Wednesday, October 31, 2012
If Joe Biden Could Channel Dusty Rhodes, Then Obama Would be Winning in a Landslide
Greatest. Promo. Of. All. Time.
Mitt Romney has continued to expand his support among white working class (male) voters. In a base election, where mobilizing one's existing supporters and bringing in some new independents is the key to victory, Romney's chances have only improved because of this huge advantage with that cohort.
However, much of the emphasis on the white working class vote is a result of misunderstandings about the American electorate. Class is still largely correlated with vote choice where poor and working class people, across the color line, still overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates.
The white male working class vote that Romney is chasing--and expanding--over Obama is actually comprised of white men who are not college educated, but make a fair sum of money as construction workers, truck drivers, or in the skilled trades. These are the "angry white men" that are the base of the Tea Party GOP and central to Mitt Romney's ascent in the polls. For several decades Democrats have lost this cohort; the country's first black president has no chance of winning them back.
Dusty Rhodes was the working class's professional wrestler champion. He feuded with Ric Flair and the Four Horseman in a series of epic bouts which embodied the best of professional wrestling in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Dusty's character was complex: on one hand he played the "white negro" who was cheered by fans of all colors. Rhodes also flirted with racial stereotypes, where he was a stylistically "black" wrestler (his interview in the Legends round table series on this topic is very honest and sincere. All smart marks owe it to themselves to watch it).
Rhodes further added to the contradictions and complications of his relationship to blackness, when in his later years he worked with an African American valet named "Sapphire." Yes, her name was Sapphire. Then as in now, professional wrestling is, and was, not known for its subtlety.
Dutsty's promo on being a working class man who was hit with hard times by the monied classes is one of the greatest examples of mic work in the history of the business. Every trade or craft has a core set of competencies, examples of masterful craft, a literature of sorts, which forms the basis for what we in that world aspire to be if we reach its heights.
This promo is one such example. If Joe Biden--or maybe Bill Clinton--could reach out to white working class voters just like Dusty did those years ago with this promo, then Obama's electoral fortunes would be much improved. Obama is a ghetto nerd. I have not doubt that he was a mark for Dusty Rhodes back in the day. I just wish that those lessons had stayed with him.