So if Democrats want to win back the white working class — and they kind of need to, if they want to win elections, because it’s an enormous demographic — maybe they need to start thinking about honoring and encouraging work, rather than talking about race or class. One person who has some ideas in this direction is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who suggests that the government invest heavily in infrastructure, which would create a lot of blue-collar jobs.
That was actually an original part of Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, but it was derailed by feminists within the Obama coalition who thought it would produce too many jobs for men. Christina Romer, then-chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, reported: “The very first email I got … was from a women’s group saying ‘We don’t want this stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men.’ ”
Well, if you’re offended by jobs for burly men, you probably won’t do well with working-class men, or with the working-class women who are often married to burly men. And, as Joel Kotkin notes, many other Obama policies — promoting urban density, which creates fewer construction jobs; fighting oil and coal extraction, thus targeting industries that create high-paying blue collar jobs; and even opening up immigration, which drives down wages for the working class — all seem designed to punish people who work for a living, even as expanded benefits for the poor seem designed to reward people who draw government checks for a living.