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The white working class is lost. Let’s move on.

Mark Storms, accused of killing a man in church (with a gun) over who would sit where

As a liberal and as a Democrat, I am predisposed to being sympathetic to the plight of the white working class. But I’ve just about gotten over it.

While the low-end media that serve low-information white voters carry on with the usual anger and distraction, the media followed by more-intelligent Americans is trying to grapple with a serious issue. How did Donald Trump happen? Andrew Sullivan worries that America has never been more ripe for fascism. Many intellectuals have accused the Democratic Party of abandoning the white working class. In the elite right-wing media, the problems of the white working class are attributed to moral failure — white working folks just aren’t honoring anymore the “moral” regimen that the high church and their social betters have rammed down their throats for so long.

Like many liberals, I was appalled at the right-wing media blaming white working people — blaming the victim — for global factors that are shutting them out of the economy and robbing them of their pride and dignity.

But a friend pushed back. They did bring it on themselves in many ways, he said. The more I have thought about it, the more I think my friend is right. The white working class has become mired in hatred and racism. It is proud of its ignorance. Its preferred religion — the low-church glorification of the rich, glorification of the military and war, vilification of the poor, gun worship, overt hatred of anyone who isn’t just like them, its dreams of theocracy with crushing power over the rest of us — this religion is so vile that I don’t hesitate to call it evil. Don’t miss this recent piece in the Washington Post which says that there have been 626 violent deaths in “houses of worship” since 1999. Most of those deaths occur in Baptist churches. Yet white losers are so deluded about the nature of the real world that their terror-de-jour is fear of transsexuals in bathrooms. That is moral insanity. I do believe that, as a whole, the white working class has become morally insane.

I am chairman of the Democratic Party in my county. Of course I have asked myself whether we have abandoned these white working class voters and whether there is anything we can do to win them back. But now I am pretty much persuaded that such a thing would be completely impossible. Nor is this the fault of the Democratic Party. The Republican Party thought that it could go on harnessing white resentment. Elite Republicans thought they could control white losers and inflame white losers with the right-wing propaganda system and keep on using white losers and their hatreds to win elections. But white so-called conservatives (I don’t think they’re conservatives at all — I call them right-wingers, or losers) were smart enough (though just barely) to catch on to the bait and switch. They figured out (or Donald Trump explained it to them with one-syllable and a few two-syllable words) that the Republican Party was only bilking them for votes while screwing them economically with the true agenda of the Republican Party, the billionaire agenda.

If the Republican Party couldn’t contain these people and actually is being destroyed by them, then who is crazy enough to think that the Democratic Party could do any better? White haters have simply become unfit for the modern world. They know nothing. Their skills are mostly obsolete. They lack the intelligence to adapt. They’d rather go down in angry flames and celebrate their hatreds than join the rest of us in the pluralistic modern world, with our arc toward justice.

Republicans are pretty much all alike, except that a very few of them are rich. Whereas we Democrats are a diverse coalition. Could any coalition possibly contain the white working class? No. They don’t do coalitions anymore. It took them 35 years to destroy the Republican Party. But the fragile Democratic coalition wouldn’t be able to handle these holy folks for even a single election cycle. They truly believe, from their trashed enclaves in the interior of America, that their god hates the same people they hate, that God is on their side, and that they are entitled to dominate the world, even though they and their preachers don’t know a thing about the world and the nature of the change that is destroying them.

Let’s admit it. White working people think very highly of themselves and their morals, but the truth is that they are morally degenerate and dangerous. The right-wing propaganda system, with its hate radio and fake news, which bilked them for decades to win elections by pumping up their anger and hatred, made these people far worse than they already were. Remember how nice they were during the Civil Rights era?

I don’t see a solution. We just have to hope that the United States of America can survive these people without the tyranny and fascism that Andrew Sullivan describes in the link above. We need to do everything possible to save their children from becoming just like their parents and grandparents. But all we can do now is try to contain them, anesthetize them with bread and circuses, and wait for them to die off — which they are doing at an accelerating rate, not least because of their own self-destructive behavior.

Further reading:

God tells tow truck driver to leave woman stranded on the highway because of her Bernie Sanders sticker. “The conservative Christian, 51, from Travelers Rest, South Carolina, said he felt proud that he ‘finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.’ ”


  1. Dan wrote:

    Just to play devil’s advocate, who is really to blame? Personal responsibility is a rigidly white-only dilemma from the Left. Liberals tend to give African-Americans the benefit of the doubt when it comes to taking personal responsibility. There is institutional racism, social problems, oppressive criteria for advancement, single parent homes, and much more that are only given to blacks. Whites, no matter the conditions of one’s community or home, have no reason for failure or failure to follow the guiding light of liberal democracy.

    You could blame public schools, especially poor rural Southern schools. Sure, but that’s just local government and small town associations that go nowhere and nowadays there are ways out. It’s not really an education as much as it is twelve years of free daycare until you take over the farm or the shop if you don’t go to college which is becoming more accessible despite the costs. You could blame religion, and that’s more plausible, but it’s still cultural and relative to geography. Religious urban whites can and do succeed very often even though they adorn polished citizens.

    I think the white working poor deserve as much leniency for their failure as inner-city blacks. Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel touts global geography as the prevailing reason for white dominance. Geography is to blame for many setbacks. Geography plays a major role in the fatalist psychologies of Appalachia and the rural South. West Virginia coal miners have that ingrained into them for generations of working for scrip. It’s why so many of them rip off Social Security programs instead of working.

    The Trump phenomenon isn’t fascist. The Falange was fascist. Mussolini was fascist. Hitler was fasicst. Just because these Trump fanatics drive huge trucks and act like they don’t care doesn’t mean they don’t care. Plenty of them understand that they’re stakeholders in society and want to keep the economic system propped up just as much as liberals. The guns, attitudes, and racism are just for show. It isn’t any worse than actual institutional racism that exists right now.

    Modern American politics shouldn’t be compared to post-Weimar Germany or Francoist Spain. Liberals, especially those who align with Bernie Sanders, see everyone else including Hillary as just another oligarchical figurehead for the big banks that, believe or not, many of them should want to exist because they bought the mortgage on their homes in the secondary market.

    I can be sympathetic to the working whites because raising wages (labor costs), raising taxes (for what? more roads?), and not providing an inkling of social leniency to them or for that matter rural social programs that would actually benefit them is somehow being generous? And the, to top it off, Mother Jones goes and writes, “Are Liberals Too Smug? Nah, We’re Too Condescending.” They’re openly taking pride in not caring about the issues. They’re just smarting off. You know, I get it. Feeling elite or morally superior based on one’s politics provides a sense of vindication. You get to think you won. But if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, and all these condescending liberals don’t vote at all or vote third party and Trump wins, it’s cutting off the nose to spite the face. It’s childish. It’s disgusting. There is a middle road that has worked just fine until a bird landed on a podium and all these atheists thought God declared Bernie his man.

    Friday, May 6, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    I can’t agree that white losers deserve the same leniency as anyone who is black. White losers aren’t four or five generations away from slavery, nor were white losers held in a state of apartheid, their rights and opportunities trampled, until just a few decades ago. White losers have never known mindless hatred and injustice (aimed at them) or mindless racism (aimed at them). They had plenty of privileges including a generation or two of stellar opportunity and prosperity after World War II. White losers blew it all. It is now clear enough that they have chosen to cling to what is worst in them rather than to face a changing world and to endeavor to adapt to it. I do put much of the blame on the churches, yes. As for fascism, I’d have to leave it to Andrew Sullivan to make that case. The energy that we liberals expended to support justice for African-Americans was for the most part well-rewarded. Though I realize from having lived in a major city for 18 years that urban blacks have some serious problems, nevertheless urban blacks are not working hard, through the politicians who compete for their votes, to take the whole damned country down. If I’m smug or condescending, then I accept that stigma. But all the same, I’m done with white losers.

    Friday, May 6, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink
  3. DCS wrote:

    I don’t want to wade too far into this, but I do still have sympathy for the so-called “white losers” because, as a historical matter, they have been played like a fiddle by the GOP for half a century. They simply were no match for the Republican “noise machine” (see David Brock’s still-relevant book by that name). I was shocked and appalled to see a friend *three days ago* carrying a cell phone next to his head to catch that day’s “Three-Hour Hate” by Rush fucking Limbaugh. The right-wing matrix is still very much intact, and the so-called “losers” are still swimming in it.

    I leave you with Connor Lynch’s commentary in today:

    Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  4. daltoni wrote:

    DCS: I agree with you that the Republican Party played them, but how does that let them off the hook for what they’ve become? When they realized that the GOP was chumping them, did they reform into better people? No; they became even worse. I’ve read a lot of commentary on this. Very little of it has made sense to me. The “centrist” pundits, in particular, keep looking for something rational and reasonable in what white losers want. But I don’t see anything rational and reasonable. We’ll be on our way to understanding this once we stop denying that pretty much everything white losers want is vile and blames everyone but themselves.

    Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  5. Ken wrote:

    I recently spent sometime in Nicaragua. The villages I stayed in were far poorer than even the poorest American small town: there were dirt roads, no street lights, crumbling buildings, feral dogs… They lived hard lives farming. Yet these people were happy. At night, kids ran around, teenage girls went on walks together, old folks sat on their porches and talked. There were few if any signs of alcoholism or drug addiction. Granted, I was only there for a week (and there are plenty of rotten and depraved places in Central America), but I saw this over and over again, and many of these observations were validated by locals.

    These places were reminders to me that poverty doesn’t automatically lead to ignorance, moral degradation, or even discontentment. The communities and families were strong. Yet when you walk around the poor places in rural white America, you get a completely different picture: trash everywhere, needles in ditches, no trespassing signs, appalling obesity, hateful religions, stupid ideologies, flagrant isolationism…

    Many hispanic (and probably some black) communities just seem to have better cultures to deal with big social challenges. Lower-class white culture just seems so ill-suited to contentedly live in or adapt to an increasingly multicultural society and a globalized economy.

    If I have sympathy for these white folks, it’s largely because they have been molded into who they are by powerful cultural forces: the church (particularly Baptist as you point out), generations-long poverty, poor education, expensive (often bankrupting) healthcare, few good dietary options (leading to health problems like diabetes), the legacy of slavery (in which many poor whites didn’t fare much better than neighboring slaves), isolation from enlightened centers, few decent and mostly Walmart-like service jobs.

    So I suppose that while it’s fair to cast blame on the worst of these hateful and often deluded folks for not even attempting to rise above the culture they were born into, I wonder if some measure of sympathy might be in order considering that they’ve been shaped by a monstrous culture that they did not choose and cannot control.

    Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

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