MIDDLE MANAGEMENT. Regarding Matt's and Ezra's contentions that Democratic initiatives to strengthen and build the middle class by making it easier and less expensive to attend college are less important than focusing on high-school drop-outs, I'd just like to note that Hillary Clinton is probably taking this approach because Democratic presidential candidates have in the past two elections lost college-educated and college drop-out voters as a group, even while they consistently won high-school drop-outs.
So between trying to win voters who have turned away from a Democratic Party they perceive as caring only about the problems of ethnic and racial minorities and the unionized, and actually doing something for poor minority voters, it would seem that the ability to do the latter is entirely dependent on the ability to do the former. Democrats elected to national office can do very little about the high high-school drop-out rate, which is significantly a function of the high black and Hispanic drop-out rate in major cities with Democratic mayors as well as the increasing portion of young people in America who are minorities, so long as Republicans control both congressional chambers and the White House (though I've often wondered why Democratic mayors can't unite to do more about the problem). And Democrats are going to have a devil of a time winning the presidency again if they can't get the majority of college-educated voters to vote for them. Nearly three-quarters of voters in 2004 had at least started college; 42 percent of voters were graduates. There's no shame in going where the votes are -- it is, after all, how you win elections.
Besides, it's not like focusing a little attention on the middle class, too, is going to cause an end to such Democratic poverty-fighting measures as raising the minimum wage. But the idea that progressives think it's bad politics and bad policy to strengthen and grow the middle class, well, that can keep Democrats from having any success in implementing anti-poverty measures in the long run.