Can President Obama reconnect with 'white dudes?' - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Can President Obama reconnect with ‘white dudes?’

In enduring last week’s Republican Convention, where the “rah rah rah” for the other team bothered me, I reasoned that something was missing from my team. Their wish to reclaim America from the heathen, to bring back old time religion, the catechism and possibly courting stuck with me. Mitt Romney, his “Opie” brows and “like me” grin showed me what was missing in the Democratic party.

Plain old white dudes.

The Democrats have a convention this week in Charlotte, N.C. Now that Americans have heard the Republican pitch, the Democrats will attempt to persuade the voters to continue the course set forth by President Barack Obama. They will seek to rally their base and win over the undecided as well. Even so, the Democrats should push harder to reach the guy they believe they already lost. They need to reach out and include Archie Bunker.

Will the Democratic National Convention give President Barack Obama the bounce he needs? (Courtesy DNC)

Paulie La is hardly plain nor old. He is one of the big guys from my old neighborhood.  When I was a kid and my city was far less safe, he was one of the guys I looked for on the corner. Now that we’re all grown, aged and balding, the corner matters less, yet is still intrinsic to who we are. Because of where we grew up, when we disagree over politics, Paulie La sees the political landscape in a way I can understand.

More than a generation ago, states including Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan still had union jobs aplenty and were solidly Democratic. Now they now are bastions of the Tea Party as joblessness is rampant in these states. Since the early 1980s, private sector union membership has dwindled to its lowest point in almost a century, leaving only the jealously disliked public sector unions with insurance and pensions other Americans earned and used to have. Families in many states that were once pro union are now Tea Partiers.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the latest political crusaders in the common cause that the current administration is against the American people. In preaching to a largely white audience, they are seeking office by forming an alliance with those who used to have a place in this nation. And, they have a point.

I believe Obama will win reelection and hold office through 2016. The problem for the administration is that half the Congress has refused to work with him in the previous four years. So, after his reelection, what will convince the GOP to work with Democrats and find common ground in the next four?

White dudes.

Are Romney and Ryan connecting with more with the white vote? (Public Domain)

Even though we have the most densely layered and still the most powerful economy on earth, we are losing layers. In losing jobs to overseas for decades, we are losing our ability to fend for ourselves and leverage our power. We continue to exist at a tipping point, where every outsourced business and every company that hires illegal aliens and not Americans is breaking down the economy further.

While white people are seeing the dream they used to have at their fingertips disappear, black people are seeing the vision of integration through employment dematerialize and grow distant too. The president needs to make this point at the convention and in debate.  The GOP will claim he is dabbling in racial politics by highlighting differing tribes. But, he would be wise to highlight the plight of white America as a bellweather of things to come for others in our nation. By acknowledging the conversation many Americans have at the kitchen table, he can also help to dispel the idea, fostered by the GOP, that we are at each other’s throats.

He needs to make the point that employment for Americans is still so bad that even Mitt Romney, a corporate raider, can repaint himself as a champion of employment and people will believe him. And, the president needs to use every example of Bain Capital destroying business rather than simply allowing Romney to tout his two ground up achievements with Sports Authority and Staples.

Paulie La is a guy who views this election as the forces of capitalism against the forces of the welfare state. Though I largely disagree with his assessment, he has some valid points within. Luckily, he owns property in New York City, one of the few locations in the nation where property is worth more than in 2008. Good for him. We both remember when that city was broke and property was next to worthless. Still, I need to reach out to him to make the point that the rest of the nation could be moving as New York is.

I live in the city of Baltimore. Unlike New York, Baltimore has not yet begun to tackle its addiction problem. While it has built new neighborhoods on the refuse of the old waterfront, it hasn’t sought to integrate such commerce and new housing with other parts of the city. In doing so, it has essentially created two cities. At best, without bringing new business into the rest of the city, it will only break even while depending on federal dollars to support its ever under employed populace.

Baltimore hosted a Grand Prix race this weekend for the second year in a row. With $185 price tag for a weekend grandstand pass, the cost is far above the reach of most city residents who have had to endure road closures and detours, making their daily commutes even longer. In other words, downtown Baltimore is for tourists this Labor Day weekend.

Depending on tourist dollars is only part of what made New York grow again. In New York, city leaders made it safe for tourists in Manhattan and city dwellers in the other boroughs too. But here, tourists and Baltimoreans still have to worry about mobs of young men on illegal dirt bikes buzzing along Pratt Street by the dozens or hundreds because the city is loathe to call out the real public danger to citizen and biker alike. This city, unlike New York, is living in the past. Baltimore is afraid to lay down the law so that its citizens may prosper.

There are those in the GOP who claim that Obama has a Mau Mau, anti-colonial agenda, based on his Kenyan parentage. They may also claim that the civil rights movement obscured the focus of Democrats to a minority one, creating a perceived clash between white and black citizens. Lastly, they claim the President’s stance on Wall Street banks and investors has stifled our market economy in favor of a socialist model.

We Americans are, by definition of our founding, anti-colonial. If the President has any sort of anti-colonial leanings, more power to him because that is part of who we are. The president’s attempts to steer Wall Street to a safer and less volatile footing are simply about keeping the American dollar in this country to invest in jobs rather than in offshore tax havens. The tax code needs to change and everyone in Washington knows it.

If the Democrats are at fault, it is assuming that the white dude was and is doing all right.  By affirming that non white people seek to get where white people are, Democrats miss how far family income in the white community has fallen in the past three decades. And, by correlation, what is happening in all but the wealthiest communities in this nation.

The president needs to give the white dudes a hug. He needs to reach out to the guy who has busted his tail all his life to remind him that his labor should be worth more.  The president needs to show white dudes that Mitt Romney is offering candy and taking dollars out of this nation, where he is working to get food on the table, dollars in the stores and making insurance and college for the kids affordable again.

About the author

Robert Emmet Mara

Robert Emmet Mara has been in Baltimore since 2006. A native New Yorker, Robert came to Baltimore to do three things: work with kids, renovate houses and write a second book of fiction. Since his arrival, he has managed to do all three and more. He has sought better oversight for his still blighted Harwood neighborhood from the city and has been asked to speak to various community association leaders on the subject of city agency relations. Contact the author.

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