Saturday, April 26, 2008

Blowback Ahead

The Obama campaign has turned itself into a one-note wonder - If you don't vote for me, you are a stupid white racist. No more Hope and Change. No more Unity Ponies for everyone. Just a direct, crude, defamatory accusation at millions of loyal Democrats.

The problem is not, as Big Tent Democrat would have it, that Obama supporters are making stupid arguments that are hurting their candidate. This is the deliberate strategy of his campaign since at least New Hampshire, not something some "surrogate" thought up on his own. This fish is rotting from the head.

Why won't the campaign drop something this incendiary and divisive, particularly as it appears to be costing him votes? Probably because everyone from the boss on down really, truly believes it. Obama's statements about working class whites was in response to a question about why couldn't he get their votes. His answer was they are bitter - superstitious, violent, racist and xenophobic - and so they fail to vote for me. It is their fault, their failing, their lack that is costing me votes. It can't be his fault that he's losing, because all the Very Serious People agree that Obama simply must be President.

That a candidate makes dumb claims about their success (or lack thereof) on the campaign trail should be of exactly zero surprise to anyone. Politics is a breeding ground for both egos and idiocy. What is surprising is the degree to which the party leadership, the Left punditocracy and significant numbers of wine track liberals fully agree with this diagnosis. It appears the fish is larger than this single candidate's campaign, though I believe it took this campaign to expose the rot. This is part of my larger analysis of "The South" in the liberal imagination. My focus here is less on Obama's campaign than on how the campaign is is applying pressure to the fault lines running through the Party.

I have written up my analysis of the fault lines themselves in my post "Bunker Mentality," but here are a few key paragraphs to get me going on the current argument:
I think we are seeing the North/South split among party power brokers, but not so much physical geography as much as “North” and “South” as modes of political thought, clans of political actors, and styles of political strategy. As articulated by outstanding liberal thinkers like Paul Krugman, Mark Schmitt and Rick Perlstein, the major parties have gone through a tectonic realignment starting with FDR and due almost entirely to a reversal in their stances about race and their pursuit of white Southern votes. The Republicans took advantage of the racist exodus from the Democrats and incorporated it almost without modification, whereas the Democrats have declared that mentality as “not us” and engaged in a simple but absolutely necessary rejection of that legacy. However, what the Democrats have yet to do is to articulate the ways and conditions under which we will say “us” and include the South. This is the third act of our multi-generational political drama. Act one was from FDR to LBJ. Act two was from LBJ to WJC. How will the Democrats handle their Southern problem?

The other part of this internal battle (and it is no mistake that we tend to deal with these two issues in tandem), is the tension between the “elite” and the “lunch-bucket” Democratic partisans. The terminology is misleading, of course, and engages in some unhelpful stereotypes. ... Perhaps we can call these broad and often over-lapping groups within the party the Truman contingent and the Stevenson contingent. Perhaps we can call it class. As much as North and South look askance at each other, these constituents of the Democratic coalition do not always see eye to eye. ...

In the minds of the liberal elite, the problems and failures of the progressive agenda could be laid at the feet of bigoted whites, the “Archie Bunkers” of the North, and the “Bubbas” of the South. And there lies the strategic fault line of the Democratic Party, the willingness of a significant portion of the party, and I’m willing to wager the majority of the party power brokers, to see the electoral problem as how to minimize the damage of the Bunkers. The nadir of this strategy was under Reagan with the rise of the Reagan Democrat, when Democratic Party leaders simply could not speak to this socio-economic constituency, and believed the worst of it. Nor were they entirely wrong. The Republicans rewarded this constituency for acting out their worst, most selfish and hateful impulses in culture wars and through Darwinist economic policies. At the same time, the lack of powerful Southerners in the Democratic Party leadership helped to preserve the Stevenson contingent’s dominance of the party. There may have been people like Sam Nunn or Al Gore, but you did not see any LBJ.
So, the party leadership perceives the intersecting location of race (white) and class (lunch-bucket) as the point of failure for the political left, believing that all dangerous, divisive elements of the party are quarantined there. The party need only worry about keeping the infectious agents within a cordon sanitaire, inside the party to provide votes but not actually allowed to lay claim to any power as they would return the party to the pre-Civil Rights era. The shock of Democratic defections to Reagan served to cement this opinion in the 80s and nothing since then has been able to change it.

The Obama campaign calls upon and reinforces this not terribly hidden opinion of the party elites, though I think he would not have been able to be so blatant in his operations had he not been running against Hillary Clinton. He would have had to be sotto voce in a contest with Edwards, for example, to ensure the MSM did not get their fangs into it. Given that the Clintons have already been declared by the elite of both parties to be reviled members of Bubba Nation, their appeal to that constituency could easily be dismissed as illegitimate and irrelevant, no more than getting in the mud with their own kind. The effect of this campaign is to bring into direct confrontation the two strands of politics in the party, and demand that the party choose between them. The deep irony, or perhaps it is tragedy, is that Obama's original political appeal was that he could somehow remove the deep division within the party and shift the Truman contingent more firmly to the left.

Why couldn't he? First off, the Truman contingent is already to the left of the rest of the party when it comes to economic issues, and they are looking for a candidate who will aggressively defend their economic interests. Second, the Truman contingent is actually very loyal to the party. Finally, the Truman contingent's cultural values are every bit as complex, convoluted and multi-faceted as that of the Stevensonian wing, and they are open to persuasion about adhering more to some parts of their cultural inheritance than to others. They are not open to condescension and shaming. What self-respecting adult would be?

In short, Obama, taken here as an exemplar of the liberal elite, is simple wrong in his estimation of the core Democratic constituency. They did not want what he was offering because they did not see themselves as the ones who needed to be changed, and they have consistently given their votes to the person who has focused on their explicit economic needs and their desire to be safe in an unsettled world while being respectful of them as people.

The political problem, the way in which a fault line is turning into a fissure, is in Obama's response to not getting these votes. When Hillary did not win their votes, as in Wisconsin, she did not turn around and revile them as "Archie Bunkers" or as "bitter". I have never heard a word from her or her campaign calling AA voters racists for giving their votes to Obama. She simply does not denigrate the voters. The Obama campaign response to losing New Hampshire was to instantly accuse working class residents of being closet racists and this toxic and grievously insulting charge continues to this day. The more his campaign trumpets this accusation, the greater the resistance to his campaign, which then pumps up its rhetoric, which offends more people, etc.

Where is this going to go? First off, should Obama be the nominee, he can kiss the general election goodbye. I'm sorry, BTD, but you are wrong about Obama's electability. You simply do not understand the voting habits of the Midwest and border states. Next, the Democratic Party leadership itself is going to be paying for its whole-hearted embrace of reductionist class politics. Some voters will defect to the Republicans, though I think that is going to be limited. Those with true sympathies for the Right have already moved over. Instead, I think you see a significant section of the working class simply turn away from participation, depressing turn out and costing the party electoral success. They will stay away until the party offers them candidates who talk to their material interests instead of to the leadership's fantasy of being modern day Solons.

There is also the case that the demographics of the left are changing far more rapidly than the elite narrative, which appears to be permanently stuck in 1980. College educated voters are increasingly female because college graduates are increasingly female. Running campaigns that piss on strong women candidates, even those of us who should be Obama swooners, ain't going to hack it. Conversely, this means a larger portion of the male population will not be college educated, increasing the ranks of the dreaded Bunkers and Bubbas. The party needs to figure out how to make itself relevant to the interests of both these groups. In all classes, the population is increasingly Latino and Asian, decreasing both black and white percentages. Speaking about racism as though there are only two colors will not be relevant to these groups.

The problem in this election is the tunnel vision of the party elite who insist on demonizing wide swaths of Democratic Party voters based on biases that simply do not reflect demographic or political reality. There will be a long-term political price to pay for insisting that working class voters don't have concrete interests, but are only voting out of bigotry. Obama will pay his part of that price soon, whether in the primaries or in the general. The party will be paying for years.



Anonymous said...

Speaking about racism as though there are only two colors will not be relevant to these groups.

I've said this before. A lot of their way of viewing the world as rich whites is that there are two groups in the US: white-n-rich and black-n-poor. Anything else screws up their neat little theories and they wish you'd just vanish.

And I've said for YEARS that the simplistic black-n-white way this country has of viewing any inter-group tensions is a seriously limited way of looking at things. We see things like the Hutus and the Tutsis slaughtering one another and can't grasp why; they're all Black, right? Why are they killing one another?

Well, they don't see it that way. They don't look at Africa and see one homogeneous people.

We do the same thing with Northern Ireland. Why are they killing one another for? It's not like they aren't the same color. Again, they don't see it like that. Generations of Irishmen starved to death, through a politics that was meant to obliterate their "race." And the word race was used.

And let's not even get into the ways in which working-class white women are slotted off as Bunkers when the mental image of the rich white party elites of that slice of the population is plainly male.

It's all just a big foot-stomping temper tantrum by a bunch of armchair quarterbacks who get angry because our existence threatens their neat theories and categories.

Anonymous said...

There's also the minor head-tilt people get (which I've seen) when they find out that "Asian" doesn't really mean a hill of beans to people who live in "Asia." Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans have been hating on one another for some time. They do not see themselves as one giant amorphous blob of people who are identical to one another or even share a "culture."

And when people think these stupid-ass things, that's when you get horseshit like John Merry going on about how much easier Obama will have it dealing with cultures the complexity of which he can't even begin to fathom because he's black.

BLACK is an AMERICAN CATEGORY. They don't see these things the same damned way. The rest of the world is stubborn in insisting on looking at things form a perspective that is quite different from his idiot one. I suppose John Kerry would also send a man named Nakamura to speak to a Chinese delegation during a time of diplomatic tension.

And he probably pats himself on the back for being "racially aware." It's tragic comedy.

CMike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chinaberry Turtle said...

Wow, Anglachel & Janis - a lot of good stuff to think about here.

You know Janis, I remember when John Kerry was asked why he thought Obama was more likely to be able to deal effectively with Muslim nations and Kerry responded: "Because he's black."

I knew there was something awfully naive in his response, but I couldn't put my finger on it. You really hit the nail on the head w/ your comments. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"This is the deliberate strategy of his campaign since at least New Hampshire, not something some "surrogate" thought up on his own."

I've thought of this and have not wanted to believe it. I had hoped it was a bizarre Internet phenomenon that just sprung up and grew unabated.

I'm still not convinced it isn't. Can anyone give me more evidence that this "stupid racist" stuff I'm being called really has been set in place by the campaign?

Anonymous said...

Google "Obama South Carolina Clinton memo" and you'll turn it up. It was definitely an explicit strategy started by the campaign -- and it's filtered down.

Anonymous said...

Anglachel, what do you think of the new AP article that says the electoral map favors the Democrats right now? I agree with you that it will be unlikely for Obama to win the general election. For those of you who haven't read Jeralyn's post on the electoral map and possible outcomes here is the link:
If many Clintonites feel the way we do, there is no way Obama can win. If most Clintonites feel the way most of the voters in PA who voted for Clinton feel, he will not win. Looking at Jeralyn's analysis, I don't believe Obama will win both W.Va and NC to reach the magic number of 270. We already know that he can't win FL and probably will not win OH or MI. Obama is too risky when we have Clinton. If the DNC does not count MI and FL, they are making a huge mistake. Not only will they lose Reagan Democrats for years to come, they will lose progressive liberals like myself who refuse to support the Democratic Party until they get their act together. Is the Democratic elite really okay with risking everything on Obama?

Anonymous said...

blog440, here is a good article that goes into that South Carolina race-baiting memo in detail:

Putting All The Race Cards on the Table: "The Race Memo"

Lots of food for thought, Anglachel. How ironic is it that the elite who pride themselves so much on their racial sensitivity have the class sensitivity of the most boorish neanderthals? Where is that famous respect that democrats supposedly have for everyone, no matter their race, class, gender, etc.? Or are we back to the Animal Farm edict that some are more equal than everyone else? The hypocrisy is nauseating. I also find it a little more than ironic that the person who is constantly whining about racism is the one who is most intolerant of the differences of others, and that he is less than interested in what their needs are.

Things have gotten so divisive this cycle that I keep wondering if all this was always there just below the surface, or if the extraordinarily divisive campaign that Obama has waged has torn everything apart. I really shudder as to where this is going, particularly with the increasingly violent, misogynistic language and the threats of violence at the convention. And this voice in my head keeps screaming: "We don't have time for this shit! The world is falling apart, our economy is collapsing, and Obama and his campaign just want to destroy the party so they can get elected - and to do what?"

Námo Mandos said...

And, weirdly enough, somehow no one thinks that Indians and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and Iranians are Asians...

Anonymous said...

Námo Mandos: Asian Americans are the new swing vote, especially in CA. They helped Clinton win and Obama will have to work hard for their vote along with Hispanics. That's why I think CA is in play for McCain if Obama is the nominee.

- 75% of Asians casted their voters for Clinton in CA.
- “Overwhelming Asian support is not surprising,” says David Lee, the executive director of Chinese American Voters' Education Committee (CAVEC), a non-partisan group in San Francisco. “She invested in building a good relationship with the Asian American community. In contrast, Obama refused to answer questions regarding the advancement of Asian Americans.”

Anglachel said...

In much of the IT world I have been in, at the production level, South Asians are simply seen as job stealers and not quite human. I have heard racial slurs against these workers that are quite distressing. There is a significant block of programmers, network analysts, etc., who feel targeted by management for replacement by oversees workers or HB1 visa holders. There is truth to a lot of that but the anger from it gets displaced onto the people taking the jobs, not the management moving the jobs around.

I was recently on a long tech support call (serious server issues) and spoke to three different technicians, all in India, over the space of several hours. When I told a co-worker about this the next day, I was greeted by a blast of resentment against the support techs for "stealing our jobs". A not insignificant portion of the high tech "creative class" is just as crudely and directly racist as any steel worker in Pennsylvania. And it tends to be aimed at people against whom they compete for jobs that pay good wages and have dependable benefits.

My point isn't to knock people who are scared of losing their jobs, but more to observe that working class bitterness is alive and well across the economy whenever people feel threatened.

Námo Mandos said...

So, as an Asian-Canadian (of the desi variety...that means subcontinental to you gora folk and other non-desi), I can say with a lot of confidence that Asians as a group do have a severe racism problem regarding Africans and find it much, much easier to vote for a white woman over a black man.

I have seen it time and time again, especially in the enormous skin-whitening billboards that dominate Karachi highway interchanges and the talk.

Anglachel said...

Why is that, Namos? In your opinion, what is the origin of that racism? Is it different within different nationalities or sub-groups?

Educate us.


Námo Mandos said...

Lots of factors. Let's just look at South Asia, which I know best:

Colonialism and various other historical factors, such as the history of migrations into the Indian subcontinent, have left a massive imprint on the psychology of the area and the concept, in particular, of beauty. A huge premium is placed on whiteness as the marker of beauty and desirability.

I have been helping a recently-immigrated Pakistani co-worker find his way around the USA (I live and work mostly in the USA), and one of the things that strikes him is how "beautiful" the women are in America. He means the white ones only. In fact, their whiteness is about 75% the reason why he thinks that women who are ordinary-looking to me are very striking.

When I suggested to him that his preference for lighter skin (he's hardly fair himself) may be merely a cultural hangup, he looked at me (as I expected) like I had come from another planet. OF COURSE whiter is objectively more beautiful...

The flip side is that black is ugly and unattractive. Leading to the massive popularity of those horrendous poisonous skin-whitening creams.

Námo Mandos said...

Another reason is the Model Minority business. South Asians follow the classic "first generation works hard and second generation goes to school and gets straight As" story. Given that blacks appear to be overrepresented in underprivileged populations, there's a huge temptation to look down on them as immoral and lazy in general.

Obama's mixed-race family history, privileged as he may be, does not help him, it hurts him in this mentality, especially since desi folk are extremely allergic to crossing race boundaries in matters of marriage.

Námo Mandos said...

As for other Asian groups, I can only say that what I have heard from them matches a lot of what I know about desi culture.

...and there is the HUGE common denominator of American news and TV. I work with first-generation immigrants all the way from Eastern Europe to Japan, and TV massively affects their attitudes and causes them to avoid even "risking" contact with local black populations. Hispanics are more acceptable, being seen as moral Catholic people and kind of whitish-Asianish.

Just the other day an East European friend of mine was telling me how the experience of working and meeting in cafés was ruined for him by the occasional presence of black people, with their distinctly (to him) unrefined behaviour in the European café setting. When I suggested that, oh, France has a lot of black people, he said, "Well, they're different." The same attitude extends to too many Asians, minus the differentiation between Euro blacks and Americans.

Námo Mandos said...

Lastly, not only does Obama's blackness a potential source of problems for Obama with a lot of Asians, Hillary suffers less disadvantage among many Asian subgroups for being a woman. Certainly, most South Asian countries (ie, everyone but Nepal) have had female leaders. The idea is neither new nor scary.

And the Clinton name also helps her, dynastic and family politics not being foreign to lots of Asian countries, including the electoral democracies. Being from a Good Family is important. Bill may have had his lurid scandals but he is seen as competent. Therefore, she must be.

Anglachel said...

Great information, Namo. Another question, you mention people who are first generation immigrant to the US. How do US-born and raised kids act? Do they share their parents' perspectives and to what degree?

It's not just this election. I see the US electorate changing and I am very curious as to how the newest arrivals think, how the much vaunted "melting pot" theory of assimilation is working with non-Europeans, and what these changes mean for the political map over the next 25 years.


Námo Mandos said...

Maybe tomorrow. Bedtime now :) I am in Normal People Time and it's quite late here.

Námo Mandos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy said...

Fascinating exchange, Namo and Anglachel.

I won't attempt to speak to it beyond reminding everyone that there are key differences among "Asian-Americans." Notbaly in terms of time in states, country of origin, and experiences in US. (Just like any other ethnic group.)

Oftentimes geography plays a big role. My partner is first generation Chinese-American who grew up in the South. Like her, most of her childhood friends support Clinton because they see her as way more competent. In contrast many of her Bay Area Asian American friends support Obama for what they perceive as his progressive politics. In addition, many feel it's time for non-white professionals to gain political power.

However, both campaigns are not reaching out enough. I cringed at a SF fundraiser when Hillary thanked every group but Asians. My girlfriend just grimaced and indicated she was "used to it." Granted Asian Americans don't make up a huge voting bloc but many are concentrated in key states like CA and Texas. Ironically they also helped propel Webb forward after his opponent taunted the young man for being South East Asian.

Cathy said...

One final thought on overall post.

Initially I thought Obama, as a mixed race person, would reach across racial barriers. Instead he's thrown them up in the most destructive manner possible.

It confused me until I saw his age - only three years older than me - and recognized the context. Now-a-days folks intermarry across race without much thought, not unlike white ethnics in early 20th century. But for folks our age it was "newer" and too often an issue of choosing sides. (Or sadly, one's skin color often didn't allow room for choice.)

My sympathy weakens when I recall where he grew up given Hawaii's race tolerance. It gets even slimmer when I examine the privilege that surrounded his education and (frankly) jobs. [Professional community organizers in major cities are often highly competitive positions.] It completely disappears when I see how cynically he plays out his resentment.

Much like W, Obama's temper tantrums speak to some real inner demons. But I find it difficult to blame it entirely on his "racial identity." From my perspective he only deals with his racial identity when it's to his political advantage. Otherwise it's never a big deal for him.

In my mind the misogyny drives him more than any race resentment. It dovetails with his homophobia, which I discern is another driving motive for him. It's one thing to dislike or fear queers, it's quite another to openly attack us (e.g. McGuirk.) I will end my speculation here but suffice to say perhaps someone "doth protest too much."

gendergappers said...

Great illustrative cartoon -

Shows Obama girl taking movies of herself on one side and Hillary Women on the other - at a voting booth.

The BO girl is skinny with shortened coverings of vital parts while the HRC women are different ages, shapes, sizes and dress; one with a child, one in a walker, one with bills falling out of purse.

Cartoon by what appears to bge sigmc??? - couldn't google it but date is 4/25/08. Perhaps one of you knows if I got the letters in name right - I have trouble with the word verification part of posting.

Gary McGowan said...

'pologies for posting this with no time to read what's above:

April 26, 2008 (LPAC)--In a recent speech in Indiana, Senator Clinton challenged Barack Obama to a one-on-one debate on the issues facing the nation, and while there have been many debates in the campaign thus far, this challenge is unique.

Simultaneously with her challenge in speech form, the campaign released the guidelines, for a two minute by two minute back and forth, to last for 90 minutes, uninterrupted. This format would allow for a real debate over policy, something the voters recently responded to in the Pennsylvania Primary by voting for Clinton, as she has been spelling out the more concrete economic solutions for the crisis. It is also a very good challenge coming from Clinton, in that the obamanables cannot gripe, as they have, that the debate format is 'biased.'

(copied in toto)

Námo Mandos said...

Cathy: You're right to remind us that there are some large differences between different Asian groups. This started out by me suggesting that Asian meant more than East Asian and even Southeast Asian.

So one of the large differences is in attitudes towards intermarriage. I see a lot more East Asian/white pairings, for one thing, than South Asian/white.

Shainzona said...

And we've wondered what Barack Obama absorbed from 20 years sitting in a pew listening to Rev. Wright?

Isn't Wright's message one of black versus whitey?

Now I know what part of Wright's sermons Obama "took away".

Shainzona said...

I have often wondered why some people are so in awe of Obama's message of "change" - because I never was. Anglachel hits the nail on the head for me when she says...

"They did not want what he was offering because they did not see themselves as the ones who needed to be changed..."

While, I, for one know that there are a lot of things that I (personally) should change, when it came to this election I thought the only thing that needed to be changed was the Bush White House - and fast.

Now I realize that Obama's campaign has always been focused on the wrong enemy...the Democratic Party.
And in the process, he has done so much harm that our chance to change the real enemy may very well be lost.


How did we arrive at this point in time?

BBKE said...

The Obama campaign began the politics of race, region and class before NH. It was apparent to some as early as last summer that those they were training in Camp Obama were being indoctrinated in the 1960's version of racial and class politics. There were very young acolytes that were paternalistic and condescending in their views of anyone outside of their circle.

They have a visceral hatred of the white South and current history has no part in their narrative. Since becoming aware of a relationship between Obama and William Ayers I have attempted to learn what I could about his current involvements and leanings. Mr. Ayers is still the old violent 1960's radical and there are strands of his venom throughout language and tactics of the Obama campaign.

These old and new radicals have co-opted much of the party elite by playing to their vanity. The old liberal elite of the party hated the Clintons because they always lost to them. The radicals hate them because they are moderates and will not buy into their doctrine.This may be the final battle of the 60's.

Anonymous said...

In an experiment I read about (and can’t find again) it was indicated that racism is not as intractable as it seems. Dealing with pictures of different genders, ages, and races of people dressed in various colors, the experimental result was that people were more tuned into “the team” as opposed to inherent recognition of races. This was a hopeful message. The article quoted the scientists that for millions of years humans were so sparse that they never saw another race, so there was genetic reason to hard-wire race recognition into our brains. What we DO know is who is on my team and who is with the Others. As an aside, they mentioned that age and gender were more genetically built-in.

Having lived in Southeast Asia for several years, I learned that the Chinese call the people of the South China Seas the “black Asians.” South Asians had castes long before colonial times, with the whitest ones on top. But I think that all of these are manifestations of “Teamism.” As with the IT people, race is just an easy way to define the Others.

I would like to see this blog explore another topic: the ageism of this primary battle. The message I have received for months is that us old women need to die, basically. I have felt the hatred not just towards women but towards all older people who need to “make way, take one for the team, just go away and give us bright lights a chance to fix things”. This morning, Donna Brazille and the boyz spent a long time explaining how the new young voters are going to turn away from politics and just give up if BO is not the nominee. OK, another threat. But what sort of resilience do the Youth have if they cannot understand that in a democracy, you can lose.

I would like to examine exactly who the Youth are. Are they of some monolithic class or, as I imagine, more the college-educated? What’s the evidence of the poor working or non-working kids from the small towns, inner cities, and farms coming out in droves for BO? Anyone got any evidence of “Privates in the Army for BO”? I could very well be wrong, but aren’t these Youth just another subset of the Elite?

gendergappers said...

Wasn't this the BO game plan all along, perhaps hatched with the DNC power players to nominate anyone but Hillary?

His campaign introduced and he and the media have reiterated the race card.

Intentional, since it would remove nearly the entire black vote from HRC and set up the blackmail threat that Donna Brazil and others have introduced?

Their out would be that threat of riots would frighten many voters but their payback would be that they could blame HRC for dividing the party when it is obvious that the dividing is/was done by the BO campaign.

Anonymous said...

stormny, I don't think they are really Youth or Creative Class as much as we are constantly told they are.

I AM actually creative class, according to any definition. I do online and traditional publicity for a fabulous little company -- graphics, programming, writing, presenting, strategic campaign-making, the whole lot.

And I know who these kids are who are calling themselves "creative class." I brought it up once before, and China nailed it. They can program in perl and Java, they get a programming position that's one step up from clerical data entry, and they pat themselves on he back for being part of the New Economy.

They are self-identifying as "creative class" (a moniker I'm not sure means anything because there is little more creative than being confronted with a malfunctioning car and having to figure out what the hells wrong with it; that's what I call REAL systems-level debugging) because they are voting for Obama. They aren't voting for Obama because they are creative class.

I'm also seeing rather a lot of older farts (I'm 42, I'm starting t obe able to use that term without apology) voting for Obama because, as a commenter on TM said, it makes them feel young, hip, and liberal. They're voting for Obama in lieu of buying a red sportscar.

I just don't know how much of this stuff is accurate. His supporters probably are not a coherent "base" of any kind that can withstand politics in the long term. Old rich people and data entry clerks? Black people and frat boys? Ain't gonna last.

BBKE said...

stormny, the ageism is part of the old spin about how unfair social insurance programs are to young people. It has been a Republican/business/feudalism talking point since the 1930's. It is the spin of the U of Chicago/ free trade/disaster capitalists to abolish the social safety net and shock the US economy into abandoning SS/pensions/Medicare. Older voters do not buy into the arguments of the Obama talking heads, but youngsters are being told old and middle aged people are greedy and are going to impoverish them. They are in the process of blaming the economic problems of the nation on the older generation instead of the capitalist class. This one of the reasons the uber rich are so fanatical about O and why the young are so terrified. It is economics.

Anonymous said...

It's also important to remember where the term "creative class" came from. Richard Florida was looking at cities that had done well lately economically. He ran into a fellow named Gary Gates who was looking into cities that had become havens for the LGBT population. They looked at one another's numbers and determined that they matched up perfectly. Cities that had large LGBT populations also tended to do well economically.

The basic premise, and I think there's merit to it, is that cities that are seen as welcoming to people of all kinds who are "outside of the box" tend to have more than they share of innovative inventor types as well.

Put plainly, gay people and lesbians are the canary in the coal mine for the creative class.

And ask yourself: which candidate are the queers coming out in droves for?

You got it.

The single most significant creative class indicator that Florida and Gates came up with is heavily tilted for Clinton. You can throw that in the face of ANY Obama supporter.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

thank for the insight Namo. Your comments were very informative.

orionATL said...

what really has baffled me about the obama campaign's use of race,

e.g., hillary tears in new h. vs lack of Katrina "tears" as noted by jesse jackson, jr. the morning after the new hamp primary and on the cusp of the south carolina primary,

is that this campaign seems not to understand that race in america can cut badly both ways - as devastatingly on the backswing as on the strike.

i'm beginning to wonder if the obama campaign really DOES NOT HAVE A FEEL FOR RACE IN AMERICA.

it is as if obama, and his mastiffs, axelrod and plouffe, came for some other country, looked around a bit at america culture and decided that race would be a good foundation for a political campaign.

and it HAS been a good foundation for obama.

it gave him his large early lead in delegates. i would love to know whether or not the excess of black votes for obama in the old "deep south" (south carolina, georgia, alabama, mississippi, and louisianna, and toss in d.c.) was responsible for most, if not all, of obama's current plurality of delegates (~150).

but now the obama campaign doesn't seem to know where else to go for votes.

was their strategy simply to yell race loud enough and long enough at the beginning of the primary season to gain an overwhelming advantage for obama in delegate numbers,

with the expectation that, with good fortune, one or two big states would have fallen their way by now?

at present the obama team does not seem to have a plan for how to close the deal with a transition from race to the transcendent glories of transcendent politics.

i'm beginning to suspect that obama's entire strategy was to win early - full stop.

but clinton, whether she understood their game or not, would not quit.

now the media has begun to shift ever so slightly against obama.

the important big states are compromised for obama.

at present obama's hopes seem to lie with north carolina blacks

and with howard dean and a cadre of democratic superdelgates for whom conflict avoidance, not choosing the best person for the job of president, is a central value.

Shainzona said...

orionatl....Your comment is perfect! Exactly what I think has happened and is happening.

Thank you for expressing it so well.

Anonymous said...

orionATL, wow. It does seem so clumsy and poorly thought out that you're right. It does look as if someone came in from the outside and figured it'd be a good thing to exploit.

What makes me really sad about this is that I'm seeing, as an outsider granted, the black community spending every cent of political capital they have on someone who doesn't merit it. I don't want to think of the damage that will do to a community that's in too bad a situation to tolerate damage. Not because they stood up for a black candidate -- because they stood up for a bad candidate.

Of all the talented, motivated black people in the community that have given their hearts and souls for their community, that have sweat blood for the black community ... this poser is the one that gets settled on by the white power elite as The Black Candidate.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

This whole primary has been hugely positive. Really. It has exposed deep fissures in the Democratic party, fissures which desperately needed to be addressed:

(1) For a long time, the Democratic party has taken blacks for granted, and resentment has built up;

(2) For a long time, the Democratic party has taken women for granted, and resentment has built up;

(3) For a long time, poor working class whites have been asked to make sacrifices for the sake of others in the Democratic big tent, and patience is now wearing thin;

And now it's all bubbling up and the party is having to talk about its dirty laundry. This is good.

I really do think there is a path to salvation in this whole thing - a path which addresses all the concerns of all three groups above. I'm not sure how it will shake out, but I really do think Harold Ford is going to play a big role in this.

A Clinton/Ford ticket could really sell. And he'd have eight years to perfect his game, so that when he finally runs for prez, he won't make all these amateur hour mistakes that Obama is constantly making.

Shainzona said...

turtle: while I appreciate what you're trying to accomplish, PLEASE NO, not Harold Ford.

Aside from that, however, don't Obama and HRC look like they're pandering if they would try and choose a woman or a black, repspectively, as VP?

cgeye said...

But what can the black community do?

The main mechanism of power -- the black church -- has turned its back on civil rights concerning women and gays, it has gotten into bed with the GOP for mere crumbs of spoils, and this is the last chance it has to show itself as still influential, through the delivery of votes for a single candidate.

We're not hearing about any other black downticket candidates, are we?

We're not hearing about strengthening the Congressional Black Caucus. In fact, they're eating the last of their seed corn by attacking the Clintons who gave them the most power they ever had as a group.

We're not hearing about any other community initiative that could benefit the black community, tagged to benefit from the projected record turnout this fall.

This is a one-off, and a sad one, at that. With Jesse Jackson, local benefits did trickle down. Not one peep of addressing issues relevant to communities on the general election ballot.

Anonymous said...

I've heard people say Clinton/Bayh is likely. I don't know enough about Evan Bayh to like or dislike him. He's pulling for our girl, so that's a sentimental point in his favor -- but I need to know more about the guy before I settle how I feel about him.

I don't think we'll see a mix-n-match ticket on either side, but for different reasons. Clinton would not want to be seen as trivializing it; she'd simply steamroller ahead appointing as many nonwhite leaders in her administration as her husband did, which was quite a lot. I think she'd see choosing a black man as a pander and would recoil against pandering on something that has been so historically important to her.

Obama OTOH would not give a crap either way about women, and so it wouldn't even occur to him that maybe he should consider pandering before dismissing it.

The man's utter refusal to deliver the goods for ANYONE is creepy that way. He doesn't give a shit for people whose votes he has to work for because they're all screwed up for not voting for him in the first place.

OTOH, he doesn't deliver the goods for people like AAs who are turning out for him in record numbers because he figures he doesn't have to; he's got their votes sewn up already, why waste effort on them?

He seems to be happy to rationalize brushing people off from both sides.

Sherry said...

The party will be paying for years.

The sad thing is that it will not just be the party that pays, but the country and, because of the way Republicans love to throw our power around, the world.

Anglachel & all, thanks for a thought-provoking post and discussion as always. I hope it will all turn out as turtle says, to be in some way positive and healing.

For me the things that stand out are the feeling of being threatened, as Stormny says, either because I'm thwarting the young or thwarting the AAs by voting for Clinton.

It's not as though threats of riots plays to stereotype at all, is it?

But, though I don't see anything to do with my vote if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, some part of me just viscerally objects to giving in to bullying.

I feel the same way about what Escoffier termed the Obama followers' "visceral hatred of white southerners." I've seen the same thing in comment lines on some of the "progressive" blogs and as a white southerner what I sense is a whole lot of self-righteous self-congratulation and no desire whatsoever to understand what actually might be going on with me.

Alas, however, I've said all this here before.

Thanks for listening, guys.

Anonymous said...

Mea culpa, Namo -- on using only Far East examples for "Asian." I recall being mildly bemused when I was in the UK a while back upon learning that when they use the term "Asian," they generally refer to South Asian. I had to do a bit of mental recalibration on the term while there.

I also remember someone asking me, "Well, if Asian means East Asian in the US, then what do you use for people from India and Pakistan?"

My reply was, "Um, Indian and Pakistani."

Asia == very big place.

I'm not sure about the H1B bitterness; I have no doubt whatsoever that it's around, and I've been laid off because of it. But I was very definitely angry at the management mostly because they were a bunch of incompetent dolts, and there are so many south Asians in my area (southern California) that it's hard to muster up any serious xenophobia. :-) They're just neighbors. It seems that way anyhow. When you hear Chris and Anand at work going on about playing Rock Band with Nihar and Brian enough times, you just stop registering who's from where.

Shainzona said...

Clinton/Clark 2008

Anonymous said...

BTW, regards the gay canary int he coal mine of the creative class:

Chelsea's gay bar crawl

I adore this, although I seriously hope that the ass-grab comment was a joke.

It also makes me adore Rendell even more that he's been campaigning in these areas of my old home city for as long as he has. This is what respecting the voters and building a REAL coalition looks like.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Can yall feel it? The tide is indeed turning. We're starting to talk about who her running-mate will/should be. Our hearts have always said "yes", and now our minds are starting to see how she could pull it off.

She's gonna do it!!!

Anonymous said...

The Obama campaign has turned itself into a one-note wonder - If you don't vote for me, you are a stupid white racist. No more Hope and Change. No more Unity Ponies for everyone.

His whole campaign is playing the race card. Exploiting white guilt then blaming non Obama voters.