One thing I've learned about political messages targeted at the working class is that declaring "the system has screwed you" is likely to backfire. It casts the listener into the role of victim, a role which workers find demeaning. Better crafted political language is more impersonal, as in "there's something wrong with the system"; such messages treat everyone as in the same boat.Working-class Americans are not only invisible to the political parties, their interests and needs are similarly ignored by the news media.
One issue the Obama campaign needs to think through is that the mantra of "change you can believe in" runs up against a streak of fatalism in the American working class. This fatalism has a particular cast. Lower-level workers tend to be treated on the job as invisible. The centre-left agenda for reform has seldom focused on such bread-and-butter issues as better vocational schools, insurance against industrial accidents, or skills-development programmes for salesmen, secretaries and clerks; these issues don't register on the political radar just because they are so ordinary, so boring, so unexciting. The fatalism of American workers emerges as a result: those who say they are on your side don't see you.
The right has done nothing more substantial for these workers, but it has offered two cultural substitutes: nationalism and nostalgia. To make "change you can believe in" credible, the changes have to be more concrete.
For a campaign strategy that succeeds with these voters, Sennett believes Obama needs to be "focusing on what workers do, rather than on who they are."