It’s Not (Just) the Working Class. It’s the Service Class

Yves here. While Richard Florida’s recommendation that the Democratic Party should target the “service class” makes perfect sense, it presupposes that the Democrats have exercising political power as their main objective. In fact, their real overarching goal is maximizing political patronage opportunities. That means catering to the rich while still making enough gestures to non-elite voting groups so as to be able to cobble together enough votes to win enough elections so as to stay in the game. Thus the Democrats have managed to ignore how they have hemorrhaged representation at all levels of government during the Obama era. The way to square that circle is that as long as the Democrats controlled the Administration, they had plenty of goodies and revolving door opportunities to dispense. That enabled them to pretend that what was happening at the state and local level was of no consequence.

A loyal Democrat and former state official remarked, as if it was obvious, that the Democrats were more corrupt than Republicans by virtue of having to pretend they were not serving the rich, while the Republicans are up front as to what they are about.

Even worse, as class stratification becomes more pronounced in the US, many Democrats can’t even do a good job of pretending they want the votes of working people that they hold in contempt. Hillary Clinton couldn’t stand mixing with them. By contrast, one of the keys of Trump’s success is he loves selling. With his Queens accent, nouveau riche (read non-elite) habits, and ability to fake (or actually drum up during his rallies) interest in lower class people, he can outrun Democratic party snobs.

The degree of Democratic out-of-touchness also manifested itself in the failed Ossoff campaign. Here they were targeting voters within striking distance of their class and ideology. Yet how could they have dreamed Ossoff would go over well in Georgia? He not only looked far too young, but as one reader put it, he had the earmarks of someone from Williamsburg, a hipster part of Brooklyn (gentrified so long ago by artists priced out of Manhattan that its edginess is a thing of the past). By contrast, Handel looked like a typical suburban Republican. She projected “one of us,” while the Democrats staked their wager on a candidate who radiated “alien”.

A saying from the science fiction classic Dune seems apt:

When a creature has developed into one thing, he will choose death rather than change into his opposite.

By Richard Florida, University Professor and Director of Cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management; Distinguished Visiting Fellow at NYU’s Shack Institute of Real Estate; and the co-founder and editor-at-large of The Atlantic’s CityLab. He is author of the recently released book New Urban Crisis. Follow him on Twitter: @Richard_Florida. Originally published at Evonomics

The Service Class, not the Working Class, is the key to the Democrats’ future. Members of the blue-collar Working Class are largely white men, working in declining industries like manufacturing, as well as construction, transportation, and other manual trades. Members of the Service Class work in rapidly growing industries like food service, clerical and office work, retail stores, hospitality, personal assistance, and the caring industries. The Service Class has more than double the members of the Working Class – 65 million versus 30 million members, and is made up disproportionately of women and members of ethnic and racial minorities.

A growing chorus of commentators contend that to be competitive the Democrats must win back the strongholds of the White Working Class. As Thomas B. Edsall wrote recently in The New York Times, 6.7 to 9.2 million Obama voters, mostly concentrated in the Midwest and the Rustbelt, switched their votes to Trump in 2016, more than enough to give him his Electoral College victory. Trying to recapture those white Working Class voters—many of whom are both more intolerant and less economically progressive than the party’s base—would not only be difficult, but counterproductive. A more effective and more realistic strategy, my own research suggests, is to attract the larger and growing ranks of the Service Class—especially by targeting the areas where they live.

The Republican and Democratic parties each have distinct class advantages that have not only persisted but grown stronger over time. Across America’s 350-plus metros, places where the Working Class is dominant went overwhelmingly for Trump. The correlation for the Working Class share of the workforce and Trump votes was substantial (0.53), while the correlation between the Working Class share and Clinton votes was negative (-0.51). Going back four years, the correlations were similar for Romney (0.46) and Obama (-0.45).

On the flip side, the Democrats have a distinct and persistent advantage in the larger, denser, more knowledge-based metros, where the engineers, scientists, academics, designers, researchers, lawyers, senior managers, and arts professionals that make up the Creative Class are concentrated. Clinton votes were significantly correlated with the Creative Class share of the workforce (0.49), while Trump votes were even more negatively associated with Creative Class metros (-0.54). Again, these correlations were similar, if slightly weaker, in 2012, 0.40 for Obama and -0.41 for Romney.

The real contested terrain of American politics is the Service Class and its locations. If members of the blue-collar Working Class make up a fifth of the US workforce, and members of the Creative Class make up another third, the Service Class is by far the largest and fastest-growing class in America, accounting for more than 45 percent of the workforce (65 million strong and growing).

Here the data speaks for itself. In 2012, the statistical associations between partisan vote shares and Service Class shares were weak but slightly favoring the Democrats, 0.1 for Obama and -0.1 for Romney. But in 2016, Service Class locations were essentially up for grabs: there were no statistical associations between the Service Class shares of metros and Trump or Clinton votes. In Florida, for example, Clinton took larger, more densely-populated Service Class metros like Miami and Orlando, while Trump took smaller ones, like Pensacola, Myrtle Beach and Gulfport. The Democrats did not lose the election simply because the Republicans swung the Working Class, whose members and locations have long been trending in their direction, but because they were not able to inspire or mobilize the Service Class, too many of whose members simply stayed home.

Places with large Service Class populations hold the key to the Democrats’ future. With their disproportionate shares of working women, members of minority groups, and millennials, they are a natural Democratic coalition. Service Class workers make roughly $25,000 dollars per year—a fraction of what Creative Class and blue-collar workers earn. To galvanize them, the Democrats must craft a bold and aggressive agenda for inclusive prosperity, including a higher minimum wage indexed to geographic differences in living costs, stronger labor laws, as well as far-reaching programs to upgrade their jobs and turn them into actual careers, provide affordable housing, childcare, and healthcare, and establish a universal basic income, among many other things.

Although Trump’s policies will not help the Working Class, the Democratic Party cannot depend upon winning them back. To improve its standing in smaller, red-leaning metros, the Democratic Party must aggressively court the Service Class strongholds within them, adding them to the Creative Class metros that are already solidly blue.

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  1. Arizona Slim

    More wishful thinking from Mr. Florida.

    When are people of his ilk going to realize that the Democratic Party is done? I have my own issues with the Republicans, but at least they know what they stand for and who is most interested in their message.

    1. DJG

      Arizona Slim: I’m wondering if it is wishful thinking or willful ignorance. The “service class” perceives itself as working class. This is typical of Florida to try to come up with some new term to cover an existing reality. (The “creative class” somehow has just about every characteristic of the U.S. upper-middle class, now doesn’t it?)

      What we are talking about here, with his figure of 105 million, is a country that is majority working class, but as is typical of class arrangements, that class has minimal political power.

      And here are his prescriptions (and note the various conditions and exceptions): “including a higher minimum wage indexed to geographic differences in living costs, stronger labor laws, as well as far-reaching programs to upgrade their jobs and turn them into actual careers, provide affordable housing, childcare, and healthcare, and establish a universal basic income, among many other things.”

      Indexed minimum wage? What will that end up being in the deep South? 5.50 an hour? That’s part of the tactics of the Southern bourgeoisie: No unions, bad wages, no regulations. And what, pray tell, can he mean by “stronger labor laws” if he doesn’t want to talk about unionization? And how does one upgrade a job at Red Lobster in Wisconsin Rapids and turn it into an actual career?

      Ironically, what he is saying, although he is likely denying it, is that the working class (all of it) will be best served by the policies proposed by the Sanders wing or movement or whatever you wish to call it. But then as a member of the “creative class,” Florida still wants his invitations to conserva-Dem seminars about political tactics. Maybe he can be on a panel with Jon Ossoff.

    2. Scott

      The Democratic Party is not done. The Democratic Party has leases on offices for Precincts. The Democratic Party has Precinct Chairs & Vice Chairs and members who show up to stuff envelops or put on Breakfasts or Lunch, or Dinner where people show up to pay $250.00 & up for a plate.
      Photographs are prohibited and those that are taken are controlled.
      Party Precinct leaders get members to make phone calls. “Have you registered to vote? Do you know where to vote? We have a list of candidates we want you to vote for.”
      Party Chairs work at securing polling places. They attend Board of Elections meetings. It is a lot of work.
      They are believers in rules and they believe what they are told to believe. They look for people of authority to tell them what to believe. People from academia are big hats. People in religious garments are better.
      & then there are the Executive Party Officers who take the money donated and pay the office lease bills, and pay the TV stations to air whatever expensive ads for candidates.
      You cannot create this overnight far as I can see. All that money in 27 dollars at a time that Bernie Sanders collected to pay for stadiums and TV ads and “all like that.” Where did that money go?
      I believe it went to the Clinton Unit. The Democratic party rigged its apparatus so its best candidate was pushed to the side. Senator Sanders would appear to have held onto his Independent status as a bargaining chip. As if it is either I lead the party or I hold onto my own potential to spoil things for Democrats.
      If he really wanted to he could raise the money to create another party I suppose, maybe, but the simplest thing would appear to effect a take over.
      Democrats may well prefer to continue to lose by holding hard to the neoliberal globalist policies and function of doing the bidding of Finance Banking instead of demanding an end to the Fed and regulation of banking as a Utility and giving us USPO Service banking.

    3. pissed younger baby boomer

      Arizona Slim I agree with you after 2016 election the DNC kept the corporate guys and gals. WHEN IS THE DNC going to learn : ( .

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Richard Florida has quite a following in Blighty, including Blair and his self-confessed heir, Cameron. He seemed to provide the pair with the intellectual justification, veneer even, to write off much of the disunited kingdom. Cameron’s “detoxification” of the Tories made the blues more acceptable to the service class, especially in London.

  3. Michael Fiorillo

    Mention “the Creative Class” without some kind of ironic qualifier, and you’ve instantly lost me.

    1. Donald

      Exactly. This is the sort of rhetoric that drives people away– then you can talk about their intolerance.

      Otoh, I don’t want to dismiss everything he says because he has a gigantic blind spot. If we followed his policy recommendation at the end and also avoided the self serving offensive rhetoric, we might do better with all groups of people. But that gets back to your point. One thing that bugs me about these social class generalizations is that they ignore people as complex individuals. Assume that white working class people are all bigots who can’t be reached and you send the message that the self described ” tolerant Creative Class ” despises them and thinks they are irredeemable. It’s a kind of secular Calvinism, except the secular version think they can determine who is predestined for salvation and damnation with surveys and correlation coefficients. So by saying that the self described Creative Class is tolerant and the wwc is just a bunch of unreachable bigots, the author is saying that it is okay for ” tolerant” people to dismiss an entire group. It is both immoral and self defeating.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        It’s not just another form of identity politics, it’s unperceived class politics and conflict, since the very term “Creative Class” excludes workers who do skilled, creative work, and valorizes other.

        What, we’re supposed to think that someone working in “digital marketing” is more “creative” than a furniture-maker, metal artisan or farmer?

        “Meh” to this article…

        1. sharonsj

          When I think “creative class” I think of writers and artists–the majority of whom earn very little money–while “service class” could mean nurses, physician assistants and the like, who earn decent wages. In any case, trying to classify and sub-classify the non-rich is merely a game of words. It’s still the 99%.

          As for the Ossoff/Handel race, I watched part of their debate and realized Ossoff was out of his league. Establishment Dems have a habit of picking crappy centrist candidates who do not engender any enthusiasm among energized progressives. In my state of Pennsylvania, establishment Dems consistently refused to back Admiral Joe Sestak, who would have made a fabulous senator, because he was a maverick. Instead they put up a woman with a shady past who claimed being a mom was a congressional qualification. My attitude re the Dems and Repubs has been: a pox on both their houses

      2. PKMKII

        It also reduces classes to a binary; 51% of a class votes for candidate X, everyone starts talking like the entirety of said class shares the values and philosophy of candidate X.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Indeed. Who knew that senior management were so creative? That has not been my experience, unless you count taking credit for the ideas of others as ‘creative’.

  4. Adam1

    Sounds like more identity politics of a new variant. The Democrats need to try connecting with the working class (small w). That includes far more than just the Service Class and the Working Class (read poor white worker). But, we prefer the pretend to care approach and continue to divide and conquer.

    1. ambrit

      Speaking from the perspective of the Deep South, (Nortenyo Variety,) the “working class, service class” cohort includes most of the upwardly striving “non-white” population. So, drop the racial division from the economic analysis and you will have a more realistic definition of the “players” involved.
      Yes, I agree about your identity politics observation.

      1. flora

        Interesting that that the term “working class” mentally identifies not just a particular category of work but also a category of likely income level. The term itself is almost economic in reference. Whereas the term “creative class” conjures up no particular economic strata. It’s almost like the Dem estab doesn’t want to talk about the economics its voters face – at all – even by a strained reference.

        “Trying to recapture those white Working Class voters—many of whom are both more intolerant and less economically progressive than the party’s base—would not only be difficult, but counterproductive.” -R. Florida

        1. polecat

          The ‘lower donkey’ class (pull that plough !) vs the middle monkey class (type that wrighter !) ?

        1. ambrit

          You are welcome. You can teach an old dog some small new tricks.
          A good motto for all we “deplorables” would be: “A su servicio!” If we know and associate with those we speak with, the better phrase would be: “A vuestro servicio!”
          I hope you all are doing well with the winter.

          1. RabidGandhi

            Best for you and Phyl too in the brutal heat. 45°C ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at. ¡Cuídense mucho!

  5. Scott

    But haven’t the service class as Florida refers to it historically been seen as part of the larger working class? What Florida is trying to do here is to introduce another division based upon race, gender and age to divide workers. Construction’s fortunes are very different from manufacturing, but in many parts of the country, its workforce is unionized, white and male.

    1. Seamus Padraig

      Hmmm. What part of the country do you live in? Here in Texas, virtually everybody in construction is Mexican.

      1. johnnygl

        Big commercial construction is still a unionized, pro-dem stronghold in large northeastern cities.

        1. Scott

          This is what I was referring to, but my understanding is that even in non-unionized parts of the country, the construction workforce for large construction projects (commercial and industrial) tend to fall under more traditional blue collar or working class (according to Florida) than residential and other small-scale construction. This is especially true for the trades (electrical, HVAC, etc.)

          1. ambrit

            I have the feeling that Florida, the writer, is behind the times. On the Gulf Coast, medium and some large commercial construction projects are highly populated by Sothrons. (Not the die hard bitter enders of the American Civil War revering variety, but those from south of the U.S. border.) I have seen crews of decently skilled Mexican tradesmen on apartment complex projects. Here, the electrical trade seems to be the only one holding on to the Union advantage.

      2. jrs

        it’s largely Mexican in California as well but not entirely so. And unionized, don’t make me laugh.

        1. Kevskos

          Most construction workers in Cali are Mexican except for the good jobs. I drive past the I-8 repaving project in SE Cali most days and the work crew is mostly white and all male except for two truck drivers. Of course they are high paying union jobs so surprise surprise they can find white Americans who will work hard outside in the heat.

  6. Moneta

    If a party just came out and promised to implement universal healthcare and protect social security, wouldn’t it automatically get a large percentage of the popular votes without needing billions in campaign funding?

    1. ambrit

      Those “billions in campaign funding” are a lucrative cottage industry in themselves. The “rake off” to all the hustlers and fellators involved gives the meaning to “self licking ice cream cone.” (In the interests of inclusivity, I ought to append “cunninglingors” to that assertion.)

      1. Moneta

        Why not create a new party that would campaign on these? If a significant percentage of the population would go for these 2 items, why not make the other 2 parties’ life difficult?

        1. Creppe

          The Green Party kind of does iirc, it’s not like there are no thrid partes. But part of the spending the cottage industry of billions in campaign funding is used for is demonizing anyone who dares to vote outside the duoply. Combined with third-party analysts who nonchalantly state voting third party makes no sense ‘because no one is doing it’ the sheeple they lead simply eat it all up and go R or D.

        2. FidderHill

          All talk about a rising third party for Bernie or anyone else is such a waste of time and energy. Not only has “third party” become a synonym for “perennial loser,” the Democratic and Republican parties have worked hand-in-glove, state-by-state to make the legal process of getting on the ballot as onerous as possible. It was absolutely demoralizing to see Sanders shill for HRC in the general election. But it’s hard to question his credentials as an outsider who has found the main chance to be taken seriously — and he did it as an interloper to one of the two main parties. The only hope is for Bernie and friends to “evolve” the party.

          1. sid_finster

            Have you seen the DNC primary fraud lawsuit?

            Not only does the DNC not want to be reformed, the DNC is claiming that it is their lawful prerogative to resist attempts at reform by any means, including committing fraud.

    2. jrs

      who knows, it’s an experiment that needs to be run. The point of the advertising is to get people to vote AGAINST their own interests, and it sometimes does work.

    3. JonboinAR

      Bernie couldn’t swing the Demo nomination with just that message when the powers decided to work against him, so, probably, no.

  7. Carla

    I would think any political party referring to a potential constituency as “the Service Class” would be instantly dead in the water. Those who toil in “food service, clerical and office work, retail stores, hospitality, personal assistance, and the caring industries” consider themselves to be working. Nobody in the U.S. wants to be considered, called, or seen as, a servant.

    1. kurtismayfield

      But we are servicing.. heck even most of the professional class is a servant to someone else. You just need to keep your lips tight about it to keep your job.

  8. Dita

    I was with him until the second to last paragraph. He needed to add universal public healthcare and public education. What kills the service class is death by a thousand cuts through nose-bleed inducing insurance premuims, education costs and personal debt.

    1. ambrit

      Another major point of exsanguination for the “Service class” is reduced and capricious working hours. A conspiracy nut could imagine that the almost overwhelming anxiety and manic depressive effects imposed upon said “working class” members is the real reason for the chaos that “lower class” people experience. How can one think, much less organize along with others under such stresses?

    2. oho

      “…, provide affordable housing, childcare, and healthcare, and establish a universal basic income, among many other things….’

      gee, it’s as if Florida likes the idea of a gov’t-provided basic income, but a market-based health care system (versus single-payer).

      Surely that sounds like a winner (for health care admins)!

  9. Eureka Springs

    Ugh. Such divisiveness. Let’s just break down human beings into an even more convoluted caste/class system, divide and conquer. Target them (what are we bulls-eyes?) in yet another top-down fascion (new word!) with memes rather than action. Memes designed to con rather than reboot the D party into something which operates in a democratic manner.

    And I grow weary of these suggestion of new messaging. What’s needed is action, not just a new sales pitch.

    All of which is to say the obvious once again… The D party, its process must die.

    1. ger

      Actually, the D party is already dead, only thing left is a funeral. After decades of conning the various classes except the elite class, the Dems will need to deliver real change instead of the Hopey Dopey. They no longer have the political ability to deliver!

  10. Seamus Padraig

    If, as Florida maintains, the service class is mostly female and minority, then they should already be trending Democrat. If it’s their turnout that’s the problem, well, the Democrats are just going to have to get real and offer them something of economic value. Service workers aren’t going to get fired up by vapid slogans like I’m with her.

  11. Ed

    Service workers are probably the least politically conscious class of workers imaginable because they are given nothing by anyone. They are paid just enough to get zero welfare benefits unless they are a woman with kids and even then its not enough to get by and they pay about 30% of their income in various taxes while being told by the media they pay none.

    Source: my pathetic life

    1. johnnygl

      Which is what makes them such a ripe potential source of political activism.

      Give them hope that life can be better. Tell them exactly how you are going to do it. Corbyn did it and people responded.

  12. Carolinian

    The intro is spot on. The Democratic party has become little more than an employment agency for grifters like the Clintons and various consultants. As for the notion that the Dems can be reformed, one can only quote J.K. Galbraith in a different context: “the problem with that idea is that it has been tried.”

  13. johnnygl

    Florida missed the ‘how’ as far as what’s going to get this ‘service class’ of people to show up for the dems. I suspect he’s making class distinctions that don’t really have a difference. I suppose that’s what consultants/marketing types do…

  14. Stephen Gardner

    What is this nonsense about “working class” vs. “service class”? Richard Florida is clearly part of the problem. Atomizing the working class into various imaginary classes that exist only in the minds of academics is part of the plan. That’s why academics like Florida are lionized in the press and paid large sums for consulting. It is important that people learn to see through the pseudo-intellectual nonsense spouted in service to the “real owners” (as Carlin called them).

    1. washunate

      Yep. It’s good to see that most of the NC commentariat is calling Florida out for making nonsensical arguments. The guy can’t even offer a definition of his categories that holds up to scrutiny, never mind explaining what value such categorization creates.

    2. jrs

      yea but I think the terms were historically used differently and working class did use to be mostly manufacturing etc.. So I don’t think he’s really manufacturing terms but just using dated terms.

  15. jerry

    It seems the way of populist, small dollar fundraising (a la Obamas first run and Bernie) is the only way to actually win elections for the Democrats. What they are trying to do now by walking the fine line of pretending they aren’t catering to the rich just doesn’t work, because the Republicans are better at it.

    So, either the Democratic party must actually become democratic, or things will continue the way they have. I’m not sure if we are quite there yet as a country, but perhaps come 2018 or 2020 we will have had enough.

    Or maybe I’m just totally delusional, sorry I just got up.

  16. Denis Drew

    “Service Class workers make roughly $25,000 dollars per year—a fraction of what Creative Class and blue-collar workers earn. To galvanize them, the Democrats must craft a bold and aggressive agenda for inclusive prosperity … ”

    If McDonald’s can pay $15/hr with 33% labor costs, then, Target should be able to pay $20/hr with 10-15% labor costs, and Walmart might very well be able to pay $25/hr with only 7% labor costs.

    Neither Chicago gang bangers nor rust-belt blue collar nor mostly any American born workers are interested in $10/hr jobs (or much enthused about $15/hr).

    Work at making union busting a felony — and Republicans will have no place to hide (plus, you’ll actually be laying the groundwork to make American great again — even for people of color this time).


    How to raise US labor unions from the dead — tomorrow — practically and practicably:

    In BALLOT INITIATIVE states, it typically takes only 5% of signatures of registered voters of the number who voted in the last governor’s election to put your initiative on the ballot. (OR, CA, MO, MI, OH, OK, CO, NE ND, SD, MT)

    Check the numbers of who should line around the block to sign an initiative making union busting a felony:
    — nationally, 45% bottom income share has dropped from 20% to 10% over two generations (while per capita income has doubled).

    Does that mean the bottom 45% are back where they started in absolute terms: half of twice as much? Not across the board; incomes are on a slope. 20-25% are lower in absolute terms: which is why we have a $7.25/hr fed min wage — down from $11/hr (adjusted) in 1968.

    Check the numbers who should line up around the block to sign for a higher state minimum wage:
    — nationally, 45% of employees earn less than $15/hr.

    We could conceivably get 5% of registered voters out there collecting signatures! :-O
    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Some states like California put a winning initiative on the law books immediately. Most, allow the legislature one shot at approval. If it doesn’t approve the measure goes back to voters for final decision.

    In California you write in plain language what you want your initiative to say and a state legal office will put it into proper words for a state law.

    In California circulators (signature collectors) may be paid employees. This has led in recent years to initiatives becoming the play thing of billionaires — the opposite of the original intention.

    If initiatives can quickly and easily take our world back, then, Fight for 15 and labor unions and others now have a new, all critical mission: register and sign up as many voters as possible.

    Raising the issue of making union busting a felony to a high level of national consciousness should prompt legislatures in progressive states to finally wake up and face what they need to do — what we all need them to do. (WA, IL, MN, NY, MA, VT, CT, RI, PA, MD, VA, etc.)


    Colorado Ballot Measure Moves to Ban Smartphones for Kids Under 13 By Angelica Cabral

  17. Denis Drew

    Relevant post at Stumbling and Mumbling this morning:
    Free markets need equality

    “What, then, can be done to strengthen the case for markets?

    “There’s one thing that’s crucial – equality of power. For free markets to have public acceptance, the worst-off must have bargaining power. Without this, “free” markets merely become a device for exploitation.”

  18. Josh O.

    Democrats are only interested in catering to the donor class and pretending to fight for wage earners while selling them out (especially those born too late to earn a living wage at less than 96 hours a week). People see their incomes continue to decline and the Democrats’ words don’t match their actions so they don’t show up to vote for more crumbs. Dems will be replaced by a party that treats all workers as simply workers before they realize their divide everyone into separate boxes identity politics bullshit will continue to get them nowhere.

  19. PeonInChief

    But the entitled class can’t talk to others without the kind of condescension that makes the Other decide to stay home. That’s what happened in the late election. And to the extent that service workers are on the outskirts of the New Urban communities, they would just add to those totals, rather than making inroads into other communities.

  20. a different chris

    This has already been quoted above but it’s stupidity covers multitudes:

    >trying to recapture those white Working Class voters—many of whom are both more intolerant and less economically progressive than the party’s base—would not only be difficult, but counterproductive.

    Dude, even excepting your premise, “many” is not “all”. You don’t need to win the freaking white working class, you just need to flip — flip back, actually, if you look at Barry O’s results — a chunk of them.

    Underneath it all, I get the impression that people (and I don’t know anything about Dr. Florida, he could have a second career as a race mechanic ) who couldn’t put air in their tires just want, really want to think that manufacturing is just a different version of washing dishes. It ain’t, and there a few billion people in Asia that would laugh in your face at that. (Whilst they take jobs from our “engineers” since you really don’t do a very good job of engineering until you’ve tried to actually make something)

    1. Dirk77

      The interesting phrase in that section to me was “economically progressive”. Anyone have an idea what that is supposed to mean?

  21. JimTan

    Maybe someone should try and quantify the reasons politicians are out of touch. I’ve long wondered where U.S. politicians rank among the highest paying jobs in America when including salaries, expense reimbursement, office & staff allowances, sinecure jobs for spouses, speaking engagements, book deals, and other perquisites. Politicians are supposed to be public servants with modest public servant wages. An additional Ranking of compensation between politicians might also suggest correlations between specific corporate friendly policies, and a ballooning of non-salary income.

  22. Denis Drew

    “Maybe someone should try and quantify the reasons politicians are out of touch.”

    Having read the book about Hillary’s political demise, Shattered and Bernie’s book, Our Revolution — I saw Hill’s campaign contention that Bernie had no practical plan to do anything, only complaints about what’s wrong.

    FDR had no specific plans as far as I know to accomplish what he accomplished in his first hundred days.

    Hillary is Ms. top down and Bernie is Mr. bottom up. Top downs try to work out a calculus of all problems and ways to deal with all comprehensively — a sort of three dimensional chess game. Try and explain that to people. Obama made a big speech that “inequality is the defining issue of our time” (it is!) — didn’t poll well next week; forgot about it. Endless cajoling not his game. (“Stronger Together?”)

    Bernie’s book spews seeming endless one-at-a-time tales of problems across all categories — astonishingly broad and deep iteration one-at-a-time.

    Folks like FDR and Harry Truman and Bernie come at everyday folks one narrowed down complaint at a time. If you see the world from the bottom up you never stop trying — because you for sure never run out of individual irritations to get an ulcer over.

    Top down folks have more fun. If you think you’ve manipulated the matrix the most you can do — you can relax and head for Martha’s Vineyard. Bottom up folks can be cheerful — but cheerful ain’t happy.

    Top down solutions tend to sour because life is simply too complex to get a realistic hold on looking down through too many interlocking layers. Complexity yields more practicably to people and politicians in immediate interface with everyday reality.

  23. sierra7

    Lots of great comments…..for an article that really meant nothing; another academic spouting forth with math comparisons that don’t mean squat to the average person. What concerns me more than anything is that not one comment about what our foreign policies embraced by both parties are doing to this country. No mention of what the great experiment, globalization has negatively contributed to the crushing of the “working class”. Both parties are complicit….Both parties. Someone mentioned the difference is that the Republicans are up front with their messages; the Dems are hiding behind conditional phraseology and misrepresent themselves totally for the people. It doesn’t take an imbecile or genius to see that both parties are dragging this country down into an abyss where it will find itself unable to continue as a “Republic” let alone one with “Democratic Processes”.
    The US (sanctioned by both parties) has crushed Mexican, Latin and South American progressive social and political aspirations….both parties. No comments about our foreign policies as they are truly “foreign” and don’t effect all of us. They have been doing this to the Southern Hemisphere for long decades and most Americans don’t pay any attention at all. It didn’t take a genius to extrapolate our actions towards those independent aspirations being brought home to this country. And bring them home “they” did. Both parties are complicit. Crushing political aspirations, organized labor, murdering the opposition, denigrating all who disagree in the US MSM; the cancerous growth of the MIC sucking up all the money the “War Racket Industry” could while all the while pointing their modern fingers at “terrorism” or, “…….we have to stop them over there before they come here!” Both parties are complicit. Congress almost totally abrogating their responsibilities to “declare war” the greatest responsibility that our “elected” representatives have…….We have had decades of continuous warfare waged on mostly poor, non-white, non-christian countries that have very small militarizes or none at all so that we can monopolize their natural resources all the while bleating “democracy, freedom, free elections etc”, and today for “humanitarian” reasons. All the while the body count escalates and we throw into the merciless gears of war our most precious asset: our young. Both parties are complicit. We cannot have the debate about the two major political parties without including our increasingly counter-productive, destructive foreign policies. It is all attached to the amount of taxes we should be paying and the allocation of those resources to murderous warfare and not to truly improving our society and the global one.
    I’m just so sick an tired of visiting sites that I consider to be above the average and no discussion about the most destructive part of our government, just about the issues of class, wages, public education, our thoroughly corrupt healthcare system. Until we address our foreign policy issues and how asinine, destructive and non conducive to global civility we will get nowhere with changing the two political parties. In my opinion (as with others) it is too late to “reform” (how I despise that word) them……the next place of action will inevitably the “streets”.

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