Government Spending

Whole Foods Republicans?


'Tis the season for major-party re-branding schemes, what with the long slow decline of Republicans and Democrats becoming more of a precipitous drop during this throw-da-bums-out recession, and so the Hoover Institution's Michael Petrilli has taken to the Wall Street Journal to champion a new, Mackey-tastic label for the GOP:

About 30% of Americans 25 and older have at least a bachelor's degree; in 1988 that number was only 20% and in 1968 it was 10%.

As less-educated seniors pass away and better-educated 20- and 30-somethings take their place in the electorate, this bloc will exert growing influence. And here's the distressing news for the GOP: According to exit-poll data, a majority of college-educated voters (53%) pulled the lever for Mr. Obama in 2008—the first time a Democratic candidate has won this key segment since the 1970s.

The new face of … Republicanism?

Some in the GOP see this trend as an opportunity rather than a problem. Let the Democrats have the Starbucks set, goes the thinking, and we'll grab working-class families. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, for instance, wants to embrace "Sam's Club" Republicans. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pitched himself in 2008 as the guy who "looks like your co-worker, not your boss." Even Mitt Romney blasted "Eastern elites." And of course there's Sarah Palin, whose entire brand is anti-intellectual. […]

Widening this cultural divide has long been part of the GOP playbook, going back to Nixon's attacks on "East Coast intellectuals" and forward to candidate Obama's arugula-eating tendencies. But with the white working class shrinking and the educated "creative class" growing, playing the populism card looks like a strategy of subtraction rather than addition. A more enlightened approach would be to go after college-educated voters, to make the GOP safe for smarties again.

What's needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated indiividuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion. And yes, many shop at Whole Foods, which has become a symbol of progressive affluence but is also a good example of the free enterprise system at work. (Not to mention that its founder is a well-known libertarian who took to these pages to excoriate ObamaCare as inimical to market principles.)

Well-known libertarian, yes. Republican? Not so fast:

I'm all for anything that nudges either major party in the direction of freedom, and the Republicans in particular away from the elite anti-elitism of the whole "Sam's Club" project. But as a consumer who sadly can't opt out of our political system (not to mention someone who four years ago was foolishly advising Democrats to discover their inner Barry Goldwater/Al Swearengen), it's going to take one hell of a lot more than a post-election re-branding discussion on the nation's op-ed pages to move me an inch beyond the notion that this is indeed a re-branding exercise, rather than anything resembling a philosophical shift that would still be detectable should Team B regain power.

It would, however, be interesting to see John Mackey and Sarah Palin go toe-to-toe. Though probably not as interesting as this.

Original link via the Twitter feed of Allah Pundit.