The President’s Analyst
Portsmouth native Bill Schneider’s personal journey through politics
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“First was the Roosevelt coalition, which was labor unions, poor people and African-Americans,” he says. “The second was the Reagan coalition, which was a diverse group of constituencies that shared a resentment of American government. And the new American coalition that Obama built is something we’re just beginning to see—African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, Jews, gays, working women, single mothers, educated professionals. And most of those groups are growing.”
This voting bloc also consists of segments of society that no one talks about, like religious agnostics. He calls them “the unchurched.” That group consists of 1 in 5 Americans and has been slowly growing over the years—70 percent voted for Barack Obama in 2012. If one puts all of those consistencies together, they comprise a new American coalition of voters that can win elections, his book will argue.
Virginia’s recent governor’s race reflects this coalition—an overwhelming majority of unmarried women went Democrat, he points out. “This was the first governor’s election in Virginia since the 1970s which has voted for the president’s party,” Schneider points out.
“It’s always a very contrary state, Virginia.”
He calls the commonwealth “ground zero” in American politics even though it’s currently trending blue. The GOP isn’t going to win unless they get some Democrats on their side, he maintains, and that’s unlikely to happen soon given the Tea Party wing’s instigation of the government shutdown and the near debt-limit default in October.
“I can’t speak specifically about Virginia, but the business community in the country as a whole was horrified [by the near-default]. This was a step too far, and you are seeing responses against it now from the Chamber of Commerce and business roundtables. They are still Republicans, but they are business Republicans, and they don’t like to see the party taken over by the Tea Party faction or the religious right, which often overlap.”
The business-first Republicans believe in making deals, Schneider says. “That’s what business is all about. And politics is about making deals; that’s how our constitution was written. Our constitution mandates separation of powers as well as checks and balances and the division between the federal government and the states; it makes it very likely that different parties will control different parts of government. So they have to make a deal… negotiate, bargain, compromise. Business people understand that, but the Tea Party believes that compromise is a dirty word. They don’t like politics.”