Sunday, July 06, 2008


I'm reading the news reports as they come in about Obama's determined march right into the heart of conservative darkness and embracing what he finds there. It actually makes sense.

First, some background. I have two posts from April 17, discussing the Bittergate stupidity and citing Paul Krugman as he rustled up some actual facts and figures on white voting patterns:
I encourage you to re-read the posts in their entirety, especially the second one which quotes Krugman extensively, but the main thrust of them is that working class voters are not the socio-economic slice of the "white" vote that votes Republican. They are the least likely portion of white voters to do so, which is part of what made the constant slamming of this group so infuriating during the primaries. This was the slice of the white demographic most likely to vote for Hillary, and that was the reason they were being singled out for shaming and insults.

In partial answer to a comment on the last post, Clinton Democrats are not simply Reagan Democrats, though Reagan Democrats were brought back to the party by Bill and even more by Hillary, joining the majority of Democrats who support the Clintons. Clinton Democrats can be defined as people who understand and approve of using the powers of government to make ordinary lives better and to defend the citizenry from forces and powers outside their control - from catastrophic illness to economic crisis to attacks upon the nation. It is a mode of public service that is very bread-and-butter oriented, efficient rather than elegant.

Paul Krugman jumps right to the point (quote from the second link) when he says:
It’s true that Americans who attend church regularly are more likely to vote Republican. But contrary to the stereotype, this relationship is weak at low incomes but strong among high-income voters. That is, to the extent that religion helps the G.O.P., it’s not by convincing the working class to vote against its own interests, but by producing supermajorities among the evangelical affluent.

So why have Republicans won so many elections? In his book, “Unequal Democracy,” Mr. Bartels shows that “the shift of the Solid South from Democratic to Republican control in the wake of the civil rights movement” explains all — literally all — of the Republican success story. ...

Anyway, the important point is that working-class Americans do vote on economic issues — and can be swayed by a politician who offers real answers to their problems.
(My emphasis) So, the people responsible for shifting the political control of the nation from Democratic to Republican in the wake of the Civil Rights Act are the affluent whites, not the poor and working class whites. The affluent evangelicals who are the conservative counterparts of the Obamacan "creative class" voters who are disproportionately affluent whites.

So, returning to my recent post No Where Else to Go, I'm seeing a certain pattern here. Voters located down the socio-economic ladder are simply being dismissed, attached to a figure reviled by the Stevensonian elite and rejected as worthless, retrograde, dead-enders, racists, and political garbage. Obama is now turning a full charm offensive onto precisely those voters who have been most likely to reject Democrats since LBJ, the affluent evangelicals. The constituency that really is the rotten repository of revanchist racism, but they have money.

And if there is one thing we know about The Precious it's that he's all about the Benjamins.

If you don't have much of a political ideology other than vague "bipartisan" impulses, and you are panting after dollars, and you feel confident that it won't be your rights and freedoms that will be curtailed, your reproductive and marital freedoms that are endangered, your sons and daughters who are packed off to defend imperialist interests half a globe away, then it may not seem such a bad thing to suck up to these kinds of people and their theocratic desires.

Why throw your lot in with the working class when they're really not that into you anyway? If you make promises to them, you might have to stand for something.



lori said...

I think the powers that be have in mind providing our nation with two versions of the Republican party and simply disenfranchising the working class entirely. We simply aren't going to be represented anywhere. That is what's happening here. Is there a universe where this makes practical sense for a party? So much contempt oozes out of Brazile, Obama and Pelosi that I feel like one of the underworld residents in Metropolis when I watch them.

What happens in the Democratic party if Obama loses? I know what happens if he wins, but what if he loses? Will we split the party again in four years or will people have lost office and the party learned its lesson?

Xeno said...

Obama is now turning a full charm offensive onto precisely those voters who have been most likely to reject Democrats since LBJ, the affluent evangelicals. The constituency that really is the rotten repository of revanchist racism, but they have money.

This is the plain truth, as anyone with any knowledge of politics and history understands. But one has to wonder exactly how obama, of all politicians, thinks that he can successfully court the dixiecrats and reaganauts. They are racists and reactionaries, as you noted, and thus are exactly the type of voters who are likeliest to reject a Black candidate. Even Black conservatives have a hard time getting the votes of this group. Michael Steele famously said that he knew that at least a quarter of his white conservative base would not vote for him because he is Black.

When a Black candidate is also widely assumed to be liberal, belongs to a church that holds views repugnant to evangelicals and has already race-baited other white voters, it is even less likely that he will be able to garner much support from the reactionaries. These people may be racists who bitterly cling to their guns and religion, but they are not stupid. Obama isn't going to win them over by merely spouting right wing talking points and throwing more parts of the Democratic base under his fleet of buses. He can strut down the main streets of Red America from now until Election Day, but he still isn’t going to get the Dixiecrats’ votes or win their states in the Fall.

BernieO said...

I am amazed that our political pundits appear to have no knowledge of the demographics of this country. They seem to believe that most Americans are either well-educated, affluent whites or African Americans. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not even have a college degree. (Only twenty some percent do.) And African Americans account for only 12 to 13% of the population. To write off the working class or women (50+ percent of the population) is the height of stupidity, not to mention political suicide. Yet Obama's "base" is made up of, as Paul Begala said "African Americans and eggheads." Now for insurance Obama has decided to go for the evangelical vote. Axelrod must be on crack.

Cathy said...

A quick word on why this will not work for him.

The Reverent Wright.

Although Obama really is one of them - vacuous, upwardly mobile, and (seemingly for them) devoid of conscience - he doesn't fit. Why? He brings along the scary "street" with him. Compounding the injury, it's an unpatriotic street.

Nor do they buy his seemingly sudden conversions on certain issues like abortion. (Frankly, many of them are sincere on that issue.)

Obama is a product whose advertising peaked too soon. Hillary's last - and undeserved - favor to the democrats was pulling out early. Now everyone can see him flame out BEFORE the convention. However, despite giving them every opportunity to pull out before their mistake came to fruition, they persist.

Maybe this too will be a case study not just for poli-sci but also business classes. A good marketer knows that you cannot be all things to all people. You must find your niche and only move out if you keep your original customers. Or at least have the guarantee that if you drop the originals you will find a full set of replacements.

gendergappers said...

Today I heard that BO had won twice as many electoral ballots than Mac C as projected by a poll. Has your analysis changed in this regard or is the MSM pouring the coolaid still?

Also, I must have the wrong idea of what racism is. I'd thought anyone could be racist but heard a discussion on AARadio that insisted that blacks could not be racists - they could, however, discriminate.

If you have time and inclination, I'd appreciate some clarification before my head exploads.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anglachel. It's good to see that you are back. I've had limited access to the internet this summer but it seems that Clinton Democrats are more galvanized than ever whereas the Obamabots are slowly falling apart. Their dear leader is showing himself to be everything we said he was months ago. This guy has nowhere else to go but farther to the right. He doesn't have the support from the Democratic base so the only thing he can do to win is abandon core Democratic beliefs in order to court evangelicals and continue to "hoodwink" the progressive movement and use them for their money and resources (Hello, Have you figured out yet that you're being bamboozled?)

bernieo: I am amazed that our political pundits appear to have no knowledge of the demographics of this country.

Anglachel frequently cites Bob Somerby's site the Daily Howler. Check it out. He is much better than I am at articulating the idiocy of the "journalists" that we've mistaken to be "left wing" or "liberal". If you read his last several posts he discusses why writers like Maureen Dowd, Chris Matthews, and other "leftist" journalists have done more damage to Al Gore and the Clintons than FOX News (check out his June 30th post). If these clowns are supposed to represent our "liberal media" than us REAL Democrats will never be able to win an election.

I only took one polisci class in college and I even know more than these media whores about the demographics of our country. These "journalists" might know about the politicians but they know nothing about reality and what is affecting the lives of average Americans. They are the affluent whites, conservatives, and corporate tools disguised as "liberals" who control what we read and watch on television.

daily democrat said...

Anglachel, here is a story in support of what you have been saying in the last few posts:

In May, enroute to my home in the UK after a long visit with parents in Texas, I had lunch in New York City with well-to-do friend of my husband’s family. This woman, an economist who specializes in environmental issues, works on Wall Street for one of the world's largest insurance companies. She is a lifelong Democrat who currently supports Obama. During the lunch I told her why I believe that Hillary Clinton would make a much better President. The political part of our conversation went like this:

“Why…I don’t know anyone who likes her.”
me (dismayed, since I had just professed support for Hillary)
“Well, you do know me...”
“She’s divisive; she has such high negatives; people hate her, they don’t want to return to the Clinton years.”
“Approximately 18 million people voted for Hillary in the primary, which must mean that I’m not alone in liking Hillary and her policies. As for returning to the Clinton years, I don’t expect that anyone wants time to run backwards, but whatever candidate is chosen as the party’s candidate for President will certainly need to point to the Democratic Party’s successes during the Clinton years with pride, and will need to contrast the achievements of those years with the dire state of the nation following the recent 8yr Republican administration.”
friend (with great emotion)
“Hillary Clinton is in the US Senate as a representative for the people of New York, the State most affected in the 9/11 attack. That made it extremely difficult for her to vote against what was generally perceived as a move to make the United States more secure. Anyway, most other Democratic US Senators voted for it too [including the other Democratic Senator from New York, as I learned later]. And have you read the speech she made at the time regarding her vote?”
“Well, the people voting for her are racists! 20% of the people in the West Virginia exit poll said that race was an issue!”
“I’m not a racist, and pro-Hillary people I know aren’t racists either. I believe that most racists left the Democratic Party soon after the success of Civil Rights legislation during LBJ's Presidency in the 60’s. They also left the Democratic Party to protest the other part of LBJ's platform, his anti-poverty initiative. The Democrats wanted to make social inequities a shared responsibility whereas the Republicans think that the poor have only themselves to blame for their lack of wealth and other success.”
“ I think the anti-“Great Society” /”anti-hippy” migration from Democratic to Republican Party explains why, from Nixon’s win in 1968 until Bill Clinton’s win in 1992, the Republican Party dominated US politics…with the exception of Carter’s 4yr term, made possible by the voters’ temporary reaction against Watergate. After 1968, the Democrats’ continued support for Civil Rights and social welfare meant that new voters who were racist or didn't support the theory/practice of joint responsibility for social welfare didn't join the Democrats.”
“Hillary Clinton has only gotten ahead because her husband was President.”
“To judge women solely on their husband's achievements is sexist. Hillary Clinton has been elected and re-elected to the US Senate on her own merits.”
“Furthermore, the wives of US Governors and Presidents are expected to sacrifice their own professional interests in favor of supporting the efforts of their husbands in office. It is highly unlikely that the American public would elect men whose wives refused to do so. Whether or not we agree with this tradition, it is thus sexist to claim that a former governor’s or President’s wife shouldn’t claim “first lady” experiences as legitimate public service.”
me, continuing
“I support Hillary, first, because I think she is the most qualified candidate, and second, because I think it is time we elected a woman. Even though we all know that the great majority of African Americans support Obama, I don’t believe we assume they are therefore racists; some of them might be, but I think it is more likely that they are voting for what they perceive to be their primary identity interests in the same way that I would vote for mine with by voting for a female campaigning on a policy platform I support…a platform that includes the post-WW2 Democratic Party concerns for Civil Rights and social welfare programs as the very fiber of its being, and that now emphasizes creating a universal healthcare system, ending the costly and destructive war in Iraq, ending government secrecy and the erosion of civil liberties at home, putting environmental concerns above the interests of business profits, and introducing measures designed to stop the opportunity loss and political influence hemorrhage that middle and lower income Americans suffer as corporate America and consumers alike outsource abroad."

Anna Belle said...

God you continue to nail, A. Every day you post is another glorious find for the masses on the door of the church at Wittenberg. Thank you.

Regarding your last point, the fact that he and his will not have to suffer is why he can included the military in his new push for service. The military. You read that right.

HenryFTP said...

A year ago, I was approached for a fundraiser in London by an old friend who has always been a true Stevensonian Democrat. I had expressed some skepticism about the efficacy of Obama's "transformative" politics, and he wrote me, revealingly, as follows:

And I'll tell you when we speak why I think [Obama] can actually transform politics. He has the ability to cross and blur lines, and get people to find what they share rather than what divides them, better than any politician in a long time.

At the time, I thought this was mostly empty rhetoric, "messaging" for purposes of winning the nomination and the election. In retrospect, having seen the campaign unfold, I can see how foolish I was not to see that my old friend (and Obama) meant exactly what he said. Obama was always going to appeal to Republicans, "moderates" and "independents", and he wasn't going to do that by pointing out what a disaster their support of George W. Bush and the GOP had been for the country -- he was going to do it by "crossing and blurring lines".

Seen in this light, Obama was always planning to run as a Rockefeller/Chuck Percy Republican, which is to say eminently acceptable to corporate America, Wall Street, et al. however never acceptable to right wing True Believers. I think it would be just as much of a mistake to believe he wouldn't govern from this position as well -- he clearly thinks he can avoid Bill Clinton's "mistake" of getting too far offside with the corporate Media and related Powers That Be.

This wouldn't be such a surprise if people had simply taken Obama at his word. But I must confess that I couldn't believe he really meant it, at first anyway, because his style said something different (particularly his then-forthright opposition to the war in Iraq).

I expect we'll see Samantha Power back on the team in September. The Eastern Establishment will be well pleased.

show me said...

So glad to see you back. Hope things are getting better or easier for you.

The weekend political shows had a few revealing moments. On the Chris Matthews show, David Brooks said that when he talked to Republican Senators and tried to make Obama's bi-partisan case to them they made fun of him and told him that Obama was a complete con man and had done no such work. They said they liked working with Hillary however and that she had moved some things forward by working across the aile. On the same panel Gloria Borger said that the Democratic Senators were finding Obama to be arrogant.Ha!

This morning on Morning Joe it was pointed out that Obama needed to take in at least 50 mil a month and last month he only took in 21 mil. Also it seems many of Hillary's big money contributors were affluent women and they were NOT giving to Obama. Some have given to McCain! Wild!

I think his march into the heart of conservative darkness might just have some unintended consequences,like drying up the money well. George Steph..... actually said that it was "their fault" if Obama's supporters believed what he said in the primary.

I'm not surprised about anything he has done recently but I am furious about all of it.On a positive note the polls are showing that we exist and are growing.

As always you are completely correct they are writing off all but the affluent.

jangles said...

Another great post. I feel like I am privileged to be in a graduate poli sci seminar! I have a few friends and one sister who could definitely fit the description of the affluent "evangelicals"---or at least weekly church attenders. All of them moved toward the Republican Party on most of the issues you site: the war on poverty, affirmative action, the Watts riots, the anti-war demonstrations that went over the top, the drug scene of the 60s-70s. Most of them are really not that into the pro life issue. I can not envision any of them buying into Obama. My sister is obviously the one I know best and she is convinced Obama is anti-American and his church a radical black power race baiting group. I don't think Obama can make inroads in this group. I do think that with the right approach, he might be able to turn a corner with some working class voters but perhaps he feels he tried that, it did not work and he must go after a different demographic.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the post. I would like to add that Obama isn't the only one to dismiss the poor working class. Pelosi, Dean and others are willing collaborator in dropping the poor from the Democratic coalition.

The rearrangement of Democratic coalition is now an ideological movement. It seems to stem from a pre-Obama mindset the moves the core issues from poverty to the improvement in the quality of life of the stable middle class. This also excludes the lower middle class that might soon cross the peril line into poverty.

This essentially is the politics of the rich. The rich give money, the rich vote, the rich read the Boyz, the rich ignore the poor and even despise them. Both politically and socially the Democrats are now Rockefeller Republican.

Unknown said...

What great posts, especially the "Stereotypes" one. Reading them lightens my load, even though you're highlighting ample reason to be cynical. I just find clear-headed analysis so refreshing.

I'm wondering about possible generational differences in the working class vote. My parents are WW2 generation Republicans with working class roots. Both reviled Bill Clinton and now George W. but my mother was prepared to vote for a Democrat for the first time, had Hillary cinched the nomination.

I think the primary reasons for her shift are her age and Katrina (my parents live in New Orleans.) Both will pull the lever for McCain in Nov.

I don't think my mom is that singular. She's worried about medicare costs and her husband's pension and she understands the government's role in the future of both. She doesn't trust Obama because of his lack of form. "Who is he anyway?" is the motif of my conversations about Obama with both parents.

Even if Obama takes a stand, it will likely be rendered as disingenuous, election-year politicking.

Maybe I'm a little cynical today.

Here is a clip I found of George Carlin later-in-life.
I had no idea his work became so overtly political.
I keep playing it over and over.

janicen said...

I think one of the biggest mistakes being made by some of the analysts and pundits of this primary election have to do with attempting to define "Clinton Democrats". I think we're all over the place. My husband and I do not fit into any of the typical demographics. Okay, we are white. That's about it. We do not own guns, we are well enough off to enjoy a good lifestyle on one income, we have only one child, we do not go to church, and we love arugula!! To my mind, Clinton Democrats believe in democracy in its purest form. One person, one vote. Equal pay. Fairness in government and taxes. That's all we want is a level playing field, and we'll take care of the rest. Defining us by who we are rather than what we believe is a mistake. I keep trying to explain that to Obama supporters I know, and they just don't get it. I guess I have to work on explaining it better.

Anonymous said...

janicen - nicely said! Yes, I am tired of Obama supporters coming to my blog and telling me all about myself, when they have no clue. All they are doing is spouting the MSM talking points about Hillary supporters and it frustrates me to no end.

That's all we want is a level playing field, and we'll take care of the rest.

Exactly! And for those who need more? I'm willing, as a member of my community, to make sure they get it. I can spare it.

Anglachel said...

Note to Bud White - the email address you provided is bouncing back as undeliverable. Please use the link at the bottom of the right-hand menu to contact me.