Monday, August 16, 2010
Fighting Back: The Country Class
Concluding our digest of Angelo M. Codevilla’s important essay. Codevilla, who has little use for establishment Republicans, has decided to define the “rest of us,” organized or not, as “the country class”:
America's country class . . . shares above all the desire to be rid of rulers it regards inept and haughty. It defines itself practically in terms of reflexive reaction against the rulers' defining ideas and proclivities -- e.g., ever higher taxes and expanding government, subsidizing political favorites, social engineering. . . Many want to restore a way of life largely superseded. Demographically, the country class is the other side of the ruling class's coin: its most distinguishing characteristics are marriage, children, and religious practice. . . it is different because of its non-orientation to government and its members' yearning to rule themselves rather than be ruled by others.
Nothing has set the country class apart. . .so much as the ruling class's insistence that people other than themselves are intellectually and hence otherwise humanly inferior. Persons who were brought up to believe themselves as worthy as anyone, who manage their own lives to their own satisfaction. . . resent politicians . . . who say that the issues of modern life are too complex for any but themselves.
The country class actually believes that America's ways are superior to the rest of the world's, and regards most of mankind as less free, less prosperous, and less virtuous. . . This class . . . takes part in the U.S. armed forces body and soul: nearly all the enlisted, non-commissioned officers and officers under flag rank belong to this class in every measurable way. Few vote for the Democratic Party.
Parents of young children and young women anxious about marriage worry that cultural directives from on high are dispelling their dreams. The faithful to God sense persecution. All resent higher taxes and loss of freedom. More and more realize that their own agenda's advancement requires concerting resistance to the ruling class across the board.
The fact that public employees are almost always paid more and have more generous benefits than the private sector people whose taxes support them only sharpened the sense among many in the country class that they now work for public employees rather than the other way around. But how to reverse the roles?
Let members of the country class object to anything the ruling class says or does, and likely as not their objection will be characterized as "religious," that is to say irrational, that is to say not to be considered on a par with the "science" of which the ruling class is the sole legitimate interpreter. Because aggressive, intolerant secularism is the moral and intellectual basis of the ruling class's claim to rule, resistance to that rule. . . must deal with secularism's intellectual and moral core.
One side or the other will prevail. The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable. In this clash, the ruling class holds most of the cards: because it has established itself as the fount of authority, its primacy is based on habits of deference. [T]he country class wholly lacks organization. By contrast, the ruling class holds strong defensive positions and is well represented by the Democratic Party. But a [Democratic] two to one numerical disadvantage augurs defeat, while victory would leave it in control of a people whose confidence it cannot regain.
[Since] the Republican Party does not live to represent the country class [--] to do so, it would have to become principles-based [--] for the foreseeable future, American politics will consist of confrontation between what we might call the Country Party and the ruling class. The Democratic Party having transformed itself into a unit with near-European discipline, challenging it would seem to require empowering a rival party at least as disciplined. Yet this logic. . . has always been foreign to America . . . Any country party would have to be wise and skillful indeed not to become the Democrats' mirror image.
a serious party would have to attack the ruling class's fundamental claims to its superior intellect and morality in ways that dispirit the target and hearten one's own. The Democrats having set the rules of modern politics, opponents who want electoral success are obliged to follow them.