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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Abundant Advice for Winning Workers’ Votes

One week out of the PA showdown, the rags and blogs are overflowing with advice for Senators Clinton and Obama as they seek the political holy grail — the votes of the white working class. As Mark Weisbrot puts it in his Alternet post “The Audacity of Populism“:

The white working-class voters that will swing Pennsylvania in the Democratic primary will probably also be the swing voters in the general election (if it turns out to be a close election)….But there is one way that Obama can reach those white working class voters who are currently — without consciously recognizing that it might have something to do with race — groping for excuses not to vote for him. It may be old fashioned, but he can appeal directly to their class interests…But he needs to do more. He needs to convince these voters that he will do everything in his power to protect them from the impact of this recession.

The Boston Globe has “Democrats must renew bond with working class” by Peter Canellos, who warns:

…neither Hillary Clinton nor Obama has promised that their plans for solving the healthcare crisis would redistribute resources to the working class. Instead, the candidates have stressed the potential savings to business….And unless they can offer a strong economic appeal to the working class, Obama and Hillary Clinton will have four years to grumble about the mysterious appeal of the GOP message of God, guns, and gays.

WaPo‘s E.J. Dionne, Jr. has a must read, which provides some sage advice for both Democratic Presidential candidates:

A candidate should never play the role of a political scientist or sociologist analyzing a key electoral swing group from afar and should never dissect the motivations of less privileged people when talking to a group of privileged people….It has been sickening over the years to watch Republicans, who always rally to the aid of the country’s wealthiest citizens, successfully cast themselves as pork-rind-eating, NASCAR-watching, gun-toting populists. To have the current White House occupant (Yale, Harvard Business School, son of a president) run as a good old boy should have been the final straw.
But here are the two remaining Democratic candidates, Obama by speaking carelessly and Clinton by piling on shamelessly, doing all they can to make it easy for Republicans to pretend one more time that they are the salt of the earth.

And Robert Creamer, author of “Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,” has a couple of graphs in his HuffPo post that the Democratic nominee should memorize, whenever McCain makes his pitch for working-class votes:

The McCain campaign is managed by a cadre of Washington-insider special interest lobbyists. He and his current wife are estimated to be worth about $100 million. He reportedly owns eight houses. His let-them-eat-cake economic policies are based on George Bush’s failed radical conservative “you’re on your own buddy” philosophy. One after another he supported trade agreements that protect the rights of corporations, but ignore the rights of labor, and have devastated one Pennsylvania community after another. He gets most of his campaign cash from the wealthiest corporate interests around. And he has the gall to call Barack Obama an “elitist”?
…If you want to talk about patronizing, or “elitism”, you need look no farther than the way Bush and McCain attempt to use fear and division to divert the attention of middle class people from the economic policies that pick their pockets, lower their wages, destroy their unions, and outsource their jobs. And all the while they use our money to bail out Wall Street, and give giant tax breaks to the real “elitists” — the economic elite.

And for some good chuckles on the topic, check out a riff by a blogger called “Genghis” at TPM Cafe entitled “Blue Collar Boot Camp,” which he introduces this way:

Perhaps you’ve heard of Barack Obama’s shocking condescension to the good working people of small town Pennsylvania and Hillary Clinton’s courageous defense of their blissful collective mental health. We Democrats, it seems, have a problem connecting with the happy little working people, which is a bit of a shame because their votes would really come in helpful this November. They used to be our little people, you know, before Reagan stole them away from us with his family values sham. I think it’s time to get them back. That’s why I’ve created the Biennial Blue-Collar Boot Camp for Elite Democrats. Our intense regimen is designed to transform progressive political candidates from snobby elites to regular guys and gals in an efficient and scientific manner. After 48 hours at our facility in the backwoods west of Scranton, we guarantee that your appeal among hicks, rednecks, trailer trash, and assorted working class riff-raff will improve by at least 57%.

Genghis then provides a rigorous program for beefing up our blue collar creds, and some of the comments on his riff are funny as well.

One comment on “Abundant Advice for Winning Workers’ Votes

  1. pan230 on

    The comments in this article are RIGHT ON – and I hope that copies of it get into both Democratic candidates’ playbooks. If folks think the conversation during these last two months has been hard, wait until the real battle for the hearts and minds of this demographic group begin this summer. If the Democratic Party is to have any ongoing legitimacy, they are going to have to figure out how to take their case to the “have’s” that our nation is better served with higher individual and corporate taxes and a slightly higher role for government. Articles and references like this will play an incredibly important role AT THE GRASSROOTS. I believe that BOTH of the current Democratic presidential nominees have the potential to lead the party in just this way.

    Reply

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