“You’ve Got Them All Wrong, Mr. President,” the only true independents are white working-class men and women (actually, more the latter than the former) who “are susceptible to populist appeals” against “special interests” that “can include business as well as government.
One of the main reasons white Americans who lack a college education and make only a modest income now tilt toward Republicans and their right-wing populist talk: Few belong to an institution that counters those opinions.
During the campaign, an unemployed
Ohio steelworker told The New York Times, “We heard everything was going to change, but there hasn’t been much change and the unemployment is still bad and the area we live in is still really depressed.” Yes, Obama should have made a better attempt to explain to people like this steelworker how the financial crisis occurred and how health care reform will help to create a more decent, as well as more efficient, society. Social Justice!
But, if that unemployed Ohioan belonged to a vibrant, powerful labor union, he might be able to see himself as a maker of change, instead of its victim—and thus absorb Obama’s message differently. White men and women who do belong to unions are still far more likely to support progressive ideas on a variety of issues and to vote for Democrats than are their non-union counterparts.