Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Barack Obama and the working class

The media loves to talk about how the working class isn't behind Barack Obama, or at least the whites in the working class. Of course, they ignore the fact that more than 9 in 10 African Americans and Latinos are working class, and that the millions of whites who have already cast their votes for Obama are not all capitalists – birkenstocks and lattes aside.

It is convenient for them to ignore the 17 million working class whites, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders, all across the country who have made Barack Obama the presumptive Democratic nominee and will be there on November 4th full of enthusiasm and joy to make him the next president.

Yesterday in Oregon, which is 85% white, for example, Obama won 57% of whites. 26% of Oregon voters were members of "union households" and by a margin of almost two-to-one, Obama collected their support. He won voters who live in families that earn less than $50,000 by 9 points.

Today, Obama collected the endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America, which has thousands of members in Appalachia where Obama supposedly lacks support from white Democratic voters.

In a press statement, UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts said, "Senator Obama shares the values of UMWA members and our families. He understands and will fight for the needs our members have today and the hopes our members have for a secure future for themselves and their families," union president Cecil E. Roberts said in a press statement.

"Senator Obama will fight to preserve American jobs, not ship them overseas in greater and greater numbers," Roberts said. "Senator Obama will make sure that the nation's mine safety and health enforcement agency actually enforces the law, instead of coddling mine operators who repeatedly and willfully violate the law."

UMWA is the 9th AFL-CIO affiliated union to back Obama. So far, 13 labor unions whose memberships total more than 7 million people have backed him.

Clearly, Obama has the ability to bring different sections of the electorate and the working class together to win this thing. The media has to stop showing its ignorance and biases by trying to divide up the working class by race, as if we don't share many of the same aspirations and the same aim to end the Bush years and to prevent more of the same from John McCain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a valuable article, because the "media" invents reality, which is the title of a wonderful book by Michael Parenti on how media works.
All this is a constant recycling of the old Nixon "silent majority" politics, the old "hard hat" propaganda, which portrays the white working class as conservative, racist and sexist and progressives and liberals as "elitists," minorities, and youth.

Senator Obama's success in state after state gives the lie to that, but those states don't matter. The ones where "hard hat" argument can be made with some statistical support do natter to the media. That reminds me of what an old professor over forty years ago warned me about in developing a framework for studying anything. If you have a fixed subjective idea about what you are looking for, you will be sure to find it, whether it is right or wrong( and the odds are it will be wrong because you will not have any frame of reference to see what is right).

For the media, Hillary Clinton was a shoe in until Obama's victories made that impossible. Hillary Clinton still had the edge in Superdelegates until Obama's gains made that impossible. Now Obama will definitely win the nomination but will be undermined by recycled versions of "hard hats" and "Reagan Democrats" even though he has through the campaign shown greater broad strength than Clinton, gotten more votes than Clinton, won over many more activists than Clinton in caucusses, pushed pro Clinton party leaders into endorsing him by his achievements, run a remarkably clean campaign against an opponent who has run a dirty campaign, and prevailed with the support of the core constituencies of the Democratic party(including white workers) while bringing in new groups and forces into politics.

The media can't see it because they really don't want to. Hopefully, after Obama wins a major victory in the election, it will become clearer to them.
Norman Markowitz
Norman Markowitz