Finley: Democrats’ handout strategy is failing

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Democrats hope to prevail in the 2016 elections by pounding the income gap. But at least one major group on the short end of that equation isn’t buying that the handout party has the right answers.

Blue collar white voters believe the Republican Party is better equipped to make the economic system more fair by an overwhelming margin, according to a new Washington Post poll.

In the survey of non-college educated whites, 50 percent had more faith in GOP policies, while 29 percent favored the Democratic strategy.

These are among the workers hit hardest by the economic shifts of the past quarter century, and in particular by the failed polices of the Obama administration.

They’ve seen good paying jobs in Appalachian coal mines become casualties of the president’s war on coal. They’ve lost solid, middle class work on the oil rigs of the Gulf to a president more obsessed with tomorrow’s temperatures than today’s families. And they’ve bid goodbye to Midwestern factory jobs while the president saddles employers with oppressive taxes and regulations.

They’re the autoworkers whose fathers punched in at $30 an hour, and they’re trying to get by on a $15 hourly wage. They’re the legion of middle class workers who once had employer-provided health insurance, but now have to pay for most of their medical costs themselves.

They should be ripe for the Democrats’ anti-corporate, people vs. the powerful message. But they aren’t buying. And that’s good news, not just for Republicans in the upcoming election cycle, but for the country in the long-term.

Mitt Romney, the failed GOP standard bearer in 2012, bemoaned the prospects for selling a message of smaller government when 47 percent of the population is receiving some form of government assistance.

But many of these blue collar whites are among the 47 percenters. They may be getting Obamacare subsidies, or unemployment benefits, or even food stamps.

And that’s not what they want. They’re looking for the opportunity to take care of themselves and their families. They want jobs, not another Big Government giveaway designed to replace the paychecks Democratic policies have killed.

They’ve lost faith — if they ever had any — in the government’s ability to solve their problems. And who can blame them?

Blue collar workers have lost ground under Obama’s wealth transfer schemes. His policies haven’t helped the poor and working class, and haven’t much hurt the rich. During the president’s tenure, the gaps between rich and poor have widened. All he’s done is explode the size of government and enrich the political class.

Democrats won’t win these working white voters with campaigns built on class resentment and Robin Hood promises, and they may not be able to convince other blue collar workers to buy into more of the same failed strategies.

Because this rather large and often neglected group of voters doesn’t want more government. They want more and better jobs. And so far, Democrats haven’t proved they can deliver.


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Watch him at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on "MiWeek" on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.