in school. We function, however, in an America foreign to the New York Times, ignored by it, or ridiculed by it, one based on traditional, pre-Roosevelt America, when religious values were important. It's the America of Codevilla's "country class." As people who know two or more languages have advantages over monolingualists, so do those who understand two or more American cultures.
3. Outsiders enjoying multiculturalism believe liberals live in a restricted cocoon. It’s hard for those who live in two or more cultures to refrain from viewing monoculturalists the way we watch animals in a zoo, as Truman Burbanks. We know them; they don’t know us; they suffer for their relative situation. For liberals, the battle may be uneven. As Sun Tzu (The Art of War) says, “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”