- Strong quake hits Japan, triggering tsunami
- Sniper heaven: Pentagon’s self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Violent gang taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Medicaid enrollment continues to soar under Obamacare, administration says
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: ‘We cannot afford to wait on Congress’ for immigration
- White House urges GOP to act ‘urgently’ on $3.7 billion request for illegal immigrants
- Politicians, criminals using ‘right-to-be-forgotten’ law EU courts forced upon Google
- Combat fatigue: elite special forces troops are ‘fraying,’ Gen. Joseph Votel warns
- German foreign minister to meet Kerry to discuss spying claims
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: ‘Get yourself some firearms’
GOLDBERG: Courting Joe the Puppeteer
Obama Democrats court whites, so long as they’re liberal
Question of the Day
Earlier this month, the left-wing magazine the Nation highlighted Joe Therrien as a symbol of the Occupy Wall Street movement. A New York City public-school drama teacher, Mr. Therrien was frustrated with the shortcomings of the school system. So he quit his job and “set off to the University of Connecticut to get a Master of Fine Arts degree in his passion - puppetry.” Three years and $35,000 in student-loan debt later, Mr. Therrien returned home, only to find he couldn’t land a full-time job. Apparently, a master’s in puppetry doesn’t provide the competitive edge in the marketplace he’d hoped for.
Mr. Therrien joined Occupy Wall Street, constructing giant puppets and “figuring out how to make theater that’s going to help open people up to this new cultural consciousness. It’s what I’m driven to do right now.”
I think I speak for everyone when I say: Good luck with that.
One other thing: He may not realize it, but Joe the Puppeteer may be for Democrats what Joe the Plumber was for the GOP. (Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher was the Ohio man who confronted candidate Barack Obama about raising taxes on small business.)
Thomas Edsall writes in the New York Times that the Democrats have made a fateful decision: “All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up … of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment - professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists - and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African American and Hispanic.”
After decades of trying, the white working class is now “an unattainable cohort,” according to Mr. Edsall and a slew of Democratic strategists.
The most common explanation for this failure is a self-serving and mossy tale about a racial backlash. The most recent version holds that the “tea parties,” which are about as white as the Occupy Wall Street movement, amount to a bigoted reaction to a black president. Never mind that the leading Tea Party contender for the GOP nomination is Herman Cain.
In a less charged environment, the differences between Mr. Obama and Mr. Cain would be seen as a continuation of the great philosophical rivalry between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. Du Bois, a socialist intellectual, favored promoting a “talented tenth” - a black progressive cadre focused on state-run, top-down reforms - while Washington preached self-help and entrepreneurialism from the bottom up.
Today’s Democratic Party has an ingrained cultural aversion to the Booker T. Washington school. Liberals see themselves as a multiracial talented tenth, planning the economy and guiding society. In power, they lavish support on fashionable but unproductive sectors of the economy, such as green-energy boondoggles, and they buy off big constituencies invested in ever larger government, such as public-sector unions, the “helping professions” and even too-big-to-fail businesses.
Their arguments sound economic and empirical, but ultimately, they’re cultural in nature. The upscale white professionals the Democrats are courting disproportionately share a cultural affinity for government and faith that statist interventions are for your own good. They also believe government needs to help people succeed - or escape - the rat race of the private sector. (Remember Michelle Obama’s advice to working-class women? “Don’t go into corporate America. … Become teachers. Work for the community.”) In his acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic convention, Mr. Obama mocked the Booker T. Washington concept of self-reliance: “In Washington, they call this the ownership society, but what it really means is, you’re on your own.”
Later, Rep. Nancy Pelosi sold health care reform as a “jobs bill” because “if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent … your aspirations, because you will have health care,” she explained as if speaking straight to Joe the Puppeteer. “You won’t have to be job-locked.”
That might be a compelling message to the white left represented at Occupy protests. The question is whether it sounds condescending or aloof to the rest of the Democratic coalition that wouldn’t mind being “job-locked” right now.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
TWT Video Picks
By Robert N. Tracci
Congress must use its appropriations power to secure the border
Get Breaking Alerts
- Violent gang MS-13 taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Pentagon's self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- A 'new Cold War': China's top paper warns of 'slippery slope' towards conflict with U.S.
- Obama calls GOP lawsuit over executive overreach a 'political stunt'
- PRUDEN: 'Dirty Harry' Reids increasing eccentricity
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: 'We cannot afford to wait on Congress' for immigration
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: 'Get yourself some firearms'
- Homeland Security adviser tweets America is 'Islamic country'
- Armed militia sets up Texas command center to 'fight for national sovereignty'
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: How many boondoggles to break the bank?
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The problem is unenforced borders
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Where are condolences for Jewish teens' deaths?
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama welcomes illegals, ignores Americans
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama has no intention of repatriating illegals