“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then [people] get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Those are the words of then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008, when he explained the inclinations of working-class America to a group of wealthy California supporters. The “bitter clinger” comments resembled former Democratic nominee John Kerry’s take on the same blue-collar voting bloc: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
The Democrats have even made it a campaign strategy to “abandon white working-class voters” in favor of minorities representing an ever greater share of the electorate.
This approach is not mindless—President Obama did win in 2008 and 2012, after all—but it has served to alienate the very voters so enthusiastically stumping for Donald Trump in 2016. What President Obama doesn’t realize is that the liberal policies of the past eight years have only made things worse. His words from 2008—about administrations that claimed “these communities are going to regenerate and they have not”—could just as easily apply now as they did back then, yet he and other Washington elites are scratching their heads to explain Trump’s rise.
It’s not a coincidence: When you embrace a “bitter clinger” worldview, someone like Donald Trump becomes inevitable.
To learn more, read the May 2016 edition of Labor Watch here.
This blog post was adapted from the May edition of Capital Research Center’s “Labor Watch,” by Steven J. Allen.