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Unemployment, US, White Americans, Working Class

WHY THE WHITE WORKING CLASS WAS ABANDONED BY THE DEMOCRATS

MacÆther sez: I was raised in a pro-labor, working class white home in the inner city (bay area). Around 12, I began figuring out my views for myself. Before my awakening, I liked to say I was moderate on most issues, but I’m definitely a skewed to the left. I’ve noticed most white folks in that same situation tend to veer to the left. When I moved to Stockton, a city with a population of 300,000 in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. We’re the world’s Salad Bowl.
Point being, even inner city whites (and there’s a lot of us, unlike the Bay) are influenced by red state, rural conservativism.

Since my awakening, I understand the lie we live every day. EVERY Presidential candidate regardless of their party affiliation, race or supposed loyalties, are all puppets of the Zionist, corporate shadow government running the show.

BY ROBERT REICHON 1/20/16 AT 1:50 PM

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A cashier scans the price of a shopper's groceries at the Wal-Mart in Crossville, Tennessee, on March 21, 2008. Cashiers like this one are part of the white working class that has been abandoned by Democrats, the author writes.BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS

This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.

Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats? The conventional answer is: Republicans skillfully played the race card.

In the wake of the Civil Rights Act, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led Southern whites out of the Democratic Party. Later, Republicans charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ being soft on black crime (“Willie Horton”) and trying to give jobs to less-qualified blacks over more-qualified whites (the battle over affirmative action).

The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims—with much the same effect on white working-class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to be as “tough.”  

All true, but this isn’t the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.

Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the past 24 years and in that time scored some important victories for working families: theAffordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example.

But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top and undermined the working class. In some respects, Democrats have been complicit in it.

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down vote.

I was there. In 1992, Clinton promised such reform but once elected didn’t want to spend political capital on it. In 2008, Obama made the same promise (remember the Employee Free Choice Act?) but never acted on it.

Partly as a result, union membership sunk from 22 percent of all workers when Clinton was elected president to fewer than 12 percent today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.

In addition, the Obama administration protected Wall Street from the consequences of the Street’s gambling addiction through a giant taxpayer-funded bailout, but let millions of underwater homeowners drown.

Both Clinton and Obama also allowed antitrust enforcement to ossify, with the result that large corporations have grown far larger and major industries more concentrated.

Finally, they turned their backs oncampaign finance reform. In 2008, Obama was the first presidential nominee since Richard Nixon to reject public financing in his primary and general election campaigns. And he never followed up on his re-election campaign promise to pursue a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to big money in politics.

What happens when you combine freer trade, shrinking unions, Wall Street bailouts, growing corporate market power and the abandonment of campaign finance reform? You shift political and economic power to the wealthy, and you shaft the working class.  

Why haven’t Democrats sought to reverse this power shift? True, they faced increasingly hostile Republican Congresses. But they controlled both houses of Congress in the first two years of both Clinton’s and Obama’s administrations.

In part, it’s because Democrats bought the snake oil of the “suburban swing voter”—so-called “soccer moms” in the 1990s and affluent, politically independent professionals in the 2000s—who supposedly determine electoral outcomes. Meanwhile, as early as the 1980s, they began drinking from the same campaign funding trough as the Republicans: big corporations, Wall Street and the very wealthy.

“Business has to deal with us whether they like it or not, because we’re the majority,” crowed Democratic Representative Tony Coelho, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 1980s when Democrats assumed they’d continue to run the House for years.

Coelho’s Democrats soon achieved a rough parity with Republicans in contributions from corporate and Wall Street campaign coffers, but the deal proved a Faustian bargain as Democrats become financially dependent on big corporations and the Street.

Nothing in politics is ever final. Democrats could still win back the white working class by putting together a huge coalition of the working class and the poor; of whites, blacks and Latinos; and of everyone who has been shafted by the shift in wealth and power to the top.

This would give Democrats the political clout to restructure the economy, rather than merely enacting palliatives that paper over the increasing concentration of wealth and power in America.  

But to do this, Democrats will have to stop obsessing over upper-income suburban swing voters and end their financial dependence on big corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy.

Will they? That’s one of the biggest political unknowns in 2016 and beyond.

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About Mac★Aethyr²³

MC, Wordsmyth, Psychonaut, MAC. Gunslinger.

Discussion

One thought on “WHY THE WHITE WORKING CLASS WAS ABANDONED BY THE DEMOCRATS

  1. The affordable care act is not good for the working poor. The deductibles for most people are simply more than they can afford. You are right about what the Democrats haven’t done. They are in the pockets of the wealthy. Pure and simple. If there is something progressive to be done, it will be killed in Congress, which is controlled by interests. How often do you hear a Democrat speak of the poor? Their attention stops at the middle class. Thanks for the post.

    Like

    Posted by vellissima | January 21, 2016, 9:30 PM

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