David Brooks describes, well, not exactly class conflict in the Democratic Party. Obama is the bobo candidate and HRC, a bobo herself, has become the default candidate of the working class Catholics from places like Scranton and Fresno. I have several questions, beginning with: if the bobo Clinton can win among working class Catholics, why can’t the Obobobama? The next is: is Clinton’s relative success with downmarket white and Hispanic voters in the Democratic primaries "authentic"? Is she appealing to them on her own merits or simply as the anyone-but-Obama candidate?
Then, finally, there’s this: one of the "facts" about at least some churches that social scientists have pointed to is that they can bridge class divides, with educated professionals worshipping alongside guys who work in garages. Jeremiah Wright’s church isn’t alone in being that way. Of course, I recognize that the distribution of socioeconomic "types" varies from denomination to denomination, with the Episcopal "center of gravity," for example, differing from its Southern Baptist or Pentecostal counterpart. I also recognize that this varies somewhat from congregation to congregation, especially to the degree that the congregations are located in socioeconomically defined neighborhoods. And now, finally, for the question: does the catholicity of the Catholic church do more to bring folks together across socioeconomic divides or does its parish system encourage a kind of separation? A couple of generations ago, one could, in certain northeastern and midwestern cities, speak of the Polish parish, the Irish parish, or the Italian parish. Ethnicity to some degree qualified catholicity. Can one now speak of upscale or bobo parishes and of downmarket or working class parishes? Or not?
Update: I meant to note, but initially didn’t, that Brooks could have written a similar column about Republicans, as there are clearly gaps between the business-oriented Wall Street types and the exurban evangelical social conservatives, to pick up a couple of stereotypes. And I haven’t even mentioned the neoconservative intelligentsia. One difference is that, for the most part (there are exceptions), Republicans have dealt somewhat more respectfully with intraparty "cultural" differences. That is, they’re aware of the gaps and have, from time to time, tried to bridge them.