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A comment elsewhere, captured with modifications here, triggered by a review of The New Minority.

One idea here that's important if true is "the political culture of the white working-class Midwest is pervaded by a nostalgia that reveres, and seeks to reinstate, a bygone era.”

I mean, me? I don't want to go back even 20 years. Why would I? What does 1996 have to offer me that 2016 doesn't improve on?

But for someone who looks longingly back to 1996, to 1986, to 1956... someone for whom going back _doesn't_ mean giving up their family, their civil rights, their status as a human being... someone for whom it means feeling more important, more secure, more successful... the equation is different.

So, sure. The idea that in order to secure the political backing of that powerful culture in elections, politicians need to appeal to that nostalgia makes sense, given the premise.

But if it's true, that's a problem for progressives, since that sort of nostalgia is a natural ally to reactionary politics. It's not an accident that the GOP has more success recruiting white working-class Midwest (and Southern) voters than the Democrats do.

I don't know what we do about that.

I mean, there's this pervasive idea (especially in the wake of Trump's 2-million-voter loss Electoral College victory) that Democrats need to shift our attention to being more inclusive and supportive of the white working-class, whose interests have been neglected. Leaving aside whether the premise is true or not, I don't know how Democrats appeal to "the political culture of the white working-class Midwest" without giving up to some degree on things like egalitarianism, or scientific research, or religious pluralism.

As I've said elsewhere: if we abandon the things that made me differentially support Democrats in the first place, why should I care whether Democrats win elections?

Of course, this isn't a novel position... many leftists have long since sailed on that boat. Just look at how many Sanders, Stein, etc. supporters in this election were strongly motivated by the idea that the Democratic party has already abandoned progressivism and was "no different than the Republicans." (Admittedly, many of those same people sure do seem to care about the difference now. Heck, Stein herself is pushing for a recount, almost as though it matters whether Trump or Clinton is president. Nevertheless, it was a popular refrain a month ago.)

So I dunno. Maybe this is just the sound of me becoming radicalized. Maybe by the time I reach 2020, I won't be able to bring myself to vote for a "centrist" Democrat who is just doing the things that are necessary to win elections in the U.S.

Then again, I look to 2008 and 2012, when a Black man was elected president... twice... and sure as hell not by appealing to the reactionary elements of "the political culture of the white working-class Midwest." To put it mildly. And I think maybe it's not as bad as all that.

On the third paw, I look to the general consensus in 2007, even among conservatives, that the GOP had screwed the pooch in a big way with respect to the economy. And I think maybe that was just a really special circumstance.

On the fourth paw, I fully expect a Trump administration to raid the treasury to provide financial incentives to Trump and his family and friends and social class, rather than invest in the country. In which case maybe that circumstance isn't as special as I hope.

Hell, I dunno.

Quite frankly, "burn it all down" is starting to feel like a much more plausible long-term plan.

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Comments

hammercock
Nov. 26th, 2016 05:07 am (UTC)
I've recently read three articles that make me question whether it's even possible to, as you say, "appeal to 'the political culture of the white working-class Midwest' without giving up to some degree on things like egalitarianism, or scientific research, or religious pluralism". We hear a lot about our liberal bubbles -- and I sure do like living in mine -- but these pieces make a good case for the rural, white, Christian demographic actually being the ones who live in a bubble (or at least one of many bubbles).

http://www.rollcall.com/news/opinion/im-a-coastal-elite-from-the-midwest-the-real-bubble-is-rural-america

http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/11/13589118/trump-voters-media-bubble

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/the-dark-rigidity-of-fundamentalist-rural-america-a-view-from-the-inside/

If these articles are correct, then it sounds like we can't appeal to them without giving up the viewpoints and goals that drive us to differentially support Democrats. I don't want to give them up, or to have others do so in order to accommodate and appeal to a demographic that views people like you and me as less than fully human. Their way of life is one that I never, ever want for myself or my family. I don't have a good answer as to what we should do to try to open them up to the possibilities of other ways of life, though.
dpolicar
Nov. 26th, 2016 05:35 am (UTC)
Yeah.

There's been more than one time in the last twenty years or so that I've had to shrug my shoulders and accept that some people are simply my enemies, and I therefore should expect them to act against my interests given the choice, and that's just the way it is, and the thing I need to do if I want to preserve my interests is deny them that choice.
hammercock
Nov. 26th, 2016 07:42 am (UTC)
It sure does suck to have to regard a whole swath of one's fellow citizens as enemies. I expect they feel the same about us. I don't know what to do about that, either.

I forgot to add this earlier: https://storify.com/donkify/jpbrammer-explains-the-political-economy-of-many-p

I just read this Krugman piece as well: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/opinion/the-populism-perplex.html
For let’s be serious here: You can’t explain the votes of places like Clay County as a response to disagreements about trade policy. The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics — some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn’t) and anger on the part of the less educated at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.

To be honest, I don’t fully understand this resentment. In particular, I don’t know why imagined liberal disdain inspires so much more anger than the very real disdain of conservatives who see the poverty of places like eastern Kentucky as a sign of the personal and moral inadequacy of their residents.


And when you follow the hyperlink from "moral inadequacy" in that article, you land here: http://www.nationalreview.com/node/367903/

Reading it now, I have a hard time thinking about these people as my enemies, regardless of what they may think about me and my life. I just feel sad for them. They've clearly been left behind, and I have little idea of what would actually help them. Those coal jobs aren't coming back (nor should they, honestly, and I'm aware that saying so sounds heartless). Personally, I'd be fine with my taxes going to support relocation, and/or retraining for better/more modern jobs, and/or a universal basic income for those who can't be retrenched for whatever reason, rather than to be used to prop up a dying industry that would actively endanger habitability of our planet if it were revived. But even then, I don't know if that would fix the problem of people using their benefits to buy cases of soda that they then trade for half their value in cash or for prescription pills. I want better for them -- not just because I want them to stop voting Republican, but because it seems to me that no one in an advanced nation like ours should have to live that way -- but I don't know if they would see that as honest concern or as "liberal disdain".

I don't know where I'm going with this.

Edited at 2016-11-26 07:45 am (UTC)
dpolicar
Nov. 26th, 2016 04:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah.

OTOH, for my own part I have no trouble thinking of them as my enemies when I remember, say, Laramie WY. Or the swastikas spray-painted on the cemetery my family is buried in.

Talk about disdain.

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