Regaining the Working-Class Vote
Why Georgia Democrats are losing the blue-collar support and how they can win it back.
The Democratic Party has had 3 months to digest the gut-wrenching statewide election in the state's history. Its like this: the party must win back middle-class, working whites to regain political control of the state from the Republican Party. It doesn't need anymore progressives, it needs no more liberals. It needs more Bluecollar, middle class, working class whites in order to be a player again in the near future.
There is a significant challenge for the Georgia Democratic Party. The party needs to “reframe” its message and become “better communicators,” but its principles will remain the same — protection of those less fortunate, protection of the rights of the middle class, ethics in government and “family values.” Yes "FAMILY VALUES", which isn't synonymous with the democrats nowadays.
The Georgia Republican Party's strong suit is “packaging and marketing,” while “substance” is the Democratic Party's strong suit. You can package something and make people believe it is the best thing that ever happened, but when they open the carton, they are going to be surprised. The party need to spend the bulk of its time and energy expended to attract white working-class families and regain their trust. No dems should not ignore the issues of minorities, which they need to remain viable, but that to win elections, they're going to have to reclaim white voters, particularly in central & southern Georgia, as well increase their margins up in the North Georgia Mountains.
The most powerful piece of the Democratic Party lies in 159 counties before, the most important piece appeared to lie in Atlanta with the leadership, I don't believe that. They need to going back to the grass roots philosophy that was the strength of the party during its hey day. Now I don't believe the party won't run away from President Barack Obama in 2012 and will work to get him as many votes as possible, but the reality is that Georgia is one of the “reddest” states in the country.
Democrats have been trying to woo blue-collar workers back into the fold ever since 2002 when they began to leave the Georgia Democratic Party in droves due to the unpopular decision by then Gov Barnes to remove the confederate flag among other things. I would read how former candidates like Jimmy Carter, Lester Maddox, Zell Miller mobilized white working-class “hard hats” during their runs for governor. But for modern day Georgia Democrats their attempts have been largely trumped by Republican strategists like Derrick Dickey, Nick Ayers, etc who understood better than their Democratic counterparts how to tap into working-class values—particularly distrust of government.
Part of the problem as I see it & I'm only 28 years old, is that many democrats on the left side of the political spectrum still view the white working class in terms of stereotypes left over from the ’60s, you know, the popular image of all workers as deeply reactionary "Archie Bunkers," of All in the Family, (which is one of my favorite shows) as I put it. In fact, workers today are neither as intolerant nor as angry as their classic profile would indicate. Still, there are certain perspectives that bind workers together and inform their political philosophy: work, community, and country.
Perhaps the central theme for a Democratic candidate for governor, senator, etc is figuring out how to attract some of the 30-40%% of blue collar workers who might vote for the republican candidate. Remember how Howard Dean got in trouble when he awkwardly addressed the issue when he referred to the need to attract guys with "Confederate flag bumper stickers." Dean used the wrong metaphor, but he was correct in identifying a key election challenge for the Democrats.
It's probably almost certain if the Democrats can make significant inroads in this split-down-the-middle white male blue-collar vote, the Democratic candidate would win the next election. How does a Democratic candidate stand up for universal rights , including for women and minorities and for a secular society, and still be able to access at least some percentage of that blue-collar, white male vote that's already leaning republican because of insecurities about those very issues?
Well ,I think that the Democrats can appeal to the blue-collar man or the (I won't call him a Nascar Dad), but the blue-collar voter, male voter by saying: You've been exposed to a giant hoax, and here's what the hoax is. It is offering you a make-believe candied apple with one hand and picking your pocket with the other hand. And take your own feelings back. They're yours. And put them behind a vote for someone who's going to really solve your problems. Set about seriously setting up a domestic agenda that makes a difference to you. Now that is something I would say.
And you wonder how Republicans have dominated statewide contests for almost a decade. Contests in recent years whether its for State Rep or Secretary of State is that probably one-quarter of all working-class white males voters have left the Georgia Democratic Party in the last decade, and who knows how many middle-class white male voters left during the same period. White voters often feel crowded out of the Party because of the Democrats’ emphasis on affirmative action & issues facing minorities.
With the right candidates, though, Democrats can demonstrated that they can attract this disgruntled, yet still powerful, constituency. Working class whites, are the Democratic swing vote. They are the Democrats’ equivalent of outer suburbanites for the Republican party (who were the reason so many Republicans were terrified of a Oxendine candidacy). A candidate who is being rejected in a primary 3-1 by a swing segment of the primary electorate may well have real problems in the general election holding on to them.
So in 2012 & 2014 & beyond, democrats here in Georgia have to find candidates who can appeal to this powerful voting bloc. Carol Porter, DuBose Porter, JB Powell, Carl Camon are just a few can talk the talk & walk the walk when it comes to appealing to Bluecollar voters.
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