Politico occasionally posts worthwhile material, but not even this upteenth post mortem can avoid obtuseness. Why does the phrase “working class voter” need the adjective “white”? It has never occurred to these reporters that blacks and Hispanics are working class too — and they vote. Thomas Frank, author of books with subtle titles like Listen, Liberal and What’s the Matter with Kansas?, reminds the panel that many new Trump voters were recent Obama and Bill Clinton voters:
Frank: There’s a lot of these people that could easily be won back to the Democratic Party and, by the way, not by the Democratic Party denying the theory of evolution or siding with the NRA or something like that, but offering them a competing message that has to do with economics, appealing to them on their class interests.
And this is what the Democratic Party obviously used to do. This is not even hard to look up. This is very recent. You look at a place like Missouri. I grew up in Kansas City. And when I was a kid, Missouri was a very Democratic state. Harry Truman is from Missouri. Dick Gephardt is from Missouri. But you look at the map now, and Trump took every county except for St. Louis, Kansas City and the college town, Columbia. And it is a wipeout for Democrats out there. You go to these small towns, and there is no Democratic presence in these places….
…Frank: Small towns, all over America, boarded up, the businesses are all gone, the kids leave as soon as they can, the family farms are dying. OK, what do you do about that? Well, one thing that’s really easy is antitrust. You know, you start going after the agricultural monopolies. Every farmer I’ve ever met knows about these companies, and is furious about them. And those people—I mean, this is a very Republican cohort now—but, you know, you start talking about their one obsessive concern, and you might be able to win some of them over. You start going after Wal-Mart, which has destroyed the businesses in every small town in America. Do you remember when Barack Obama won Iowa over Hillary Clinton in 2008? It was a big surprise, a big shocker. And the way he did it was by promising to use the antitrust laws against agricultural monopolies, or that was one of the things that he said.
So what are Frank’s solutions? We need stronger unions. We need unions. But this need — this hope — is futile. Unions will never return to the days before 1981 or even 1947. Guy Cecil of Priorities USA has the better idea: the kind of grassroots effort that Reverend William Barber of North Carolina organized for Moral Mondays, whose canvassing eventually kicked Pat McCrory out of office (replacing him with a successor whom the legislature has nevertheless emasculated).
Forgive me, though, for shaking my head over one more liberal who knows what we have to do — including, I might add, yours truly.