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Monday, January 19, 2009

Hey, He's Our President, Too

I am very happy for African Americans. I am very happy for black America. The first black president is a huge effin' deal. Really huge. An amazing thing. I never thought I'd live to see it, and I'm not yet 40. But . . .

But, Barack Obama is not only the first black president. (Hurray!) He is also, arguably, the first president representing the upper middle class reformers found in the Democratic party. I would argue that he was the first upper middle class reformer nominated by the party since . . . McGovern? Maybe. Even if you grant McGovern--and I would have to think about that--the nominee before him . . . Stevenson in 1956 . . . and either way, that makes Obama the first ever elected. Although I might be persuaded to accept FDR as a reformer, he was not upper middle class. He was a patrician. I might also be persuaded to accept Woodrow Wilson, but well, he was a segregationist and that was another era.

During the campaign, I pondered the confluence of the black candidate (not necessarily the candidate who is black, but the candidate receiving the bulk of the black vote) and the upper middle class reformer types--the folks voting for Bill Bradley in 2000, for example. It proved decisive.

But we upper middle class reformers have been completely ignored. Outrageous!

Or, well, maybe not. Not taking one's own side in the argument, so to speak. Let this be black America's moment. That would be enough.


At 10:42 AM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Clinton? He's a hyper-educated policy wonk and was even a McGovern volunteer. He may have had working class roots, and he may have moved south and mastered a kind of old boy politics, but he was very "New South." I think you're just leaving him out b/c (a) he straddled different constituencies, and (b) he's southern.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

True that. I'm leaving him out because he was Southern/DLC/"Third Way" and not a traditional northeastern liberal. He carved out a niche defined against that wing of the party, despite his 1972 campaigning for McGovern. "The era of big government is over."

Hyper-education and policy wonkery aren't really what I'm talking about. Although the definition of upper middle class is primarily educational (advanced degree).

I was actually thrilled that Obama said that the size of government is irrelevant--it's how well government is working. At the level of individual programs/departments.

That sounds good.


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