by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The popular progressive understanding of the Republican party and conservative movement is something like this: It is, at heart, a conspiracy of corporate oligarchs who use a collection of so-called social issues — religion, bigotry, racial resentment, anti-immigrant sentiment — to stir up the rubes in support of its own parochial economic agenda, tricking them into “voting against their own interests” in the popular progressive phrase. Wall Street guys pulling the strings and writing the checks, foot-washing snake-handlers manning the barricades.
This isn’t really true, of course, as anybody who ever has spent any time around actual Republican politicians or conservative activists knows.
A few progressives have been wondering aloud this week why it is that Democrats have stirred themselves to oppose, with steely resolve, the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, while more or less going along with the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general. DeVos (a friend of this magazine) may have ideas about school choice that don’t comport with the views of some Democrats (though they comport very much with the views of other Democrats, particularly those of the black urban middle class), but she is a relatively anodyne figure, a philanthropist and activist who has made a career out of doing what she can to look after the interests of children who don’t have the advantages enjoyed by her own. Sessions, on the other hand, is — their view, not mine — a racist as well as a radical who as attorney general would be empowered to do real damage to all that progressives hold dear.
So why does DeVos get the Eichmann treatment while Sessions just gets a rap on the knuckles?
What’s the matter with Camden?
Here is one possibility: The Democratic party in reality is the cartoon version of the Republican party stood on its head, with cold-eyed self-serving economic interests using the so-called social issues to stir up the rubes while they go about seeing to their own paydays and pensions.