Monday, August 20, 2018

Whither the White Working Class?

Man, there's a whole lot of stupid coming out of Democratic politics as the campaigns for the November mid-terms begin to heat up. Which is not to say that there's not even more stupid in the Republican campaign messaging - it's just that they decended into incoherent hooting and feces-flinging long ago, to the point where there's just nothing interesting to say about them. But on the Democratic side we have a full-blown, totally unnecessary argument about 'socialism' that isn't socialism - it's just basic FDR New Deal liberal economics. We have Democrats who should know better adopting the feel-good joys of old-fashioned authoritarianism, working to silence voices they don't like. But the one that really takes the cake for me is this argument about whether/how Democrats should attempt to win the votes of a demographic group we have chosen to call the 'White Working Class'.

If we were to be honest, the white working class shouldn't even be a thing. The working class has very serious issues - education, health care, addiction, flat wages and job losses. But none of these issues are problems for white members of the working class alone. They are serious problems for every American who works for an hourly wage. And yet, we know with certainty that the working class voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, while the subset of that same demographic group with white skin voted overwhelmingly for Trump. So one has no choice to ask, if they all face the same problems - hunger, addiction, substandard housing, lack of health insurance and a dark future for their children - why did people of color vote for the party whose very existence is predicated on solving these specific types of problems while the white members in precisely the same set of circumstances turned out to elect a millionaire liar heading a party that has done everything in its power to destroy their lives and families for decades?

The answer is we KNOW the answer. Those white people, less educated working poor, may have the same needs as their African American and Latino peers. But for decades the Republicans have used their racial animus, their hatreds and their fears, their superstitions and their willful ignorance to convince them to vote against their best interests. And they have, turning out reliably in droves to support a party that goes to work every day hell bent on making them poorer, sicker and ever more miserable. Even today, when thousands of them die every month from opioid overdoses, when their wages are lower than they were twenty years ago, when their children can't go to college and have zero hope of a better life, the Republicans know they can count on them to do everything they can to perpetuate their own immiseration.

So now, if you tell me that just turning out  the Democratic base isn't enough, that in order to win enough congressional seats in November to make a difference we have to change the minds of the 'White Working Class' I'll tell you you are deluded, and desperately wrong. All we can do is the same thing we've ever done - keep telling them their lives and their families would be much better off under a Democratic government, and if their own self interest isn't enough to make them change their minds, they are well and truly a lost cause. Indeed, they are the enemy of the American people in a very real sense, working to help the most authoritarian nativist bigots destroy the most important American constitutional values in the name of raw power and tribal hatred.

1 comment:

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