CHAPTER 14

Why Are Democrats Worse at Connecting with the White Working Class than Republicans?

“ANYBODY GONE INTO Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?” Barack Obama asked a baffled Iowa audience during the 2008 presidential campaign. “I don’t know what it is,” a hospital clinic assistant confided to a reporter. “Maybe it’s a Hawaiian thing.”272

It’s not a Hawaiian thing; it’s an elite thing. The class culture gap is a huge driver in American politics today. Consider: Michael Dukakis had lettuce problems, too, when he discussed endive on the campaign trail. John Kerry meant to convey youthful fitness when he released a photo of himself windsurfing; instead he communicated class privilege. Obama was derided for his awful bowling ...

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