sights. The President’s 1985 speech on his tax plan was clearly aimed in large part at new collars. The plan itself, however, does little for them. The conventional methods of survey research obscure the new collars rather than reveal them as an emerging and distinctive force in the electorate. Moreover, though some forces have begun to speak to the new collars, no public figures or major institutions have yet tried to speak for them. Even though they are the mainstream of the younger generation in this country for all that, in our thinking as a political party we haven’t had a place for them. As a party, we haven’t spoken for the new collars. And we’ve barely spoken to them. Virtually every public official has been able to gain the good will of these people. That, in part, is what got you elected. But the basic point still holds: As a party, we’ve been slow to give these people a face, a voice, and a connection to our philosophy. A Public Identity WHAT WE’RE trying to do here is begin to give, these people a face, an identity in the public mind. We’ve tried to move them about two inches: from under our nose to before our eyes. We want to convey the basic point: this is a genuinely new kind of person in the American experience. We began with a name: new collar. The older terms weren’t working: Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, blue collar, white collar. They tell us what these people aren’t, not what they are. We wanted the name to echo the blue collar roots of the new collar Americans. They are to the ’80s and ’90s what the blue collars were to the ’40s and ’50s and ’60s. And many of the news are the sons and daughters of the blues. The news don’t do the hard and dirty physical labor of the blues. So they don’t feel the sense of solidarity that the blues have felt. This is the brotherhood and sisterhood of tough physical labor. And the news don’t do what managers and professionals do: namely, make a living by using their minds in a formal and disciplined way. Simply put, a lot of news have gone to college, but they don’t use their college degree hour-byhour on the job. We’re trying to learn as much as we can about these people how they work, how they spend their free time, the nature of their family life, what it means to be a man in New Collar America, what it means to be a woman, what they watch, what they read, what they value and literally what they eat for breakfast. Here are a few highlights: Blues tend to be fatalistic, and for good reason. The news are anything but. The news place a premium on their ability to control their circumstances and define their own lives. They don’t always get such control, but they seek it and feel they know how to use it. This is one reason why they find self-help initiatives to be so appealing. Blue collar men aren’t given to emotional introspection. New collar men have a strong sense of an inner life, a sense of psychological sophistication. They can talk about states of mind and feeling. These are the guys who sit there on Thursday and watch a tough guy like Frank Furillo slowly but steadily reveal his own emotional life, layer-by-layer, week-by-week. This has a lot to do with what the new collars look for in a candidate. The shallow technocrat, without juice or blood or convictions, doesn’t catch their eye. The shallow technocrat, without juice or blood or convictions, doesn’t catch the eye of the new collar voter. Blue collars base their identity on their work, if they’ve got it. New collars tend to base it on their leisure. Because the news seek control, and because they naturally can control their free time far more than their working time, they put their chips on their leisure. This means they’d value greater control in the workplace and also want to guarantee quality in their leisure time: clean air, clean water, a home, family life. Blues have come to see stability as an ideal and change as a departure from it. The new collars see change as the norm, stability as the exception. As baby boomers, they are comfortable with this view of the world. Change needn’t be a threat. It’s just the nature of things. The news don’t have as much money as the Yuppies and are closer to their families. Even if they’ve moved away, as many have, they keep in touch by mail and long distance, and they worry” about their parents. The news have children. Much of the current baby boom is brought to you by New Collar America. The Yuppies, at least in the Newsweek definition of Yuppies, don’t have as many kids. And this makes for radical differences in the way these two groups see the world. For the Yuppie, the challenge is how to use all of this freedom. For the new collar, it’s tougher: How do you create the world you want by balancing your freedom against your responsibilities? An old question, and a good one. The Overlooked WHY HAVE WE overlooked these people, by whatever name? Lots of reasons, obviously. The baby boom, in just a few years, exploded into the electorate. Our economy has changed quickly. We’ve had a lot of migration. So the new collars did sort of sneak up on us. But there’s another reason, too. The Democratic party has an official picture in its head of the American people: who we are, what we look like, what we do, what we’re looking for in life. And the new collars haven’t shown up in this picture yet. It’s a strange thing. We’ve always had a powerful and visceral connection to the people who do the basic work of America, the men and women who get the job done family farmers, blue collars workers. But the job has been changing and so have the people who do it. So the new collars don’t show up on our map because they do a different job, because they’re young, and because they don’t fit the traditional terms: Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, blue collar and white collar. Our map of America is a pretty good map, as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough and barely shows us what life is like for people under the age of 45. If you look at our map of the older electorate, you see signs of serious An inspector for the state government, on the job. Pho to by Tho mas D. Ble ic h THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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