Vice President Joe Biden admitted that the Obama administration isn't "showing enough respect" to middle-class people because of an affinity for the young liberal intellectuals who now dominate the party.
"The truth is we are not showing enough respect," Biden told The Atlantic. "There is a new breed of Democrat that is represented by our administration in my view, and the smart guys, the guys and gals who are Harvard, Yale, Penn graduates, the very, very well-informed, well-educated, elites of the party. They are the new version, if they don't watch it, of the limousine liberals when I was coming up in the '60s."
Biden has made a version of these comments in public before, referring to both parties' failure to respect "ordinary people busting their necks," but this time he diagnosed the Democratic Party's mistakes more specifically. "[A]t its core there's a disconnect with some really, really, really smart, good, decent people who are with us and part of the larger Democratic younger elite, the millennial elite who don't understand the middle class anymore," he said.
To emphasize the point, he cited Coming Apart, a study of class divisions among white Americans by the conservative author Charles Murray. The book argues that white American society is being divided into two communities — known as Fishtown and Belmont, in the book — populated respectively by the working-class and the college-educated elite, who have vanishing points of contact.
"All of the bright kids, I don't want to indict anybody in this room, they live in neighborhoods of people who have the same view of art, the same view of culture," Biden said.
Murray's book has been used by numerous political experts as an analytical frame for the 2016 elections, a way to explain Donald Trump's surprising victory in the Republican presidential primaries. "The Fishtown voter is real," Murray told the Washington Examiner earlier this year. "By 'Fishtown voter,' I'm now not talking about a conservative. I'm talking about the person who is actually a more natural part of the Democratic constituency as the Democrats historically have maintained their same sympathy for blue-collar [voters]."
Trump appeals to such voters, as Biden and Murray both conceded, but he alienates other key constituencies to a degree that might doom his campaign. Hillary Clinton struggles to communicate with working Americans, Biden suggested, but he believes she'll still pull off the victory in November.
"I am more optimistic about her chances, in large part because of him [Trump]," Biden said.