Sunday, November 25, 2018

What Can Georgia Democrats in White Working-Class Districts Must Do

Given the reality that simply proposing programs and policies that are objectively in white workers’ interests is insufficient to win their support, Democratic candidates must instead visualize the method of appealing to these voters as a two-stage process.

Dubose Porter
First, they must develop a specific communication and persuasion strategy designed to break through the conservative “bubble” and become accepted as a legitimate part of the political discussion that goes on between the different sectors of the white working-class community. Second, once this is accomplished, they can begin to debate and challenge their Republican opponents regarding specific social and economic policies and programs.

Historically, most Democratic candidates who succeeded in white working-class, small-town districts have followed this kind of approach and always tended to display two major characteristics:

First, they firmly asserted and embraced many key traditional values and cultural markers of the white working class even as they staked out relatively moderate or liberal stances on these subjects.

They would endorse common-sense gun regulations, for example, but also consider gun ownership legitimate and categorically support the rights of citizens to own guns. They would reject the notion that America should impose Christianity on all Americans, but they would assert equally firmly that Christian faith is a positive force in many Americans’ family life, including their own. They would support a variety of populist economic measures but at the same time endorse the virtues of small business and individual initiative that are a part of working-class culture.

Second, they frequently embodied white working-class values in their own personal life and history. Many attended church on Sunday; others had served honorably in the military or had a background in a working-class occupation or as the owner of a small business. Many went hunting on fall weekends, listened to country music in their car, and were able to talk with firsthand knowledge and personal experience about the day-to-day problems of the white working-class people in the neighborhoods and communities they represented. In their personal lives they refuted the accusation that they were educated elitists with no connection to or understanding of ordinary peoples’ lives.

Democrats running in red-leaning districts whether its in South Central Georgia or Northeast Georgia need to spend time in places where people disagree with you. Reach out. Show up and make your argument. People will appreciate it, even if they are not inclined to vote for you. Sometimes you may spend days among crowds where there are almost no Democratic voters in sight. Listen to them, work with them and try to persuade them.

But if a Democrat is on the progressive side or leans that way, one should combine a reassuring cultural style with a practical progressive message on issues that people care about.

It is critical to recognize that the approach many Democratic candidates are taking cuts across the conventional centrist-progressive divide that now so obsesses the media and dominates debate within the Democratic coalition. Some successful Democratic candidates will frame their policies in relatively moderate (though still clearly Democratic) terms, as Lucy McBath did in Georgia 6th Congressional District, while others will campaign on more robust progressive terms like Stacey Abrams did in her bid for Georgia governor. But the success of all the new Democratic candidates will ultimately depend on whether they can win recognition and acceptance as sincere and authentic representatives of their predominantly working-class districts, rather than on any differences in the exact details of their platforms and policies.

In Trump-friendly districts, the central challenge Democrats face is to penetrate the conservative ideological cocoon and convincingly demonstrate to voters that Democrats can once again be their most effective and genuine advocates and representatives.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Can Democrats Rise Again in Rural Georgia?

Democrats must win back the trust of rural Georgia if they want to win elections in 2020 and beyond.
That means, first and foremost, campaigning outside of reliably liberal city areas like Albany, Decatur, Athens, Macon, Forest Park, Atlanta just to name a few and acknowledging the cultural and economic concerns of the voters living in the rural parts of the state.

They need to be in small towns, like Cordele, Douglas, Barnesville, Sandersville, Jackson, Colquitt, creating those conversations in the coffee shop, pushing back on those folks who are anti-democrat, anti-government. 

Where such voters once associated the Democratic Party with aid to the little guy and the middle class, many now see it as the party of cultural warriors, protesters, big spenders. They see the party as prioritizing the needs of immigrants, refugees and minorities ahead of middle-income working people. This doesn’t mean becoming a Republican-lite in trying to appeal to these voters. It’s not about that. It’s about having a conversation with those voters to make them understand that democrats don’t think they’re idiots.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Georgia Dems Can Win Some of the Rural Vote...

If they did one simple thing: Show up. Right now, they don’t. But that maybe changing. Sarah Griggs Amico have made several trips to South Georgia since the end of the primary, so have candidate for Attorney General Charlie Bailey, Agriculture Commissioner candidate Fred Swann among others. Stacey Abrams have made a few ventures outside Georgia, but one have to wonder can she...or will she commit to courting rural Georgia voters.
Rural voters notice the exclusion. Republicans by contrast structure their messaging around popular rural themes like Guns, The Flag, Religion, etc. They show up at county fairs and festivals, and voters respond . . . The reason they dominate elections is that they’re highly visible and constantly communicate that ‘we’re on your side and the Democrats are not.’ They win the argument by default because Democrats aren’t around to offer a rebuttal.
Word to Democratic candidates....You don’t have to become a Republican in order to have rural appeal. It’s only important that you show, that you care about local concerns, and that you are working for solutions. There’s nothing very complicated about connecting with rural voters. Success starts with simply showing up and demonstrating a genuine desire to learn. But the twice-in-an-election-cycle, 90-minute parachute drop to tour a factory, visit a farm, or hold a press conference will be seen as the political ploy that it is.
When the Democratic ticket bails out on, say the Plains Peanut Festival in Plains, Ga the candidates will have a little time in the air on their way to Tifton. 
Yes, rural areas are culturally conservative. The voters who are most concerned with those cultural issues ought to be voting for Republicans. Those aren’t votes Democrats will ever win. However, Democrats do a lot of things to hurt themselves in rural Georgia and don’t even realize it.
For instance: How about actually paying attention to rural Georgia? The impression that many rural voters have is that Democrats have morphed into an urban-suburban party that simply doesn’t care about them anymore. You don’t seem to talk about the things that matter most here. 
But....candidates like Lt. Governor candidate Sarah Griggs Amico, Attorney General candidate Charlie Bailey, Candidate for Secretary of State John Barrow, as well as Janice Laws who is running for State Insurance Commissioner have made numerous visits to rural Georgia since the end of the primary.
There is little risk in Democrats reaching for rural votes, especially in a gubernatorial year. Even if you get three out of 10 voters, ... that can make for a huge shift if the margins are so small on a state level
But at the end of the day it’s still God, guns and gays. Those issues are the old standby for Republicans to divide voters, to cut them out from where their interests might be better served. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hooks to run for HD 138.....McGowan to retire.

Down in HD 138, G. Bardin Hooks, son of former State Senator George Hooks will run for the seat currently held by Bill McGowan of Americus in the Democratic Primary. McGowan is expected to retire after the current legislative session.

Hooks was born and raised in Americas, Ga and co-founded Arnold & Hooks located in Americus. Hooks is married with one child and is a member of Calvary Episcopal Church in Americus.

Letter to Peanut Politics: I Supported Trump, Now I Regret It.

I live in one of the poorest parts of Georgia and I'm one of the few members of my family and community who no longer support the president. The fact that my own rust-tinged trailer is distinguished by a lack of signs in favor of Trump is a personal point of pride. I begin each day by mentally preparing myself for whatever Donald Trump latest assault on working people is.

His decision making is hurting poor people, working class voters everywhere, including the rural, white, black and working class like me and my neighbors. It will hurt many of those whose support for Trump has been among the stringent and vocal.

Here in rural Southeast Georgia, the wiregrass region I love, the scenery is offset by stark markers of rural poverty. Dilapidated barns, abandoned farm and outhouses, and mobile homes. Areas in nearby small towns and communities reveal more than a few empty bank owned homes. This isn't all that surprising, considering that the area I live is one of the poorest n the state of Georgia. Yet despite their relative ubiquity, I'm go smacked by the juxtaposition of the name Trump, synonymous with exorbitant wealth, in front of a rusting mobile every time I see one.

According to the many Trump supporters I know, Trump won their loyalty because of his so called outsider status and promise to not only take on, but dismantle, a corrupt, ineffectual political establishment. And now some of them are having regrets about supporting this fraud of a president. Many of these people, myself included, have struggled financially due to job loss and foreclosure. We often have had to rely on things like public assistance to get by. Is our collective financial instability the fault of a crooked political establishment? Many people here sure think so.

One of Trump's most apparent and effective wants of playing up anti-establishment credentials was calling out and criticizing Hillary Clinton's ties with Wall Street bigwigs like Goldman Sachs. Despite being a billionaire himself, Trump lack of political experience helped enable his populist appeal. He claimed to want to save the middle class which is a bald lie in part by changing current tax laws that allow billionaires to pay lower taxes on their enormous paychecks.

Trump, let's face it is a fake and a fraud to many who supported him. He lies on a daily basis, he's untrustworthy and I will not vote for him ever again. Poor people who have been victims of foreclosure, including the white and black working class ones in my community are having buyers remorse with their vote for Trump in 2016. Many people here lament the face that the size of their families and networks have dwindled because people have been forced to relocate out of economic necessity. I can't help but worry and wonder how many are empty homes (mobile or otherwise), will be soon dot the landscape I love so well. I am a red state South Georgia Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama....even George Wallace in 1968. I vote don't for Trump, but believe me I wouldn't vote for him again in a 100 years.

Millwood, Ga

This is a Rural Blog that provides views & insights from a Conservative Georgia Democrat

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