Thursday, November 10, 2016
Deplorables: Economic or Racist Anxiety?
Before I concur with some who suggest we try to bring back the Deplorables, at least some of them, into the party of the people, I first want to see credible research on a classical chicken or egg question. Which comes first, your economic anxiety over very credible long term economy trends in the good ol' US of A or your racist attitudes? Now I might agree that at least some of you are not racists, but rather, are concerned about racial favoritism; government help/regulations that might be directed to protect non-Anglo racial groups and don't actually believe non-Anglos to be inferior or undeserving of at least equality.
I have to candidly share my biases from personal experience. As a kid in Marin City California, there were two groups associated with a nearby town with low/income/public housing. Some were "Okies," rednecks from rural Oklahoma escaping their devastating drought. Others, maybe most, were African Americans. My town looked down on them both and deplored, not their plight, but their proximity and numbers. We actually had "gully fights" with bands of them, mostly the Blacks who came to our town and mocked our little league baseball games, I guess because they didn't have a little league.
In the military, in nearby East Baltimore, I saw first hand segregation, including in nearby strip joints who barred Black military, including those in my officer ranks from frequenting their establishments. That is until a couple of my Notre Dame grad buddies and I, in uniform, took our Black friend and a Captain who outranked us (and outclassed us in smarts) to those joints, crashed them and elbowed all of us in. No more segregation there.
Later, in Roanoke Virginia, my pro-integration buddy who owned the local radio station, recruited me to sponsor a Black friend, a very successful physician, to apply to become a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, a venerated organization of the Catholic Church. The mostly rednecks who ran the organization welcomed us and our Black friend to drink at the K of C Hall private bar/club but in a stunning secret vote, blackballed our Black friend from the 4th Degree. This was a defining experience for me. Our friend exceeded all of us in IQ, education and professional accomplishment but he wasn't worthy. The Deplorables sure feel to me like the ilk I dealt with back then.
Later in life I experienced first the Wallace Democrats, then they Reagan Democrats when I lived in Texas. They were mostly working class people, all white and overtly racist as they saw African Americans getting civil and then voting rights in the 60's. They were not deploring their economic situation caused often by educations that stopped at high school. They were certain the African Americans were inferior and were loudly vocal about that belief. They left our party and were recruited by George H.W. Bush and Rep. Bill Archer to swell the ranks of a future dominant Texas Republican party. This era sure felt like today's Deplorable atmosphere.
In the 2000's, right after the historic Obama election, I had direct, first hand experience with the Tea Party in Texas. Many do not know that its epicenter is in Texas, with Dick Armey, funded by the Koch brothers in north Texas and True The Vote, also funded by Koch, headquartered in Richmond, Texas in suburban Houston. True The Vote is the minority voter suppression arm of the Tea Party. I did hand to hand combat through the Harris County Democratic Party with these clowns. Oh, I'm sure their racist founding coinciding with the first Black American president is pure coincidence ! Today's Deplorables sure feel alot like these early Tea Baggers to me.
So excuse my skepticism. You're going to have to show me some well researched evidence that it is the economic anxiety of the Deplorables that drives their attraction to Trump and his very sketchy economic platform. So somehow returning American company factories to our shores, I guess by edict, will lessen their anxiety? Or relaxing the few consumer protection regulations we have in place will free up companies to massively increase their workforces? Or taxing corporations less so they will immediately pass those savings down to their employees, rather than their shareholders? Yes, I'm skeptical. Or getting rid of Obamacare, thus causing insurance companies to reduce their premium charges to companies and their employees? Yes, I'm skeptical. I'm skeptical too that the typical Deplorable making a household income of $72,000 is dumb enough to believe that shit.
Now, can we develop income and retirement supplements at the Federal level to provide economic justice to people whose employment was disrupted/diminished due to government policy enabling companies to screw their American workers? Sure, justice requires we should until new policies allow the creation of new industries and business groups are put in place and good jobs/wages become available again. But I'm not holding my breath that either racism or race resentment will diminish.
Researchers, social scientists, the task is yours to rid me of my skepticism that we can build the ranks of Democrats or some comparable liberal/progressive party with very many of these folks to make a difference. I sincerely doubt many of them will seek out the cultural/ethnic rainbow coalition that is the Democratic party the reflects the best of American values.