An Eye on November

The fight for the nomination is coming to end in the next few weeks and for all intents and purposes, though “not completely over,” it does appear that “the odds now overwhelmingly favor Barack Obama.” This of course is not good news to Clinton supporters who hold on to the hope that she will pull off the nomination. I’m right in there hoping with all of youShe is in my opinion the best person for the job.

In Paul Krugman’s column today, many “Democrats are worried” that Obama can pull off a victory in the November General Election against John McCain. Although all indicators “strongly favor the Democrats,” this year, Krugman says there is still “just one thing that should give Democrats pause — but it’s a big one: the fight for the nomination has divided the party along class and race lines in a way that I believe is unprecedented, at least in modern times.”

Ironically, much of Mr. Obama’s initial appeal was the hope that he could transcend these divisions. At first, voting patterns seemed consistent with this hope. In February, for example, he received the support of half of Virginia’s white voters as well as that of a huge majority of African-Americans.

But this week, Mr. Obama, while continuing to win huge African-American majorities, lost North Carolina whites by 23 points, Indiana whites by 22 points. Mr. Obama’s white support continues to be concentrated among the highly educated; there was little in Tuesday’s results to suggest that his problems with working-class whites have significantly diminished.

Discussions of how and why Mr. Obama’s support narrowed over time have a Rashomon-like quality: different observers see very different truths. But at this point it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. What does matter is that Mr. Obama appears to have won the nomination with a deep but narrow base consisting of African-Americans and highly educated whites. And now he needs to bring Democrats who opposed him back into the fold.

History shows that even after other “hard-fought” battles for the nomination, the “Democrats have had little trouble unifying,” but Krugman notes, “this time the division seems to go deeper than ordinary political rivalry.”

The closest parallel I can think of is the bitter intraparty struggles of the 1920s, which pitted urban, often Catholic Democrats against Protestant farmers.

So what can be done to heal the party’s current divisions?

Krugman’s advice is on the money, though no doubt, Obama supporters may disagree. He cautions that (emphasis mine) “More tirades from Obama supporters against Mrs. Clinton are not the answer — they will only further alienate her grass-roots supporters, many of whom feel that she received a raw deal.” And he says (emphasis mine):  

Nor is it helpful to insult the groups that supported Mrs. Clinton, either by suggesting that racism was their only motivation or by minimizing their importance.

After the Pennsylvania primary, David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, airily dismissed concerns about working-class whites, saying that they have “gone to the Republican nominee for many elections.” On Tuesday night, Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist, declared that “we don’t have to just rely on white blue-collar voters and Hispanics.” That sort of thing has to stop.

The fact is we need every faction, every demographic group to coalesce around the nominee. We can not simply rely on the groups that Obama has brought into the fold and call it a day. And we must give the “delegates from Florida and Michigan — representatives of citizens who voted in good faith, and whose support the party may well need this November — seats at the convention.” Yes, we must.

And Barack Obama, once the nomination is fete de complete, needs to actively court the voters who Hillary Clinton has attracted, the “white blue-collar voters and Hispanics,” and he should work to “center his campaign on economic issues that matter to working-class families, whatever their race.”

Hillary Clinton has done a far better job assuring these voters that she is listening to their needs and she will work to help them once in the White House.

As I pointed out here many months ago, Obama’s message of uniting people to work for a change falls short for many of those over-worked and under paid working class families who are struggling to put food on the table and pay their monthly expenses. It’s an idealistic vision, coming from the Obama camp that everyone has the time, energy and money to jump into the activist mode and get involved. Too many working class families it simply is not feasible. Hillary Clinton gets that. Barack Obama misses the point.

As Krugman notes at the end of his column today, “Mr. Obama has an extraordinary opportunity in this year’s election. He should do everything possible to avoid squandering it.”

For now, I am holding on the concept that a miracle will shift the universe and Hillary Clinton will become our nominee. But the pragmatist and realist in me, also gets that Paul Krugman offers a clear view of the lead up to November with Obama as the nominee and it’s solid food for thought. And of course the flip side of all of this is that if that miracle does happen, Hillary Clinton will need to work equally as hard to bring the Obama voters and supporters into the fold to ensure a win in November.

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16 Responses to An Eye on November

  1. Gilbert Martinez says:

    Well, I have a suspicion that the wounds in the Democratic Party cannot be healed by Obama or his supporters. In the last several days and weeks, they have written off the working class. They are trying to make it “white” working class, but Donna Brazile threw in Hispanics, perhaps on accident. And the liberal bloggers are salivating at the Whole Foods shopping “creative class” taking over the party as they sip on PBR.

    Combine the recent Obama supporters rhetoric with their deliberate efforts to ignore the will of the people in FL and MI, and Obama campaign statements that popular vote is an unimportant “metric” for the nomination and its a pretty clear sign that they haven’t and probably won’t heed Krugman’s advice. By their own admission, neither the Obama campaign or their supporters believe they need working class voters. That used to be the fundamental force of the Dems. I’m not surprised that universal health care was so easily thrown off the table.

  2. Gilbert

    I read the “creative class” stuff last night. Funny thing is in my opinion, the Democratic party has always included the “creative class” and many in the “creative class” are in fact low and middle income voters.

  3. JP says:

    this article is right on target. i’m positive we will unify.

  4. coldH2Owi says:

    lol, Pamela, we agree again. That whole creative class b.s. got under this person’s skin. It’s confounding to see these ReThug memes creep into the liberal mindset. I know a lot of creative folks working in sheet metal shops & sign painting shops & hospital laundrys, etc. They then go home & work long hours on poems & paintings & sculpture & photos. & then, they may well give it up & just work & try to have as happy a life as they can in Bu$hColand. We are all working class in some way or another. Separating people into groups you can then make fun of is not only insulting, but only helps the ReThugs. Our goals ought to be that everyone can afford to shop at Whole Foods & sip a latte if that’s what they want to do. Gilbert’s constant derision of creative people, I suppose Einstein is fair game, maybe that egghead Marx, I suppose, isn’t even a worthy argument. Oh, & I hate lattes, though I do drink a double Americano in a medium sized to go cup with a couple of ice cubes at least once a day.

  5. Cold

    I think what Gilbert is deriding is the notion that liberal bloggers supporting Obama are putting up in the blogosphere that the “creative class” is taking over the party. However their definition of the “creative class” doesn’t include the long time members of the party, the working class folk that you describe who have always been members of the creative class.

    See wikipedia here and here.

    And FYI, I believe Gilbert was in part quoting this post from Chris Bowers on Open Left.

    What I got from Gilbert’s post was that he views the touting of the “creative class” by the Obama supporters in the blogosphere as annoying as you and I seem to. I don’t get that Gilbert has ever derided creative folks here at all.

  6. Cold

    The guy who coined the “creative class” meme is Richard Florida. A Google search found this from his blog a few months ago: Obama and the Creative Class.

    Basically what I am seeing is Obama supporting bloggers have put themselves into the creative class and bought into the idea that they are taking over the party and they will prevail — per the link to the post from Bowers in my previous comment.

    That’s who’s dissing the working class “creative class” members of the party, not Gilbert.

  7. coldH2Owi says:

    While my kid was in NOLA, she shopped at Whole Foods, & when I visited her so did I. I know all about Prof. Florida. We’ve tried some of his ideas up here in nowheresville. When all the factories have closed up – not the fault of Sen. Obama or the creative class, btw – where are people supposed to work? & when they do get a job, what the hell is wrong with buying some healthy food at Whole Foods, if that’s the only place to get good, organic food? I know Mr. Gilbert is a long time poster here & that you two are apparently friends, but, again, a person is allowed to parse words, but I don’t think they are allowed to parse meaning. You know, Mr. Gilbert’s life story, what he provided in his newest post, is the life story of most Americans. That’s why I get so frustrated reading his denunciations of behaviors that people I know & love exhibit. He is so caught up in his working class background that he doesn’t realize that almost everybody has that background. Both my parents worked & raised three children. They are dead now as are my dad’s parents who also both worked, first cooking for the workers on the Alcan highway & then in the Detroit factories during WWII. I get infuriated when Mr. Gilbert demeans people’s behaviors when he ( as you correctly said to me once) doesn’t even know who they are. It’s because of a lot of dead industrial workers & photographers & novelists & diamond cutters & journalists & loggers & garbage men, the list goes on & on, that he is even able to go to school from a working class background. &he is also able to go to school because a bunch of starry-eyed kids decided that they had had enough of something, at some time in history. This Obama thing is nothing knew – FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, Eugene McCarthy, Sen. McGovern, Ted Kennedy in 1980 (he would have beaten that asshole Reagan, IMHO), Howard Dean, & know Obama & Clinton. I so appreciate Mr. Gilbert’s dedication & unbelievable support of Sen. Clinton. What I don’t appreciate is his trashing of good people. He tried to sneak in a lame response to my suggestion that we, as Democrats, ought to strive to have everybody well off enough to shop at Whole Foods, if they want to. That’s always been my view. Rather than tear down Congress for the health care they have, I have demanded, & yes, to no avail, that all Americans ought to have the same health care. So you go Mr. Gilbert, you go as hard as you can, but stop the denigrating of your opponents in this primary struggle. By doing so you demean yourself.
    Now I don’t for a minute think Mr. Gilbert will be swayed by my words, he probably finds them “psychologically interesting”. Such is life.

  8. I’ve been on the sidelines for more time than I like. I’m just now catching up with the last few days.

    This article, with Krugman’s on target analysis of the recent voting, hits a homerun.

    I analyzed the results on a county by county basis for both of the last races. In neither state did Senator Obama win a majority of counties. In all cases his support is primarily Urban Big City, suburbs of Big Cities and college/university towns. Seldom did I see a county where I couldn’t identify some segment of these factors.

    In general it does seem to me that Senator Obama doesn’t have the strength to win both the Urban and Non-Urban vote at this point. That may change, with a good effort from him, but that’s yet to be seen.

    I never discount Senator John McCain. He simply never gives up. Last summer he laid off his entire staff and was campaigning by himself. Carrying his own luggage he stumped NH from one end to the other. And he won the nomination!

    He is not, regardless of his unconscionable stand on the war, a typical Republican. I do not take the general election for granted. The issue of who can win in November is finally coming out from the Clinton camp. It should have been a prime topic for the entire campaign with question being asked of all the candidates early on when the stage was crowded.

    Any Presidential campaign is about becoming President . Yet only now has the campaign sharpened to the point we are hearing talk, in the media and from the candidates, on that topic.

    The county by county results, along the demographic turnout numbers, may make an Obama General Election campaign a challenge. [You can find this info at CNN’s Political section.]

    If Senator Obama is the nominee, our best strength will not only be the nominee but the fact that George Bush has lost any form of support. He’s now polling at 28%! I hear hard core Republicans here in the OC saying they would vote for Hillary and maybe Obama. But they do not want to vote for a Republican candidate that wants to continue Bush policies.

    If America feels the same way as these people perhaps the campaign will be a walk-over. I seriously doubt it though.

    Based on my own hard won campaign experience, I think this will be the filthiest general campaign on record. The attacks will not come from John McCain who will continue to ask that any outright attacks to stop. He’ll plead innocence while the attack machine surrounding him takes every conceivable shot at our Nominee.

    As I asked a political friend moments ago: Who do you think has the best experience mounting a deep, filthy attack campaign? Democrats or Republicans?

    It sure isn’t us. I worry about the result of a skilled negative campaign against Senator Obama. Hillary Clinton has been under attack for nearly 20 years. All of her supposed ‘dirty laundry’ is in the public domain.

    After all those attacks, with the most vicious slurs, she is winning her Senate races by record numbers and still fighting in this presidential election. Hillary Clinton’s past is known quantity. Her ‘closets’ are wide open. Barack Obama’s are not.

    That worries me. Remember the effective, well organized and deeply funded attack machine we face in the general election. Yes, it worries me.

  9. Cold

    Again you miss the point and I think you are parsing Gilbert’s words. As I said to him I read the “creative class” stuff last night, referring to the Chris Bowers post I linked to in my previous comment to you and Gilbert was quoting Chris Bowers on the “shopping at Whole Foods”. I happen to agree with Gilbert, that the liberal bloggers supporting Obama are making way too much to do about the creative class, which has in fact always existed (and been active) in the Dem Party, as you and I agree. In fact I think Chris Bowers et al are the ones doing the trashing — not Gilbert. They all think it’s so cool that the “creative class” is taking over and they miss the point that we’ve always been involved.

    There’s nothing wrong with shopping at Whole Foods, but really these days who can afford to? Certainly not the average working American, that’s for damn sure. I have a Whole Foods down the street, I don’t shop there — too expensive for my budget — likewise I don’t sip latte. I can’t afford a daily Starbucks and have better things to spend my money on. I’ve spent my whole life working in creative fields – blogging was a natural for me as a writer, artist, designer.

    And FYI, Gilbert is not a longtime poster here, he’s only been posting here a few months at my invitation. Yes, he’s from the working class just like the rest of us. My parents, FYI were born during the depression. My mother would have been 95 on May 7th. Both of my parents came from small town New England — MA & NH. My father worked in a tannery when he was young, my mother’s father walked 10 miles each way to work in the shoe shop during the depression.

    Obama’s campaign has as much as said they don’t need the working class voters, as Krugman pointed out. Again who’s denigrating who?

    I’m ready for a good movie tonight… enough with this. 🙂

  10. coldH2Owi says:

    I have failed. How can I top the 20 miles a day walk to work. & No, Mr. Gilbert is totally & now famously wrong. He is the one trashing the creative class, the working class (except black workers, ’cause you just know they’re lazy), the middle class, the sophomore class. I know we all want peace, but, frankly, you guys are so far into Sen. Clinton that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Now there’s an original thought. I’ve given up on movies since Reds, remember all those creative lefties? Talk about a bunch of loonies, eh? I’ve been wanting to say this for awhile, & I hope it doesn’t get sh*t-canned, & I apologize in advance for any hurt feelings, but I get a gnawing sense of bourgeois leftism among the pro-Sen. Clinton blogs &, honestly, from Mr. Gilbert.

  11. Cold

    Let me see if I have this straight… you said:

    While my kid was in NOLA, she shopped at Whole Foods, & when I visited her so did I…

    I know all about Prof. Florida. We’ve tried some of his ideas up here in nowheresville…

    what the hell is wrong with buying some healthy food at Whole Foods, if that’s the only place to get good, organic food?

    And then I said:

    I have a Whole Foods down the street, I don’t shop there — too expensive for my budget — likewise I don’t sip latte. I can’t afford a daily Starbucks and have better things to spend my money on.

    Wow… I dunno who’s “bourgeois“? Must be the projectionist among us… you. Good gracious — you are a projectionist extraordinaire.

    The bourgeois leftists are all supporting Obama you twit — the rich, wealthy, latte drinking, Whole Foods shoppers are the “bourgeois” leftists of our times. The blue collar workers, the working class, the proletariat are supporting Clinton.

    Get a gripe and do us all a favor — go watch some light comedy on DVD and come back after you’ve detoxed yourself from thinking you know it all.

  12. Kendall Johnson says:

    Cold a**hole,

    No, Clinton represent the working class. Obama is for latte snobs who don’t care about poor people unless the are black and haven’t voted yet!!!!!!!

  13. Kendall

    To the point and right on the money. Thank you.

  14. I’ve got about two, maybe two and a half, cents to throw in here. Come November there will be one Republic pushing positions that will either sound very grotesque, in which case he loses “the middle”, or tries to sound some odd vein of mainstrean, in which case he loses his “base”. On the other side will be our candidate.

    Stuart, I’m more familiar with that base than makes me feel really comfortable (I first started monitoring right wing talk radio in the late seventies), and I can tell you that they are far more skittish than the “creative class”. They would get all giddy this time about Adolph Hitler, and anything much removed from that is going to leave them foaming at the mouth disgruntled.

    The internal struggle going on in the left is only a high tide compared to the tsunami tearing the right apart this time. We start with the deck hugely stacked in our favor and even the famous propensity for the left wing to defeat itself seems insufficient to squander the lead that current circumstances have abundantly bestowed upon us.

  15. Kendall A. Johnson says:

    Upscale democrats have to understand that blacks are not the only poor people in this country. The majority of poor people are young white women, most of whom are single mothers. Latinos are poorer than Blacks and represent a larger part of the population as well.

    Part of the problem is that schools don’t teach about class, latino struggles or the women’s movement. its all about the Black civil rights movement, which is important, but only part of the tapastry that makes up our country. The Latte under 40 crowd don’t have a context of oppression beyond the civil rights movement of the Blacks. That’s why it’s so easy to look down on poor whites. They don’t understand the complexity of class, races and gender, because the schools don’t teach it. it’s a shame and part of the divide within the democratic party. Even young women with law degrees don’t have have any historical context of women’s rights. They know about Roe v. Wade, but not about Griswald v. Conn. or her progyny up to Roe. It amazes me that they as well educated people are so uneducated. I manage a legal services unit and have been representing poor women for more than 15 years. I am a feminest and I care about poor women. I believe that gender inequality is the most defining and crippling obsticle in the world and the major cause of world poverty and strife.

    Part of why I back Clinton is that she gets it in a more profound way than Obama. Obama’s support for his cousin Raila Odingo in Kanya is telling of his ignorance on this issue. His cousin leads an opposition party to the current government in Kanya. His counsin wants to over throw the government and impose SHARIA LAW. Sharia law is one of the most misogynistic forms of government in the world. It enslaves women. Obama should be ashamed of himself. There is no equality in this type of thinking. For this reason alone I could never support Obama. This scares me about him and makes me wonder about his real agenda.

  16. Kendall: If you think that Sen. Obama misses this point, try Sen. McCain. I don’t think that you and he are even in the same universe.