You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you this, but listen to The Washington Post’s astute reporter, Dan Balz:
“In the fierce campaign between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, a battle dominated by questions of race and gender, white men have emerged as perhaps the single critical swing constituency.”
Yes! The Democrats need us. And they said it aloud,”white men.” We’re back.
Somewhere in the ’60s and ’70s, we were eased out of the Democratic Party. Oh, not entirely. We could stay, but we could not come right out and say we were white males, even though it was obvious on meeting us. We came to call ourselves “Reagan Democrats.”
In the meantime, the Republicans took us for granted and pretty much trashed our reputation. From 1995, “white guy rule” became synonymous with taking bribes from defense contractors, men’s-room stalls, squandering public money, chasing pages around the halls of Congress, absentmindedly starting wars and long all-expense-paid golf vacations in Scotland.
It looked like the white male was finished as a force in American life. It was so bad that right-wing talkers tried to convince 145 million of us that we were an oppressed minority. While we might not have been the brightest bulbs in the demographic chandelier, we weren’t that dumb.
But when the Democratic presidential race, traditionally the preserve of randy white males, came down to a black guy and a white woman, it looked like we were finished as a political force, our only remaining role to stand outside in the rain and direct traffic.
But suddenly, as Dan Balz reported, we became “this crucial demographic.”
Listen to these headlines. Don’t they make your heart sing?
Politico: “Dems must woo white men to win”
ABC News: White men fuel Obama’s Potomac victories”
Being wooed will be nice, but I think I’d rather “fuel.” It sounds more masculine. At the outset of these primaries, certain pundits said sneeringly that white men would only vote for Obama because they’re sexist and only vote for Clinton because they’re racists.
Well, my, my, we’re not hearing that kind of talk anymore, are we? Nor do I think we’ll be hearing any of that bilge out of the left wing of the Democratic Party about the white patriarchy, generations of white-male oppression and chauvinism. If Clinton gets the nomination, it’s start up again until we get so annoyed we call ourselves Reagan Democrats again and defect to the Republicans.
It wouldn’t be a Democratic contest if there weren’t a certain class bias. What the two camps are really after are working-class Democrats. I’m not exactly working-class. (“Yeah, you’re no class,” the white male on the bar stool next to me just said. Bartender, get my friend a beer. He’s celebrating. He passed his chromosome test today.) As I was saying, it’s hard to describe what I do as actual work. It’s hard to describe, period.
But I’m indubitably a white male and we’re back and standing tall! Well, standing, anyway. OK, slouched in the Barcalounger because the basketball tournament is on and we really don’t have time for politics.