June 1998 Video of Obama on Political Coalitions and the Working Poor

The Daily Caller has posted the unedited audio of then-State Senator Barack Obama at a Loyola College forum, where he discusses the importance of uniting the working poor with welfare recipients as a political coalition.

Turns out this wasn’t a one-off, or a cool idea that occurred to him in the middle of the forum, but something he had been thinking about for a while.  Here’s C-SPAN video of him at a Brookings Institute forum on the State of the Cities four months earlier, on June 14, 1998:

Why is this problematic?  Traditionally, the working poor haven’t identified with welfare recipients, but with the middle class, just as the middle class tends to identify with the rich.  They tend to see themselves as hopeful and upwardly-mobile.  By getting the working poor to see themselves as having more in common with recent welfare recipients, Obama is hoping to get them to believe that they need/want/are entitled to government help that they might not have sought otherwise, and to form a voting bloc in favor of expanded government redistribution.


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