Wednesday, January 13, 2016
The Untold 2016 Story: The Stealth Majority
There's a story surrounding the 2016 presidential election -- a very big story that the media have completely missed.
It's about a group of voters who disappeared off the radar screen quite some time ago but are now back. And, they're not only back but they're back in a big way.
Do you know who we're talking about?
Have you noticed them?
If you've been paying attention you might have seen them or heard them by now.
They're the Reagan Democrats.
These are the middle to lower-middle-class, mostly white, often (but not necessarily) male, hard-working Americans who may have once voted for Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton or even Barack Obama but now feel betrayed, abandoned, forgotten, left out.
Jimmy Carter and the liberal Democrats of his time left these people feeling so hopelessly jilted that they were embittered. They were aghast at how far and how quickly their country had fallen. And they turned angry and resentful.
And Ronald Reagan came along and he understood them. He gave passionate voice to their hopes, fears and yearnings. He got it. And he energized them and activated them and they became some of his most valuable allies.
It didn't matter to Reagan that these people called themselves Democrats. It didn't matter to him that some of them actually considered themselves liberals, either. Reagan himself was once an FDR liberal and Reagan understood that the Democrat Party had already drifted far from the common-sense liberalism of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy.
It didn't matter to Reagan that many of these people where union members either. Reagan knew that they would not necessarily vote the way their unions told them to vote. He was once a union president himself. He understood this.
And, so these became what the media termed "Reagan Democrats" and they were pivotal in the presidential elections of 1980 and 1984.
They got involved. They voted. They made a difference.
Now, they're back.
And you don't even have to look closely to find them.
You can see them mostly at Donald Trump rallies and they're turning out in droves. For the first time in decades they're actually waiting in long lines to hear from a presidential candidate who speaks their language.
When Trump says he's out to "Make America Great Again," and he assures these folks that it can indeed be done, that's music to their ears. That's what they've been thirsting for. What these people want is a strong, hopeful, optimistic, decisive message from a forthright leader who takes no gruff from anyone -- a leader who seems unafraid and unattached to powerful special interests. To them, Trump's message is all the more credible precisely because he hasn't appeared to be tethered to one party or another and he's always come off as his own man. What's more, he seems authentic.
They don't resent the fact that Trump is rich and powerful. They like that because for many of them his story embodies the American dream. They don't see him as a patrician or just another fortunate son. No, they see him as a fighter and a grappler who clawed his way to the top. And they want that laser focus, that drive, that hardscrabble toughness right now. They feel that this is what America needs at this hour and at this point in our history.
These people are worried and they want to see dramatic change now. They're realists. They know it's not going to happen overnight but they also know we must turn the corner ASAP if we're to get back on the right track. We need a leader who signals a clear change in tone and direction -- not the lesser of two evils but a sweeping realignment from the outside, in.
Their concern is often not so much for themselves (though they've not necessarily done well in recent years) but rather for their children and grandchildren.
You can find these people in towns and cities all over America.
They're all around you.
Locally, you'll find them in Philadelphia's gritty river wards and in the spit 'n polish row homes of South Philly. You can also find them in places like Pennsuaken, Maple Shade, Paulsboro, Delran, Palmyra and all along South Jersey's Black and White Horse Pike in towns like Somerdale and Audubon.
These are the Democrats that Barack Obama and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton forgot.
Call them the Stealth Majority. They're strong, tough, patriotic Americans who care deeply about their nation and its future.
And now they're stepping forward as never before.
And, so far this is the big untold story of this campaign.