We may call ourselves a democracy. But we are ruled by an oligarchy. And it’s a bad one.
The progressive elite — which since 1933 has run the nation (or shared it with the business elite) — loses power on January 20. The longevity of its rule is a tribute to progressives’ ability to change with the times. They have made room for leaders from rising power centers, co-opting them into their hierarchy of elites. Below the top, secondary leaders who play by the rules in return gain power over their own smaller hierarchy (see chart). Big fish, little pond.
The progressive elite are intellectuals based in and around government — “inside the Beltway” — and financiers based in Manhattan. Academia prepares future leaders for command roles in government, finance, the media, law, arts and entertainment, the foundations and non-profits.
The progressive elite’s constant challenge is to maintain its oligarchical control by appealing to a wider electorate every 2-4 years. To do so, they work through interest groups. Key interest groups change with the times: primarily industrial labor from the 1930s to the 1960s; public sector employees, young people, unmarried females, blacks and other minorities since 1974. The progressive low point came between 1965 and 1973 — Vietnam to Watergate — as the Democratic Party disgorged the South while seeking greater support elsewhere.
In transforming the party, progressives seized the moral high ground that came with the 1960s civil rights struggle. Like the “wave the bloody shirt” appeal to Northern (Union) loyalty that won Republicans most post-Civil War presidential elections — every Republican winner from 1868 to 1900 wore the Blue in that conflict — progressives continue to push civil rights as if Bull Conner’s dogs were still terrorizing Negroes. “Diversity” begins with “black lives matter,” but seeks to gather in all “victimized” identity groups.
As Kenneth L. Woodward, the former Newsweek religion editor, tells us:
"the politics of righteousness" [is] the tendency of the Democratic Party to assume ownership of the moral high ground whenever cultural values and social norms are at issue in American politics — and to presume that those who disagree are, as Hillary Clinton put it, "a basket of deplorables.”But the losers aren’t only white “deplorables.” Conservative Michelle Malkin writes:
The grand rhetoric of diversity masks the true intent and actual impact of current racially discriminatory "solutions" to past racial discrimination: solidifying the power of the few over the many.“Solidifying the power” of the oligarchy. At the expense of the very interest groups progressives have co-opted — unemployed/under-employed blacks, Hispanics, unmarried women, and young people; government workers in stultifying, dead-end jobs; Asian students confronting affirmative action admission barriers at leading universities.
Here’s the stark truth: intellectuals are supposed to deliver prosperity (and better medical care). They haven’t, and should default to business leaders who understand how to create economic growth. But progressives won’t give up power. Instead, they avoid talking economy while appealing to “the politics of righteousness.”
In 2016, that didn’t work.