How will it play in Peoria?

The “Reality Based” Matthew Yglesias in sidewise fashion identifies the real problem of the Democratic Party, the problem that is both the heart of its current electoral problems and the biggest problem for the Dems in terms of Democratic (as in the philosophy of government) ideals:

Perhaps the best shorthand exposition of this phenomenon is that David Brooks…lives in Bethesda…You don’t see a lot of rightwing opinion journals being produced out of Omaha. Generally speaking, both sides are — at the elite level — composed of the sort of highly educated professionals who are one of the core constituencies of the Democratic Party.

So what’s the problem? Well, the real core constituency of the old Democratic Party was in Omaha, not Bethesda. The old Democratic Party asked “How will it play in Peoria?” and the new one asks “How will it play in Georgetown?” Now the electoral result of this should be clear. What may not be as clear is that pandering to the capital elite at the expense of the real constituents, the people, the demos, is the antithesis of the Democratic ideal. For some of us, when we call the Democratic Party morally bankrupt, it’s this betrayal of the principles of government of, by and for the people that we’re referring to. Now clearly Yglesias thinks this problem applies as well to the foreign policy elite of the Republican Party. Perhaps to some degree, but it is the Republican Party that today is asking the right question, the question that wins elections and shows concern for the real constituents, “How will it play in Peoria?”

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