CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The conservative Heritage Foundation and the Washington Times are allied in again spreading the myth and stereotype that most Democrats are rich, and thus have totally lost touch with real America. Once again, the criticism seems to be that they read books, attend plays, and don't listen to James Dobson on the radio; they are too cosmopolitan and elitist for middle America. The Times is reporting that a Heritage Foundation study about national wealth concentrations based on IRS data shows Democrats represent the richest congressional districts. In other words, the expression country club Republican is an oxymoron.
The Washington Times quotes Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the conservative think tank:
"If you take the wealthiest one-third of the 435 congressional districts, we found that the Democrats represent about 58 percent of those jurisdictions."
The study said more than half of the nation's wealthiest households were in 18 states where the Dems have both Senate seats. According to Franc, this means that the Republicans don't represent the rich side of America because "the vast majority of unabashed conservative House members hail from profoundly middle class districts. I just found the pattern across the board to be very interesting. That pattern shows the likelihood of electing a Democrat to the House is very closely correlated with how many wealthy households are in that district."
This is a theme that goes back to the 2004 campaign for the White House. Karl Rove's strategy was to depict the Dems as a collection of well-heeled snobs, professors, computer billionaires, Jews and Mercedes-driving cheese-eaters who mostly lived in coastal enclaves that were blue patches on the map. There was no room for farmers or hunters or anybody with a gun -- or anybody who went to church -- in that mix.
Thomas Frank, in his best seller What's The Matter With Kansas, ripped into the Dems represent the rich theme as a grand, and false, generalization. Their districts also cover farm country, military bases and NASCAR tracks.
. . .the top three soybean producers -- Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota -- were in fact blue states; or by listing the many military bases located on the coasts; or by nothing that when it came time to build a NASCAR track in Kansas, the country that won the honor was one of only two in the state that went for Gore. Average per capita income in that same lonely blue county, I might as well add, is $16,000, which places it well below Kansas and national averages, and far below what would be required for the putting on of elitist or cosmopolitan airs or any kind."
MainStream Iowan also has a look at the latest revival of the argument that the Democrats are now the party of the rich.