As a Democrat from Mississippi who served in elected office for almost 30 years, I was dismayed when I saw my political party trounced in November’s election. It is clear that the coalition of college-educated white women, African Americans and Hispanics that President Obama used twice to win the White House doesn’t translate to other Democratic candidates.
Since the president entered the Oval Office, Democrats have lost the majority in Congress, the White House and over nine hundred state legislator seats across the country.
Many party leaders believe that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE will be such a bad President that Obama's coalition will again flock to the polls and return a Democrat to the White House in 2020. In other words, Democrats don’t need to adapt, but wait.
This strategy is misguided, and my party must acknowledge that their disconnect with working-class, white Americans is costing us elections.
A prime example of this detachment among Democrats is the surging popularity of billionaire Elon Musk within the party. Is Elon Musk really the kind of billionaire that can win over working-class, white Americans?
Musk, the 83rd wealthiest person in the world, made a fortune from holdings in the electric car company Tesla, the rooftop solar company SolarCity, and SpaceX, a business that sells rockets and access to space.
Aaron Ross Sorkin, a left-leaning financial columnist at the New York Times, recently urged President-elect Donald Trump to ask Musk to advise him on job creation. This follows a call from the left-leaning, late night television host Stephen Colbert for Musk to run for president.
Vogue Magazine regularly publishes fawning pieces about Musk. But is he a good businessman?
Musk has created thousands of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., but it is unclear if any of his businesses will ever make a profit. Things recently got so bad for SolarCity that Tesla had to buy the solar company to prevent it from filing for bankruptcy. At the time, both companies were $3 billion in debt.
Taxpayers also heavily bankroll Musk’s businesses. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that Musk’s corporate empire had received a total of $4.9 billion in government subsidies.
For example, the federal government gives each Tesla buyer a $7,500 tax credit. Many states give additional credits as well.
So, yes, Musk has made billions of dollars because taxpayers are subsidizing the purchase of $85,000 dollar sports cars and costly solar panels. I doubt that will sit well with working-class voters.
The only reason Tesla was profitable last quarter stems from the sale of $139 million dollars worth of “clean” tax credits to companies that make money from the sale of traditional, gas-burning cars and trucks.
Undoubtedly, Donald Trump is also a product of coastal elitism. However, Trump was able to overcome this hurdle with working-class voters by channeling their frustrations with elites.
Democrats hoping that Musk will be their billionaire answer to Trump, fail to realize he is as out of touch with that voting block as Mitt Romney and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Armageddon elections to come Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' MORE.
I was first elected to public office in 1976, as a Circuit Clerk in Jefferson Davis County. I stayed in public office until 2002, when I lost my re-election bid to Congress.
My downfall was directly related to the rejection of the Democratic Party by white voters across the South. Since then, the trend has only intensified. Still, the coastal elites that control the party seem to be in denial.
It is my hope that Democrats will again start recruiting candidates for all levels of elected office who can connect with blue-collar voters.
While I personally admire Elon Musk, he is the darling of the New York Times and Vogue. He’s the embodiment of the new economy. He’s not exactly the guy that millions of working-class white voters rally around for president.
Shows is a former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Mississippi. He currently works as a lobbyist for the oil and natural gas industries.
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