Presidential Candidate Jim Webb is an Old-time Democrat


Will Rogers famously stated, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” And he was not so far from the truth. The old Democratic Party was a motley collection of selected plutocrats, labor bosses, Southern segregationists, smaller farmers, urban liberals and, as early as the 1930s, racial minorities. It was no doubt a clunky coalition but delivered big time: winning World War II, pushing back the Soviet Union and making it to the moon while aiding tens of millions of Americans to ascend into the middle class.

Only one Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential race, James Webb, represents this old coalition. A decorated combat veteran, onetime Reagan Navy secretary and former U.S. senator from Virginia, Webb, 69, combines patriotism with a call for expansive economic policies to help the middle class. He speaks most directly to white working-class voters, particularly in places like Appalachia, the South and in rural hamlets and exurbs across the country, precisely where Democrats are now regularly thrashed in elections.

Webb, notes the National Journal, combines “Elizabeth Warren’s passion for economic justice with Rand Paul’s itch to reinvent foreign policy.” After all, the former soldier was one of the harshest critics of George W. Bush’s disastrous Iraq invasion.

Yet, so far, his candidacy is attracting little to no mention in the media. Part of the problem may lie with the fact that he most identifies with an America – white, rural or suburban – disdained or ignored by the official press. Many current Democrats not only dislike these constituencies, but don’t even want to deal with them, counting, instead, on their coalition of the affluent, minorities and millennials to carry the day.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is also executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is also author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

Jim Webb photo by flickr user kalexnova.

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Gosh, I love Jim Webb, but

Gosh, I love Jim Webb, but short of Hillary dropping out I can't see that he has a chance. For one thing, he doesn't, at least in my amateur opinion, seem to have the right political skills. Reforming the prison system is a fine idea but now doesn't seem the best moment to emphasize the issue. Trade and immigration on the other hand, as Trump is now demonstrating beyond all reasonable doubt, are the only two issues that truly arouse the general public. And rightly so, since these are the two big pocket-book issues that the donor class and our political elites have worked so hard to keep off the table.

In short, Webb needs to infurl his true Jacksonian colors. The issue isn't race or section, but class.