‘Let Them Eat Oxycontin’
Connor Kilpatrick at the socialist Jacobin magazine says that mainstream American liberals despise the white working class. Excerpts:
But it isn’t just the Sanders campaign zombie that liberal pundits are desperately trying to stamp out. It’s the white working class itself.
With Clinton’s nomination a lock, liberals have become even more furious and dismissive of white workers. Commenting on Sanders’s West Virginia victory, they were quick to point out that a felon running against Obama in the same state in 2012 got nearly half as many votes. They crowed about how some of both Bernie and Clinton’s voters said Trump was their real number one choice, and much was made of how Sanders overwhelmingly won voters who want “less liberal” policies than Obama’s.
Conveniently lost in the noise is the fact that Sanders won an even bigger share of voters who want “more liberal” ones.
The media takeaway was clear: somehow, someway, West Virginia’s vote for a Jewish socialist Brooklyn native was a vote for racism. “I don’t want to say it,” said Chris Matthews on election night “but West Virginian voters are, you know — conservative on social issues — but there’s another word for that. . .”
Somehow liberal pundits have gotten it into their heads that white workers — perhaps thanks to Fox News’s racist dispatches — are just an aggrieved, pissed off, outnumbered minority. But their particular disgust is just a stand-in for a more generalized anti-working-class politics. No matter how you slice it, the working class — while not quite Wes-Anderson-movie-white — is really damn white.
While the Economic Policy Institute projects that the US working class will be 49.6 percent “non-hispanic white” by 2032, 77 percent of all minimum wage (or below) workers today are white. Half are white women, who it should be noted joined young working-class women of color as an enthusiastic core of Sanders’s base. And as Tamara Draut shows in her new book Sleeping Giant — which stresses the diversity of the new working class — 63 percent of all workers without a bachelor’s degree are still non-Latino white.
Instead of acknowledging the size and importance of this part of the electorate, Democratic Party elites have simply constructed a new narrative to suit their interests — a narrative that was on display after West Virginia. Following Sanders’s win a significant chunk of the punditocracy came to the conclusion, mostly by abusing the hell out of exit polls, that a vote for the Jewish socialist was actually a vote for white supremacy.
Here’s the astonishing thing about what Obama did today, federalizing school bathroom, locker room, and sports policy: the people who depend the most on public schools, who are the least likely to have alternatives, and who are most alienated from progressive cultural politics, are working class people.
Have any of the policymakers in this administration or in the Clinton campaign talked to anyone who doesn’t already agree with them on this issue? Andrew T. Walker explains the broader meaning of the administration’s guidance today. Excerpt:
For example, while there is debate at the public school level about abstinence education versus comprehensive sex education, there is no policy that requires students to fornicate. There is no policy telling students that they’re wrong to believe that fornication is wrong. While the law allows for a false belief about how to channel sexuality, it doesn’t mandate that every student accept it.
The transgender decree by the Obama administration is altogether different. It is designed to stifle debate. If I may briefly summarize how this ruling is different than other controversial policies, this policy is going to require active suppression of the view that men and women are intrinsically different and complementary. In other words, active obedience on the part of your child is going to be the government’s expectation.
Official government policy is now denying that there’s anything unique or objective about our biological sex because it is superseded by the authority of psychology and self-description. This is a comprehensive claim made about human nature. It is the nature of claims like this that will lead the government to correct any dissenting opinion.
How will (white) working class families react when somebody tells them that thanks to the Democrats, their kids are going to be propagandized in this way at school? Maybe they won’t care. But this is an emotionally powerful issue, dealing with people’s children. It shows the priorities of Democrats. They would rather spend capital on appeasing urban cosmopolitans than on fighting for the working class.
Look, I’m not saying the Republicans are any better on working-class issues. But I am saying, from the right, that the socialists of Jacobin magazine are correct about the Democrats.