The 40% is both false and misleading. It's an exaggeration of the combined labor force non-participation rate minus the unemployment rate, which was 26.2% for white males and 35.2% for black males in May, the latest month for which data is currently available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It did reach 40% at one time--back in December of 1982. While the black rate is substantially higher, it has always been so, and cannot generally be blamed on illegal immigration.
Black statistics have only been tracked since 1972. The low point of 25.6% was reached in December of 1973. The oil shocks, recessions, and de-industrialization of the 70s and early 80s are clearly the prime culprits here--on top of the legacy of racism, of course--from which the black population has never recovered.
his name provides some measure of how many Democratic voters are still looking for Prince Charming. Given the low probability of a Gore run, it is hard not to interpret his support as essentially a statement of dissatisfaction with at least the top three other Democrats.
However, as a point of fact, Democrats have repeatedly expressed a fair amount of satisfaction with their field. (I'm still undecided, and I don't share that satisfaction, btw. So I'm not just projecting my views onto others.)
But I do think there's something to this, it's just more subtle: I think that Democrats have been burned repeatedly by their candidate's failures to stand up and fight when it counted. Gore was once one of them, too. But he's widely seen (including by me, never a Gore fan before 2003) as someone who's undergone a transformaiton and estrangement/liberation from the Versailles game-playing universe.
Thus, while most Democrats are satisfied with the field, they still yearn for someone who has been as alienated from the DC scene as they feel themselves to be.
Look, Obama has said a lot of nice things. But you asked why I said he was no RFK, and I told you. The problem is that folks today simply have no basis of comparison. It's not about saying nice things. Or making some good proposals. It's about electrifying people and leading them to have a real impact on the political system.
He's had very high visibility for some time now, and he's really never put his political capital on the line for any of these things. He has a rationale for that, too: he doesn't want to polarize people, he wants to bring them together.
Fine, he's chosen that as his strategy and rationale. But you don't get to do that, and then turn around and claim to be a movement leader. If you've got enough charisma, you may be able to have your cake and eat it, too. But you don't get ice cream as well.
Schipske certainly did better. And it looked like she would run this time, right up to the last minute.
But she had support from within the gay and lesbian community (Long Beach is second only to West Hollywood as a center of the gay and lesbian community in the LA region) that gave her a significant leg up, as well as the expectations raised by Mathews, which caused people to lend more support when she ran. But neither of them got the support that was warranted.
As for McDonald, I expect her to be weak. She appears to have been running in stealth mode. No web presence--unless that's changed in the last week or so--for example. Poor response to media inguiries. No real institutional base.
If she had wanted a political career, it would have been easy for her to have established a resume and a base. Instead, she just popped her head up after her mother died, and said, "Hello! Here I am! Come crown I mean vote for me!" I don't think she made a lot of friends doing that.
BTW, early voting had been quite light at my precinct when I went to vote around noon, as you might expect. GOTV looks to be very important. If Richardson makes it, she will owe labor, big time. Whether she pays her debts, that's another matter.
There's also Peter Mathews, a grassroots progressive, endorse by Progressive Democrats of LA, who nearly unseated Steve Horne back in the 1990s, before lines were redrawn, with no help from the party.
Returning the favor of total neglect, he has run primary challenges against Millender-MacDonald, and gotten over 10,000 votes, which takes some doing and some real organization. No telling how well he'll do this time out, but he's a guy who was basically a decade ahead of the emergence of the netroots.
He's modestly more liberal than Clinton. And, as noted, he's from a solid blue state, Edwards from a solid red one. So it's hard to argue that their differences clearly favor Obama. This is a a long way from the claim that he is dramatically more liberal.
Furthermore, he uses and reinforces rightwing frames in his criticism of liberals. He does this with some regularity, and it's not just limited to religion. This is possibly the biggest problem I have with him. Call me crazy, but I just don't vote for people who attack me.
I agree that he uses his charisma to promote progressive policies. But how progressive?
I disagree that JFK was too timid to do the same. He had the same timidity problem as Obama, IMHO. JFK promoted civil rights, but tried to avoid conflict as much as possible. Obama overtly tries to do the same. "Bringing people together," and "creating consensus" are just positive spin for avoiding conflict on issues like poverty, Iraq (and Iran?), and universal health care.
It's hardly surprising that decades of conservative demonization of "big government," "liberals" and "The Democrat Party" have poisoned a lot of people's minds.
But that doesn't mean the Democrats are to blame for being too partisan. They're to blame for being inept at playing the game of a Gramscian War of Position--in fact, they don't even recognize that they're in one.
When people who support government spending to solve social problems can't even find a coherent party message and follow-through to match their views, the problem is not with the party that embodies their views for being too partisan. It's with that party for being politically inept. And listening to David Broder is one way to ensure that it will continue being politically inept.
Then if you understood the context, you misrepresented it. And you're doing it again when you say:
What other people do you think you are going to bring into our movement to make it bigger and stronger if not youth and people of color? Or do you really think that our movement is just fine the size it is now?
Obviously Obama is appealing to people who are important to us. But so did JFK in 1960. He attracted youth, and won back the Eisenhower Democrats (the "Reagan Democrats" of his day.)
Things that are only about charisma and buzz do not get 10,000 volunteers on a Saturday from all diverse backgrounds and walks of life in 50 states in the June before a primary election to do door-to-door canvassing.
I'm sorry, it's just not possible.
This is argument by assertion. It's fine as an expression of faith. But it doesn't prove a thing. In fact, that is precisely what charisma does--it moves people by the force of personality. The degree to which people are moved is a measure of the charisma involved.
What's more, I'm not saying that Obama doesn't speak to a real hunger--which is also motivating people here. But while speaking to a hunger can be the foundation for a movement, by itself it does not constitute a movement.
I know you can do better, and I'm looking forward to seeing that in another diary.
I was a kid of 10 during the primaries, turned 11 just before the general election. I remember what it was like. There were even kids my age excited by Kennedy and paying attention to politics for the first time. The parallel to Obama is quite apt, and popped into my head precisely because of my own experience.
And yes, sure Kennedy had a well-oiled machine. But the charisma factor was the only reason he was in the game in the first place, and a large part of why he had that machine. People committed to supporting him because they thought he could win--and his charisma was a major reason why. So you can't really separate things out so neatly.
But you can say, bottom line: no remarkable charisma, no candidate. Kennedy's positions and his record did nothing to put him in that position. A dozen or more were as good, who didn't even consider running, and both LBJ and Hubert Humphrey--who did run--were clearly better.
The same thing is true of Obama today. Without the tremendous buzz around his book, providing a launch opportunity, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. And that in turn flowed from his charisma.