David Brooks argues that "Patio Man," the quintessential American suburban voter, wants stability, which the Democrats are promising (except when Joe Biden speaks about the crisis that’s going to test Barack Obama’s mettle). But if what they deliver answers the pent-up demands of the party’s left wing, watch out.
[T]he shift in public opinion is not from right to left, or from anti-government to pro-government, it’s from risk to caution, from disorder to consolidation.
There is a deep current of bourgeois culture running through American suburbia. It is not right wing, but it is conservative: a distrust of those far away; a belief in convention and respectability; and a strong reaction against anything that threatens to undermine the stability of the established order.
Democrats have done well in suburbia recently because they have run the kind of candidates who seem like the safer choice — socially moderate, pragmatic and fiscally hawkish. They, or any party, will run astray if they threaten the mood of chastened sobriety that has swept over the subdivisions.
Patio Man doesn’t appear to care much about social issues, according to Brooks. Judging from my neighbors, he’s probably right. But that’s because he and they wrongly think that you can have economic and social stability without a strong moral foundation. I don’t blame proponents of abortion rights and same-sex marriage for the fix we’re in. Their attitudes are symptomatic, not foundational. The foundational attitude is the self-indulgence in which we all share, a self-indulgence that is articulated every day on the radio by Rush Limbaugh and that is practiced by Patio Men, Women, and Children, but not so much by their parents and grandparents.
But it may be too late for Cato the Censor or his "Abrahamic" counterpart.