Perrspectives - Bringing light to Darkness

Ruy Texeira and the Whiteness of Being

February 9, 2005

Over at Donkey Rising, Ruy Teixeira analyzes the raw data from the final NEP 2004 exit poll is search of an explanation for John Kerry's defeat. Not surprisingly, he concludes that "It's the White Working Class, Stupid."
That is, Democrats not only got clubbed again by the GOP among working class white men (by 30% vs 29% four years ago), but were trounced among working class white women, with Bush's margin growing to 18% (from 7% in 2000). More alarming, both groups showed more trust in George Bush than John Kerry when it came to economic issues.
At Perrspectives, we absolutely agree with the assessment that the Democratic Party must become competitive among white voters, especially men, to ultimately break the GOP electoral stranglehold. We've made this point repeatedly, both before the election ("The Opt Out Society") and after ("The Donkey Gets Its Ass Kicked" and "Less Than the Sum of Our Parts").
What is surprising is that Texeira makes this point so calmly on the Emerging Democratic Majority web site. In that 2002 book, Texeira and co-author John Judis argued that Democrats would come to dominate the "ideopolis" metro areas uniting suburban professionals with burgeoning and active minority populations. For Democrats to reclaim majority status through dominance of these groups, the party would have to use messages and pursue policies (such as identity politics, group-set-asides, and tax reform) at odds with doing better among the white working class.
For that reason, Texeira might want to rediscover his 2000 book, co-authored with Joel Rogers, "America's Forgotten Majority: Why the White Working Class Still Matters." In that book, he and Rogers detailed the need for Democrats to compete (if not win) among white working class voters, and described a politics for doing so.
With the Democrats losing voters with household incomes over $75,000, seeing their lead among Hispanics narrow, and the prospect of some (albeit small) share loss among African-Americans, some version Texeira's conclusion for Democrats seems inescapable.
It's white people, stupid.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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