What’s the Matter With Connecticut?By Patrick J. Deneen for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
The most recent issue of The American Conservative carries an essay by this title that I’ve written, and which is available today in shortened form on the site Philanthropy Daily. In the piece I riff on Thomas Frank’s thesis in What’s the Matter With Kansas?, asking why wealthy voters in Blue States like Connecticut have been apparently voting against their economic interests in electing higher-taxing Democrats. My provisional thesis, based on some relatively recent social science findings: today’s meritocrats prefer to farm out their charity to the government, rather than be distracted from their lifestyles and “creative class” work by engaging in the work of civil society. In this, they have abdicated the activities of “noblesse oblige” that once marked the older aristocracy. Government fills in the vacuum, providing therapeutic treatment for the losers in the meritocratic sweepstakes. Personal responsibility is traded for a set of abstract relationships, mediated by our tax dollars. Bureaucracy replaces community, bad conscience stands in for love.