Voters can't be mobilized to defend the 40-hour week, overtime pay, and sick leave; they were all first legislated back in 1938, when the large majority of voters weren't alive yet, and "go largely unchallenged even in Republican administrations." Ditto Social Security and Medicare. Nor do most Americans feel involved in an adversarial, zero-sum struggle with their employers. "Today, most people work in offices or high-end service jobs, and they believe their economic interests are more closely aligned with the companies they work for." Or, one might add, the companies they're going to work for next year. Americans, especially young Americans, change jobs all the time—or go to work for themselves.
In a sentence: "In the post-industrial economy, the great question is how government can equip workers with new tools for economic success, not how government can insulate them from the rigors of competition or restrain business power."
All words of wisdom, I think, and in line with things that I have been writing for many years. To pick up the Kansas metaphor: We're not in the 1930s or 1940s anymore. My advice to Democrats—and to Republicans, too—is to fashion government programs that incentivize, encourage, subsidize, and honor upwardly mobile behavior. Examples from the 1930s and 1940s: the GI Bill of Rights that encouraged veterans to get college educations, the FHA and VA home mortgage loan guarantees that encouraged young workers to buy their own homes. Those laws helped transform Americans from a nation of non-high school grads to a nation of people who have mostly gone to college, from a nation of renters to a nation of homeowners. In the process, they have retransformed America from a nation in which (in the 1930s and 1940s) most people did not own a significant amount of property to a nation in which people over the course of a lifetime accumulate significant property.
Democrats continue to do the same things they have always done, appeal to the same narrow mindset and hold to the hope that Republicans will implode and give them the victory which eluded them in 2004.