My condescension I felt for a long time toward my working class parents and the whole working class ecosystem disgusts me to this day. With all my lefty New York intellectual artist persona I’ve become really proud of the working class ethic that stayed with me.
My family had its share of ignorant bigots who were also generous decent people. J.D. Vance’s family that he describes in Hillbilly Elegy are recognizable in my own New Jersey working class Jewish hillbilly family. I witnessed a family member’s lifetime of racism disappear almost overnight simply by having an African American family move in next door.
Despite her inability to reach that Southern and Rust Belt working class demographic from a podium, and her lack of really trying, Hillary Clinton might have received some benefit of the doubt if she hadn’t repeatedly provided right wingers with free propaganda that would make trusting her impossible. Wanting to protect her privacy is understandable considering the abuse she’d taken over four decades. But if you’re thinking of running for president you don’t do the private email server thing. And you definitely don’t give those Wall St. speeches.
As much as I loathe Wall St. for the global damage they willfully inflict, I’d be glad to make a few hundred thousand bucks for an hour of wordplay. But not if I wanted to be taken seriously as a candidate for office after the Great Recession. Her decision to go for the bucks was no less idiotic than Bill Clinton’s throwing away his his presidency because of a blow job opportunity. The Clinton’s weren’t desperate for the income and the ever-preening Bill could have used his hand for a few years then get blown as much as wants after his term is up. He might also have considered making a little whoopie with his wife from time to time to take the edge off.
If Trump has his way millions of his supporters will lose their health care coverage. Hillary Clinton might have expanded it but she couldn’t make the sale. Like so many democrats, she cares but seems to lack a lived identification with the people she wants to help. So her caring feels more conceptual than lived in. If that’s not the case, how then could her brain pop the SEND link with her lines about deplorables and her blasé declaration about coal miners’ jobs were never coming back?
It also didn’t help that her campaign speeches were delivered in the melodic bellowing oratorical style we’d hear on an Edison cylinder of William Jennings Bryan from a century ago.
Key to Trump’s success was his mastery of working class media memes. His identification with them was a a charade but it was a convincing charade. It defied the odds in the occupational bullshit circus that defines the politician. In reality, if a legislator or journalist came from working class roots, it’s likely that by college graduation day that identification is over except as a phony promotional signifier.
Trump may be a lonely little boy flopping around in a big predatory biznizman suit, knocking over anybody in his path toward the cookie jar – but he won the nomination against 16 other narcissistic gas balloons and finally the presidency because of one truly unique quality that no other politician or real news journo seems to have: the ability to speak to the American white working class in its own language.
Does he care about these people? No. But it doesn’t matter. The shifting balance of America’s hybrid system of neo-liberal capitalism and altruistic socialism is currently so skewed toward the former that an ignorant clown with lots of money and hordes of personal anxieties in search of scapegoats can become president All he has to do is demonstrate loathing of those scapegoats.
Any one of his negatives would have sunk another candidate: his constant lying, pubescent insults, obvious ignorance of everything a president has to address on a daily basis, his documented history of fraudulent business practices and serial screwing of contractors and investors, hiring low-wage foreign workers instead of Americans, having his own product lines manufactured overseas.
I do believe our side is far more committed to addressing their problems. But I’m not so sure the caring from our side is more than conceptual. Biden and Bernie have the feel but not the future.
— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, December 8, 2016
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