From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/137631700920
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?
The conventional answer is Republicans skillfully played the race card.
the wake of the Civil Rights Act, segregationists like Alabama Governor
George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party.
Republicans charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“
being soft on black crime (“Willie Horton”), and trying to give jobs to
less-qualified blacks over more-qualified whites (the battle over
The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald
Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old
race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims – with much the same
effect on the white working class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to
be as “tough.”
All true, but this isn't the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.
have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four
years, and in that time scored some important victories for working
families – the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax
Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example.
they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power
that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and
undermined the working class. In some respects, Democrats have been
complicit in it.
Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently
pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the
millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of
getting new ones that paid at least as well.
They also stood by
as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working
class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose
meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers
to form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.
I was there. In
1992, Bill Clinton promised such reform but once elected didn’t want to
spend political capital on it. In 2008, Barack Obama made the same
promise (remember the Employee Free Choice Act?) but never acted on it.
Partly as a result, union membership sunk from 22 percent of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to fewer than 12 percent today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.
Continue reading at: http://robertreich.org/post/137631700920
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