Here is a fact: Barack Obama has no trouble generating enthusiasm among black working class voters. That’s not because they are black. He would have had little trouble winning support among white working class voters if they had been able to identify with him because he was white. He has no trouble with working class voters because he appears to them as coming from the same world, the same realm of experience, the same class, if you like. And that’s because he does.
No, I fooled you. For reals this time:
Here is a fact: Barack Obama has trouble generating enthusiasm among white working class voters. That’s not because they are white. He would have had trouble winning support among black working class voters if they had been unable to identify with him because he was black. He has trouble with working class voters because he appears to them as coming from a different world, a different realm of experience, a different class, if you like. And that’s because he does.
See what I did there? (If I managed to reverse all my polarities correctly?)
Judis is advancing the same assessment that we heard during the primaries: that the white proles just don’t cotton to Obama. The “white” here is considered semi-superfluous – defensible, as I’d guess 60-70% of the working class is white, if you are doing badly with the white ones you probably aren’t doing real well overall. Essential, however, is noting that this is most certainly not a race problem – except, of course, in the case of black people.
Now, ignoring the quoted paragraph, I don’t think Judis’ overall thesis is all wrong – voters vote based substantially on identity, and I’m sure identity for working class whites is not just race, or any one thing. It isn’t just one thing for anybody. Hell, for all I know, Judis entirely right in every particular – maybe whites don’t think about race, while blacks are defined by it. I can think of many reasons to doubt him – you don’t see a lot of Hillary Clinton types spitting dip juice into their empty cans of Miller at NASCAR rallies, either, and she had no problem with working class whites; black people have been voting overwhelmingly for white Democrats for half a century; etc. – but I have been really busy and so haven’t had time to peer into the hearts of statistically significant sample of voters and divine their true motives. Perhaps Judis has had time to conduct such a soul survey. If he has, he should make his data available, or at least mention that he has done so. If not, it would be nice if he could at least gesture in the direction of a supporting argument, rather than just assuming everybody automatically buys the “only black people define themselves by race” line so popular on the right these days.