Reaching the Aqua-Collar Worker

The white-collar worker used to mean someone in a profession that involved increased access to information coupled with high long-term income and social mobility.  Education was one of the primary determinants because universities, governments and mature industries used to hold a near-monopoly on knowledge.  The blue-collar worker used to mean someone in a role requiring little to education matched with low long-term earning potential and little social mobility.  While there are still some workers that fall into these categories, the vast majority of workers are now aqua-collar, meaning they have access to information but are unable to retain long-term profit and have a weaker correlation between income, education and social mobility.

The vast majority of information technology workers, professional athletes, and broadcast media workers are aqua-collar.  And they vote for Democrats overwhelmingly.

Although I normally would not cite the Huffington Post, here is a good graphic illustrating the average yearly salary of professional athletes in 2013.  The NBA has the highest average career and highest annual salary.  And yet, within five years of retirement, 60% of all former NBA players are flat broke.  These days, all the majority get to keep are their great tattoos.  In the NBA, around 78% of the players are black and as a voting bloc, blacks voted for Presidential Obama between 93 to 95 percent in 2008 and 2012.

Although statistics vary, there is a very common perception that the media favors Democrats.  This is not a small bias, but a very large bias.  And yet, the media field spends considerable time and energy having members claim individual neutrality.  The news is the news and objective, unless it is Fox or MSNBC.

Information technology workers also overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.  This is true throughout the United States, especially so in hubs like Silicon Valley and New York City.  The question for all three groups is why, when there are many natural alliances possible with conservatives?

People vote based on their perception of safety, prosperity, and social virtue.  People who don’t vote either do not believe that their vote will have an impact or do not perceive that any of the candidates are different or relevant on this scale.  Safety is one of the most simple metrics to measure.  President Johnson did a superlative job of painting Goldwater as unsafe and winning by a landslide with “Daisy”.  At this particular moment, there does not seem to be a public consensus on safety on any scale, but there are no present threats on which any candidate can truly capitalize.

Prosperity and social virtue are closely related.  President Reagan used the catch-phrase “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” to great effect.  Despite his otherwise conservative policies, he won in a landslide.  Candidate McCain was viewed by many as tin-eared in relation to prosperity and social virtue.  Obama was widely viewed as listening to the aqua-collar worker, which may help to explain his two victories.

While there are socialists, communists, feminists and racists who are going to vote for one party regardless of platform, the majority of voters are paying attention to the the viewpoints and stances of their candidates.  These voters actually do read and pay attention come election time, some even before that.  And they share common reasons for coalescing around different messages.

Of eligible voters, only between 51 to 64 percent have been registered to vote for the Presidential election since 1948.  Once registered, voters have actually gone out and voted for President between 68 and 96 percent of the time.  People who bother to register are highly likely to vote, even if they are dead.

Information technology workers believe that they have the most valuable sources of information.  They tend to be in environments which have high numbers of H-1B visas and international locations are prevalent.  Almost every medium-to-large-scale technology company offshores a vast percentage of production and/or employment to cheaper countries.  A lot of information technology workers further feel socially alienated and have difficulty in interpersonal relationships.  They somehow view the Republican party as being the party of “old white uneducated people”.

Information technology workers tend to make enough money to live wherever they go, but do not tend to save money.  They will present a challenge once they reach retirement age, as the majority will have spent their earnings on accommodations in expensive cities like San Francisco and New York.  Financially, they mostly do not have sufficient skills to manage money and do not grasp the difference between gross revenue and profit.

There is a very glaring perception within technology circles that the IQ of Democrats is much higher than that of Republicans and, within that same group, an incredibly strong perception that technology is what makes a higher power, rather than faith.  Many of them place their faith in the Earth and, as a consequence, view the Democratic party as being pro-Earth and the Republican party as being anti-Earth.  There are many examples of this type of intelligence on display, such as here and here.  Further, there is a really inane belief that the Democratic party is all about equality and the Republican party is all about the wealthy.  And Hollywood coupled with the media paint conservatives as being uptight, ignorant and as a liberal with their brains blown out, more or less.

Information technology and professional athletics are both industries that favor youth.  Younger people tend to be much more in thinking “why not gay marriage?” than “why?” and both industries have a fair number of younger people who congregate around similar cultural experiences, such as hipsters.  They make enough money that they don’t have to reflect to much on political theory.  President Obama was cool, younger, athletic and he really cared about the Earth.  These workers don’t understand the subtlety of higher prices and starvation for the masses if we kill off coal.  It reminds me of the protester who drove to a McCain event to rail against carbon, but who could not be bothered to take the bus because he had several important protests to attend that day.

These younger people do not understand the pressure to conform which is placed on scientists nor do they understand why people would lie about climate change in exchange for funding.  Their youth and inexperience is being exploited for political gain, to paraphrase President Reagan.  But that does not mean they are not open to other messages.

Most aqua-collar workers perceive that there is rampant corruption in government.  Liberals believe that corruption will be eliminated by placing the right people in government, while conservatives believe that the nature of government itself is the problem.  So liberals place ads that tout how voting for Jerry Brown will get California on the right track environmentally while conservatives rail against the wasted spending on high-speed rail.  Aqua-collar workers know there is a problem, so they are prone to support those who address the problem rather than those who want to restrict its addressing.

California is a great example of a state where conservative values are drowning while the state itself is suffering a drought.  It is no secret that small businesses are moving out in droves and that the Democratic party is entrenched in Sacramento.  California is the financial center of liberal funding.  Aqua-collar workers are contributing greatly to that funding.  They are watching the growth of companies like Google and Apple which are growing partially due to the ability to exploit cheaper labor abroad.

Liberals have political factories like Real Time, SNL, the Stephen Colbert show and the Daily Show, along with late-night television.  In each case, the underlying premise is to indoctrinate a single viewpoint through the use of ridicule.  And there is really no counterpoint.  Humor is a powerful tool, but has not been used very often by conservatives, of late.

Remember Schoolhouse Rock?  Conservatives need to revive it, only with an updated version that espouses basic principles of the Constitution.  Along those lines, we need to explain a vision of economics that is simple to understand and addresses the gobbledygook put out by people like Paul Krugman.  We also need to educate other people on why events in Iraq affect us at home.  When I was in high school, there was a simple but powerful pamphlet that explained the threat of Communism to us all, which included data points on the number of people living under Communist regimes.  We need to do the same for the Middle East and illustrate the level of oppression in that region coupled with cause and effect on our economy and social welfare.

There are a number of core areas where aqua-collar workers vote against their own interest.  The vast majority of them also work for very large, multi-national companies and that means that they are prone to believing in centralized authority.  That does not mean they are closed off to conservative principles.  I think we need to make a concerted effort to reach these groups and start the process of breaking up the liberal hegemony in this area.  I am keen to understand the approaches of the candidates on these issues.