Can Working Class, Elite Form Alliance?


Can the party of oligarchy also be the party of the people? Besides fending off the never-ending taint of corruption, which could weaken the extent of her “mandate,” this may prove the central challenge of a Hillary Clinton regime.

No candidate in recent memory — at least, not since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 — has enjoyed more universal support from the rich, powerful and well-connected. They have provided her with “a towering cash advantage,” as a recent Bloomberg column described it, over her opponent. By one estimate, she is getting funds from 20 times as many billionaires as Trump.

Yet, at the same time, Clinton faces a challenge from strident, and often anti-business, populists who now control much of the party base. The presidency may soon belong to Hillary, but its heart belongs to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

These trends will pose a difficult, but not necessarily insurmountable, challenge. The Peronist Kirschners, Nestor and Christina, ruinously dominated Argentina’s politics for 12 years by providing lavish favors for business supporters while they expanded the country’s welfare state.

Perhaps a more uplifting model could be gleaned from late 19th-century Britain, where “Tory Democracy” sought to forge an alliance between the struggling working class and the traditional landed gentry. This strategy was largely designed by Benjamin Disraeli, who served two terms as prime minister.

This piece first appeared at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, will be published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Hillary ClintonCC BY-SA 2.0