America: Love It Or Be Left Behind
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That “the white establishment” built the modern social welfare state (albeit mostly for white people) is lost on O’Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh and their ilk. That whites make up the vast majority of “takers” is likewise lost on them. But not on uber conservatives like Charles Murray, or the National Review’s dyspeptic hater Mark Steyn. “The fact is a lot of pasty, Caucasian, non-immigrant Americans have also shifted,’ and are very comfortable with Big Government, entitlements, micro-regulation, Obamacare and all the rest — and not much concerned with how or if it’s paid for,” Steyn wrote Wednesday.
No doubt a lot of the “pasty” folks Steyn talked about voted for Mitt Romney, since the red states are the new welfare queens, sucking more from Big Government than they provide in taxes. Don’t expect white GOP voters to process that contradiction in the early stages of grief, however.
The emerging Democratic majority can’t provide Obama a mandate without more white voters.
It’s not only GOP hacks who are saying stupid things about the white vote. Two days before the election Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHai declared that Obama’s problem with whites might make it hard for him to be the president of all America. “It’s possible,” the pair intoned darkly, that Obama “will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000″ (he didn’t). Then they lowered the boom:
“A broad mandate this is not.”
Really? Let’s review. Obama won 93 percent of African Americans, 71 percent of Latinos and an astonishing 75 percent of Asian Americans, a group that used to split between parties. He won a majority of Catholics, Jews and Muslims as well as the religiously non-affiliated (he only lost white Protestants.) He won women and young people. The only group he lost was white people, and particularly older white people and extremely particularly older white men.
Does Obama have really have a problem attracting broad support? Or would the problem belong to the stubborn minority bloc that won’t vote for him, no matter what he does? Do the math, lads.
Unfortunately, it’s not just GOP hacks or their admirers at Politico who are making a version of this argument. In The New Republic before the election, the perennial booster of the white working class bloc William Galston complained that Obama had rejected Bill Clinton’s transformational, transracial appeal for a transactional, racial/interest group pitch:
For young people, lower rates on student loans. For Latinos, announce a non-legislative version of the Dream Act. For gays and lesbians, endorse same-sex marriage. For single women, pick a fight over contraception with the Catholic Church and run a national convention in which the centrality of abortion rights startled even seasoned observers. Bill Clinton’s mantra—safe, legal, and rare—is a distant memory. In its place: “Julia.”
As someone who tends to agree that Democrats shouldn’t write off the white working class entirely, I’m flummoxed by Galston’s pitch. For a guy who seems to think bread and butter issues should be more prominent than cultural ones, he apparently can’t see bread and butter issues if they’re targeted to certain newer members of the Democratic coalition. Lower interest on student loans, the DREAM act, no-cost contraception and health screenings, and even to an extent gay marriage are also economic issues. Galston might also note that the president did best with his cherished white working class voters in Rust Belt states where he delivered for them with the auto bailout and tougher moves on China. In Ohio, one of the states that helped to give Obama his second term, the president only lost white men by 10 percentage points, and he pulled even among white men with incomes under $75,000. (He won flat out won working class white women in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa).