Thursday, April 21, 2016

on liberal smugness, and questioning the assumption that racism drove the white working class to the Republican Party

I recommend both of these pieces on liberal smugness:

The smug style in American liberalism by Emmett Rensin

a few thoughts on liberal smugness | Fredrik deBoer

As Freddie deBoer notes, the first piece is long, but it's got some very good bits, so stick with it and don't assume you know the writer's politics. Perhaps its theme is here:
If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it's, Why are they voting against their own self-interest? But no party these past decades has effectively represented the interests of these dispossessed. Only one has made a point of openly disdaining them too.
And the most insightful bit is this:
The rubes noticed that liberal Democrats, distressed by the notion that Indiana would allow bakeries to practice open discrimination against LGBTQ couples, threatened boycotts against the state, mobilizing the considerable economic power that comes with an alliance of New York and Hollywood and Silicon Valley to punish retrograde Gov. Mike Pence, but had no such passion when the same governor of the same state joined 21 others in refusing the Medicaid expansion. No doubt good liberals objected to that move too. But I've yet to see a boycott threat about it.
On Twitter, Jamelle Bouie linked to the article, saying,
I am just starting this but I’ll say the white working class abandoned Dems over attempted inclusion of minorities.
I tweeted back:
Racism or coincidence? Did the Dems begin abandoning the whole working class when they began focusing on the bourgeoisie of color?

It's been said many of the post-civil rights efforts have helped the black middle class far more than the black working class.

And it's old news that the black working class and ruling class are disconnected:
Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class | Pew Research Center
 Now, it's obvious racists prefer the Republican Party since Nixon's time, but that may just be because the Republicans tend to be more tolerant of what people do with their money. A few things liberals forget about the end of the '60s:

1. Most of the 60,000 killed and 150,000 wounded in the Vietnam War were working class kids. That war was begun by Kennedy and continued by Johnson, both Democrats—though Nixon took a lot longer to end it than any of us wanted, the fact remains that a Republican ended it.

2. Nixon had a great many flaws, but he supported an early version of Basic Income and Universal Health Care that would've helped the working class enormously. The Democrats let both proposals die.

3. The great identity wars of the '60s over race and gender ended with identitarian solutions that primarily helped middle and upper-class women and people of color. From Rethinking Affirmative Action - The New York Times:
Low-income students, controlling for race, receive either no preference or a modest one, depending on which study you believe. At the country’s 200 most selective colleges, a mere 5 percent of students come from the bottom 25 percent of the income spectrum, according to Anthony P. Carnevale of Georgetown.
Back in the 1960s, Dr. King understood the vulnerability of today’s affirmative action. “Many white workers whose economic condition is not too far removed from the economic condition of his black brother will find it difficult to accept,” he wrote in a private letter, “special consideration to the Negro in the context of unemployment, joblessness, etc. and does not take into sufficient account their plight (that of the white worker).”
King's solution was the same as Nixon's: help everyone who is poor, regardless of the reason why.

So blaming racism for the Democrats' loss of the white working class may comfort those who like simple solutions, but it hides far more than it reveals.