Piggybacking on columns by Harold Meyerson and Karl Rove that discuss the intra-party fault lines that the Obama-Clinton race has opened, or re-opened, among the Dems, Matt Continetti writes:

... both Meyerson and Rove are on to something. Leave aside, for a moment, the Democratic gender gap, which simply may be a function of Clinton's candidacy. Status and education divided the Democratic primary electorate in 2004 (Kerry vs. Dean) and in Connecticut in 2006 (Lieberman vs. Lamont). You hear a lot about the divisions in the contemporary Republican party, and how the "Reagan coalition" is breaking down, a thing of the past, dead, yadda, yadda, yadda. What you don't hear a lot about are the divisions among the Democrats. And as the number of upscale, highly educated professionals in the Democratic party increases, those divisions are sure to become more pronounced - just as they are more pronounced in 2008 than they were in 2004. This year might be the start of the Republican Reformation. But the Democratic Destabilization may not be far behind.



At the moment, though, there's a big difference between the two parties' divisions: The Democrats' fault lines are primarily demographic (upscale vs. downscale, professional vs. working class, women vs. men), whereas the GOP's fault lines are demographic and ideological. The Iowan evangelicals who voted for Huckabee, the hawkish supply-siders who favor Rudy, the upscale "enterprisers" backing Romney - all of these groups, and the candidates they support, represent not only different slices of the party but different ideological visions for where the GOP should go from here. Whereas the Obama-Clinton contest, and the splits it's opened up, have less to do with policy substance than with issues of style and rhetoric, experience and electability, and straightforward identity politics. As TNR's editors among many others have pointed out, from health care to the environment to taxes to foreign policy, the Democratic contenders have all been singing remarkably similar tunes. They've spent so much time debating meta-issues like how to deliver change (through hard work? confrontation? audacious post-partisanship?) precisely because they basically all agree on which changes they want to actually deliver.

Now it's easy to imagine the Dems' demographic fissures turning into ideological fissures, as they did when Bush and the GOP were riding high. And a great deal of this year's un-liberal-like ideological unity is made possible by the fact that the party's on the upswing but not yet responsible for governing - it's on the verge of retaking power, but hasn't done so yet, so all the hard debates over compromises and trade-offs are still in the future. But in the primary campaign, at least, however nasty the Clinton-Obama spat becomes, the GOP's divisions are like to remain more substantive, and thus more fundamental.

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