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Elections, Politics

Obama’s resentment-stoking identity politics won’t work this time

Posted: August 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm   /   by

President Obama is a master of identity politics. He divides voters by class, gender, race, and age and appeals to them with rhetoric and government programs to get them to the polls.

The rhetoric is usually shameless pandering, sometimes aimed at stoking anger and resentment. The programs promise the usual something for nothing approach to government spending.

The enemy is always the opposition party, millions of callous citizens who seek to deprive others of their rights and property in a game that it is stacked against them.

This year the president’s identity politics approach is not working for one simple reason: the failed Obama economy has devastated everyone. His meager promises are pathetically inadequate to combat a tsunami of unemployment.

In 2008, Obama captured 56 percent of the women’s vote. He needs a repeat to boost his reelection. But women want more than new Obama initiatives such as fair pay and workplace flexibility, programs that mean nothing without employment.  Women want jobs.

The president got 95 percent of the black vote in 2008. He is certain to earn a hefty tally of the black vote this time as well. But blacks want more than extensions in unemployment benefits to combat their 14 percent jobless rate. Blacks want jobs.

In 2008, Obama snagged 66 percent of young voters aged 18-29. He must retain many of these voters to win this year. But young voters want more than a reduction in student loan interest. Young voters want jobs.

The president’s favorite is class warfare. But raising taxes on the wealthy ranked dead last among twelve issues in a recent poll that measured the most important priority for the next president. Number one in the poll was creating good jobs.

The divide and conquer approach won’t work this time. It won’t work with women, blacks, or young voters. It won’t work with anyone – the millions suffering from 8.3 percent unemployment that really is 15 percent counting the underemployed. The old playbook needs a new page.