The President’s theorists have given up on working-class whites: what does that mean for guns?
Thomas B. Edsall reported in the New York Times (http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/the-future-of-the-obama-coalition/#) that Obama strategists appear to have written off working-class white voters for 2012. They plan to concentrate on a coalition of lower-income minority voters and affluent whites.
“All pretence of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment—professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists—and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.”
“The better-off wing—puts at the top of its political agenda a cluster of rights related to self-expression, the environment, demilitarization, and, importantly, freedom from repressive norms—governing both sexual behavior and women’s role in societyóthat are promoted by the conservative movement.”
One may quibble about “repressive norms” and who’s promoting them, but I suspect you’re not likely to see many of these voters in deer camp.
The notion that Democrats would give up on a core constituency of the old Roosevelt coalition seems heretical, but appears to have become accepted wisdom.
“There are plenty of critics of the tactical idea of dispensing with low-income whites, both among elected officials and party strategists. But Cliff Zukin, a professor of political science at Rutgers, puts the situation plainly. ‘My sense is that if the Democrats stopped fishing there, it is because there are no fish.’ ”
What does this mean for gun politics?
Affluent lifestyle liberals are probably the group most hostile to gun rights in American society, so if Obama wants to maximize their support and thinks he has no chance with Joe Six-Pack anyway, he may be tempted to propose restrictive legislation or, more likely, regulation. He can do the latter without needing support from rural Democrats whose attitude toward the white working class is not so blasé. That’s probably what made Operation Fast and Furious look like a good idea at the time.
On the other hand, taking any action on guns hurts Democratic candidates lower down the ticket and energizes the Republican base. For Obama, coming out foursquare for gay marriage might be the safer way to pep up affluent white liberals.