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Actually, I think Thomas Frank, in a July 2004 interview by Bill Moyers, does a better job than Sirota in explaining how the Republicans won the working class vote.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/video_popups/pop_vid_frank.html

 MOYERS: Every time a Democrat talks about wages, or inequality, the Wall Street Journal, and other organs of the right...

FRANK: Stand ready to call them class warriors.

MOYERS: Yeah. Yeah.

FRANK: That's right. But it's worse than that.

The leadership of the Democratic party decided at some point in the 1980's that continuing to fight the old fight, the old Roosevelt battle, the old, you know, what the Democrats had been identified with ever since the 1930's, of fighting for good wages, fighting for an equitable distribution of wealth, fighting for the welfare state, that this had to go. They didn't want any part of that anymore.

They were gonna move on. They were gonna become new Democrats. And they were going to sign off on the Republican agenda on the economic issues, and fight it out on the culture issues instead. And as a result, you had things like Bill Clinton signing NAFTA.

Bill Clinton agreeing to deregulation of the banking industry. Deregulation of the Telecom industry. And you can go right down the list, you know, failing to enforce anti-trust. Enacting the Republican economic agenda, even while taking a hard stand on the cultural issues, and continuing to fight on those.

MOYERS: Maybe millions of people really did believe that values were more important than retirement, or benefits, or...

FRANK: Well, I tell you, the Democrats have made that choice very easy for them, by failing to battle on those lines. And I'll give you a very specific example again, drawn from the book. That Wichita, again a city that had a Democratic congressman, and a Democratic mayor back in the '70s and the '80s, and that had a lot, still does have a lot of union members, a lot of blue collar voters, and a lot of people, who are natural Democrats; people that ought to be voting for the Democratic party.

MOYERS: On economic issues?

FRANK: On economic issues. But who also are good churchgoing people, and who think abortion is wrong, and this sort of thing. Well, when Clinton signed NAFTA, which was, you remember was a very, very important issue to the labor movement in America, and to working class people generally when Clinton signed off on NAFTA, they said, "You know, why are we voting for the Democrats? They don't give us anything. They don't agree with us on anything. They don't agree with us on the economic issues, or on the cultural issues. We might as well go to the party that agrees with us on the cultural issues."

There was no longer a distinction on the economic issues. This says essentially values matter most, because there is nothing else out there anymore. The Democrats don't want to fight on the economic issues anymore.

by NBBooks on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 07:13:05 PM EST

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