‘Losing the Working Class’

In a very good column, Katrina vanden Heuvel makes a good point about Democrats losing electoral ground with the working class, including the non-white working class (boldface mine):

The Democratic Party is losing support not just among White, but all non-college educated voters, trailing the GOP by 12 points. It is becoming the party of upscale urban and suburban voters, while Republicans are beginning to consolidate a multiracial coalition of working-class voters.

Why is this happening? A chorus of armchair pundits and centrist think tanks believe they know who’s to blame. Not Biden, not Democratic centrists, not the gerontocracy that runs the party in the House and Senate, nor the party establishment.

No, it’s all the fault of the left. “Wokeness,” splutters James Carville, “is a problem and we all know it.” Ruy Teixeira argues that the left has poisoned the “party brand” and dismisses the idea that campaigning for more gun control and against the assault on abortion and Donald Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election will save Democrats this fall.

It’s hard to make sense of this house of mirrors. After all, the president is Biden, not Bernie Sanders. Nancy Pelosi and Steny H. Hoyer lead the House, not “the squad” nor the Progressive Caucus. Centrists such as Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema sabotaged Biden’s economic plan, not the left. Crime is up in red and blue states alike and Biden has called for funding the police more than reforming them. The economy is growing faster than ever, with job creation setting records. Abortion, gun control and defending democracy enjoy majority support and are central reasons Democrats have that lead among the college-educated.

And if the problem, as the pundits argue, is that working-class voters feel looked down upon, nothing Black Lives Matter or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have done has been as poisonous as Hillary Clinton’s calling Trump voters “deplorables,” or Barack Obama’s disdain for those who “cling to guns or religion.”[*]

Headed into a low turnout midterm election, Democrats ought to be concerned that the activists of their base — the young, African Americans, climate activists, Hispanics — are demoralized, while those on the right are aroused and on the march.

While some non-college educated people, perhaps many, will vote their values (such as they are) over their pocketbooks, Democratic policies are demoralizing those who won’t do that out of conviction, and persuading others who are willing to tolerate bigotry (or are somewhat partial to it) to take a second look at Republicans (‘the socialist or the segregationist, I don’t care which’).

Gotta help people at some point, and SALT taxes for gentry class people in suburban New Jersey isn’t that.

*Like Clinton’s “deplorables”, Obama’s disdain wasn’t disdain at all, but still very easily open to willful misinterpretation. Both of them should’ve been smarter than that.

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