Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama's Remarks About Working Class Voters

I'm guessing that everyone is aware of the kerfuffle that has resulted from Barack Obama's comments about frustrated working-class voters, expressing why he's perplexed about failing to win over many of these voters.:

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

I agree that this was a poor choice of words. But if I'm reading him correctly, he's expressing a common concern among Democrats about working class voters who inexplicably vote against their own economic interests by voting Republican.

Such voters many times will vote based on issues such as opposition to gay marriage and/or abortion, support for anti-flag burning laws, and so on, which have nothing to do with improving the quality of their day to day lives. They tend to vote Republican based on these issues, ignoring the fact that Republicans often vote against measures that would improve their everyday lives in the area of health care, worker's rights, educational assistance, and other similar issues.

The 2004 book "What's the Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank addresses this phenomenon in depth, so Obama is hardly the first person to address this issue.

Obama later clarified his remarks by saying:

"They are angry. They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they're going through.

"So I said, well you know, when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country."

While I wish Obama had chosen his words more carefully, I agree with the gist of what he said: that voters who vote Republican based on symbolic wedge issues, often contrary to their own economic interests, need to be reached and then to address the things that would truly improve their lives.

2 comments:

D.K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.K. said...

I agree.

This is no different than happened at Obama's church.

Things were said that were not pretty. They were things that most people do not want to hear.

But for all of the recoil that occurred on what was said at Obama's church about America's foreign policy, I find it interesting that not once has anyone actually refuted what was said.

I'm guessing that's because there is no refuting what was said.

I'm also guessing the same will occur with Obama's comments about small town voters.

I'm not an Obama supporter, but I applaud any politician or anyone else who isn't scared to talk about things that most people don't want to admit exist.