Thursday, December 24, 2020

Back to the Working Class

The chorus of voices is growing louder that the Democrats need to address their working class problem. That's a very good thing because (1) the Democrats are going to have a hell of hard time consistently winning if they continue to do so poorly with working class voters and (2) what the hell is the point of a left party if they are not in reality and in the eyes of these voters the defenders of the working class and its interests?
Matt Yglesias on the virtues of the welfare state and how the Democrats are losing the plot:
"[T]he Awokening is also one of two strands of thinking on the left that prevent embrace of the welfare state from being as fulsome as it should be. We’ve seen a school of thought which holds that the New Deal was Racist and Bad and progressives should talk constantly about unpopular race-targeting ideas even as this costs Democrats votes among non-college voters of all races. The other is the strain of thought that wants to constantly complain about “neoliberalism” and spend all its time going down various regulatory rabbit holes rather than just taxing and spending.
The welfare state, however, is not just good on its own terms; it’s good for checking the power of employers and big business (because it gives people exit options) and it’s good for racial equity. The top one percent is a very white group of people, while the poverty rate for African-Americans is more than double the rate for whites. Addressing this with an expanded welfare state is a much more potent tool for advancing racial equity than endless diversity and inclusion programs, and it has the added benefit of being a potentially winning political agenda."
Kevin Drum on the pitfalls of relying on college-educated voters:
"If education is the playing field, then Democrats own only about one-third of it. The rest is Republican territory. This doesn’t mean Democrats can never win in areas with a small number of college grads, but it does mean that they have to work pretty hard to do it.
To put this more simply, recent evidence suggests that Democrats don’t just have a problem with the white working class anymore, but, increasingly, a problem with the working class, period. Unfortunately, this inevitably brings us around to the tedious—but important—question of whether liberals need to move toward the center on social issues.
Needless to say, the progressive wing of the party is massively resistant to this idea. During the election, my Twitter feed was jam packed with quixotic ideas for expanding the Democratic map: eliminating the Electoral College; admitting Washington DC and Puerto Rico as states; packing the Supreme Court; etc. This is all pie-in-the-sky stuff, a desperate attempt to propose anything other than the obvious: embracing social policies that appeal to more people, especially those without college degrees. That’s Politics 101. I don’t know how this is all going to turn out, but I’ll bet it’s going to be a helluva fight."
David Leonhardt on lessons Democrats should learn from this high turnout election:
"In 2020, turnout soared, yet Democrats did worse than expected. Yes, they defeated Trump, but they failed to retake the Senate (for now) and lost ground in the House and in state legislatures.
How could this be, when the big demographic groups with low voter turnout — Millennials, Latinos and Asian-Americans — lean left?
Because the infrequent voters in these groups are less liberal than the frequent voters. “Latino nonvoters, for example, seem to have a higher opinion of Trump than Latino voters,” Yanna Krupnikov, a political scientist at Stony Brook University, told me. Over all, nonvoters split roughly evenly between Democratic leaners and Republican ones, a recent Knight Foundation study found.
Once you think it through, the pattern makes some sense. It involves social class.
People who don’t vote (or who didn’t until 2020) are more likely to be working class — that is, not to have college degrees — than reliable voters, Knight concluded. And working-class Americans are more conservative on several big issues, including abortion, guns and immigration. They’re also less trusting of institutions and elites.
The fact that turnout surged this year and Democrats didn’t do as well as expected is yet another example of the party’s struggles with working-class voters, and not just working-class whites. Whether Democrats can figure out how to do better may be the biggest looming question about American politics."
This is indeed the question and Democrats need to answer it sooner rather than later if they hope to prosper in this decade.

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