For the past few days I’ve been listening to the pundits discuss Obama’s speech and whether or not his speech connected with the average white working man or woman in the United States.
And if the pundits are to be believed Obama’s speech failed to or resonated very little with the average middle class woman or man and based on some recent polling Obama is slipping in the polls against Hillary and John McCain among democrats nationwide.
This fact is not surprising. With all the negative attention and flak Obama has received in regards to his pastor’s comments and his association with the pastor, Obama who was already lacking support in that demographic has sustained even more damage.
However, I believe that Obama can sway more working class white democrats to his side if he changes the way in which he is trying to connect with them.
At the moment Obama is hoping that his message and his delivery of that message will sway these voters and I’m sure his campaign staff, more knowledgeable people than myself, have already microtargeted this group however their strategies clearly aren’t working.
Obama may secure the nomination without significant support from these specific democrats but he cannot win the general election without them!
When discussing the American working class, I’m reminded of a passage from the book One Nation After All by Alan Wolfe in which he states;
“From a middle class point of view, the ideal society would be one in which everyone-immigrants, minorities, the poor-would uphold middle-class values so that someday they might obtain middle-class incomes..that’s another way of saying that their solution to class inequality is to insist on moral equality..”
And I must agree that this is what I have found to be the case as well.
Most white working class Americans want to believe that ultimately life is fair, you might get some bad breaks here and there but in the end if you work hard enough, follow the law, have faith in God and take pride in your country, family and community you will be a success.
They don’t believe most people are deserving of handouts or charity in large part due to their immigrant backgrounds which in many cases has taught them to suck up their problems and issues and just deal with them.
Unfortunately this is where the disconnect between Obama and his message to the white working class is occurring.
Obama’s values are not translating into their world instead what is translating is a perception that he’s receiving undeserving adulation. Many would probably claim that they don’t even know what he stands for and not his stance on the issues but what he stands for as a MAN and this in many ways is contributing to Clintons’ success among them.
Clinton has had the luxury of time to convey who she is and what she represents and her husband’s legacy doesn’t hurt either. Obama unfortunately has neither but I believe that if Obama talked about his life, his struggles, his demons,this would resonate more with working class whites more so than anything else he may have to offer, at this point in time.
If I were an Obama strategist (I’m hoping to get a call anyday now…lol) I would advise him to talk more about himself and and what he has been through when he’s in Pennsylvania and other predominantly white working class states because these voters are crucial to winning in November.
Undeservedly so, this week, millions of America started to question whether or not Obama shares one of their core values-patriotism.
However if voters and in particular white middle class voters perceive, long term that Obama does not share their core values (patriotism, faith in god, freedom just to name the critical three) he will be soundly defeated come November.
He cannot allow this to happen.
So in the end he must rely on who he is as a man to convince those who are skeptical of him of his policies and the direction in which he wants to take the nation.
That is what I believe will ultimately sway these voters to support and follow him.