Thursday, December 11, 2014

More liberal concern-trolling from Thomas Edsall

I've been toying for years with the idea of setting up a Facebook page called Bernard-Henri Lévy Please Just STFU.

But if I did that, I would feel some obligation to read his stuff on some kind of regular basis to keep a discussion going. And I haven't gotten to the place I'm willing to put myself through that.

Maybe I'll set up a Thomas Edsall Please Just STFU page instead. Because as depressing as it is, I do often taken the time to read his liberal concern-troll advocacy for conservative ideology. The latest I've seen is Have Democrats Failed the White Working Class? New York Times 12/09/2014. He does his usual song-and-dance routine of presenting Republican narrative as brow-furrowing friendly advice to the Democrats. He kicks this one off with:

Why don’t white working-class voters recognize where their economic interests lie? Somewhat self-righteously, Democrats keep asking themselves that question.

A better question would be: What has the Democratic Party done for these voters lately?
Yeah, them thar snotty Democrats thank they know what's good for us Real Amurcans better'n we do ourselves! What a bunch of "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving left-wing freak show" snobs, to use a phrase I think I heard somewhere:

What kind of people try to persuade other people that they have programs that will produce the best results? That would be the people known as "politicians." This kind of attempted persuasion take place in recurring rituals known as "campaigns." These are part of a form of governance called "democracy."

But, according to Tom Edsall and the Republicans, the Democrats do it "self-righteously." No self-righteousness on the Republican side, no way. They are very modest in presenting themselves as the party of God, Jesus Christ and the American flag and their Democratic opponents as the enemies of those things. But there's no trace of self-righteousness in the Republicans tirades about "traditional values" and defending the "traditional family," uhn-uhn.

The white working class has been having hard times for, well, several decades. Ole Tom doesn't need fancy words like "neoliberalism" to talk about what might be causing then, fortunately freeing him form having to take a sentence or two to explain what neoliberalism is, since it is still not a staple of the Beltway Village narrative about the world. He explains instead that what causes white workers' problems is black people. And Latinos ("Hispanics"). And wimmin of all kinds and colors.

This is how daily life feels, to many in the white working class. Unlike blacks and Hispanics, whites are not the beneficiaries of affirmative action programs designed to open doors to higher education and better jobs for underrepresented minorities; if anything, these programs serve only to limit their horizons.

Liberal victories in the sexual and women’s rights revolutions – victories that have made the lives of many upscale Democrats more productive and satisfying — appear, from the vantage point of the white working class, to have left many women to struggle as single parents, forced to cope with both male defection from paternal responsibility and the fragmentation of a family structure that was crucial to upward mobility in the postwar period.
Maybe I lack an eye for nuance. But I don't see how this differs in any way from the narrative the Republican Party has been promoting more-or-less continually since 1964, or 1969 if you want to be generous. The fact that it was cheap, transparent demagoguery to begin with an has been debunked over and over in its various incarnations, none of which are very different from each other, doesn't stop Republicans and their liberal concern-troll friends from promoting it endlessly.

The word "racism" does not appear in Edsall's concern-troll column here. And obviously a phrase like "white racism" is left out.

In the original Republican SegregationSpeak, the underlying message is: Dang, boy, them blacks and illegal Latinos and dikey wimmin are takin' away your opportunities. And the Democrat Party supports all of them. Stay with the party of the White Man and vote Republican!

Here's the Tom Edsall mealy-mouthed version of this appeal, from his last paragraph:

The linked problems of eroding social cohesion, the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage, deteriorating communal ties and weakened social norms, appear to have led to a degree of chaos and disintegration that those accustomed to a secure – and, indeed, a fixed — social order bitterly resent. The central task that the center-left coalition and its political representative, the Democratic Party, now faces is how to make progress in resolving the conflicting needs and values of the vastly different types of people who populate the bottom ranks of the income distribution.
Dude, why don't you go make out with Bernard-Henri Lévy? The two of you are made for each other!

If you had to untangle this mess one strain of sticky spaghetti from the other, some of the main guidelines could be:

  • How does he define "white working class" and does it make sense? (Answer: probably not.)
  • Does it make jack for sense to talk about female voters as a category completely separate from the "white working class"?  (Answer: No, because any half-decent definition of working class would include most white women.)
  • Can the Democrats effective hold their voting base, much less turn them out on Election Day, if they adopt the implied policy of Edsall's concern-troll analysis, i.e., pander to white racism and become hostile to women's rights? (Answer: as Charlie Pierce sometimes says: Honky, please.)
  • Has the corporate bias of the heavy neoliberal influence in the Democratic Party (see so-called "free trade" treaties) contributed to high unemployment, low social mobility and stagnant-to-declining wages among white people not part of the One Percent? (Answer: Of course.)
  • Would Republican policies reverse that trend? (Answer: Oh, hell no!)
  • Did Republicans candidates get help among working-class voters from President Obama's foolish, repeated efforts to cut benefits on Social Security and Medicare, proposals which Republican ads highlighted in 2010 and 2014? (Answer: Duh!)
  • Will concern-trolls ever stop peddling this nonsense? (Answer: sadly, no.)

No comments: