2 historians say the Dems are making a mistake trying to turn the suburbs blueHistorians in the News
tags: progressives, suburbs, Lily Geismer, Matthew D Lassiter
... Democratic gains in the affluent suburbs in the midterms. But the electoral success of that strategy has previously been modest — and more important, the party has paid insufficient attention to the substantial policy costs of turning moderate and affluent suburbs blue. Democrats cannot cater to white swing voters in affluent suburbs and also promote policies that fundamentally challenge income inequality, exclusionary zoning, housing segregation, school inequality, police brutality and mass incarceration.
The political culture of upscale suburbs revolves around resource hoarding of children’s educational advantages, pervasive opposition to economic integration and affordable housing, and the consistent defense of homeowner privileges and taxpayer rights. Indeed, unlike traditional blue-collar Democrats, white-collar professionals across the ideological spectrum — for example, in the high-tech enclaves of California and Northern Virginia, which combined contain eight of the 15 most highly educated congressional districtsin the nation — generally endorse tough-on-crime policies, express little interest in protections for unions and sympathize with the economic agenda of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
In these places, the Democratic suburban strategyof targeting affluent white professionals while appealing to nonwhite voters in diverse, fast-growing communities has had some success. In Virginia’s race for governorlast fall, the moderate Democrat Ralph Northam followed the playbook and won 69 percent of the vote in the Northern Virginia suburbs and exurbs, 58 percent statewide from white women with college degrees, 54 percent from those with family incomes above $100,000 and overwhelming support from African-Americans and Latinos. But Mr. Northam secured only 26 percent of ballots cast by white Virginians without a college degree, slightly below even Hillary Clinton’s disastrous nationwide showing. ...
The Democratic fixation on upscale white suburbs also distorts policies and diverts resources that could generate higher turnout among nonwhite voting blocs that are crucial to the party’s fortunes and too often taken for granted. It should not be that hard for liberalism to challenge the Republican tax scheme to redistribute income upward, and build on Mr. Obama’s important but inadequate health care reform, with policy solutions that address the real diversity of American suburbia.
That strategy would embrace a broad economic platform promoted by progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Stacey Abrams in her race for governor in Georgia.
Democratic strategists seem unable to understand why Mr. Trump carried the upper Midwest or why Hillary Clinton’s suburban strategy generated such unenthusiastic turnout among nonwhite voters. A political agenda fixated on turning affluent suburbs blue is capable of building neither a stable long-term majority nor a policy blueprint worthy of the progressive mantle.
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