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26 September 2010


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This is somewhat old news, but new again due to the confluence of events which are going to smack around the Ds this Nov. Thomas Frank writes authoritatively about how and why this happened in "What's the Matter with Kansas?"

His conclusion: Dems traded in economic populism, to a large extend, with the advent of the "New Left" - post Nixon, more or less - and became a party largely identified with Identity Politics, which slowly eroded their white working class base. Which is why they failed to properly respond to the events of the last several years, particularly the wall street bust.


Don Quijote

To put it crudely, there is a large chunk of the white working class population that would rather eat a s--t sandwich than give nickel to a negro...

Fifty years of voting for the s--t sandwich has given us our current economy & society...


I see the author of the article you cite is a law professor at the U. of California. She writes: "Salad greens have been a big problem for Democrats. Michael Dukakis got into trouble over Belgian endive; Obama over arugula. Both Howard Dean and Obama have tried, and failed, to speak about working-class voters' values without sounding condescending."

She should go back to Torts.

One need only to look at the legislative process in the recent healthcare debate to realize that politicians of both parties are wholly-owned by corporate interests. And the recent Supreme Court decision to remove all restrictions on corporate money flowing into campaigns enshrines this system for at least a generation or two.

For the most part people have figured out that party affiliation is meaningless. From 2000 to 2006, the Republicans owned all three branches of government and wrecked the economy. The Democrats have had total control for two years and have shown themselves to be impotent little weasels.

The White House message center can't seem to explain itself out of a paper bag, so people are left to get their information from Glen Beck and Jon Stewart.

Yes, we are so f*****.

Nancy K

I am white, heterosexual and a Democrat. I am from California so I guess that does put me in a group that white people do not like.
Seriously however, I think the 2 party system is broken and cannot be fixed. I imagine we will start seeing other choices emerge, probably a strong Independent party and a party more left leaning than the Democratic party.

William R. Cumming

Inside the beltway still only one party--The INCUMBENTS Party--outspends and outlives those who want a two party system or something else like a parliamentary system.

It does appear that the incumbancy party will again swallow the independents just enough and the TEA PARTY just enough to retain power.


Since 1964, no democratic candidate for president has received a majority of the white vote yet, occasionally, they still manage to get elected.

I am presuming here that those stats, including the ones from WaPo, define whites as non-Hispanic whites.

Of course, the real problem is that neither the democrats nor republicans particularly represent the interests of the middle-class--democratic presidents go for Nafta and repeal of Glass-Steagal, while republicans are against unions and other workplace regs.


Another Harvard lawyer with way too much time in academia with yet another take on the problems of the Democratic Party.

"Republicans destroyed the New Deal coalition by appealing explicitly to white working-class culture in many instances..." She should read up on LBJ. This has been happening at least since the Eisenhower administration. The biggest change was with the passage of the civil rights act of '64.
No mention of Bush - Dukakis and Willie Horton, which did far more damage to reputation than a miniscule farm subsidy.

These are the kind of policies that non-working class Americans come up with:

Here's a nice run down of BLS stats she should peruse.

She's welcome to run for office any time, but then that would mean giving up tenure and all the benefits a couple of non-profit directorships bring.


The American political system does not now encourage legislators to make decisions that are truly in the national interest.

Money rules.



Republicans are crazy. Cutting government spending (i.e. two week forced furlough for federal employees) in a Recession guarantees the Great Depression II.

Democratic politicians are bought by corporate money. Scapegoats, wedge politics and propaganda have worked well for the past three decades. How much longer will Americans accepted up to 20% real unemployment and $25,000 a year less if they are lucky enough to find a new job, and start voting their pocket books especially in the primaries and fire the Democratic “Made Men”?


The Democrats are what you see; so are the Republicans.

The working class is just plain stupid. They listen to the likes of Limbaugh,
O'Reilly, Fox News and others who dismiss any ideas save those advanced by the Republicans and Teabaggers.

Nothing in life is perfect and one would hope that an informed electorate would select the lesser of two evils.

Ever since Reagan, too many working class dullards have bought into conservative ideas that have (and will) rob them of a decent way of life.

I have come to the conclusion that the slate will be cleansed when Republicans and Teabaggers assume power. Only then will the middle clas realize that the "Party of Reagan" (and the baggage it brings) is a sham. It will take another two generations to right the ship of state to "provide for the general welfare". Thank Christ I'll be dead when the nation hits bottom.

Patrick Lang


To quote Lewis Black "The Democrats suck. The Republicans blow." pl

Stephen Jones

In a letter to a friend defending elements of the proposed constitution, John Adams wrote; “...nothing intoxicates the human mind so much as power”. This is no less true for major players in either the Democratic or Republican parties. This kind of affliction, this kind of addiction, this kind of ambition leaves very little room for principle either in rhetoric or behavior.

Add to this a press that is entertainment and propaganda based rather than being based on the principle of serving to keep the public well-informed with accurate information and the prospects for restoring functionality to our democracy-based political process are pretty bleak.

And of course the clinically-defined crazies on the right who’ve hijacked the Republican party and made a mockery of the very meaning of ‘conservative’; well they don’t help either.

ex-PFC Chuck

May I suggest The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation (Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/2a46qls) as a book that addresses the messaging part of the left's inability to resonate with voters. Drew Westen, the author and a psychology professor whose main research interest is voter behavior, asserts that most voters make their decisions based on which candidate or party best appeals to them on the emotional level, not the intellectual, dispassionate plane, and that for at least the past 30 plus years the GOP and its candidates have been far better at this than the Democrats. However in order for a party to build an effective emotionally appealing narrative there has to be a pretty well unified view among the members as to what the vision and principles underlying than narrative should be, something the Democrats have not had since their coalition began disintegrating during the Vietnam war. This disunity was hung out there for all to see this past week when the party was utterly unable to seize the tax and economic policy high ground by forcing a vote in either house (but preferably both) on the bill to extend the expiring Bush 43 tax cuts for all but the top two percent, who were its primary beneficiaries.


That "the working class" perceives the Republicans as more representing their interests speaks to the brilliance of the right wing propaganda machine. I watched a segment on last April's anti-tax tea party protest in DC and was astounded at the ignorance of the people who were interviewed. One after another, they denied that Obama had pushed through a tax cut as part of the stimulus bill. I wondered to myself, since the tax cut was right there on my 1040, if any of these people actually paid taxes. These people informed the interviewer that he was misinformed. The health insurance reform mainly benefits people who already have insurance. How many people do you know are stuck in a job because they have a family member who needs the health benefits? Or people who would love to start a small business but are terrified of being without insurance? I know plenty. Money rules but at least when the Democrats are in power us regular folks get something, too.


graywolf, beg your pardon, but when did the US have "over left" government?
The comfortable lives of Summers and Yoo say unequivocally that the special (moneyed) interests have been succeeding, and that today’s calamity on all fronts (first of all judicial) is not a fluke. The audacity of the mentioned gentlemen says a lot of the US dysfunctional society.
The governing class in the US never was and is not on the left. When a surgery goes wrong, a surgeon can lose his/her livelihood attained after many years of hard training. When Paulson and Greenspan allow for fraud to overrun the financial system (and to harm society at large), nothing touches their immense wealth. Same with Iraq War.
Ergo, this is not an egalitarian society, and there is nothing that indicates the strength of the “left.”

Stephen Jones

Pretty much any deliberative con-artist worth his salt understands that people are much more vulnerable to suggestion and manipulation when they can be appealed to on the emotional plane. Mere facts and reason, indeed truth itself, when presented on the rational plane, comes in a distant second way more often than we’d all like to think.

Competent swindlers of all stripes also know almost intuitively that despite the appeal of the idea that ‘everyone wants to know the truth’, in fact people clearly do not always want to know the truth, and can be especially reality/averse regarding more important issues. Accompanying this awareness is the tactical realization that it is easier to get people to believe lies because, unlike facts and verifiable truths, lies can be shaped and tailored to take the most advantage of what the target audiences want to believe. And of course, if one is adept at scaring people and creating bogeymen for them to fear then they become far more emotionally receptive to, and far more believing in, whatever rhetoric identifies the threat and promises an easy remedy because that’s what they’ve been led to want to believe. Never mind that the ‘threat’ is a bogus one, or that the proposed ‘remedy’ is either unworkable nonsense or is something designed to accomplish another task entirely unrelated to its stated purpose. More and more, once people decide what they want to believe, they simply make up their own facts to support those beliefs. In the reality-based world, such as it is, we still at least try to let the facts shape our opinions and perceptions.

The GOP message machine is a formidable thing, well entrenched after 30 years or so of network building. And its primary purpose is to deceive and they do this with a degree of skill and at levels of impunity that make the organized Democratic Party messaging effort Neanderthal-like in its clumsiness. Clearly the folks running the GOP shop understand the essential dynamics enumerated above.

The Democratic leadership, conversely, come across to me as though they aren’t even aware of how clueless they are in these matters. Do they even understand how thoroughly they’re being out-maneuvered by the GOP propagandists in virtually every arena of public discourse? It doesn’t look that way to me. If appearances on the talking head shows are any indication, the fact that so many of the Dems who appear seem unprepared to counter the falsehoods and misrepresentations made by others suggests they either think that they already know all they need to know and that the rightness of their cause combined with their own self-important stature is all that’s needed to prevail. Fools. Meanwhile they’re being outfoxed, (pun–intended), by seriously mentally-ill nutjobs like Palin and Bachman and Beck and Limbaugh, and a whole host of other crazies mixed with clever neocons and other aggressive but non-crazy people driven by greed, by their own appetites for power, or overweening narcissism.

In no way am I suggesting that it is only the GOP shtick that is deception-based. There’s plenty of deceptive nonsense out of the Dems too. But, for me, the toxicity levels of crap spewing from the GOP shop eclipses that emanating from the Democratic message shop by several orders of magnitude. And there is no doubt at all that the ‘right’ is far more adept at weaponizing the ignorance of the public.

William R. Cumming

One could argue that the basic information available to the public and even interested citizen is now denied them because of the way the MSM operates. But also the federal and state and local governments are often complicit. Freedom of Information Act was a good step forward in 1966 but has been allowed to wither. And now if you don't own a computer or have access to one what real sources of information do you have that are not practically propagand? I live in a rural area and I could argue that here the people largely live their lives under a cone of silence as to what their governments are up to! It takes energy and effort to get basic information and even then often the analysis provided is flawed. Maybe like small villages world wide? One tv and one computer? And no clean drinking water of course.


The author's basic point is that working class and middle class (whatever that is) white people no longer think that the Democratic Party represents their interests or values. According to this argument the Democratic Party represents the interests of minorities, gays, etc. and white people do not like that.

Actually, I think it all gets down to economics, and economic populism, or rather the lack of it. Obama and the Dems will get shellacked this November because the economy is terrible, and because Obama listened to Summers about bailing out the Banks rather than pursuing a more radical (but necessary) solution: the Swedish model of nationalization.

People are furious, IMO, that the financial class was bailed out while everyone else was left holding the bag. But then again, what else were we to expect from a financial establishment whore like Larry Summers? Hint: the timing of his departure makes as much sense politically as Rumsfeld's departure after the 2006 election: it called closing the barn door after the horse has left.


Republicans and Democrats....

"Вы просто горстка, несчастным и банкрот! Ваша роль закончена и вы можете идти туда, где вы принадлежите к помойке истории!"


"You are a mere handful, miserable and bankrupt! Your role is finished and you may go where you belong- to the garbage pit of history!"

Trotsky to the Mensheviks after the Bolshevik Revolution, 1918.



So what are Newt and company going to do to Dick Armery's tea party, or is it the other way around?

Cold War Zoomie

From the Washington Post today:

"The top-earning 20 percent of Americans - those making more than $100,000 each year - received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations."

Most people understand that, ultimately, neither political party's economic priorities are with the middle class and below. Taking away the economic factors leaves only emotion and personal beliefs to drive voting decisions. The GOP is much better at that game than the Dems.

What the very wealthy and their minions in Congress, especially the Senate, don't understand is that they are producing the right conditions for the next Huey Long. At some point, economic populism will overcome these culture wars.

If Matt Taibbi is correct in one of his most recent Rolling Stones article, and that's a big "if," another Wall Street meltdown is coming in three to seven years. That will be the breaking point if his prediction comes true.

Wall Street's Big Win

Carl O.

Some may recall that in the 1990's there was an operation within the Democratic Party, which called itself the "New Democrats," to move the party away from the constiuency that had been bequeathed to it by FDR, that is, organized labor (which in FDR's time consisted mostly of skilled industrial workers), farmers and African-Americans. The theory put forward by the New Democrats, such as Al from and Joe Liberman, was that the party had to appeal to the suburban yuppies who were then voting for conservative Republicans. So the traditional constituencies, with the possible exception of African-Americans, few if any of whom would ever vote for a conservative Republican, were iced out of the party. I would suggest that the Democratic Party is paying the price for that now, as they've only taken four years to demonstrate what it took the Republicans 12 years to achieve: that is, that they are incapable of actually governing.

Mark Logan


I have had the feeling that the Tea Party is really that economic populist movement, just one tragically wrong-footed by the abject idiocy of their accidental leaders: Glenn and Sarah.

It may call for a mulligan on that one, but I think it will play on. Everybody is sick to death of the two parties BS.

Mark Logan

It is certainly true that a party has no future if they can not connect with the white working class demographic. This was Bill Clintons specialty.

Came across his speech to the Democratic Leadership Council from 1994 on CSPAN.


If Obama is to have a chance at re-election, he would do well to pay attention. A heck of a lot of lessons he could learn from it. He must lead now.

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