Bernie is right, actually. Poor people don’t vote.
This is what makes me nuts about the whole “people voting against their economic interests” meme. Actually, no. As the New York Times explained last November in “Who Turned My Blue State Red?”, those people are not voting at all:
In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.
The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.
Early in the campaign, Bernie Sanders talked about how he was all about bringing these “disillusioned and disengaged” voters back into the process. This was part of his “revolution” spiel. And then he did absolutely nothing to make that happen. Zero. Nada. He gave speeches about it but did nothing to make his vision happen. There was no organizing, there was no field game, there was nothing.
This simply reinforces my disparaging view of Bernie Sanders. It’s incredibly frustrating to see someone who clearly recognizes the problems but doesn’t seem interested in solving them. Complaining is not a solution.
His career has been one endless kvetch. He didn’t even think to tell his supporters to register to vote as Democrats in closed primary states? How lame is that?! Part of this may be due to the fact that he never thought he’d get this far, so back in the fall when those deadlines were looming he wasn’t focused on the actual mechanics of winning. But if you’re running for president, you’re running to win, or else you’re a fraud. If the only reason he was running in the first place was to have a bigger megaphone, then he just wasted everyone’s time. If all you want to do is kvetch louder and longer without following up with any tangible action then I have no use for you. All those thousands of eager kids at your rallies, did you have any organization to harness that energy? Get people registered to vote? Do some outreach to the disillusioned and disenfranchised? No. Bernie is supposed to be a man of the people, but it seems like his campaign has been all about the man, less about the people.
It is also far too simplistic to write off the country’s growing divide into merely Wall Street vs Main Street. As the New York Times piece illustrates, it’s more like Main Street vs trailer park or Main Street vs Skid Row. Any populist campaign that fails to speak to this issue is one focused too much on two-dimensional bogeymen, not reality.