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In the ever-changing Clintonian metric of voters that actually matter (tm), the HRC campaign seems to have finally settled, by the Pennsylvania primary, on the white working class.  Yep, the good old solid white working class.  To hear them say it, joe sixpack types are obviously the necessary people for a Democratic victory in November.  

But my my, this is certainly a DRASTIC and abrupt turn around from the historical Clinton and DLC position - embraced as orthodoxy from 1994 through 2007 - that the upwardly mobile "suburban moderates" were the key to Democratic victory.  Follow me below the fold for a brief look at this dramatic change of heart of convenience.

Recall that after the Republicans rolled to victory in 1994, essentially completing the political conversion of the white working class begun by Nixon, the conventional wisdom in DLC circles coalesced around "suburban moderates" as the future of the Democratic party.  It was not inherently a bad idea - with the tech boom and demographic and cultural changes of the late 90s still in the future, this seemed a ripe place to find votes.  The Clintons, like the rest of the DLC crowd, embraced the strategy wholeheartedly, and we soon became familar with "soccer moms", "office park dads" and the like.  

Like I said, it was not a bad idea to start with, and in fact the suburbs as a whole switched from being solidly Republican ever since the 1950s to toss-up territory today.  However, under the influence of hack demographers like Mark Penn and corporate shills like Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton/DLC strategy was to bet the entire farm and then some on these voters.  This outlook was responsible for some of the classic right wing economic 'triangulation' of Clinton - endless free trade, further deregulation, and so on.  These were definitely not positions designed to win over the working class, because the thinking was emphatically that the working class was not where it was at.

This 'swing state' 'suburban moderate' 'swing voter' strategy actually worked exactly one time ever, in 1996.  But Clinton and the DLC and consultants were hooked.  Both Democratic presidential campaigns since have been informed by it to some extent, to the disastrous results we all know.

And, lo and behold, this is how Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign started out - by basing it on the same suburban moderate strategy as always.  Now Mark Penn was more powerful than ever in a campaign, and so fixated were they on the white middle and upper middle class that when he looked at American demographics in his book Microtrends, he almost didn't even see anyone else!  I have a long explaination of Mark Penn's facile demographic analysis here, but the gist is that he saw an America filled with these middle and upper middle class voters, and little else.  The white working class were definitly not what Hillary's campaign was about.  It fit in with their world view, aesthetics, and politics to run the same old campaign.

But a funny thing happened... it turned out that the white working class, or at least the small percentage of it that still vote in Democratic primaries, was one of the only demographics that Hillary could win!

So what happened to the "suburban moderates" that Hillary and Penn bet the farm on?  Well, I think that between 1996 and 2008 they pretty much disappeared as a group!  Some of them became "security moms" and the like after the Lewinsky affair and 9/11, and returned some of the suburbs and the new exurbs to their conservative roots.  They are now Republicans.  The rest transitioned to the knowledge economy of the late 90s and the present day - they (and many of thier kids) are now the 'creative class' and are voting for Obama.  

So now we've seen the radical switch.  With the Clinton campaign needing some rational for continuation, Hillary and Bill now love the white working class as the only demographic that matters.  Funny thing that is, after more than 10 years of completely ignoring them!  

Sadly this is the kind of hypocrisy we now expect from the Clintons.  To the superdelegates I would say:  when the Clintons argue that the white working class is what's important in this election, as them why they didn't feel that way until a few months ago.

Originally posted to the wonderful world of reality on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 01:40 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips (11+ / 0-)

    and discussion...

    It turns out that Bush IS a uniter... he united the good half of the country virulently against him.

    by fizziks on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 01:40:33 PM PDT

  •  Hasn't Bill been a friend of white working class (11+ / 0-)

    women for years?  Paula Jones? Gennifer Flowers?  (I know I'll get flamed but I couldn't help myself.)

  •  Really good points (4+ / 0-)

    I thought about that at one point, how one of the founding principles of the DNC was distancing the party from labor. Kind of ironic that many of the suburban moderates they courted are now Obama supporters. As such, we have been thrown under the bus as "latte liberals who don't need a president."

    "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; THERE'S THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." OBAMA '08

    by democrattotheend on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 01:48:10 PM PDT

  •  Please post at MyDD n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    William Domingo, fizziks

    The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

    by LordMike on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 01:48:24 PM PDT

  •  A more compelling question to me... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, LynneK, beltane, DrJeremy, Shhs

    ... is how is it that Edwards, Gore and Obama are all portrayed as "limousine liberals" who pretend to care about the lower class, while few question Bill and Hillary's motives despite their own personal wealth?

  •  Rachel Maddow keeps pointing this out (7+ / 0-)

    White working class men vote in a majority for the Republican Party in the GE.

    As for being BFFs with the white working class, it is pure BS.

    One of my sisters supports Hillary over Obama because Hillary is "your typical sleazy politician" while Obama is an unknown to her. It's the devil you know argument. At least, unlike the pure Clintonistas she recognizes her candidate for who she is.

  •  I think it's regional (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lauramp, LynneK

    It's undeniable that Hillary had more success with the blue-collar vote in swing states.   And all I can assume is that the Clintons have put more work into helping the working class in swing states than they have in my state (Mississippi), because Bill Clinton absolutely shit all over us down here.  He didn't do a thing for the South, because he sees everything in the form of politics, and since my state unfortunately is red, he didn't see us as important to him, so he didn't waste anything on us.  Which is one reason my state - and much of the rest of the South - remains so red.  

    I guess the lower class in the more politically important states had a different Clinton experience... 'cuz they're sure not seen as the working-man's friend in Mississippi.

    "I am a comedian and poet, so anything that doesn't get a laugh ... is a poem." - Bill Hicks

    by shadetree mortician on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 01:56:13 PM PDT

    •  Since when has IA not been a swing state? (0+ / 0-)

      Did you know that Obama is responsible for everything ever uttered by a black person and any supporter? Obama-Taking on the sins of the world since 1/03/08.

      by Shhs on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 02:05:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Didn't everyone go to Ivy League colleges (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, Shhs

    and marry a president?

    Hillary is for the poor like the Republicans are for the poor.

  •  Bill dodged the draft... (0+ / 0-)

    ..and was smoking pot and nailing Christopher HItchens girlfriend at Oxford when they were bleeding in the jungles of Vietnam.

  •  Not to mention: how's she gun friendly? Hello? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks

    Remember JANET F'ING RENO and the ATF's jackbooted reign of terror over the heartland? I sure as shit do.

    "The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we're gonna have a lot more wars."

    by slaney black on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 02:08:05 PM PDT

    •  Hillary knows who Janet Reno is (0+ / 0-)

      After all, Janet is Chelsea's father, right?

      But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, than face the reality of being poor. (1776)

      by banjolele on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 02:10:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We Got To Stop Being Blindsided! (0+ / 0-)

    The Two-headed Giant that Barack is battling — the Clintons, a Political Couple which has a hard time being truthful and her Surrogates, and the Republican Spin Machine, which also includes Cable Television, are very good, I would say excellent at re-labelling a person and re-characterizing them by use of the Media, brought and paid for by the Republican Party, mostly to shape, mold, distort, lie, carricaturize a person so the very thing they are, is not seen and that which they are not,is seen all in the hopes of continuing their Power and Domination over the American people!

    Barack's achievement in Pennsylvania -- to close the enormous gap between him and Clintons was a monumental success and not given any credit by the Republican talking-points media. Instead they ask, "do we really know who Barack is?" -- They slyly ask, "why can't he close the deal?" This after showing him bowling over and over again and stating how he cannot relate to blue-collar workers with such a low bowling score or showing skits from Saturday Night Light which casts him a poor light, along with continuing whipping of Rev. Wrght and now his self-inflicted wound, bitter. They do not report the news anymore, they do not inform us of Iraq and other pertinent news but rather pass on Gossip, fit for the Enquirer Magazine or Entertainment Tonight, so far we have fallen!

    Then there is the fact that the Clintons, a dynasty in their own right, have an army of political hacks all over the country that owe them, and they call in their favors one by one, which skewes the odds in favor of the Clintons. Barack does not have that long coattail to depend on. But, what he does have are political people who are tired of the spin and dishonesty and loyalty to the corporations and who want change, so they forge alliances with Obama whom they know incorporates the best hope for unity, and inspiration which can bring about real change and a break from the past of corporate greed and domination. Obama does not have to tear down his opponents or speak with a Loud Voice for the masses to hear him, although he is up against a Mighty Giant in the Clintons and the Republicans: Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, Wolf Blitzer, and Fox News TV which berate, distort and belittle Barack and his accomplishments on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, and yet he is still standing and still getting endorsements, although bloodied and bruised, as Rush Limbaugh asked his loyalists to do.

    Ironically, the very Republicans that are helping Hillary today, will turn on her like a mighty sword come Fall if she becomes the nominee! It seems they know things they are holding back on because they are trying their darnedest to get her to become the Democratic nominee. For years they had planned this and it is obvious that she is the one they really want to run against, and so for now she has a stalwart ally in the Republicans, again for now.

    As Michael Moore so ably pointed out in his recent endorsement of Barack, Hillary Clinton ridicules Barack for his Pastor, Rev. Wright, yet who did they turn to when Bill was facing Impeachment due to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, who did they call -- yes, the very Rev. Wright himself, such hypocrisy! And, Remember, according to the Clintons, this was all supposed to be over by Super Tuesday!

    However, despite the enormous odds and challenges, and brain washing, we, the people, do have a say in this process of ours, although that too can be suspect with some of the "voting machines" still in process. We can reclaim our Power! We can chose to turn off those so-called television news shows which are used as hack jobs instead of truly informing the news. Yet in spite of the odds, Barack continues to battle on for the peoples' true independence and for the people to have a true democratic say in this process of ours (that includes blue-collar working-class white people also, though some of the media like to brain wash us otherwise, because the more they try to departmentalize us as to who has who, they are dividing us). There is a Light at the end of this Tunnel!

  •  She does know that 40% are voting for McCain...? (0+ / 0-)

    She does know this, doesn't she?  

  •  Outstanding diary and (0+ / 0-)

    as further corroboration of the DLC approach in 1990s recall Bill Clinton's rebuke of Sista Soulja which went over well with wide range of white folks AS WELL AS Civil Rights generation of blacks because of how "bad" hip-hop is and its "aweful" influence on youth.

    Interestingly, hip-hop - because it was ALWAYS wider and deeper than "gangsta" rap - and the hip-hop generation has had a major influence on Echo Boomers/Generation Y which ardently support Obama, who in turn have also influenced their parents, e.g. Senator Claire McCaskill.  Add to this that once black folks saw what happened in Iowa - and the Clintons' poor handling of the black community; initially too focused on the Civil Rights generation assuming this would be all that was necessary because they were completely out-of-touch with subsequent generations - they began to "believe" and w/ SC til the present vote overwhelmingly for Obama.  Btw, even w/ Clinton's once "rock-solid" support amongst Civil Rights generation of blacks, she NEVER ONCE gave any propers to Shirley Chisholm, which in and of itself speaks volumes about where Hillary Clinton is really coming from.  

    Which in turn ties back to your original point - she doesn't give a rat's ass about working-class white folks.  Everything about her husband's policies, as well as what she will ACTUALLY do, represents that she will sell them out.  Yet Obama can get no love from working-class whites because of Wright,  flagpins, and guns/religion when his ENTIRE professional career has been working on the FRONT LINES with working-class folks.  As Forrrest Gump so eloquently put it "Stupid is as stupid does."  

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