What Bill and Hillary Clinton Don’t Get: That the way to win Rust Belt white blue-collar voters isn’t to go centrist; it’s to go economic populist.
The changes to the platform testify to the strength of the Sanders campaign, and, like that campaign, they are a sign that the dynamism within the party arises right now from its leftwing faction, led by politicians like Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
What is less clear is if Mrs. Clinton is aiming to dispel that momentum with some gestures, including a few planks in a platform, or if she intends to actually lead the Democrats in the direction demanded by Mr. Sanders — a direction that would mean a radical redefinition of what was once understood to be Clintonism.
— Hillary Clinton’s New Democrats, the NYT editorial board, yesterday
One thing that puzzles me is the anger among so many pundits that the Sanders supporters who still protest and won’t vote for Clinton are doing so because Sanders didn’t get everything he wanted in the platform. These pundits are offended that there remain such vocal holdouts notwithstanding the extensive concessions to Sanders that were made.
But as I mentioned earlier this week and as the NYT editorial board understands, for (I believe) most Sanders supporters—those who, like me, will vote for Clinton, and those who will not—the critical issue is whether she intends to renege on her current support of those platform concessions, in the remainder of the campaign and then, if elected, as president.
One line late in Bill Clinton’s speech concerned me. I don’t remember the precise phrasing, but it suggested that voters should vote for Hillary Clinton because her policy proposals are affordable and possible to get through Congress. The line, in borrowing Hillary Clinton’s selling point on her policies over Sanders’ throughout the primary campaign except suddenly just before the California primary, struck me as a dog whistle to, I guess, moderate Republicans that it’s the proposals she campaigned on, not the ones in the platform, that she plans to offer and push.
Washington Post columnist and blogger Dana Milbank, a Clinton supporter all the way and one who throughout the summer, fall and early winter trashed Sanders’ proposals as utterly unrealistic, surprised me by writing (I guess) Monday afternoon, in a lengthy post titled “Clinton leaves Democrats’ liberal wing high and dry”:
That the Sanders supporters were frustrated is understandable. Clinton and the Democratic Party have given the progressive wing of the party short shrift in favor of an appeal to the political center. …
Clinton, after securing Sanders’s endorsement, chose as her running mate Virginian Tim Kaine, who has a centrist reputation and has been a free-trader.
Then there was the leak of DNC emails, which proved what Sanders had long alleged: The party was working to help Clinton defeat him. Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was ousted after the email revelations, but Clinton promptly named her an “honorary chair” of her campaign.
From a strategic perspective, this is probably a mistake. Clinton’s playing down of the progressives in Philadelphia comes from a belief that she can do better among the non-college-educated whites who have been the core of Trump’s support. But her deficit among non-college-educated white voters, about 30 points, isn’t much worse than President Obama and John Kerry did. Rather than making overtures to the shrinking ranks of blue-collar white voters (just over 30 percent of the electorate, down from half in the 1980s) who aren’t likely to be persuaded, Clinton could have used her vice-presidential selection and her convention to boost enthusiasm among progressives.
I certainly agree with Milbank that this probably is a mistake, but for an additional reason as well as the numeric one he cites. The substantial number of white blue-collar workers in the upper Midwest and northeast who support Trump not because of his Build the Wall and bar-Muslims promises but instead for the strictly economic-populist reasons that Trump uses as bait. Some of these voters voted for Sanders in the primaries and caucuses.
Hillary Clinton should remember that taxes and net wages aren’t the only thing that matters to people’s bottom line—her repeated claims to the contrary during the primary season in challenging Sanders’s proposals notwithstanding. Suffice it to say that healthcare deductibles and co-payments and healthcare insurance premiums, whether deducted from wages or salary or paid independently, are for many, many millions of people not affordable. If she does not understand that, she truly is out-of-touch. Same for college affordability. Etc.
The Clintons reflexively reach for centrism as their crutch. Always. But they appear unaware that the very definition of centrism has changed within the last year and a half. As someone who views their electoral success as a personal existential necessity, I wish Clinton would consider this.
Meanwhile, Greg Sargent reports this morning that during an interview of Trump this morning Bill O’Reilly said there “has to be” a federal minimum wage. And then Trump said this:
There doesn’t have to be. I would leave it and raise it somewhat. You need to help people. I know it’s not very Republican to say…I would say 10….But with the understanding that somebody like me is going to bring back jobs. I don’t want people to be in that $10 category for very long. But the thing is, Bill, let the states make the deal.” (Italics Sargent’s.)
So basically, Trump flip-flopped and then back-flipped, holding three different positions in succession. The real story here is that Trump has no actual position on the minimum wage. His whole candidacy is a scam.
To me it looks less like a flip-flop than that Trump actually doesn’t recognize that the two are mutually exclusive. The states can’t legislate—Make the deal? With whom?—a lower minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, since it’s not a federal minimum wage if states don’t have to adhere to it.
So maybe all Clinton has to do in order to win white blue-collar votes in the Rust Belt is quote that quote there. Most blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt know that a federal minimum wage is, y’know, a federal minimum wage. And that states can’t make a deal on that.
Trust me on this; they know.
First and foremost, a pundit should do no harm. This is especially true for a pundit masquerading as a journalist either in print or on air. It is not a journalist’s role to analyze beyond the search for truth. Readers shouldn’t be burdened with the personal opinions and ideologies of the pundit. That’s what books are meant for. Write those pearls of wisdom in a book, they’re not a segment of the news. Combining valid news facts and analysis with personal ideology leads to distortions of those facts. Write a book if you (not you Bev, the general you) have some special wisdom to spread to the masses.
Bev, I have no problem with Bernie’s supporters among the blue collar ranks pressing to hold Hillary’s feet to the fire on issues and policies they care about. However, withholding political support from Hillary in a presidential election involving Donald Trump is sheer madness. You know, and they should, that their odds of getting anything they want from a Trump administration are absolute zilch. They also know or should that policies in a Trump administration will make things worse for them and not just briefly but for the forseeable future. This isn’t just what’s the matter with Kansas; it’s are all of those people out of their minds? Maybe people don’t like having to choose “between evils” but like it or not, they must.
Well as Elizabeth Warren pointed out the other night at least those blue collar white workers are not people of color. Seriously, I do have faith in those folks to figure out that Trump might say things they think but it would be an utter disaster for Trump to be elected president. I think most of Sanders supporters get that and certainly Sanders does. So whether Hillary moves left and how far she moves is really not the issue. There is now no choice left in this election. There was during the primary but Sanders came up short. For his supporters not to vote for Hillary is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face. Some of the very young and very far left will do that but the blue collar workers we are talking about do not fit those categories
Robert Reich says “anti-establishment” is what the Berns want.
Bev says “populist.”
Anybody, ever (ever [ever]), say “labor unions” — the only way to achieve either — and oh so easy.
What would Jimmy Hoffa say — I’ll bet the same thing I say:
As long as nobody else talks about re-unionization (as the beginning and the end of re-constituting the American dream) — nobody thinks it is possible to talk about …
… or something.
Easy as pie to make union busting a felony in our most progressive states f(WA, OR, CA, NV, IL, NY, MD) — and then get out of the way as the first 2000 people in the many telephone directories re-define our future.
Do this or do nothing!
Want to put the Dump on the IMPOSSIBLE spot with the blue collar everywhere — ASK HIM IF HE SUPPORTS MAKING UNION BUSTING A FELONY — just like every other form of major — or minor (try to take a movie in the movies and tell them you were just kidding) — form of market manipulation.
It seems that in every election in my lifetime, Democrats have trotted out the “sheer madness to vote for this Republican in this election” meme, and every election the bogeyman is worse than the last one.
Honestly, for what I got out of Obama, it’s likely I could have gotten 80 to 90% of the same accomplishments plus a Democratic midterm congress out of either of his Republican opponents.
Crying wolf to make me vote for your shitty candidate who is a 55% match for my political agenda rather than 30% or something isn’t helping to address progressive causes or accomplish anything beyond protecting the status quo. Democrats voted Hillary Clinton into this election, against their own principles as reflected in the party platform.
What the hell is wrong with this party?
“There is now no choice left in this election.” Terry
On the other hand, there is no left choice in this election. But that’s what makes it clearly a modern American process.
“What the hell is wrong with this party?” J.Goodwin
It’s not the party. It’s the electorate, of which the party is only a reflection. There are those who seek another choice, but obviously there are not enough of those that do. The media helps that happen by molding the theme and presenting the meme of the day. Though even I am impressed by the vehemence displayed these past three days at the Dem. convention. Even Bloomberg sounded a striking tone. And his presence is yet additional evidence that the modern Democratic Party is really moderate Republicanism. And Denis, that is, unfortunately why we haven’t and won’t hear talk of unions or unionism. Imagine, this is a Democratic convention devoid of any national union representation speaking to the assembled crowed.
Jack you are being too nice to him.
“Honestly, for what I got out of Obama, it’s likely I could have gotten 80 to 90% of the same accomplishments plus a Democratic midterm congress out of either of his Republican opponents.”
One of the single most stupid statements I have ever heard in my entire life.
Ya’ think you would have gotten Dodd-Frank?
Ya’ think you would have gotten 20 million more insured?
Ya’ think you would have gotten a 60% increase on the marginal tax rate of the richest Americans?
Ya’ think you would have gotten Kagan and Sotamayor?
Where do you possible imagine your 80-90% would come from?
I wonder where you people live.
These titles are agonizing.
We get it.
We all get it.
What do you get?
The marginal tax rate of the richest Americans is not particularly important to my personal finances. If the national economic situation demanded it due to interest rate movements, eventually someone was going to raise taxes. PPACA was written for Republicans and with the happy nods of the insurance industry. You might well have been able to get it passed with a Democratic house and senate at the midterms, McCain might have signed it, and Romney certainly would have signed it given the similarity to what he signed in Massachusetts.
Sotomayor no, Kagan maybe since she was regarded as being moderate to right leaning.
Romney would not have been significantly different than that we got, and McCain probably wouldn’t have actually been the third term of George W. Bush as advertised.
Despite Sotomayor we still got CItizen’s United vs FEC, and we would have had that landmark decision no matter who was nominated. As far as that goes, Citizens United doesn’t really seem to be harming Democratic presidential candidates, who seem more than happy to raise tons of money and exploit the dark zones with their SuperPACs.
Do you really think that if McCain or Romney had been elected, the world would have come to a sudden sharp end? McCain had a long history of bipartisanship in the senate, despite his conservative credentials. Romney was Republican governor of one of the most liberal states.
I can only take rhetoric claiming that we would have been in a much worse place under either of them as president as a load of horse manure. It is simply untrue.
Ohio is not nearly as blue collar as you think anymore.
Seriously? What do we get?
That you cannot deal with reality. You often state you can, but your writing shows no such ability.
Re the ACa.
ON what planet do you spend the most of your time?
Your comment is embarrassing incorrect. And if you lived on this planet you would know that.