Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Working class meme

Quick! Change the subject:

...the meme is circulating that Obama’s problem is that white working-class voters are all a bunch of Archie Bunkers who are too racist to vote for him. This meme is being pushed aggressively by the Obama campaign, especially after the huge Pennsylvania loss. Straight from Axelrod’s mouth to the pages of the New York Times, where it’s dressed up as thoughtful analysis.

The purpose of the racist meme is fivefold:

1. To distract from Obama’s real weakness — that he has nothing to offer working people and can’t get them to vote for him to save his damn life;
2. To excuse his failure by instead blaming the voters;
3. To imply that the only reason people vote for Hillary is because they’re racists, which just goes to show how nasty and icky Hillary is;
4. To subliminally remind people that the Clintons themselves are racists, at least according to the Obama campaign;
5. To once again mine the seemingly inexhaustible vein of white guilt that sends shivers up the legs of the liberal elites.

The constant repetition of the phrase “white working class” (or variations thereon) is crucial to propagating the meme. And it’s false, because it erases Latino/Latinas along with every other non-AA ethnic group, and shifts the focus away from “working class” (which is where it belongs).

So please, stop saying white working class. Don’t play into Axelrod’s game.

P.S. Similar thing with older voters.

The media has been all too willing to accommodate the meme. Why are they carrying water for the Obama campaign?

From this morning, Google News search results for white+working+class

The meme continues with the latest twist toward Wright. Chicago Sun-Times op/ed from today:

Obama's key challenge in Indiana is wresting blue-collar white voters from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).... ...One Obama adviser, who declined to be identified in order to speak candidly, said Wright has become a "huge distraction. At a time when Obama is trying to appeal to blue-collar and working-class voters, Jeremiah Wright is dragging this campaign into a conversation about race . . . and that's not what white voters want to hear."

A new Gallup poll out today explains that the difference in preference between Clinton and Obama is education, but... ahem! Their survey included an "overall sample of 7,999 non-Hispanic white Democratic voters." Politico picked up the meme in a report on former Edwards supporter, now endorsing Clinton, Gov. Easley of NC:

...[Easley] does carry a popular name and a symbolic validation of her central argument: That she, better than Obama, connects with the working-class white people who are traditional swing voters.... ..."Her numbers went up in the same demographic she controlled in Pennsylvania to win – which is white male, specifically blue collar white males," said Dean Debnam, president of North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, which found Monday that Clinton had cut Obama's lead from 25 percentage points to 12. "Obama had been pulling closer to her in the white vote, and she had regained that strongly in the past week."

However, an editorial from Vermont breaks from the script:

The implication of articles in the New York Times and Washington Post, and in the opinions of some commentators is, of course, that Hillary Clinton had better quit before she alienates African Americans by attacking Barack Obama and kills the party's chances in November....

...There is racism in America, to be sure, but are those people likely to vote for any Democrat? No, they aren't. They haven't for decades; why should they start now?

Among working class Democrats, the issues are strictly economic, stupid.... ...Working class Americans see themselves as shafted in an economy dominated as never before in the memory of most families by the upper middle classes and the wealthy. Those people — many of the college-educated liberals who favor Sen. Obama — are seen as taking an ever-widening slice of the economic pie and leaving crumbs for those near the bottom. In that sense, they are viewed almost in the same light as upscale Republicans. [Emphasis added.]

The focus on voters diverts attention from solutions. Who's the best candidate to deliver an upturn in jobs and the economy? Who's fighting for working-class Americans? The Obama camp would rather play a game than answer the question.

POSTSCRIPT: Via Lambert.