Democrat debates show whom the party cares about least

The first Democratic primary debates didn't alter the standings in the crowded pack, but they did reveal one thing.  It's no longer a question of whose interests the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson now serve. 

Here's a Hegelian hint: the antithesis of the lumpenproletariat.  Actually, it's broader than that.  Democrats aren't courting a blinkered precariat uninterested in hot-button issues like unisex bathrooms for the transgendered.  Democrats aren't even running to recapture the vast middle class, the people George Eliot praised as living "faithfully a hidden life."

No, the liberal party appears to have given up on the working class and is concentrating its efforts on solidifying its hold on urban professionals, advanced degree–holders, and SAG-AFTRA members.  American elites, to put it squarely, are the Democrats' go-to constituency.  (The one exception is new-age tout Marianne Williamson, who appears to be running exclusively to capture votes from Portland, Ore. and Proxima Centauri b.)

Apologies to all the grubby-handed schmucks pathetically clocking in 9 to 5, day in, day out, collecting a biweekly paycheck and socking away two percent for the kids' Christmas presents.  Your interests barely register for Democrats running on the national stage.  The Party's priority is no longer families needing money for school clothes; rather, it is the sundry plights of gay "married" couples with three and a half bachelor's degree between them and an apartment rent that makes most Midwest mortgage payments seem like a pittance.

Consider a few of the leading Democrats' proposals: student loan debt cancelation; reparations for same-sex couples calling themselves married; tax hikes for the middle class; raising the cap on SALT deductions; decriminalizing "sex work," which is a euphemism for prostitution; marijuana legalization.

None of these policies is meant to help the middle class.  Lifting the SALT cap is a fiscal benefit only for burghers with accountants on retainer.  Marriage is increasingly an upper-class ritual.  College graduates have better income prospects than non-graduates and, more importantly, better connections and increased social mobility rates.

Democrats may consider legalizing pot and whoring helpful to the lower class.  But removing the criminal penalty for dope use isn't a panacea for a social class already ravaged by prescription drugs.  The actual purpose behind sublimating weed-smoking is to make it culturally acceptable in polite society, to embourgeoise the botanical narcotic so that well-to-do families aren't so embarrassed when their Trinity School–attending son is suspended for hiding a roach clip in his pocket.

As for bringing ladies of the night into the daylight and nipping Social Security taxes from their earnings, the rationale is simple: the well heeled are tired of reading headlines about their own soliciting, say, those of a rounder heel.

The televised "debates" made it even more obvious whom the Democrats are trying to woo.  As David French commented, "[s]omeone needs to tell the vast bulk of the Democrats on that stage that they're not winning the presidency by going from 90 to 95 percent of the Brooklyn vote."  Don't expect anyone to tell the candidates different, however; liberal status signaling is what wins the Democratic primary.

And there was empty signaling aplenty.  Candidates demonstrating — or failing to demonstrate — their fluency in Spanish on national television wasn't done for the benefit of Hispanic-Americans or their less legal cousins.  It's a sop to wealthy white liberals who value diversity in everything but their homes, private schools, country clubs, and professions.  Speaking English is how you get ahead in America.  That fact isn't lost on Castilian-speaking immigrants who still know their mother tongue.  But it is, apparently, on pochos like Julián Castro.

The debates weren't totally devoid of bread-and-butter policies.  There were the occasional proposals to stuff money in the pockets of the poor, such as Andrew Yang's guaranteed income proposal and Kamala Harris's tax refund for those below the six-figure income line.  Superficially, these come across as working-class relief.  But, more realistically, they're payoffs to placate the socially immobile.  The elitist thinking behind the bribes is straightforward: if the jobless droogs have money for an Xbox, maybe they won't smash Starbucks windows.

Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer gave the game away by tweeting: "Asking questions about Climate Change and guns through the prism of imaginary swing voters is bad."  With shrewd, supercilious observations like that, it's no wonder why Democrats lost the White House in 2016.  Those so-called "imaginary swing voters" are the collar-county residents in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania who cost Hillary the Oval Office.

Democrats know they have to wrangle back blue-collar workers if they want to defeat Trump.  So far, they've offered little in the way of understanding people who've never ridden the A train, let alone seen a subway in real life.  Saying they're out of touch is like saying Michael Jackson's sleepovers needed adult supervision; it doesn't even begin to describe the problem.

"If you've got a good job, about fifteen grand a year, and health insurance, and a retirement fund, and maybe some stock as well, why shouldn't you be a radical too?" Saul Bellow, speaking through the fictional Moses Herzog, sardonically asked. His point was, being a radical is easier with affluence.  Democrats are using their primary to appeal to the moneyed elites who'll never support Trump in the general election.  The strategy may prove lacking come next November.

Image: Guardian News via YouTube.