The Democrats: the research angle
It was fun to read this piece in the NYT from two researchers of suburban politics. "Turning Affluent Suburbs Blue Isn't Worth the Cost" argues that, in sum:
Democrats cannot cater to white swing voters in affluent suburbs and also promote policies that fundamentally challenge income inequality, exclusionary zoning, housing segregation, school inequality, police brutality and mass incarceration.
And the flip side of the Democratic catering to white swing voters in affluent suburbs is that, as the conclusion argues:
A political agenda fixated on turning affluent suburbs blue is capable of building neither a stable long-term majority nor a policy blueprint worthy of the progressive mantle.
Of course this is true. It's true because the Democrats are uninterested in forming a stable long-term majority. Affluent suburban voters have something a winning coalition doesn't have: big money. What's fun, you see, is hanging out with people from Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley, and the Hamptons -- or at least that's fun if you're Hillary Clinton.
Of the two authors of the NYT piece, Lily Geismer, professor of History at Claremont McKenna College, is especially interesting because she wrote a book on Massachusetts politics in the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, titled Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party. Massachusetts, as readers may recall, was the only state carried by George McGovern in the 1972 Presidential Election, and so there used to be bumper stickers which said "Don't Blame Me: I'm from Massachusetts." Apparently these stickers were reissued in 2016 after the election.
At any rate, the story that Geismer tells is that the liberal politics of Democratic Massachusetts in the Sixties and Seventies changed in the Eighties when the Democrats grew increasingly receptive to the opinions of suburbanites and as these opinions became increasingly neoliberal. Geismer argues that the template for Massachusetts politics after the Seventies was forged by 1988 Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, famed governor of Massachusetts, whose legacy spread to the "series of four consecutive Republican governors who succeeded him in Massachusetts after he retired in 1990" (279) as well as to the national Democrats thereafter. One especially recalls John Kerry, Massachusetts neoliberal and 2004 Presidential candidate.
Geismer, coauthor of the NYT piece, apparently believes that there's no longer any sense in trying to form a coalition between affluent suburbanites and working class inner-city people. Of course, the current coalition between the two groups, as characterized by the Democratic Party, sends different messages to the two different groups. To the rich it says: there's money in it for you. To the poor it says: STFU and vote for the Democrat because the Republicans are more obvious about their misdeeds. The world of human beings, however, does not benefit from a politics that shovels money into the bank accounts of those who already have enough.
BONUS COVERAGE: Elizabeth Warren:
In a new interview on Mehdi Hasan's "Deconstructed" podcast, Warren said she agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that too many Democrats lack the "guts" to take on Wall Street and argued that her party will keep suffering electoral losses until all of its members are "willing to take on the billionaire class."
But the Democrats like the billionaire class! (NB: Warren is also from Massachusetts.)