Class Conflict

Crowley, Michael
March 2004
New Republic;3/1/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 7, p13
This article contends that Massachusetts senator John Kerry has attained success with his working class constituents. Although most Boston pols are now jumping on the Kerry bandwagon, they've spent much of his career mocking the son of privilege with the stiff mannerisms. That might seem odd. After all, Kerry's solidly liberal record is mostly in tune with the priorities of the statehouse boyos. The answer is that, when it counted, Kerry did establish working-class credibility in Massachusetts--not among politicians but among voters. Whereas the Brahman establishment is economically moderate and socially liberal, the Irish and Italian working-class communities tend to be economically liberal and culturally conservative. In convincing voters to ignore the party's dictat, nothing helped Kerry more than the company of veterans. When Shannon criticized Kerry late in the race for supporting and then opposing the Vietnam War, Kerry's veteran supporters sprang into action. Regardless, the symbolic center of Kerry's campaign will not be his faith but his military service, with its aura of working-class solidarity. Boston pols may consider Kerry aloof--and the Republican attack machine will undoubtedly caricature him that way--but voters have consistently shown they consider Kerry one of them.


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