No Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of white men since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all prevailed with support of the so-called rising electorate of women, especially single women, and minorities. But fewer of those voters typically participate in midterm elections, making the votes of white men more potent and the struggle of Democrats for 2014 clear.The reason for the shift in the 1960s is left politely unsaid, other than a Republican aside supposing that more recent Democratic appeals to "women, minorities and gays" may have been "counterproductive" with white men. A studiously charitable reason for the gap may be simple self-interest; white men have no great need to hear about how a party will protect their rights, because they do not have the same reminders of needing that protection. Others see the championing of civil rights as a zero sum game; rights given to others must naturally be coming from somewhere, i.e. out of their own hides. What else you got?
A big reason for Democrats’ emphasis on raising the minimum wage is the polling proof that the issue resonates with all groups, including white men. In Michigan, Mr. Houston is leading an effort to place a minimum-wage increase on the November ballot and said it “really polls well with white men.”Please read below the fold for more on this story.
Ah, now that's something. One of the few things nearly all non-wealthy Americans have been able to agree on over the last few decades is that they, personally, are being screwed in the workplace. You can lie to people about a great many things, but not about the contents of their own pockets. A party could definitely make something of the increasingly dim economic prospects of anyone who does Actual Damn Work for a living, if a party were inclined. And if a party did not itself have to rely on the financial largesse of the wealthy Americans doing the screwing.
Some white men have proved to be within reach: single men, college students and graduates with advanced degrees, the nonreligious, and gay men. But working-class married men remain hardest to win over and, unless they are in unions, get the least attention — to the dismay of some partisans.And they ain't in unions, because unions have been demonized for forty years. The manufacturing sectors that best championed worker protections in previous decades have steadily flown the coop for less restrictive environs, places where fingers are still considered optional accessories and nations where, if your poorly built factory collapses in upon its entire workforce, your most pressing concern will be finding a new space to rent and determining what of the machinery might be salvaged. You would think that there would be some correlation between the economic malaise of the workforce and the indelicate surgeries that keep amputating limbs from the organizations that they once formed to protect themselves, but as far as any business leader has been able to tell us it is just uncanny coincidence. Go figure.
It does seem clear that to appeal to that now-minority group "working class white men of average education," the party needs to appeal to their economic interests. There's no major subsection of the American public that has ever been impressed by fairness to groups other than their own, and certainly not during dark economic times. This would be the usual time when we all pipe up suggesting the party look into some of the new shiny notions a certain Elizabeth Warren has been lobbing into the public discourse, to use one of several examples, but we seem to be forever limited to only notions that will not make Wall Street sad, and the list of things that make Wall Street sad has been growing quite a bit, these last few elections. What to do?