Friday, November 15, 2013


Ronald Brownstein tells us today that "Obamacare's Problems Could Haunt Democrats for Years." The reason? It's upsetting white people:
President Obama’s health care law is now compounding a political problem it was meant to solve: the generation-long loss of faith in government activism, particularly among the white middle class.

For decades, Democratic strategists have viewed universal health care as their best opportunity to reverse the doubt among many voters, especially whites, that government programs can tangibly benefit their families. Now the catastrophic rollout of the health law threatens instead to reinforce those doubts. That outcome could threaten Democratic priorities for years.
But, as Brownstein notes, white people didn't wait for the rollout to write off Obamacare:
Even before its disastrous launch, the health care law faced anxiety about its goals. On the plan's best days, polls found Americans split almost evenly on whether reform would benefit the country overall. But even then, nothing approaching a majority ever said the law would help their own families; among whites, fewer than one-third said they expected to personally benefit. Far more whites said the law would help the poor or uninsured. That meant, as the law debuted, most whites viewed health care more like food stamps than Social Security.
In that case, why would a successful rollout have ever mollified whites? Are they pleased because the food stamp program is run competently?
... In fairness, the health care law, which reported modest but not horrific first-month enrollment numbers, is not the first social program to stumble out of the gate. Social Security initially faced what one historian called "grave administrative difficulties." Although the Children's Health Insurance Program passed under Bill Clinton is now widely praised, enrollment grew slowly, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted this week.
Yup -- Social Security is running fine now. So is the Children's Health Insurance Program. So, for that matter, are Medicare and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and a lot of other programs.

And white people still distrust government. Even white people who are beneficiaries of these programs, or whose parents and friends and neighbors are beneficiaries, distrust government. That's because, when it comes to government programs, there's no pleasing white people.

When I say "white people," I don't mean the subset of white people who see the point in having a social safety net, either because they themselves need it or because they're capable of empathy, and of grasping that the wealthiest nation on earth shouldn't be leaving tens of millions of people by the wayside. But, alas, I'm describing a minority of my race.

Obamacare was never going to get the majority of whites to embrace activist government. Nothing will accomplish that, at least not with the current white voter pool. Yes, the rollout, if it continues to be a failure, will worsen whites' already low opinion of government. But success won't win most whites over.

Oh, and the long-run import of all this is what exactly, Ron?
...If most Americans conclude Republicans are right about the health care law, that judgment would inevitably deepen doubts about other government initiatives. In this world, Democrats could still hold the White House in 2016 around cultural affinity, but they would likely struggle to achieve much if they do.
I have news for you, Ron: Unless Democrats win back the House and gain a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate, even President Hillary Clinton (or President Biden or Warren or O'Malley, for that matter) will "struggle to achieve much," for the simple reason that Republicans want to destroy America if they can't rule it, and will never allow a Democratic agenda to take root. (That would have been true, by the way, even if the Obamacare rollout had been flawless.)

And you know who thinks the way the GOP operates is just fine? You know who gets much more upset about the existence of the social safety net than about the fact that Republican have made representative democracy impossible in this country?

White people. Republicans have effectively destroyed our system of government, and white people keep voting them back in.

So as far as I'm concerned, my race is a problem to be contained, not a voting bloc that can be won back with one policy success. The majority of us are hopeless. Don't even bother trying to change our minds.


Never Ben Better said...

Sigh. Why the hell can't more of my complexion be a credit to their race?

Unknown said...

The white middle class is not entirely hopeless, outside the still-racist slave states anyway.

Most of the independent/undecided voters are middle-class whites, and there are many ways that Democrats can appeal to them without compromising basic principles.

For example, they support Social Security and Medicare, reproductive rights, education and infrastructure spending, and oppose Asian wars and tea party extremism.

They are an important battleground demo, especially in battleground states.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Most conservatives are ignorant deluded fools because they can't imagine a day when vulture capitalists treat them the same way the treat minorities and women.

Victor said...

"...the generation-long loss of faith in government activism, particularly among the white middle class."


You mean that same white middle class members who voted for Nixon, and then Reagan - and their children who voted for the Bush's?

The same ones who have been bending over and spreading their own butt-cheeks?

The same ones who say, "No, keep that Vaseline cold, don't trouble yourselves. Oh, and you forgot something: the broken glass, to shove up my ass! Just make sure to add some more to the mix for the N-words, single-women, Sp*c's, gays, Ch*inks, and Inj*n's."

The same white middle class who has spent a generation or two making themselves a fearful and angry minority?

THAT white middle class?
The same ones who will soon be rarer than Sasquatch sightings?

They are becoming less and less germane to any argument, THAT white middle class.

They have destroyed themselves, and the country they claim to love, out of fear, hatred, and religion.

The white middle classes epitaph should read:
"R.I.P.: White Middle Class.
1945 - 1981
We done killed ourselves over wedge issues."

Ten Bears said...

Though my contempt for the white-dogs is boundless I find it humbling to look in the mirror and recall that is my predominant bloodline.

The less than sufficiently evolved bow down to gods, and bloodlines. Human Beings, do not. That the gods and the bloodlines they spawned were no doubt inter-galactic visitors who for no doubt profit interfered with our proto-human (less than sufficiently evolved) ancestor's development is moot in the generally accepted venicular.

No fear.fearing

Rugosa said...

The Republican noise machine has successfully implanted in the White Middle Class(TM)the idea that our social problems are caused by high taxes and Those People(also TM). Not stagnant wages, not the continuing assault on public education and infrastructure, not the insatiable endless war machine, or any of the thousand other insults to a decent society. I recently read the statistic (sorry, don't remember the website) that poverty bottomed out at about 11% in the early 70s. Think about it - LBJ's War on Poverty effectively halved the poverty rate. Then came the oil shocks, inflation, and Ronald Reagan, and all those gains were thrown out in the name of the free market that would make us all prosperous. Markets are anything but free when they are controlled by an oligarchy, but the WMC(TM) bought that brand of baloney with enthusiasm. Now it's giving them heartburn, and they can only think to blame Those People rather than their own greed.

Sorry for the long rant, it just had to get out.

Victor said...

Well said, Rugosa!