Ross Douthat has an excellent post on this New Yorker piece about Karl Rove -- I haven't read the whole article yet; there may well be more parts worthy of commentary, but Douthat singles out this passage:
“There are two or three societal trends that are driving us in an increasingly deep center-right posture,” [Rove] said. “One of them is the power of the computer chip. Do you know how many people’s principal source of income is eBay? Seven hundred thousand.” He went on, “So the power of the computer has made it possible for people to gain greater control over their lives. It’s given people a greater chance to run their own business, become a sole proprietor or an entrepreneur. As a result, it has made us more market-oriented, and that equals making you more center-right in your politics.” As for spirituality, Rove said, “As baby boomers age and as they’re succeeded by the post-baby-boom generation, within both of those generations there’s something going on spiritually—people saying it’s not all about materialism, it’s not all about the pursuit of material things. If you look at the traditional mainstream denominations, they’re flat, but what’s growing inside those denominations, and what’s growing outside those denominations, is churches that are filling this spiritual need, that are replacing sterility with something vibrant, something that speaks to the heart of the individual, that gives a sense of purpose.”Douthat suggests that Rove's two arguments here -- that Americans are getting more materialistic and that they are getting more spiritual -- don't add up:
It's hard to imagine a balder description of the essential contradiction at the heart of the GOP coalition, and yet Rove seems unaware that there's anything contradictory here at all.Of course, one could imagine both trends operating together -- your basic "Jihad vs. McWorld" dynamic. But that sort of thing tends to involve more instability and strife than the happy symbiosis Rove is positing (on the other hand, who's to say the right doesn't benefit from instability and strife?).
[I]t's by no means obvious that the Information Age's winners are natural Republicans (as opposed to, say, natural Clintonites or Spitzerians), and neither is it clear that the unfortunate externalities of skill-based technological change (growing social immobility, for instance) won't transform the Information Age's losers into disgruntled Lou Dobbs Democrats, rather than the Sam's Club Republicans whose votes were crucial to the fleeting Bush majority.I've been reading Jacob Hacker's The Great Risk Shift (I'll review it when I'm finished), which seems to me to be exactly based on reading the "unfortunate externalities" of the new economy, and understanding the pitfalls for ordinary Americans in a way to which Rove is entirely oblivious.