Saturday, March 05, 2016

Things we learn during elections

The Democratic Presidential primaries have illustrated the ideological and (yes) class lines within the Democratic Party.

And we've seen some political strategies and tactics highlighted. Such as the Clinton camp's griping about "Bernie Bros." Here are some useful critical looks at the "Bernie Bros" accusation:

Brendan James, Bernie Bros’ And ‘Obama Boys’: Echoes Of 2008 In Media’s Clinton-Sanders Pundit Clash International Business Times 02/09/16

YeaYouRite, WOW. Before the "Bernie Bro," Clinton supporters created the "Obama boy." No, seriously. Daily Kos 02/08/2016

Apparently the headline of this story kicked off the "Obama boys" meme in 2008: Rebecca Traister, Hey, Obama boys: Back off already! Salon 04/14/2008

Cenk Uygur gives an official rant on the topic in Why "Bernie Bro" Myth Is Bogus The Young Turks 03/04/2016:

Marcy Wheeler looks at the possible return of the "Reagan Democrats" phenomenon in The Return of the Reagan Democrats Emptywheel 03/05/2016. I was particularly happy to see her quoting a 2014 description of what the working class in the United States is, from Stanley Greenberg in this article, Why the White Working Class Matters Washington Monthly June/July/August 2014. The Pod Pundits typically use a lazy definition of "working class" as people without college degrees. Greenberg recognizes there is some actual sociology involved. Although he is apparently forced to make some use of the lazy version because that's how some of the important data is collected and reported:

[W]hite working-class voters could not be more central to Democrats. And not only are they winnable for Democrats with attention to the right set of issues, but there were already sizable numbers of them voting Democratic as recently as 2012.

You would not know that by most of the press coverage. That’s because the competitiveness of Democrats among white working-class voters overall has been obscured by the hostility of the subset of those voters who live in the South, Appalachia, and the Mountain West. According to 13,000 interviews that Democracy Corps conducted in 2012, Obama received a pathetic 25 percent of the vote with whites who lack a four-year college degree in the South and just 33 percent of that demographic in the Mountain West.
But in the passage, part of which Marcy quotes, he points out the shallowness of that appraoch:

Back when many of us took up the political project to bring Reagan Democrats back to the Democratic fold, nearly 27 percent of employment was in blue-collar jobs like manufacturing and construction and mining. Employment in the production of goods dominated blue-collar employment, followed by employment in transportation and moving materials. Today, when people think of the white working class, they are still likely to focus on the imagery of the “average Joe” or the “ordinary guy.” Conservatives are particularly fond of evoking “Joe Six-pack” and “Joe the plumber.” The dominant imagery is a candidate surrounded by workers in hard hats, usually at a construction site. But as Andrew Levinson points out in his excellent book, The White Working Class Today, these stereotypes are increasingly out of date and inaccurate.

For example, a lot of blue-collar work today takes place in small groups rather than in factory settings, and most construction workers are self-employed contractors. Moreover, if by blue-collar jobs we mean jobs that involve routine and repetitive tasks, require limited skills, are closely supervised, and offer no autonomy during working hours, then it turns out that half of all white male workers and 40 percent of white working women are blue collar. Far from working on factory floors, more and more workers are employed in service-sector jobs like health care, leisure and hospitality, and, particularly, professional and business services.

If Democrats cannot figure out how to appeal to today’s working-class voters, then they don’t deserve to lead. Nearly all of the people in these jobs have not seen a raise in years. The majority of them, who now work in the service sector—maids and housekeepers, waitresses and hostesses, cooks and dishwashers, counter attendants and ticket takers, janitors and hairdressers and child care workers—earn, on average, about $400 a week. [my emphasis in bold]
I like the way he identifies "blue collar" workers as part of the working class, not a definition of it or a synonym for it.

With Hillary positioning her candidacy as Obama's Third Term, Cenk also takes a look at the state of Obama's Second Term and what it suggests about what a new Clinton Administration would look like, Barack Obama Isn't Interested In Change Anymore The Young Turks 03/05/2016:

Another set of disputes has been disputes among Democratic-leaning economists of Bernie-nomics. I plan to write more about that in another post. But here's a piece on the subject by Laurence Kotlikoff, Politics & Economics Don't Mix New Economic Thinking 03/04/2016.

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