Can the Democrats do anything to appeal to working class whites without abandoning their values

Working class whites are going for Trump 2-1. Can the Democratic party do anything to appeal to them in future elections?

My impression (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the following issues repel them from the Democrats

Bill Clinton signing NAFTA.
Immigrants competing for low skill labor, driving down wages.
Cultural issues (black lives matter, abortion, guns, etc)
Democratic welfare programs tend to benefit the poor, not the working class.

So does the Democratic party have a way to appeal to those voters realistically without abandoning their values?

Well, improving the ACA and/or implementing single payer. Allowing Medicare to bargain with drug manufacturers. Reversing right to work laws and increasing minimum wages. Strengthen Social Security by removing the cap on taxable income. Create hundreds of thousands of jobs in infrastructure improvements. Allow parents to deduct tuition from their taxable income in full.

Stopping all the taking of the guns!

I would suspect that even if all of those occurred, it would still take a generation for them to accept that these would benefit them and that they were the result of Democratic administrations. Even then, I suspect these would just become background, like…say…clean drinking water, and not be associated with any one party affiliation.

All of the complaints that the OP mentions would still be in place.

What can Democrats do? They can run candidates that are better at being politicians.

Here’s my givens and the logical conclusion that follows.

  1. I think these are all things Democrats are generally in favor of and that Republicans are against.

  2. The reason that doesn’t help the Democratic candidates is because working class white voters generally don’t believe that these are Democratic positions even though they are.

  3. The reason working class white voters tend to believe that these aren’t Democratic positions is that Republicans do a better job than Democrats at framing the overall political conversation and media narrative.

  4. Therefore Democrats need candidates and officials that are better / more highly skilled at the nuts and bolts of politics.

Let’s take this election cycle. Reince Priebus has done a masterful job at holding the Republican Party together in spite of some fundamental schisms in policy. The Republicans have a decent shot at keeping the senate because Republican Party officials have managed to limit the damage of a poor candidate at the top. Debbie Wasserman Schulz, on the other hand, became part of the story. Regardless of the reality of the situation, her perceived shenanigans lead to the perception that she “rigged” the primary in Clinton’s favor. This cost her her position, and I would wager that there are some Bernie bros that won’t vote for Clinton because of the way she handled the primary.

Here’s a simpler analogy to explain my position. Republicans are like a master chef working with bad ingredients, while Democrats are like an average chef working with excellent ingredients. The don’t need better ingredients (policy positions), they need better chefs (politicians).

Jobs and wages. People are willing to forgive and tolerate a great deal if their bank account balances keep rising.

Subsidize vocational training and apprenticeship programs, such that lower-wage workers can move into higher paying jobs relatively rapidly. Rapidly compared to, say, a four-year college education anyway.

Trouble is that the federal government is already running deficits in the hundreds of billions as it is, so it’s not clear where the money is going to come from. And you’re looking at costs in the hundred-billion range annually for something like this. Jacking up the income tax rate on the high end under the guise of making taxes fairer/progressive/whatever can get you tens of billions, but then what? Corporate tax increases maybe, but questionable whether that’s politically feasible. More debt? Rates are good for borrowing but even with the low rates, we’re still blowing through a quarter-trillion a year in interest, or thereabouts.

I buy all of that. Republicans have been great at making campaign platforms that fit on bumper stickers. “Keep guns, no gay marriage, stop abortion, law and order”. They’ve been able to take positions that require neither much thought nor action. Democrats have to start taking credit when their actions benefit people. The ACA was a great example of a decent product with lousy marketing. To this day, Obama is completely unable to make an articulate case, something Bill Clinton can do with ease. Let’s just make Bill the explainer in chief.

I think the #1 thing that the Democrats could do would be a concerted effort to show white working class voters and lower-middle class voters that their policies are for THEM, and that a rising tide lifts ALL boats. Explain how their policies work for them, instead of making a point of how they work for everyone else.

As it stands, the Democrats let that piece of the narrative escape them somehow, and a lot of their efforts to remediate poverty and other social programs have been portrayed as being in favor of minorities, and at the expense of working class white folk. I don’t know how true that is, but there’s a lot of frustration that the Democratic party seems to be looking out for minorities, the abjectly poor, women and gays, not garden-variety middle and working class white people in the country.

ZipperJJ wrote: "Stopping all the taking of the guns! "

Anybody here had their guns taken…anybody?

You can’t. Not without ditching the minorities. They would be perfectly happy voting for Democrats if it wasn’t for the darkies and brownies.

ZipperJJ wrote: "Stopping all the taking of the guns! "

Anybody here had their guns taken…anybody?
Pretty sure it was a joke.

If you take away economically, you should replace.

If you are going to put a coal industry out of business (which may be environmentally necessary,) then they need new jobs and income. You can’t just say, “Sucks to be you.” They have families to feed, bills to pay.

But they do that. That’s what free trade deals are for. There’s a reason the unemployment rate is low even though those jobs - indeed, most jobs that have ever existed - have been driven out of existence. Government does NOT create jobs by propping up dying ones.

The problem the government has is in making the sale politically. They’re doing a decent enough job of allowing jobs to be created, but it’s hard, very hard, to make the sale on it. The problem you have is that when a coal miner loses his job you have an identifiable person who’s out of a job and is ready to blame the government. But the jobs resulting from smart trade policy are spread around and not immediately, obviously attributable to a trade deal, and even those that are don’t make the news the way lost jobs do.

Some jobs are naturally dead. Others are off shore or done with illegal labor. Those aren’t actually dead.


But you can’t just take an unemployed coal miner, point him at all the newly-created health care jobs (or whatever), and tell him to take one of those. There’s a net gain in job opportunities overall, but not for that specific person. Which I guess is basically your point, but then you are not really replacing at all. And this has happened for millions of workers over the past decade or so, forcing them from their middle-class jobs into lower-wage jobs.

If certain jobs and job sectors are dying for whatever reason, then that’s just the way it is. But government should then create real opportunities for those displaced workers to secure new jobs. Part of that involves promoting job creation, certainly. But the other part lies in ensuring that workers are properly qualified to fill those newly-created jobs. This is especially true in cases where implemented policy, such as free trade deals, may accelerate declines in certain job sectors.

As others have said, it’s generally not the actual laws and programs that are the problem. The Democrats just need to develop better skills at selling the laws and programs they’re proposing and taking credit for the laws and programs they’ve enacted.

Look at the Republicans for example. They can take a platform which boils down to “If I’m elected, I will do nothing for you” and turn it into a positive with a slogan like “I’ll get the government to stop interfering in your life”.

You said it better than I did, but that’s what I was trying to communicate as well. The fact that this strategy works is frustrating, but the Dems need to get on board and play dirty too.

The Republican talking points toward white, working-class voters always seem to boil down to:

  • The Democrats will raise your taxes and give the money to undeserving people
  • The Democrats will send your job overseas and shut down your company
  • The Democrats will be weak on security and will take away your guns, leaving you and your family vulnerable to crime

IMHO, the Democrats need to address each of these more directly. I agree there needs to be some straight talk about some industries, as well as some communities about holding onto a dying way of life - that is not comfortable and will not win votes.

I think the Democrats had a great opportunity recently when Trump suggested black, inner city voters would do better with him as President. Why did Hillary not appeal to white, working-class voters in Appalachia the same way? - e.g. suggesting the ACA would help them, etc. (but, I am afraid the answer boils down to what DigitalC posted up-thread).

OK, so in OP, you say working class whites are going 2 - 1 for Trump. So Dems still get 33% of them.

So can Dems get the votes of the other 2/3rd without abandoning their values?

If you are talking about Trump voters, the answer is no. Because they hate Mexicans more than they like money. They’ve been voting that way for 35 years now as the Republicans have been promising them to do something about minorities with one hand, and picking their pockets with the other. They aren’t even really picking their pockets, they’ve been flat out getting permission.

That is why whenever you read an article in a lib leaning publication that says “Why do working class voters consistently vote against their own interests?” you should get out a red pen. They are NOT voting against their own interests.

Clinton could say the entire federal government was gonna start running on coal and US steel and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference in how they voted.