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16 April 2014

Coalition Of The Disappointed: Obama Fires Up Racial And Gender Resentments To Get Out The Vote

‘Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.’

— Nelson Mandela

By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

You can tell it's an election year because so many noncrises are suddenly urgent priorities. Real median household income is still lower than it was in 2007, the smallest share of Americans is working since 1978, and the Russians are marching west, but Democrats are training fire on race, gender and the grievances of identity politics. 

"We have this congenital disease, which is in midterm elections we don't vote at the same rates," President Obama said at a Houston fundraiser the other day. He means that the Obama Democrats are now what they call the "coalition of the ascendent," made up of minorities, young people, single women and affluent, college-educated cultural liberals. The problem is that this year they may be a coalition of the disappointed, so Democrats are trying to scare them to the polls with pseudo-controversies. 

Take last week's East Room reception for feminist celebrity Lilly Ledbetter, when Mr. Obama declared that "today the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns; for African American women, Latinas, it's even less. And in 2014, that's an embarrassment. It is wrong." He's right that it'd be wrong, except he knows this isn't close to true. 

The "pay gap" is the ratio between median earnings for men and women, according to Census Bureau data. But adjust for hours worked, occupation, decisions about marriage and children, education and risk, and equal work means equal pay. The war on women is really a war on meaningful statistics. 

To wit, applying the same broad median-earnings standard to the White House shows that female staffers make only 88 cents on the dollar of their male counterparts. The White House should indict itself for disparate-impact bias. Spokesman Jay Carney defended the hornet's nest of sexism where he works by insisting, "That the problem exists in a lot of places only reinforces the need to fix it." 

So how's that working out? Readers may remember the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that was the first bill Mr. Obama signed in January 2009. The measure was little more than a trial lawyer payoff, but Mr. Obama called it "a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness" and end the injustice of "women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn." Five years later, they've lost a penny by his own reckoning. 

Still, women don't have it as bad as Attorney General Eric Holder, who in a speech last week departed from his prepared remarks to feel sorry for himself after a testy House hearing. "What Attorney General has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?" he asked. "What President has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?" 

Mr. Holder should recall the treatment of his predecessor Alberto Gonzales before implying that his critics are racist, but then he sees Jim Crow everywhere. In his speech before Al Sharpton's National Action Network, he said the right to vote faces "unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity." 

Some 34 states now require voters to show some form of government-issued photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, up from zero in 2006. The states say such rules uphold public confidence in the integrity of the ballot. 

And if the states are secretly trying to suppress minority turnout, they're doing a lousy job. The Census reports that the black voting rate rose 13 percentage points from 1996 to 2012. At 66.2% black participation in 2012 surpassed the rate for non-Hispanic whites (64.1%). 

Yet every Democrat seems to have received the white supremacist conspiracy memo. Last week Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference that "I think race has something to do with the fact that they are not bringing up an immigration bill. I've heard them say to the Irish, 'If it was you, it would be easy.'" Yes, the Irish. Steve Israel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added that "elements" of the GOP are "animated by racism." 

This color-by-numbers strategy may prove a tougher sell for young adults, who are among the biggest losers of the Obama era. The millennials (those age 18 to 33) are the first generation since World War II to be poorer and more jobless than their parents at the same stage of life, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2012 Mitt Romney won a majority of voters who entered the electorate (i.e., turned 18) during Mr. Obama's first term, reports political scientist John Sides. 

Still, student loan debt has swelled to about $1.2 trillion, and interest rates on federal bonds are likely to climb this July, so look for Mr. Obama to promise one more refinancing discount. Other millenials can console themselves with free birth control, even if ObamaCare forces them to pay artificially higher premiums to subsidize their elders. 

Transparent cynicism is the lifeblood of politics, but it's nonetheless notable that the only way Democrats think they can win is by dividing the electorate into blocs and inflaming racial and other tensions. Governing so far to the left has polarized U.S. politics, and now the party of the government status quo is deliberately deepening the national divide because they think that is the only way to save the at-risk population that is the Senate Democratic majority. 

All this is more than a country mile away from the era of political comity that Mr. Obama promised in 2008. America's largest problems don't have an ethnicity or gender, and most of them could be ameliorated with faster economic growth that would benefit everyone. Sadly, the liberal strategy of cultivating resentment will only get worse as the year drags on. 

 Related Reading:

The 'Absolute Shall' Shall Always Absolutely Fail, Especially In America! And More Cheers For It!

Obama's Neo-Nationalism 

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