Ron Brownstein on Dean's Class Divide

Deaniacs can afford to capsize reform because, well, they can afford it

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Ronald Brownstein, the Atlantic's own political director, stepped back from the explosion of liberal resentment this week to explain why Howard Dean and his liberal ilk can afford to toss out the Senate health care bill: it comes down to class. In his typically statistics-heavy, logically rigorous style, Brownstein explained that Web progressives are disproportionately college educated, and therefore likelier than most Americans to have health care. .

Maybe one reason former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and so much of the digital Left can so casually dismiss the Senate health care reform bill is that they operate in an environment where so few people need to worry about access to insurance ... Some individuals in these overlapping political networks undoubtedly face challenges with access to health care, but as a group college-educated whites are much less likely than any other segment of the population to lack health insurance ... That community's most liberal segments because they tend to see politics less as a means of tangibly improving their own lives than as an opportunity to make a statement about the kind of society they want America to be. That is not a perspective that encourages compromise or pragmatism. It may be easier for Dean, and the activists cheering him on, to view the Senate bill as an affront to their values precisely because so few of their interests are directly at stake in the fierce fight over this imperfect but landmark legislation.

In a week full of ultimatums, shut-downs, and accusations, when veiled resentments from months of debate have surfaced, Ronald Brownstein calmly cuts through the noise. It's time like these when nonpartisan analysis serves a crucial function. Brownstein explores the Democratic schism, explaining that the party's split represents a fundamental contradiction within the party.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.