Towards a coherent politics of (equal) opportunity

So, allow me to semi-obsess about Democratic policies, messaging, and white working class voters.  Here’s the thing, the liberal party should damn well be the party of the working man (regardless of race, obviously).  What I’ve always loved about the Democratic Party is the idea that it’s looking out for the little guy.  Without that, you’ve got rich bankers, corporations, monopolies, what have you, basically having their way unchecked in a libertarian fantasy (actually, much like 19th century America– there’s a reason we left that behind politically).  So, it is frustrating to see so much racial, ethnic, etc., resentment come to the fore among the white working class and guide their votes?  Hell, yeah.  But this is absolutely not a constituency Democrats should just abandon.

Democrats should be the party for all people seeking to have government create genuine opportunity and equal opportunity.  If much of the wwc is annoyed by creating this real opportunity and basic fairness for minorities and immigrants, fine, we don’t need them.  Because, the Democratic party needs to stand for this basic fairness– and we are so not there yet.  Some wwc voters are just not going to get there and that’s okay, because, with the right message, plenty will.  Democrats need to project a coherent message that government helps create real and equal opportunity– whether you are a Latina maid in the big city, a Black man working as a manager at Best Buy in a suburb, or a white guy who lost his job at a factory in small-town Ohio.

Again, you might lose some of these voters because you also care that the gay couple is not discriminated against and that the Black guy actually feels safe when he’s pulled over for speeding.  The Democratic party should not lose these “big city” cosmopolitan values.  That said, there sure as hell is a common interest among all these people and groups and we need to emphasize it, not ignore it.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Towards a coherent politics of (equal) opportunity

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    I totally agree!

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