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It Ain't Gonna be Pretty The New Challenge Movement: A Manifesto

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The Party of the Middle Class?

by Christopher Chantrill
August 07, 2004 at 8:00 pm

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AT THE RECENT Democratic National Convention the nominee for President of the United States, John F. Kerry, told Americans of his devotion to the middle class.  “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty,” he said.  And then he pointed above him to the flag of the United States: “Old Glory, we call it.”  He talked about “family values,” “faith,” and country.  Whatever happened to the Democratic Party that we know and love?

What happened to abortion, the holy sacrament of the modern Democratic Party?  It got shriveled to an oblique reference to women’s equality.  What happened to the ritual denunciation of Christian fundamentalists?  What happened to gay rights, diminished to a coded reference to the constitution?  And what happened to fighting for the people against the powerful, a theme that went down so well in the Democratic National Convention of 2000?

We all know what happened.  The Democrats did their polling and focus-grouping and determined that Kerry couldn’t win as if he ran as a Democrat.  The United States of America is unique among the nations of the world: Ninety-five percent of Americans consider themselves middle-class.  So most Americans support their middle-class armed forces.  They love their flag.  They believe in “family.”  Over 60 percent adhere to a church.  Unlike many Democrats, most Americans are deeply troubled by abortion.  Unlike many Democrats, most Americans believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.  Unlike many Democrats most Americans, even entry-level workers cleaning McMansions, believe in the American Dream, according to left-wing writer Barbara Ehrenreich.

All this poses a bit of a problem for the Democratic Party.  Democrats feel that we should have evolved beyond the “cycle of violence.”  They are embarrassed by flag-waving patriotism.  They sneer at the middle-class “nuclear family.”  They hate Christian fundamentalists.  They insist on the “right to choose.”  They quietly cheer the unelected judges legislating gay marriage from the bench.  And their voting base believes that the “little people” can’t make it without a heavy subsidy from the government.

Today, in the United States, the Republican Party is the party of the middle class, and the Democratic Party is not.  In fact, it is worse than that.  In the great War on the Middle Class that began in the aftermath of the French Revolution with Babeuf and his Conspiracy of Equals and continues today with Michael Moore and Islamofascism, the Democrats are enlisted with the enemies of the middle class.  Talk to a pony-tailed twenty-something here in left-coast Seattle and you’ll find a young man who believes in creativity and caring, but no quarter for the rich and the corporations.  He’ll believe in spirituality, but will scorn “organized religion.”  He’ll believe fervently in global warming, “fair trade,” and political activism, but know little of climate science, economics, and the history of Anglospheric constitutionalism.  He’ll believe in Peace and also in class warfare.  And he votes for “Baghdad” Jim McDermott.

Why has his party chosen to war upon the middle class?  What could anyone have against the people that brought us the rule of law, the written constitution, and that remarkable engine of prosperity and livelihood, the limited liability company?  Amazingly, because many people find the middle-class ethos too hard.

For the newly arrived immigrant from the feudal countryside to the city, this attitude is understandable.  Learning to live by the clock instead of by the sun is hard, desperately hard.  So we could expect the exploited Irish and the recently emancipated African slave to rally to those that blamed the bourgeoisie for all their travails.  But the wonder of the age is that the sons and daughters of the middle class join in the war against the middle class.  Do they find the life of the middle class too hard?

Many of them do.  They object to the trajectory of middle-class life.  Instead of the rigors of education to literacy and numeracy they prefer the comfort of positive self-esteem.  Instead of the commitment of marriage they prefer the easy pickings of relationship.  Instead of the creation of children they prefer the creativity of the artist.  Instead of the yoke of career they prefer to follow their bliss.  Instead of the judgment of society they insist on authentic self-validation.

So when John Kerry offers himself as the candidate of the middle class, extolling military service, the flag, the family, and faith, we may well rub our eyes in confusion. 

Perhaps we should call his bluff, and make him president.  Then we shall see whether he and his Democratic Party will knuckle down to the last great task of the world-historical middle class, the turning around of the House of Islam from honor and tribe to the middle-class ethos of contract and team.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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