From Francis Fukuyama to Barack Obama to The New Yorker, nobody to the left of Joe Bageant seems to understand why poor white hillbillies prefer Republican oligarchs to the glorious rainbow coalition of the condescending. They wonder why the white working class lost the loving feeling they used to have for the Democratic Party.
Perhaps like a modern-day Squanto, I can help the lefties understand my tribe. I was born to the lower middle class and spent a couple of adult years living the life. I score a 63 in Charles Murray’s “bubble quiz,” which puts me into the “first generation middle class with working class parents” category. When I was a boy, people around me came from intact families, went to Catholic Church, knew people in the military, and worked jobs which soil the hands. They enjoyed pastimes such as deer hunting, mud bogging, and backyard wrestling. We were dimly aware of a hostile tribe in the nearby college town. These were folks who drank coffee with foam in it, who thought so little of the average hayseed that they would walk out in front of a moving pickup truck. The latte-sippers didn’t control the Democratic Party in those days: Working-class white men such as Tip O’Neill did, and everyone in my town voted for the Party of the Working Man.
The latte tribe insists that working-class peckerwoods are voting against their economic interests when they vote for Republican candidates. This may be true, but it doesn’t mean that voting for the tax-and-condescend party would be a vote for the economic interests of the world’s Archie Bunkers. NAFTA was a Clinton Administration achievement, after all. Why should Archie vote for the Meathead party that shipped his job to Mexico? Economists of all political stripes have also noted that low-income working families tend to pay an appreciable portion of their earnings in taxes. Maybe they get it all back in “services” somehow, but the working poor notice how the non-working poor live off the state without doing any work. They take it personally that working harder is penalized while left-wing policies reward being lazy and dependent. Palefaced plebeians also dislike the latte-tribe concept of “white privilege,” which says the Obama daughters should be given legal preference over poor white kids.
The latte tribe are rabid tub-thumpers for the current immigration tidal wave. Mass immigration is very obviously against the interests of all working citizens who aren’t government bureaucrats. Why do we need a million legal immigrants a year when the U6 unemployment rate stands at 15%? The sweatshop wing of the Republican Party is also pro-immigration, but at least the Republicans aren’t completely hostile to citizens who would prefer we have fewer immigrants. Modern Democrats think those who aren’t so enthusiastic about the immigration tsunami are evil irrational racists rather than folks who are looking after their self-interest.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the white working classes have lost many of their old-fashioned American virtues. Charles Murray documents this in his latest book, and it’s fairly obvious when I visit my hometown on holidays.
It is inarguable that latter-day progressive ideas are partially responsible for this. They think that single motherhood is a respectable profession which should be state-subsidized. This may seem like a clever idea to folks who don’t have to put up with the consequences. But watching the fruit of this “alternative family arrangement” steal your car and knock up your daughter might cause the most vacuous of hayseeds to have a few abstract thoughts on the subject. Members of the latte tribe may think religion is evil and should be abolished, but religion keeps many of the working folks happy and relatively virtuous. While collegiate leftists may enjoy recreational drug use, “youthful experimentation” doesn’t go so well when it becomes a Cheech and Chong lifestyle for townies with no future. Palefaced proletarians lack the kind of education it takes to make up elaborate excuses for this sort of thing. They notice whose fancy-pants cultural Marxist ideas turned their friends and family into degenerates.
Your average member of the lunchpailetariat is acutely aware that those who are presently in charge of the Democratic Party hate him. Rednecks are villainized in the media, in academia, and in the private lives of folks who think they know better because of their sociology class. Many of the problems minorities experience in American society are laid at the feet of working-class white people. The irony is that these pallid scapegoats are politically powerless, unlike the latte tribe that demonizes them. Hating rednecks is the anti-Semitism of Democratic asses.
On the rare occasion when Democrats attempt to communicate with their white Neanderthal brethren, it is broadcast on a carrier wave of pure condescension. The left has a sort of collective Tourette syndrome involving frequent mention of sexism, racism, and gay rights. These subjects are meaningless to hourly laborers who lack the leisure time to nurse nihilistic resentments against Western Civilization.
The corporate oligarchs and neocon goons who control the Republican Party obviously have financial and political interests which are not aligned with those of the white working classes. But they also do not demonize or condescend to peckerwoods who drive pickups and go fishing. It isn’t that Republican ideas are great for the lunchpailetariat or anyone else, but their lack of seething hostility makes them preferable to Democrats.
Lefties should only be confused about the white proles who still vote for them. The left’s “Why don’t you loooove me anymore?” routine with the white working class reminds me of a friend’s crazy-ex-girlfriend story. She cheated on him, lit his car on fire, and gave him the clap. She used to get drunk and scream into his answering machine at 4AM. Then she wondered why he never called back.
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