Whatever the Democrats’ history might have been, they are now fully the party of welfare dependency for the shiftless and crony capitalist dependency for the connected. That’s not a majority coalition — if the GOP is smart with its wedge issues, and cuts out the ridiculous and self-defeating Shutdown Theater.That might be preaching to the converted among Pajamas Media readers, and perhaps Victor Davis Hanson is similarly doing so. "Their unspoken commandment will be that most of what Obama did, they must either ignore or deny." But that comes as a summation of policy failures domestic and foreign that might reward careful reading and careful thought about a response.
How, though, Thomas Edsall, tenured member of the palace-guard media, sounds worried. There's more than the Democrat's growing gender gap and racial politics in play when party elders are squabbling.
In combination with the growing Republican allegiance of whites, these trends raise the possibility that the Democratic plan for victory by demographics could implode, which would make the case for a full scale re-evaluation of its strategies and policies glaringly obvious.Well, "got a problem, get a program" stopped working about forty years ago. And there must be opportunities for people -- not necessarily Republicans -- to convince the the Democrats' pauper base that they are the victims of Democrat policies, not the beneficiaries thereof. Here's Mr Edsall. "The ability of the Democratic Party to convince middle-class voters that it is on their side is by no means guaranteed." And in a different column, Mr Hanson suggests Democrat sympathies in the rainbow coalition may not be strong in the first place.
For six years, the Democratic party had boasted openly about its new constituency in contrast to a played-out, old, white, male — and shrinking — Republican electorate. Herein it committed two terrible blunders well beyond the serial and gratuitous smears. One, its coalition was predicated on the landmark candidacy of Barack Obama and his unprecedented personal popularity among minority groups and young singles. These groups were interested in Obama as the first black president, and not so much because of his liberal social agenda. So, when he is on the ballot, young people and minorities turn out to vote for the iconic, cool person, but they are not necessarily as enamored of his policies. When Obama is not on the ballot, his new base of identity-politics voters stays home, and the ballyhooed coalition dissipates.And Kevin Drum notes that it was relatively easy for white blue-collar and small-business voters to leave the Democrat coalition.
Second, each time the progressive coalition panders to an identity group and uses the rhetoric of “my people” or “punish our enemies,” it turns off one voter for each one it energizes. Few have written of the astounding ability of Obamites — Joe Biden, John Brennan, Steven Chu, James Clapper, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Eric Holder, Jonathan Gruber, Lisa Jackson, Van Jones, Lois Lerner, Susan Rice, Kathleen Sebelius, and a host of others — to insult the intelligence of Americans on grounds of their supposed naïveté or illiberality or both.
In crude terms, the percentage of white and middle-class voters who support progressive Democrats is shrinking at a rapid clip at the very time when astronomical rates of participation by new minority and young voters are needed — groups that thus far show no predictable record of maintaining their historic turnouts when Obama is not on the ballot. Hope and change was about Barack Hussein Obama’s youth, charisma, rhetorical skills, race, nontraditional background, and multicultural-sounding tripartite name, but not about an otherwise reactionary liberal agenda.
So the progressives won small and lost big: They got Obama elected twice and have nearly ruined his party in the process.
So who does the [White Working Class] take out its anger on? Largely, the answer is the poor. In particular, the undeserving poor. Liberals may hate this distinction, but it doesn't matter if we hate it. Lots of ordinary people make this distinction as a matter of simple common sense, and the WWC makes it more than any. That's because they're closer to it. For them, the poor aren't merely a set of statistics or a cause to be championed. They're the folks next door who don't do a lick of work but somehow keep getting government checks paid for by their tax dollars. For a lot of members of the WWC, this is personal in a way it just isn't for the kind of people who read this blog.To his credit, Mr Drum never invokes dog-whistles or all the other excuses Our President's apologists like to employ: he notes that a populist appeal might work to reach such voters. To do so, however, would not sit well with the Gentry and Clerisy that do the thinking for Democrats.
And who is it that's responsible for this infuriating flow of government money to the shiftless? Democrats. We fight to save food stamps. We fight for WIC. We fight for Medicaid expansion. We fight for Obamacare. We fight to move poor families into nearby housing.
This is a big problem because these are all things that benefit the poor but barely touch the working class. Does it matter that the working class barely pays for most of these programs in the first place, since their federal income taxes tend to be pretty low? Nope. They're still paying taxes, and it seems like they never get anything for it. It's always someone else.
It's pointless to argue that this perception is wrong. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. But it's there.
The appeal to the destitute and desperate might be as simple as "Why vote for Democrats? They claim to 'fight' for you, but what do you have to show for fifty years of their fighting for you?" Or more recently, as Ed Morrissey in Fiscal Times argues, why did Hope and Change produce false hopes and little change.
While holding the majority in both chambers of Congress, Democrats pushed through a stimulus bill without any Republican input that supposedly would direct $800 billion of borrowed money into “shovel-ready jobs” that would boost infrastructure projects. Instead, it acted as a cash transfer to state governments, while Obama admitted years later that there are no such things as “shovel-ready jobs” in government. The bill, which Obama promised would hold joblessness below 8 percent, saw the rate soar above 10 percent and had no appreciable impact on the chronic unemployment and wage stagnation that has hammered the middle class since.But will we see a serious effort by somebody other than Democrats to appeal to the poor and downtrodden, with something substantive; will we see the Democrats seriously consider something other than a coalition of ethnic grievances, or is it all, as Bryan Preston fears, just for show.
Schumer is posturing, giving Democrats space to criticize and abandon Obama over the next two years. It’s all about the Democrats’ hopes of re-taking Congress in two years. His comments may spark serious public infighting between the congressional Democrats and the Obama White House and its bitter enders — which is just what both the congressional Democrats and the White House want. For the preening and posturing.Perhaps so, although if there is infighting among Democrats, there are opportunities for the Republican majorities to engage in some coalition building, perhaps even to offer something of substance to parts of the Democrat base.