(Or at Least Waiting in the Wings)
Recently I’ve been laughing at Sarah Palin. Then I read this Frank Rich column:
Then I read this comment to the Frank Rich column:
July 12th, 2009
“Frank,The fans of Palin aren’t feral racists.They’re the people “left behind” by the Democratic Party for well over a decade, going back to Clinton’s signing of NAFTA.
Earlier than that, they’re the people whose brothers couldn’t get college deferments out of Vietnam, and who, after that debacle, quite reasonably needed a more optimistic leader than they got some years later in Jimmy Carter.
(Let’s leave aside what our last Democratic President Clinton did to the overall middle class, or what’s left of it, with his repeal of Glass-Steagall, and his signing of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which was just icing on the cake.)
We on the coasts and in the cities long ago abandoned those lower to middle class white rural voters. Then we mocked them and their values, because we were shocked they weren’t Gandhi-esque.
And for years, Instead of addressing their economic concerns (manufacturing jobs, jobs, jobs being outsourced!), we came at them with gay marriage and abortion that had almost no relevance to their lives. It’s like sticking your finger in a stranger’s eye, and then pretending you’re shocked that they don’t want to buy you coffee! Doh!
Let’s please stop insulting Palin (who isn’t worth the ink!) and instead find a way to reach out to these lost Democrats.”
I don’t thing the Democratic Party will reach out to Palinites. Right now it has nothing to offer them.
Both parties have made deals with their devils over the last 30 years, and the Democrats are hamstrung by theirs.
In the late 1960s President Nixon (a Republican) created the “Southern strategy”. The idea was that the party of the rich would reach out to poor and lower middle class Whites (traditionally mostly Democrats), who had been incensed by the support of President Lyndon Johnson for the movement for Black civil rights. The new Republican strategy worked great, and Nixon got elected! And then a few years later, during the Reagan administration, the militant fudamentalists joined up. The Republicans were riding high.
So high, in fact, that they had managed to greatly weaken unions, the traditional funding base of the Democratic party, by 1992, when Bill Clinton came along. So in the early 1990s he began to move his party toward the center, and, most crucially, toward access to funding by wealthy individuals and PACs.
Decisions like those mentioned in the above comment by Eva then followed. The Democrats were free to act against the interests of the social class that had always been their party’s base because the Republicans had stolen much of that base away.
As a result, the working class, and particularly unions, have now been so weakened that lots of working class folks are constantly furious, and the unions of the working class can’t hope to be major players on the political stage again.
So as long as it takes multi-millions of dollars to run for office, Democrats will have to keep the owning class happy. They will do things like give billions of dollars to big banks; and the “Blue Dog” Democrats will impede creation of universal health care, etc.
Democrats can’t create any New Deal-type programs to make the workers’ lives better. And they can’t trade on the widespread resentment either. The Republicans have that strategy sowed up.
So Palin, or someone like her, in the White House is an absurd and frightening bad dream that just might come true.
Update: For analysis of how the “Blue Dog” democrats harmed the Democratic party last time it was in power see: