Friday, December 9, 2011

Not Really the Working Class Any More

Finally, old reliable Michael Barone has weighed in on the Obama "abandon the white working class" strategy.

Of course, he writes, the Dems abandoned the white working class decades ago when they pivoted from Social Security/Medicare to welfare and regulation.  Now, apparently, Obama wants to win with the educated, the young, and minorities in swing states like Colorado and Virginia that Obama won in 2008.
So maybe it makes sense for Obama to write off the white working class. Yet he is doing it in an odd way, by enacting New Deal-like programs and expending great energy on raising taxes on high earners.
Of course, the white working class is really the white middle class these days.  They may not have big houses and fancy cars, but they do have houses and cars.  They may want their Social Security and Medicare but they don't want them expanded.  New Deal-like programs really appeal to the minority voters, the replacements for the white working class in the Democratic coalition, people who want a powerful patron and the benefits that flow therefrom.

But I wonder if the president can really expect to keep the educated and the young voters in Colorado and Virginia.  After all, the way that the Dems did well with educated suburban voters was on the social issues.  Social issues seem to be really quiet right now, and for good reason.  Educated voters are taking an educated look at their economic position this year, and they are wondering what all this class warfare does to help them.  They are moving towards the economic conservative rather than the socially liberal side of their world view.

And young voters.  Any young voter that doesn't thinking she was sold a bill of goods in 2008 deserves... well she will probably still vote for Obama.  But don't expect any 65% of young voters going for the president this time around.  If anything, I expect most young voters to be very confused.  After all, they have spent the last 16 years listening to liberal teachers tell them about the wonders of liberalism and government, and now that they are out in the world, they are looking at their liberal map and deciding that they are completely lost.  If I were one of them I would be casting around for a new map, an alternative world view.

Buzzing around in my head is the question: are these Obamis crazy, or crazy like a fox?  I resist the idea that they are fools, because that is not a good way to think about the opposition.

Maybe the answer lies in Donald Rumsfeld's line that you go to war with the army you have.  Never mind how the Obamis would like to fight the election.  The fact is that they can't change uniforms and tactics and weapons on a dime.  The Dems are the party of the educated elite and the entitlement beneficiaries, and they can't really pretend to be anything else.  They could try to be post-partisan and post-racial in 2008 as the "out" party.  But not in 2012 as the "in" party.

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