Beer, Wine, and Democrats

For my readers (ha!) looking for any difference in substance between Clinton and Obama to explain all the heat on the left, I recommend an insightful article by Ramesh Ponnuru from the March 10 issue of National Review.  (NR subscribers can find it online here.)  Ponnuru cites journalist Ron Brownstein’s observation of two factions within the Democratic party:

Brownstein wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times last spring on the tensions within the Democratic party: “Since the 1960s,” he said, “Democratic nominating contests regularly have come down to a struggle between a candidate who draws support primarily from upscale, economically comfortable voters liberal on social and foreign policy issues, and a rival who relies mostly on downscale, financially strained voters drawn to populist economics and somewhat more conservative views on cultural and national security issues.”

Democratic strategists, Brownstein noted, alluded to this division by referring to “wine track” and “beer track” candidates. One class of Democratic voters looks for a candidate who will be a “warrior” for their interests. Another class looks for a candidate who will serve as a kind of secular “priest” affirming their values.

Clinton, he says, is the “beer track” warrior, and Obama the “wine track” priest.  In the past, the priests (Gary Hart, Bill Bradley) have tended to lose the Democratic primary, but things look different in 2008, in part due to Obama’s unique abilities and in part due to improved economic circumstances:

We now have a mass upper class. Its material concerns largely met, it can vote for reasons that previous generations would have dismissed as hopelessly ethereal, such as the need to create a new style of politics that brings the country together. Its members have the luxury, that is, of voting for “hope.”

Interesting.  The analogy of Obama as priest is also somewhat more poignant given the strange videos being circulated by Obama supporters (for example).

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