When I read something like this post by Amanda Marcotte rightfully decrying the dehumanization of the 99 percent by Limbaugh and his ilk, I always remind myself that people have always sucked. During the era of segregation (and a couple of decades following its official demise), lots of people openly believed that non-whites were inferior. And it was the law of the land (or part of it) too. Dehumanization of the other, sadly, is an essentially American (if not human) activity.
In the current context, there seem to be two major drivers. First, the media has decided that political coverage should resemble episodes of the Jerry Springer show, but that’s a subject for a whole series of posts. Second, the Democratic Party, as the bastion of occasional sanity, has, for too long, been concerned with those who oppose it. Instead of delivering the boodle to its supporters, the Democratic Party pisses on them and helps those unlikely to support them (which is why I have called the Democratic Party the Stupidest Political Organization in Recorded History™). So I’m happy to read that the Democratic Party, after two decades of hitting itself in the head with a hammer, has decided to focus on those who actually support them:
For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.
All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.
…The 2012 approach treats white voters without college degrees as an unattainable cohort. The Democratic goal with these voters is to keep Republican winning margins to manageable levels, in the 12 to 15 percent range, as opposed to the 30-point margin of 2010 — a level at which even solid wins among minorities and other constituencies are not enough to produce Democratic victories…
There are plenty of critics of the tactical idea of dispensing with low-income whites, both among elected officials and party strategists. But Cliff Zukin, a professor of political science at Rutgers, puts the situation plainly. “My sense is that if the Democrats stopped fishing there, it is because there are no fish.”
While it’s not clear how the trade unions will fit into this, I think this strategy recognizes that, for many reasons having to do with race, class, education, the culture war is driving disaffection with the Democratic party among working whites. Before people argue this is wrong, the Republicans also target some voters and write off others: does anyone really believe that the Republicans are trying to win the African-American vote? Trying to appeal to people who typically don’t vote for you has a cost, if you end up adopting positions that alienate and demotivate your supporters.
Have to see how this plays out, but there’s the potential here for Democrats to avoid diluting their message.