By nearly every measure, working-class Midwesterners and Pennsylvanians, black and white, have been left behind for the last thirty years. They were failed by Clinton and Bush administration policies that allowed major corporations tax breaks for sheltering their money in offshore havens. They were stiffed by a wild-West subprime mortgage market whose collapse has forced many blue-collar homeowners into foreclosure. They lived in places that have been ravaged by sixty years of systematic federal disinvestment. They were left behind by the Republican evisceration of labor laws that once protected the rights of workers to organize. They have watched their wages have stagnated, as their pensions and benefits have been cut, and as their once decent jobs have been replaced by McJobs.
Let me also add that analysis similar to what Obama was trying to say has been a commonplace within the Democratic party for decades. According to this line of thinking, working class people, rather than voting their pocketbooks, have abandoned the party of FDR as a result of skillful Republican use of wedge issues like race, guns, religion, and immigration. For example:
The Republicans, when they needed to prove Michael Dukakis was soft on crime, brought out Willie Horton. . . . The Republicans, when they needed to cover up for their senseless economic strategy that is driving income down for most American families while they work harder, blame it on quotas so there can be racial resentment instead of honest analysis of our economic falsehoods.
And who said such an elitist and condescending thing? Bill Clinton in 1992.
Update: Here's an even better Clinton quote:
You know, he [Bush] wants to divide us over race. I'm from the South. I understand this. This quota deal they're gonna pull in the next election is the same old scam they've been pulling on us for decade after decade after decade. When their economic policies fail, when the country's coming apart rather than coming together, what do they do? They find the most economically insecure white men and scare the living daylights out of them. They know if they can keep us looking at each other across a racial divide, if I can look at Bobby Rush and think, Bobby wants my job, my promotion, then neither of us can look at George Bush and say, "What happened to everybody's job? What happened to everybody's income? What ... have ... you ... done ... to ... our ... country?"