Jobs, White Men, and Angry Politicians
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Working Class is Not as Stupid As You Think
I read "Racial identity, and Its Hostilities, Return to American Politics," by Eduardo Porter, published by the New York Times on January 5, 2016. It made me think about my own experiences (I am a 60 year-old white man) and those of many people (not just white) I've talked to over the decades. I would like to offer some insights.
First, about Trump, Sanders, Clinton, and the other, mostly Republican Party, presidential candidates. Except for Bernie Sanders, they don't seem to be personally angry. They are just saying things that appeal to some people who are angry. Keep in mind that except for first-timers Ben Carson and Donald Trump, they are all professional politicians. Even Carly Fiorina has been stumping for dollars and government paychecks. She just hasn't been a good enough politician to win a paying job.
Second, working class and middle-class white men are not the only ones who are angry, though they are the focus of the Times article. Hispanics are angry, Blacks are angry, women are angry.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are not that different. Hillary also appeals to people who are feeling the pain of lack of success within the American economy. She just has a smoother presentation than Bernie, and she knows she has to win the more centrist voters over in a general election. Both are competing with Donald Trump for the angry working and middle class vote.
Now, about white men. That is a very broad category, and individuals can be quite complex even down in the working class. According to the article (quoting research by the Pew Center) right now, of white (non-Hispanic) men who have not completed college, 54% favor the Republican Party and 33% favor the Democratic Party. No word on how many are to the left of the Democratic Party, but I would guess less than 1%.
Leftists, including Marxists and various other kinds of socialists, have never understood why they have received so little support from working class men (of any ethnic background) in the U.S.A. Democrats, of the New Deal to leftist sort, have the same problem. Given unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and perhaps other obvious benefits, why doesn't almost everyone in the working class vote for Democratic Party candidates?
Much has been made of social issues, like religion and abortion, and those are part of the reason. People are complicated.
But I think that working class white men are not that stupid, not most of them. Here are some of the things they have figured out:
1. They are paying for unemployment insurance, disability, Social Security, and Medicare. Not the rich, not the bosses, not the capitalists or bankers, not the Democratic Party politicians. Those programs come from the paychecks. Even the halves paid by the employer come out of worker productivity. They may not be against Social Security or Medicare, but those programs are just giving their own money back to them.
2. A lot of disabled people, or at least people on disability, are shirkers. What percent, they (white working class men) don't know and I don't know. You tend to meet a lot of the shirkers because they tend to be social and like to drink, so perception may differ from reality.
3. Illegal immigrants really do take jobs and lower wages. Not in every industry for every job, but in a lot of situations where a guy with no college degree wants the job. Or at least the paycheck.
So how the Republican white working class voters see it is, their immediate problem is staying employed and getting a decent wage. Capitalists may be greedy arrogant assholes, but they provide jobs. Immigrants take away jobs. Sure, they know it is more complicated. But they also know from friends or family or at least know by hearsay that getting a college degree is no guarantee that everyone will receive middle-class wages. It is no guarantee against layoffs.
The Democratic Party, and for that matter the Green Party and most of the socialist Left, has chosen the strategy of essentially endorsing unlimited immigration, which is what you get when you let almost everyone who has come to stay in the U.S., without being part of the official immigration plan, eventually get their status legalized.
Let me repeat: white working class men are not stupid. They are not a former elite who sank to the bottom because they are stupid and lazy. There are only so many slots for rich people and upper-middle class people available in an economy. They might like those slots, but their real concern is holding on to the lousy slots they have, the slots that at least allow them to feed their families and have the dignity of not being on charity, not even on food stamps.
Bernie Sanders may say things they agree with, and so may Hillary or the Democrats running for Congress and state and local offices. But the people that the Democrats really help are the sub-working class.
From my viewpoint, everyone is seeing it wrong, including Bernie Sanders and even those whose opinions are to the left of Bernie's, as well as Trump and mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party.
The real problem is that the United States no longer has a monopoly on productivity, like we did in the two decades after World War II. When everyone else's factories had been knocked out by the fighting. When there was a truce between the working class and the capitalist class in the U.S. because there was so much money flowing into the country, there was no good reason to fight too much over it.
Since about 1965 U.S. imperialism has become an expense to Americans, rich, poor and middle class alike. There is no good return on imperialism for our economy in general. No political party is addressing that. Either we have to start shaking down the nations we protect, or we need to pull out and let the rest of the world take care of itself. So we can concentrate on economic competition. We are trying to swim modern global economic waters weighed down by the world's largest military budget, and it is drowning us.
And we need to keep immigration limited, because America is already populated well past its long-term carrying capacity. Here's a compromise: keep the total number of new legal immigrants at current levels. Whenever an illegal immigrant is granted legal status, make the overseas applicants wait longer in line. Then the question would be: how high of a bar to set for legalizing the illegals. Politicians could battle over percentages for each year: 50% resident illegals and 50% new legal immigrants, or 40/60, or 80/20. Or whatever Congress decides.
Which reminds me to remind you: Congress makes the laws, not the President. So stop worrying about Donald Trump, and get to worrying about who to elect from your district.
Agree? Disagree? You can comment on this post at Natural Liberation Blog at blogspot.com
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