The Beltway media are pushing Democrats to stop talking about women and people of color and focus instead on “white working class men.” But if that’s an either-or, the Beltway media want Democrats to make a sucker’s bet. (More)

Squirrels invented game theory. I know, I say squirrels invented pretty much everything – golf and curling and baseball and even agriculture – but I only say that because we did.

Besides, when it comes to game theory I have real science to back it up. The first studies of inclusive fitness in evolutionary theory involved Belding’s Ground Squirrels, who stand up and call out alerts if they see a predator overhead, but only if there are enough relatives nearby to justify the risk. If a squirrel is alone, it won’t alert because it’s safer to stay still and quiet. But if the squirrel has at least two siblings or children nearby, the odds are it will pass on more of its genes by risking its own life than by staying still and quiet.

So you can take my word for it that – if Democrats must either stand up for women and people of color or stand up for working class white men – the working class men would be a sucker’s bet. But you don’t have to take my word for it. I made a graph:

SuckersBet photo SuckersBet.jpg

That graph is based on actual Census data, where each of the 50 faces represents 2% of the population:

My Blewberry has a calculator function so I did the math and my graph has 18 white male faces, roughly 36% of the population. Most articles define “working class” as people with only a high school education, and that’s about 42% of Americans. But whites are more likely to attend college than non-Asian persons of color and men earn more than women, so I estimated that about 35% of white men fall in that definition of “working class.” That’s just 12.6% of the population, or six white male faces on my graph. And one-third of working class white men voted for Democrats this year.

So we’re down to the four faces in that red box. Think about that as you read this angry screed from The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Green:

If the Democrats maintain this charade, 2016 will not be the cakewalk they dream it to be. Harping about a Republican war on women while wages stagnate and growth sputters is trivial and desperate. It cost Mark Udall his Senate seat in Colorado and, in Texas, Wendy Davis didn’t even come close, losing by over 900,000 votes in her failed bid to become governor. There’s no reason to believe that same message won’t trigger a similar backlash two years from now. Earth to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC: dyspeptic dad still votes.

The Democrats have taken identity politics a step too far. Somehow, their message has gone from lunch-bucket concerns to a date with Girls. In the face of record low workforce participation, the Democrats have paid a high price for making the unholy trinity of Lena Dunham, Al Sharpton, and billionaire climate-change crusader Tom Steyer the face of their party.

It’s not just Green. Back in March, the National Journal’s James Oliphant wondered “Can Hillary Clinton Bring White Men Back?” and in September Newsweek’s Matthew Cooper warned “Why Working-Class White Men Make Democrats Nervous.” Google {working class white men Democrats} and you’ll find page after page of Beltway pundits pondering the same point. Even a purportedly progressive website included “Stop playing the race card” in their list of “5 Things The Democratic Party Must Change To Win Elections Again.”

In other words, the Beltway media would have us believe, Democrats should turn their backs on the 64% of Americans who are not white men (the 36 females and men of color in my graph) – and the 32% of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree (including five white men in my graph) – to focus on the 8% of Americans who are “working class white men who voted for Republicans.” Those four faces in the red box.

You don’t have to be a Belding’s Ground Squirrel to work out that ignoring 41 faces for the sake of 4 would be a sucker’s bet … if Democrats’ choice is either standing up for women and people of color or standing up for working class white men.

But here’s the good news. It’s not either/or. The Democratic Party’s problem is not that we don’t stand up for working class white men. It’s that we don’t do a good enough job of explaining how policies that help all hardworking Americans also help working class white men. Like the Affordable Care Act and raising the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and …

… the point is, Democrats are already trying to help working class white men. But to carry that message we need more personal contact, as Andrew Levison explains:

Today, Republicans have grass roots connections with white working class voters and Democrats do not. This is the fundamental source of Democrats’ weakness. Without trusted grass-roots institutions as intermediaries to defend Democratic policies, reinforce and interpret Democratic narratives and produce “hometown” Democratic candidates, Democratic policies are easily caricatured as wild-eyed radicalism, Democratic narratives are easily ridiculed as the product of “limousine liberals” and Democratic candidates easily scorned as elitists. Even the most exquisitely polished candidate, platform and narrative cannot succeed if it is not linked to grass-roots institutions and advocates in the everyday community life of white working class America. The reality must be faced: rooms full of well-dressed professionals sitting around conference tables carefully discussing the selection of candidates and the fine-tuning of narratives and policies can never and will never by themselves solve the problem.

This isn’t about changing our values. It’s about talking with voters who already like or would like our policies … if we took the time to listen, connect, and explain. Add even one or two of the faces in that red box to the women and persons of color, and the Republican Party’s base starts to look really, really small.


Good day and good nuts