Barack Obama’s economy in 2011 stunk. Mitt Romney should have had an easier time running against his rather lazy opponent with little good news to his name. But Romney was a bad candidate for the times. Members of the working and middle classes viewed him as the Boss — the rich guy running things, buying out their companies, killing their jobs, and sending the factories overseas. He was the supercilious money guy, picking filet mignon from his teeth. They did not trust him. Obama, like Romney, was a good-looking technocrat. “At least he was black,” thought the working class. “At least he can relate to our struggles.” Alas, this wasn’t true. Obama is a trust-fund kid and has much more in common with the monied class than with the average American bloke — you know, those guys who bitterly cling to their Bibles and guns.
I bring all this up because this year’s election, like in 2011, feels closer than it should be, if the polls are to be believed. The Republican Party should have been in a stronger position then, and it definitely should be in a strong position now. What gives? To oversimplify: college-degree holders. Their unemployment rate is currently 2.2 percent. During the worst of the Obama recession years, their unemployment rate never crested 5 percent. While others experienced an unemployment rate upwards of 11 percent, the college grads were fine, and they vote. They make up a solid 30-plus percent of the country.
The most loyal Democratic constituency is the college-educated single woman. She will vote, and happily, for President Joe Biden and progressives like him. She was specifically marketed to during the Obama years with the former president’s misbegotten Julia campaign. She’s whom the Democrats are relying on again for their fortunes. She is progressive, socially liberal, relatively wealthy, and scared of everything. She’s the neurotic heart of the Democratic Party. Vaguely socialist, fearful of the climate change bogeyman, she drives a Prius, shops at Whole Foods, drinks pumpkin spice lattes, and watches the Real Housewives shows with her gay best friend. She has a Coexist sticker; believes all women (except the ones accusing Biden and former President Bill Clinton); is vaccinated and probably suffers from long COVID now, but it’s totally worth it; and has a Ukraine flag in her bio that replaced her black square for the now passé Black Lives Matter.
The Democrats must keep the college-educated, their core constituency, content at all costs.
She was worried about her student loans, so Biden issued an edict from on high to take care of them for her. The high gas prices, which she knew were totally necessary for the planet but which bummed her out, were reduced by draining the petroleum reserve. Abortion rights are like totally being taken away, and so the Biden administration is proposing a national law.
Outside her nexus, the rest of the college-educated hold her views, but to a less intense degree. If they’re faltering from the Democratic line, it’s not because they’re suffering per se; it’s because they’re feeling angst looking at their 401(k)s. The grocery bills are getting ridiculous. There is talk of eating out less. The credit card statements have been creeping up, and that’s uncomfortable.
The Democrats must keep these people, their core constituency, content at all costs. They learned through the Obama years that the college-educated are easily manipulated and must be kept in line, or else Democrats lose elections. Happily, the very online media reflects most of the mores of these people and certainly represents Julia.
This constituency frayed somewhat in the last few years. The married college-educated with children, while at home during the COVID lockdowns, got a bird’s-eye view of what passed for education, and even their very liberal sensibilities were offended. This took some doing, but Randi Weingarten and her slacking teachers infuriated this group. Not only was the curriculum horrid, but working women had to sacrifice their jobs and time to do the jobs teachers unions wouldn’t. More moms quit their jobs to educate their children, and now they’re more involved in the schools. This is disastrous for failing schools but also for Democrats trying to get elected. This group inspires so much fear that Democrats sicced the FBI on these parents. They cannot win without these voters. They need them harried, working, angry, and too busy to pay attention.
Note that none of this addresses the issues of the poor and working class. While the college grads started to complain at $5-a-gallon gas, members of the poor and working class are being decimated right now with gas around $3.90 per gallon. They’re not making enough money to pay for their groceries and gas, and they see winter coming. They’re worried about making rent.
Members of the inner-city poor and working class have it worse. They, too, have relatively low unemployment, around 4 percent. But with inflation, crime, homelessness, illegal immigration, and drug abuse, their quality of life is diminishing. The BLM and Antifa riots, burning and looting, decimated the middle-class sections of their cities. They no longer can get common goods like car parts, medicine, and home supplies. Those businesses were torched and looted and they haven’t come back. It wouldn’t matter anyway; the people living in these neighborhoods have no excess money.
The recession is starting to affect jobs, and the jobs poor and working-class people do get aren’t paying enough to cover the bills. Inflation is outpacing income and making working less appealing. It’s not the business owners’ fault. Costs of all kinds of raw materials have inflated to such a point that their margins are slim or sliding backward. Workers’ salaries must be cut or eliminated. Some businesses, if still operating, limit hours. They don’t have the money to pay for their goods or their employees.
The Democrats have addressed none of these problems. They’re too busy passing electric-vehicle subsidies to encourage Julia and her college-educated friends to buy them.
Democratic policies necessarily harm the middle class. Inflation makes money worth less, and this destroys purchasing power and pushes middle-class people down into the ranks of the working poor. Interest-rate increases make house buying nearly impossible for this group. It’s quickly becoming impossible for the middle and upper-middle class, too.
One would think that the Democratic policies would at least somewhat focus on these people. But no, unless the blanket pardon for federal marijuana charges counts. The moves Democrats make to help these folks are largely empty and symbolic.
The Democrats have given up on the votes of the less-fortunate workers. They’re relying on their core constituencies: those who are reliant on the government and those who are college-educated. If it seems that even the upper-middle class should be worried and considering voting for Republicans, they should be, but they’re myopic. Just watch the stock market and the unemployment rate. If the college-educated have jobs and their 401(k)s aren’t hurting too badly, the election will be close.
The working poor, lower, and middle classes don’t matter to Democrats so long as the college-educated are in their pockets. Perhaps talk of nuclear war, increased inflation, job firings, freezes at tech companies, and a stock-market slide will get their attention. Or, maybe, America is descending into the politics of the have and have-nots, and the haves vote Democrat.