Grand New Party Recycles Old (But Good!) VDARE.COM Ideas




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Two young Atlantic
Magazine editors, both fairly conservative,

Ross Douthat
(email
him
), and Reihan Salam (email
him
), have written a much-discussed book, Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.
They
argue, sensibly, that the Republican Party should focus
on policies that

strengthen families
, financially and morally.


They observe:



"The American dream is ultimately a dream of home, of

a place to call your own,
earned and not inherited,
and free from the petty tyranny of landlords,
bureaucrats, and bankers. It`s a dream of a country in
which ownership is available to everyone, provided that
they are willing to work for it, rather than being

handed out
on the basis of

wealth
or

caste
, brains or beauty."


Less poetically, they want the traditional high wage,
cheap land America that

Ben Franklin
endorsed in his 1751 essay showing that


"When Families can be easily supported, more Persons
marry, and earlier in Life."


Of course, Republicans have been winning the family vote
recently. In 2004,

George W. Bush carried

25 of the top 26 states
grouped in terms of white

“total fertility rate”
(number of babies per woman per
lifetime), while John Kerry was victorious in the bottom
16.


But Republicans haven`t actually delivered much to
deserve the family vote, other than

some good judicial nominees
. What has the Bush
Administration`s policy, now endorsed by John McCain, of

Invade the World
/

Invite the World
/

In Hock to the World
done to build the human capital
of average American families?


Douthat and Salam argue that the GOP`s commitment to
tax-cutting has hit electoral diminishing returns. It`s
no longer 1980, when the

"animal spirits"
of

businessmen
desperately needed to be jumpstarted by
cuts in marginal tax rates.


Instead, they offer a long list of creative, if wonkish,
reforms that Republican politicians might consider.


 


One I liked: their plan for breaking the higher
education system`s monopoly on

credentialing
. Most people go to college primarily

to show future employers
they are smart and
hard-working:



"But making credentialing dependent on four years of
college sets the barriers to entry so high that it
limits competition and shuts out ambitious Americans who
lack the time and money to acquire a four-year degree."


And, let`s be frank, it`s not just time and money.
Plenty of Americans are smart enough to earn a decent
living at a job for which they`ve been well-trained who

aren`t ever going to be smart enough
to fulfill,
say,

Cardinal Newman`s vision
of what a well-rounded
university-educated gentleman should know: hence today`s
enormous college dropout rate.


Ross and Reihan continue:



"A far fairer system would assign credentials on the
basis of examinations, either national or state-level,
that evaluate students on the basis of the actual skills
they`ll need to do their jobs well."


A benefit they don`t mention: this would reduce the
amount of time Americans at impressionable ages are
exposed to

leftist indoctrination on college campuses
.


In general, the youthful authors aren`t cynical enough
to note that policies don`t endure just on their
merits—they have to grow their own constituencies.


For example, Ted Kennedy`s

1965
and

1990 immigration laws
have,

as planned,
harvested a

heavily Democratic voting bloc
that has scared off
many would-be reformist politicians.


As a mirror image of Democratic immigration policy,
Republicans should focus on programs that raise the
marriage and birth rates among Republicans. As
Democratic pollster

Stanley Greenberg
noted, in 2004 when all else was
held equal, being single made a voter 56 percent more
likely to vote Democratic.


For example,

Randall Parker
has long emphasized the importance of
getting competent people through the education system
and into the workforce faster.

"Turn kids into taxpayers sooner",

Parker trenchantly suggests.


The partisan benefit to Republicans is that this gives
their kind of people more years to get married and have
more children.


Stop handing young people over to

educrats
to be indoctrinated in the assumptions of
the Democratic Party for an ever-increasing numbers of
years.


When Grand New Party arrived in the mail, I
opened it at random to page 160 and read:



"What`s happening isn`t that second-generation
immigrants are assimilating to American norms; rather, a
portion of the immigrant population, frustrated with
stagnating wages and an economy that`s less favorable to
high-school graduates than fifty years ago, ends up
dropping out of the system and

assimilating downward,
toward the behaviors
associated with the poorest native-born whites and
blacks".



"Excellent point!"

I thought. "I couldn`t have put it better if I said
so myself. Come to think of it, I have been saying that
in VDARE.com since

2000
"
.

On the next page, I
read:


"But we might start to look more and
more like Great Britain, where the working class is
exposed to the same pressures as their cousins in the
United States, but with darker consequences. The process
of family breakdown, in particular, is far more advanced
in Great Britain than it is here: The illegitimacy rate
is 41 percent in England and Wales, and it`s 46 percent
among native-born women; England`s heavily Asian
foreign-born population actually brings the rate of
out-of-wedlock births down.



"How true"
,
I nodded.



"Hey, wait a minute"
,
I exclaimed a moment later. "I did say so
myself! This is a summary of one of my VDARE.com
articles"
.

In my April 10, 2005
VDARE.com column

How Much Ruin in a Nation? UK vs. US White Working Class
,
I wrote:



"Crime`s sister, illegitimacy, is also high in Britain.
In England and Wales 41 percent of new babies are born
to unmarried women. And it`s even worse —46 percent …
among women born in the U.K. (The high illegitimacy rate
for

Caribbean
immigrant women is more than balanced by
the very low figures for South Asians.)"


Ross and Reihan go on:



"The epidemic of fatherlessness goes a long way toward
explaining why the crime rate in Britain resembles the
dark days of crack-epidemic America: There are more
murders in today`s United States, largely because we
have

more guns,
but the crime rate as a whole is some 40
percent higher in the United Kingdom …

My 2005 article had
begun:


"Why have the morals of the white
working class in the U.S. proven more resilient than
those of their white counterparts in Great Britain? Last
week, I discussed the

high crime rate
in the United Kingdom—by

one estimate
about 40 percent worse than in the U.S.
… While the rate of assault has been higher in England
than America, angry Americans are more lethal because of
our hundreds of millions of guns.”

Similarly, in their
Introduction, Douthat and Salam offer this majestically
Brimelovian formulation:


"If the Left sometimes seems to want
to turn the United States into Europe by swaddling
working-class voters in a cradle-to-the-grave welfare
state, the

Bush-era GOP
`s mix of

neglect and crony capitalism
too often appeared bent
on pushing the United States toward

Latin America
—where the

rich are rich, and the poor are poor
, and there`s no
independent, self-sufficient working class in between."

And there are many other
such examples of the VDARE.com Touch throughout the
book.

For instance, Douthat
and Salam are relatively sound on immigration. In their
subchapter "The Trouble with Immigration", they
note:


"… mass immigration threatens to
pull the working class downward. … The

college educated have reaped the benefits
of a steep
decrease in the price of labor-intensive services, while
low-skilled Americans, exposed to increasingly stiff
competition, have seen their earnings stagnate and even
dwindle. African Americans, in particular, have suffered
as immigration has risen: A recent study suggests that
immigration accounts for roughly a third of the overall
decline in the

black employment rate
over the last forty years."

For the details on this
“recent study”, by

George Borjas
of

Harvard
and colleagues, see my 9/24/2006 VDARE.com
column

Black Crime: The Immigrant Dimension
.

Unfortunately, Grand
New Party
has no footnotes or endnotes. That`s
reasonable these days, because notes belong online, with
live links to source materials.

Yet the book`s notes
don`t appear to be on the web either. No VDARE.com
writers are mentioned in the book`s index. But regular
readers of this website will have no trouble identifying
every few pages in Grand New Party ideas that
first surfaced on VDARE.com.

This isn`t

plagiarism
, of course—it`s influence.



Grand New Party

is pervasively influenced by VDARE.com.

Indeed, the VDARE.com
effect is largely what makes Grand New Party much
more sophisticated than other recent political books.

That`s one of
VDARE.com`s roles—to serve as the Research & Development
lab where important ideas can be

frankly, and thus fully
, discussed.

Other writers can then
try to make them more palatable for the world of
Political Correctness.

But there`s an
inevitable downside of adapting your writing to
accommodate the taboos of the age, though. It`s that
even when you start from a point of clarity, your
thinking gets murkier the more you try to conform to
mainstream media norms.

Consider the book`s
emphasis on class and voting.

When thinking about who
votes for whom, allegedly the subject of Grand New
Party
, the

single most important factor
is one that gets little
mention in the book: race.

By the final 2008
Democratic primaries, for instance, Barack Obama was
defeating Hillary Clinton 90 percent to 10 percent among
blacks, purely due to race. On class issues, Hillary`s
campaign was aimed slightly more toward the median black
voter`s class than was

Obama`s
. Yet blacks didn`t care.

Racial solidarity
ruled.



Gender
, like class, rides in the back of the bus,
too: the black man and the white woman came out tied in
Democratic presidential primary voting, but the

tie goes to the black, not the woman.

Race is fundamental in
elections—because people tend to vote like their
relatives.

On the other hand, race
is not a

career-safe topic
to write about intelligently in

21st Century America.

Fortunately, Ross and
Reihan do a good job of avoiding writing about it
unintelligently, and even say some brave things. Still,
the book is vaguer than it had to be because of the
authors` perceived need to avoid talking too much about
ethnicity—the building block of American politics.

Class, on the other
hand, has

Karl Marx
`s imprimatur. So, by definition, it`s okay
to talk about it in polite society.

Yet, a century and a
half after Marx, class remains a hazy subject, lacking
in insightful definition. If race is who your ancestors
were, then perhaps

class
could be usefully thought of as

who your descendents might be
, whom your children
are likely to marry.

I`m amused by how people
will tell me with great confidence that

Race Does Not Exist
because nobody can allocate
every individual into a precise category. "What race
is Barack Obama?"
they`ll ask with a presumption of
intellectual triumph in their voices.

Well, he`s half black
and half white. He`s

Barry Half-White
,

H. Rap Beige
. Now, let me ask you a harder question:

What class did
Obama grow up in?

I know his life story
well, but I couldn`t give you a definitive answer. I
doubt if Obama could, either. And, yet, nobody claims
that Class Does Not Exist.

Similarly, although the
subtitle of Grand New Party indicates the book is
about

"the working class"
, I remain unsure whom
exactly the authors consider "working class". At
one point, they refer to "America`s working class,
our democracy`s natural political majority"
which
seems awfully expansive. America has usually proudly
claimed for itself the title of

"a middle class country."

More Americans describe
themselves as "middle class" than "working
class,"
but many Americans would use both terms to
describe themselves. In a recent

Pew poll
that didn`t even bother to offer the
response "working class", a full 91 percent of
the public self-identified as some form of middle class
(19 percent upper middle class, 53 percent middle class,
and 19 percent lower middle class).

We can all agree that,
say,

Richard Nixon
`s upbringing was

more working class
than

George H.W. Bush
`s. But beyond that, things get hard
to pin down.

Douthat and Salam
explicitly state that their definition of working class
extends beyond
blue-collar workers to many office employees.
That`s
reasonable, but makes drawing the occupational line
iffy.

At other times they
define working class as "not a college graduate".
Does that make the famous dropouts Bill Gates
(Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple), Michael Dell (Dell),
and Larry Ellison (Oracle) working class?

Conversely, if you are a

cop
or a

fireman
who has finally picked up a B.A. from going
to night school at the local state college, are you
suddenly not working class anymore?

And what`s the upper
income boundary? It`s hardly unknown for a couple
holding classic working class jobs such as

truck driver
and

waitress
to crack six figures by putting in lots of

overtime.

Finally, where does race
fit in to their definition of "working class" for
the purpose of targeting by the GOP?

My impression is that
Douthat and Salam are writing primarily about

whites
, with some nods toward Hispanics, but, being

electorally numerate,
are largely ignoring blacks,
who,

for racialist reasons
, aren`t going to vote
Republican no matter how perfectly the GOP crafts policy
proposals to meet their class`s needs.

None of this is to say
that class isn`t a reality. But the book`s discussion is
more ambiguous than it would be if they`d laid all their
cards on the table.

But, hey, that`s what
VDARE.com is for.

Let me propose a way to
segment the electorate that can provide a more useful
conceptual basis for Ross and Reihan`s thinking than the
increasingly outmoded term "working class".

The Democrats are the
natural party for two kinds of people—those with more
money than children (e.g.

childless urban professionals
); and those with more
children than money (e.g.,

welfare mothers
). The former can afford to insulate
their limited number of loved ones from cultural decay,
while the latter need the handouts.

The Republicans, in
contrast, ought to be the natural party for those in the
middle, with about enough money for the number of
children they have. As Ross and Reihan aptly point out,
drawing upon my

essays
on

Affordable Family Formation
:


"Given the impact of familial
dissolution on the working class`s prospects, the
oft-heard

[liberal]
talking point that social conservatism represents an
attempt to distract working-class voters from their
`real` concerns

dramatically misses the point.
Indeed, social
conservatism, with its emphasis on stable, traditional
families, is a perfectly rational response to the
economic consequences of atomization."

People with roughly
enough money to raise their families don`t need or want
a

Swedish welfare state.

Yet, because they have
kids, they don`t like excessive risk, either. In
particular, the American health care finance system, in
which
health insurance
is tied to jobs, strikes many
parents as a needlessly worrisome double-or-nothing bet.


In summary, the GOP platform should be aimed at

teaching young people how to earn a living
and
then set them free to earn it, to help them use
their productive skills to acquire a
family of their own
. As Ben Franklin noted,
that`s the essence of a healthy socio-political
system.


Douthat and Salam are almost there—with VDARE.COM`s

unacknowledged
help.


Commercial conclusion: with more MONEY, we could
have MUCH MORE influence over MANY MORE MainStream
Media writers—and, ultimately, politicians.


We can leave the argument about who should get the
credit until later.


[Steve Sailer (
email
him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

for

The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com

features his daily blog.]

 



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