Appeal to the Working Class? Don’t Bother, Says Krugman
By Jim Naurecka ARTICLE FROM FAIR.ORG
candidates who understand that working-class incomes are down, who will “stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”
Any claim that changed policy positions will win elections assumes that the public will hear about those positions. How is that supposed to happen, when most of the news media simply refuse to cover policy substance?
Both candidates spent most of their television advertising time attacking the other person’s character. In fact, the losing candidate’s ads did little else. More than three-quarters of the appeals in Mrs. Clinton’s advertisements (and nearly half of Mr. Trump’s) were about traits, characteristics or dispositions. Only 9 percent of Mrs. Clinton’s appeals in her ads were about jobs or the economy. By contrast, 34 percent of Mr. Trump’s appeals focused on the economy, jobs, taxes and trade.
The fact is that Democrats have already been pursuing policies that are much better for the white working class than anything the other party has to offer. Yet this has brought no political reward.
Consider eastern Kentucky, a very white area which has benefited enormously from Obama-era initiatives…. Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate [in Kentucky’s Clay County] fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill.Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote.
Contrary to how he was portrayed in the mainstream media, Trump did not talk only of walls, immigration bans and deportations. In fact, he usually didn’t spend much time on those themes…. Choppy as they were, Trump’s speeches nonetheless had a clear thesis: Regular people have been getting screwed for far too long and he was going to stop it.
Nobody can credibly promise to bring the old jobs back; what you can promise—and Mrs. Clinton did—are things like guaranteed healthcare and higher minimum wages.
The Clintonian synthesis of pro-business, finance-friendly economics with social and racial liberalism no longer needs to be diluted, as it was in the 1990s, by opportunistic appeals to working-class white voters.
Democrats have to figure out why the white working class just voted overwhelmingly against its own economic interests, not pretend that a bit more populism would solve the problem.