The poverty of Obama’s coalition

Obama’s coalition of minority and northern white working class voters has been exposed as an impoverished electoral strategy. It is not the foundation of a Party, but the building up of a single charismatic individual. Obama drew on his political and personal skills to capture such voters in his presidential bids, and relied on his personal appeal to turn out African-American voters. Clinton expected to do the same thing–Obama and the Party establishment expected her to do the same thing–but, as a recent voter analysis by the NYT shows, she failed to do so.

The problem is that rather than focusing on core issues and constructing a program that would speak to Americans, the Obama-Clinton Democrats sold themselves as the anti-Republicans. Things are better for you under our watch, they say, yet fail to enact immigration reform, promote women’s issues, or address inner city collapse. The Republicans will be much worse, they cry, even as they oversee a spike in police violence on minority communities and continue to incarcerate black men at an alarming rate. The other party is the party of big business and will imperil workers, they declare, but then do not push to allow unions to freely organize, and design trade agreements inimical to worker interests.

Voter analysis from the past election shows that Trump was winning, and eventually did win, more support among a longtime core Democratic constituency: working class white males. At the same time, Clinton did not have the same support as Obama among African-American voters. This double loss of working class and minority voters is a direct result of the position of the Obama-Clinton Democrats, and it finally doomed the Clinton campaign. Ironically, this is the first time in recent electoral history that Democrats did better among affluent voters, while the Republicans cleaned up among working class whites.

All this is to say that the Dems need to drop the mythical coalition of the ascendent and abandon the professional class. They need to put together a platform that will work in the interest of ordinary men and women. The Dems need a program that not only addresses fundamental issues such as healthcare, education, minimum wage, minority voices, and global warming, but more so, one that empowers individuals and communities so that all can pursue a life of greatness.