It is a rare pleasure to see the liberal id working without any pretense. Columnist Michael Tomasky is so mad at the South for not voting Democratic, like all decent people, that he would be happy to see the entire region leave America. His column is a pluperfect example of liberal bigotry and self-righteousness. Let’s cherry-pick the highlights, shall we?:
I don’t remember a much sadder sight in domestic politics in my lifetime than that of Mary Landrieu schlumpfing around these last few weeks trying to save a Senate seat that was obviously lost. It was like witnessing the last two weeks of the life of a blind and toothless dog you knew the vet was just itching to destroy. I know that sounds mean about her, but I don’t intend it that way. She did what she could and had, as far as I know, an honorable career. I do, however, intend it to sound mean about the reactionary, prejudice-infested place she comes from. A toothless dog is a figure of sympathy. A vet who takes pleasure in gassing it is not.
And that is what Louisiana, and almost the entire South, has become. The victims of the particular form of euthanasia it enforces with such glee are tolerance, compassion, civic decency, trans-racial community, the crucial secular values on which this country was founded… I could keep this list going. But I think you get the idea. Practically the whole region has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment. A fact made even sadder because on the whole they’re such nice people! (I truly mean that.)
All this because a majority of the state’s voters elected to replace Landrieu not Theodore Bilbo, but a mild-mannered Republican physician. But hey, he thinks we’re nice! Why, I bet some of Tomasky’s best friends are Southerners.
He says the Democratic Party should quit trying to be competitive in the South, and should write it off as a “Free Market Jesus Paradise.” Lovely rhetoric. I wonder how Tomasky would view a conservative writing that the GOP should forget about being competitive in New York City politics, and should write it off as a “Socialist Jew Paradise”? The contempt for Christians is remarkable, but not surprising.
[T]he Democratic Party shouldn’t bother trying. If they get no votes from the region, they will in turn owe it nothing, and in time the South, which is the biggest welfare moocher in the world in terms of the largesse it gets from the more advanced and innovative states, will be on its own, which is what Southerners always say they want anyway.
Do we Southerners say that? In real life, not in the fever dreams of fringe neo-Confederates, and liberals like Michael Tomasky, who believes that Southerners are un-American. Of course we don’t. He has to make us into monsters to justify his spite. This whole column is saying, “God, in whom I don’t believe, I thank you for not making me like those Southerners.” Charles C.W. Cooke has a short compendium of Tomasky’s history of saying choleric, bigoted things about the South and Southerners.
I don’t begrudge anybody disliking any region of the country for its voting patterns and its values. But calling deeming an entire region a bastion of unpatriotic conservatives, as Tomasky has repeatedly done about the South (see Cooke’s compilation), is boob bait for latte liberals.
It may be smart political strategy for the Democrats not to pour many resources into fighting for Southern Congressional seats, though that would make life much easier for the GOP, whose money would be freed up to fight in Western states. But consider this: the same argument could be made that the Republican Party should quit trying to win black votes, given how overwhelmingly loyal African-Americans are to the Democratic Party. Yet liberals (like, well, Michael Tomasky) routinely dun Republicans for not doing enough to win the black vote, thereby proving their racism. Well, which is it? We all know what’s going on here: in the view of Tomaskian liberals, Blacks Good, Southern Whites Bad.
The ugly assumption of Tomasky-style politics, which of course has plenty of sympathizers on the Right, is that there is no such thing as the common good, only Us vs. Them. Republicans should care about black voters and their needs and concerns not because the black voters might reward them with votes (though that would be nice), but because black voters are their fellow Americans, and deserve consideration. Same with Democrats and white Southerners, and same with Republicans and Northererns. Quite a few white Southerners believe that the entire Democratic Party regards them as Michael Tomasky does: with unshirted contempt. If the South ever does turn back to the Democratic Party, it’s going to be in spite of haters like Michael Tomasky.
Tomasky and his sympathizers ought to read this essay by the liberal writer Jim Sleeper, who says that preening latte liberal resentment blinds the Left to the deeper problems in America — problems that affect working-class whites as well as minorities. Excerpts:
I also spent a lot of time with white, “working-class” New Yorkers, including some cops, whose experiences ran closer to those of George Zimmerman or Darren Wilson than to Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. (Martin’s murder prompted this reflection, which introduces Gasper Signorelli, a white resident of a racially changing Brooklyn neighborhood, whose words are well worth reading.)
But Horowitz doesn’t address those millions of white guys (and gals) who run the gamut from a Zimmerman to a Signorelli. To do that, whites who think and write about race would have to “peer into” the lives of whites who are perhaps even more deeply angry than we are — so angry they haven’t enough words or even scapegoats to lift the sadness that accompanies their rage.
We’d also have to discover that some of them are as angry at moralizing, liberal whites as they are at blacks – just as angry as they’d be if America were white from coast to coast, like the England of Charles Dickens, where grinding, gnawing differences in class weren’t racial at all, as they also aren’t in most majority-black societies.
We’d have to understand why the white anger I’ve just mentioned is taking increasingly murderous and perverse turns that won’t be deflected by our moralizing.
If we can’t understand how and why Palin at the convention was able to channel her listeners’ pent-up indignation and yearning into a roar so deep it was riding on thwarted love as well as hate, we can’t understand the trouble that Democrats are in. Although Obama won that year, when a perfect storm of Republican policies was too disastrous to finesse, little in Democrats’ politics of moral posturing about race and sex addresses these men’s wounded pride, offended decency and grieving for lost codes of honor and social networks and “economically incorrect” work that was actually fairer and more productive than a lot of what passes for work now.
If Republican economics has brought us this, Springsteen’s singing for Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and other Democrats hasn’t brought white guys anything better. The reason why Fox News, Palin and other demagogues have been able to dislodge whatever hold Bubba and Obama had on white, working-class America is that Democrats have abandoned serious challenges to deepening inequalities and embraced an identity politics of faux-compensatory gestures against sexism and racism.
Some of that politics, such as “lean-in” feminism, divides women from women as well as women from men, glossing the economic arrangements that are stealing increasing numbers of women’s and men’s opportunities, thwarting their talents and hopes, and plying them with degrading escapes into self-destructive behavior, scapegoating and demagoguery.
Read the whole thing. Sleeper is a New York leftie worth listening to, even if you don’t agree with him on everything. I don’t know how we get from where we are now to the place he describes, but I know that we have to try. There seems to be no incentive for either party to do so, and nothing in the culture compelling them to. The Rolling Stone UVA story scandal is particularly resonant because the reason it happened has to do with the fact that a bunch of New York liberal journalists decided that Southern white men are so contemptible that they must be gang rapists if someone says so. In principle, is that so different from Southern white conservatives who think of course Eric Garner brought his death upon himself, because black men are so violent and lawless that we shouldn’t expect anything else from them?
We are in a weird and frustrating time in American political life, when both parties run on exhausted ideologies, and nobody can come up with a philosophy and a politics that is suited to the times in which we live, as the New Deal was to its era, and Reaganism was to its day. I think we are in a more dangerous place than it may seem, because there is so little interest in the idea of the common good. This is not the fault of the Democrats or the Republicans, though both parties and their propagandists exploit it and benefit from it. The fault is in ourselves.