Gentry liberalism effectively amounts to a sea change in what is now widely referred to as progressive politics. In the new formulation, the great raison d’ê tre for left- wing politics— advocating for the middle and working classes— has been refocused to attend more closely to the policy imperatives and interests of small, highly affluent classes as well as the powerful public sector. 31 These interests, once closely linked, now seem to be diverging.
The discrepancies between the new progressive policies and social realities have been among the most unfortunate manifestations of the Obama era. In his first term, household incomes dropped by $2,600, poverty soared by six million, and food stamp rolls continued to swell. 32 Meanwhile the wealthy prospered as the stock market soared. 33
If this had occurred during a Republican administration, many progressives would have been horrified, as indeed they should. Yet despite his occasional populist rhetoric, both before and after taking office, the president has drawn much of his political support from the ultra- rich. Indeed at his first inaugural, notes one sympathetic chronicler, the biggest problem for donors was to find sufficient parking space for their private jets. 34
This has created a new political reality that differs from the struggle that divided Democrats in the past, which focused on issues of foreign policy, the role of labor, and the conflict between rights and obligations. In the past, Democrats and progressives still aimed their appeal largely to the middle- class yeomanry; now, progressivism depends increasingly on the largesse and support of the wealthy, notably from the media and tech sectors, as well as largely lock- step backing from the Clerisy.
from The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin