Former Dem Sen. Jim Webb is no longer cute with his "We've got to win back white voters at the expense of everyone else" routine as an alternative to Hillary Clinton in 2016. In fact, he's getting downright insulting.
"I think they could do better with white, working people and I think this last election showed that," Webb said, referencing the 2014 midterms where Republicans took control of the Senate and added more power in the House. "The Democratic Party could do very well to return to its Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Andrew Jackson roots where the focus of the party was making sure that all people who lack a voice in the corridors of power could have one through the elected represented."
Pressed on his statement by NPR's Steve Inskeep, Webb said that he doesn't think Democrats' distancing from white, working people was a byproduct of President Barack Obama's election.
"This was happening before President Obama," Webb said.
Looking ahead to a 2016 race that he may run in, Webb added: "You are not going to have a situation again where you have 96% of the African American vote turning out for one presidential candidate. ... We need to get back to the principles of the Democratic Party that we are going to give everyone who needs access to the corridors of power that access regardless of any of your antecedents. I think that is a fair concept."
The stunning implication here is that Democrats have spent too much time giving voices of color "access to the corridors of power" and that hey, isn't it really time for a party that will give white men a seat at the table?
That nagging realization in the back of your mind is the fact that's the Republican Party's unspoken (and sometimes very loudly spoken) message, and that trying to be more Republican than the GOP doesn't tend to work out really well for the Democrats, historically. Webb's hook is that he's disguising the politics of white grievance as populism. It may even be appealing.
But it's not going to put him in the White House. Charlie Pierce:
Let us stipulate for a moment that Andrew Jackson also was a slaveholder and a genocidal madman, no matter how much the buckskin-shirt crowd loved him. Let us not return to his principles, thank you. And while FDR and Truman were fine presidents, who did some of all that they could have done, they still presided over a Democratic party that was the political and constitutional bulwark of the Jim Crow South. Neither one of them could break that dark alliance until the Civil Rights Movement shook the political order to the point where Lyndon Johnson could blow up the alliance entirely. Webb can't have this argument until he acknowledges: a) that the "principles of the Democratic party" to which he appeals also had a Whites Only sign on them, b) that the commitment of the Democratic Party to equal rights was a titanic moral victory for the entire nation, and c) that a lot of the voters to whom he suggests reaching out remain sorry that the sign ever came down. In the days to which Webb has suggested returning, the Democratic party did not remotely stand for "everybody" who needed it getting access to the corridors of power. The Democratic party only started standing for that at its 1948 national convention, and didn't fully stand for it until 1965. And, from about 1980 until about 2007, there was a powerful element within the Democratic party that thought the way back to power was to distance the party from the moral victory of the civil-rights movement in order to win back "Reagan Democrats," of whom Webb was one at the time.
Granted, the Reagan Democrat wing got us 8 years of Clinton as opposed to more Bush....but then we got more Bush anyway. Of course, now we're heading for more Clinton. Webb should figure out quickly that running to the right of Clinton's not going to help him.