Adam Fisher: The “diversity” trope neglects class

Jacobin Magazine bills itself as a left-wing site with a socialist slant, so you can’t write off this piece, by Adam Fisher, as expressing the biases of a right-wing writer. I can’t find much about an “Adam Fisher” on the Internet, but that’s not surprising given his subject: his upbringing in a small and impoverished town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. His piece, “The blind spots of liberalism“, grew out of his hardscrabble upbringing, going to school in a trailer and coming home to a table devoid of food. The town, once engaged in mining and lumbering, was left behind when those industries petered out. In his town, people worried about one thing: where their next paycheck was coming from, or, if they were getting one, how long it would last.

Fisher uses this town as an emblem of the kind of people who voted for Trump, people who, he says, weren’t racists or sexists, but living in fear and poverty. A snippet (my emphasis):

Mine was the kind of town that a classless identity politics forgets. The kind of town where being male or white or Christian wasn’t synonymous with having decent housing, proper medical care, or a steady job.

Politicians are remarkably adept at pitting the economically disenfranchised against the racially or sexually marginalized.

Fear of hitting a glass ceiling is set against the fear of having one’s wages stolen. Fear of never being able to love the way one wants to love is set against the fear of losing one’s job and being out on the street.

At times, liberal forms of identity politics can fall into this trap. The reactionary that blames the plight of workers on the breakdown of traditional marriage and porous borders has more in common with the liberal pundit who blames racism and homophobia on the ignorance of white workers than either would like to admit.

But it was not white working-class people who drafted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994. It was not struggling rural workers who sold this bill to the public by labeling young black men “super predators.”

The people in my small town did not own the private prisons that paid inmates $0.23 to 1.15 an hour, nor did they own the companies (like Whole Foods) that exploited prison labor. They were, however, hurt by the downward pressure that such labor schemes placed on workers’ wages.

Inevitably, the blind spots of classless identity politics benefit elites.

In one rarified area, the wage gap has apparently vanished: chief executive officers of America’s richest companies. But this means very little to, say, women in traditionally feminized occupations like nursing and home health care work. A $15 minimum wage would be a more significant win for feminism than gender parity for CEOs. 

Similarly, in my childhood town, glass ceilings and the shattering of them didn’t improve the lives of those just trying to pick themselves up off the floor.” The Yahoo CEO’s gender, or the US president’s race, had very little impact on the average citizen’s life. It wasn’t of much consequence to them if a prominent CNN anchor was gay, or if a black woman was a media mogul, or if a past Olympian had gender reassignment surgery.

However, it did matter if their standard of living was simultaneously decreasing and the precarity of their job was endangering their children’s future.

I had no idea that Whole Foods employed prison labor to make some of its products, but the link seems kosher, though the practice stopped in April of this year. But really, the sanctimonious Whole Foods?

In the rest of the article, Fisher doesn’t so much oppose identity politics as to say that class should be added as one “identity”. Indeed, if we’re going to consider those who are marginalized, then there’s a very good case that this should include the working class as a whole, regardless of pigmentation. As determinists, we know that such folks didn’t choose to be poor: the combination of their genes and environment made them wind up that way. Nor does this determinism mean they’re beyond help, because my own determined impulses are prompting me to convince you of Fisher’s thesis.

“Diversity” is now a euphemism for two things only: increasing the variance within a group in skin pigmentation and gender. And certainly everyone should, from birth, have the opportunity to succeed regardless of ethnicity or gender, though we have to make sure that all those opportunities are equal from the outset.

But how about the poor? Should they be preferentially recruited as college students, professors, or employees in general? Well, financial need is irrelevant for acceptance in some “need-blind” colleges, but those white students like Fisher, who went to a lousy school in a dirt-poor town, are disadvantaged from the beginning.  Should we have affirmative action for poor white people who, like many blacks, are disadvantaged in this way? If not, why not? Isn’t that also a kind of diversity we need? After all, the rich and poor are different from you and me.

Well, regardless of considerations about affirmative action, which is not Fisher’s focus, we need to realize that class may be just as important as race or gender in politics. We know this because it was class divides among Americans that led to the election of Donald Trump. Yes, you can say that those people were ignorant, not knowing where their real interests lay (and, given Trump’s cabinet, it seems likely they’ll eventually realize that), but they weren’t racist or sexist. They ignored the odious side of Trump (actually, the odious 99.5%), because for them Hillary Clinton symbolized someone who, while taking loads of dosh from Wall Street, would ignore their plight.

For those who write these people off as misogynist Nazis, here’s how Fisher finishes his piece:

Since I lived there, the population of my childhood town has nearly doubled, fueled in part by telecommuting and cash migrating from Silicon Valley. Median income has risen to $47,000, but the median home price fell 43 percent between 2003 and 2013. The school has moved to more appropriate permanent buildings.

This November, the town (and 362 other Placer County, California precincts not unlike it) voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, 51.1 percent to 39.5 percent.

But it’s hard to blame sexism or racism for Clinton’s loss.

On Election Day, the people of Placer County also voted for Kamala Harris, a black woman, to be their US senator. Her vote share? 63 percent. And her vote tally? 16,178 more than Clinton’s.

Somehow, as progressives (and mostly Democrats), we need to stop demonizing the working classes and find a platform that offers them substantive hope. And it’s not just to help elect someone like Clinton, either. It’s simply the right thing to do.


  1. Kevin
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I wish this Fisher guy or someone like him was the next president.

    I often remarked to people that a teller at a corner convenient store living in near poverty is where we should look for advice, if not filled positions in government, like judges.

    I am not sure how employing prisoners is all bad. Only that if Whole Foods got some kind of advantage over other businesses, then that is not fair. Working often builds purpose.

    • eric
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Its employing them for $0.23-$1.10 that’s bad. That kind of makes a mockery of the whole ’employment’ term. If the governor just wants prisoners to work as part of their sentence, he should be upfront and say so. Pretending its work-for-pay when their annual income at that rate would be $460 is just, IMO, obscene.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Many people in prison have little experience of paid employment. Meaningful work, and training, is an important step on the way to rehabilitation.

      But is has to be voluntary and it has to be decently paid. Exploitation isn’t rehabilitation.

  2. GBJames
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I just read Let Them Eat Privilege by Connor Kilpatrick in Jacobin. I think readers of WEIT would find it relevant.

    “By substituting class relations for an arbitrary list of “privileges,” Vox is attempting to paint a picture of an immiserated America with no villain. It’s an America without a ruling class that directly and materially benefits from everyone else’s hard times. And this omission isn’t just incorrect — it robs us of any meaningful oppositional politics that could change it all.

    – snip –

    Let’s try worrying more about knowing thy enemy — and building solidarity from that recognition. “Check your privilege?” Sure. But for once, let’s try checking it against the average hedge fund manager instead of a random Whole Foods shopper.”

    • GBJames
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      (forgot the check box)

  3. Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I remember a cartoon about diversity in the 1992 Clinton cabinet, along the lines of: Woman lawyer, black lawyer, Jewish lawyer, disabled lawyer …

    I have long argued that affirmative action in education should be based on the applicant’s parents’ years of schooling, nothing else

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Agree with your statement re AA. Both of my parents had to drop out of school in the 10th grade, and although I went to a decent college, I did not realize until much later in life, the impact of being a first generation person in college.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Very good point.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good idea, but maybe there should be some other considerations, otherwise Bill Gates’s kids will get preferential treatment over anyone whose parents earned a Bachelor’s degree. 🙂

  4. Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I will add a hearty ‘amen’ to your statement “we need to realize that class may be just as important as race or gender in politics.” When I visit my relatives and friends in Elkhart County, IN, a place that I left in the 60’s, it is abundantly clear that class is an integral part of the populace’s political perspectives. Of course race is a component of class, but generally folks want to receive a fair wage for their work and are not keen on seeing their earnings go to those who choose not to work or to those who are highly overcompensated for their ‘work’. Part of the problem is that most progressives rarely associate with these folks.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Hmm. Some questions:

      How does Fisher know the people in his town weren’t sexist or racist?

      What about upper-class righties? What about lower-class lefties? Sorting by class (by which I mostly mean income) doesn’t seem to divide people into righties and lefties the way sorting based on the presence or absence of sexist/racist tendencies does.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

        “How does Fisher know the people in his town weren’t sexist or racist?”

        First, sexism and racism aren’t one-dimensional attributes. That is, one might be fine with ‘blacks’ but can’t stand Irish. Is one a racist or not? – depends on the context.

        But leaving that aside, IF the votes for Trump are taken as an indicator for sexism/racism, surely the higher vote for Kamala Harris as senator must be an indicator the other way.


        • David Duncan
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 6:38 am | Permalink

          That county voted about 63% Republican in the presidency and the House, but heavily for a liberal Democrat in the Senate race. Strange.

        • Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          I just thought it wasn’t a very scientific move to simply claim the people in his town weren’t racist (of any stripe) or sexist. I’m not saying they must’ve been, I’m asking how he knows.

          • Carl
            Posted December 10, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

            In a town like that, you personally know everyone. You have gone to school all your life with everyone in your age cadre. You’ve worked along side them hauling hay bales and cutting firewood. You’ve gone hunting and fishing with them. You discovered marijuana and LSD together. You know them intimately.

            • Posted December 10, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink


              I don’t even know if my next door neighbors are sexist or racist. It’s not the kind of thing people openly admit. In fact, many people with sexist or racist views might not even consider their views sexist or racist: “hey, I’m not racist; it’s just a brute fact that most Mexicans are lazy.”

              • Carl
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

                Where do you live? I could say the same, now that I live in a large metropolitan area. A small town where one has grown up is a different world.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 10, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

            Okay, valid question.

            I agree that I don’t for example know the opinions of my neighbours on political matters, and what is or is not ‘racist’ is often hard to define and depends on ones point of view anyway.

            However, if one is going to ascribe motives for voting Trump, then the fact that a good majority also voted for a black woman Senator is a counter-indication.

            (However, as Larry Cook pointed out lower down, she was running against another Democrat woman, Loretta Sanches, a Latina. But then, surely the fact that both candidates were non-white women must count for something, if prejudice was that bad someone would have come up with a white male candidate?)


      • pablo
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        The problem is that they’re not sorting by racist/sexist tendencies, they’re sorting by race and sex: aka privilege. White males are assumed to have privilege and be racist and sexist to protect their privilege.

        • Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          Who is actually sorting? My comment wasn’t about real-life “sorting”. It was about identifying abstract categories based on behavior. If anything, people “sort” themselves with their behavior/worldview. The issue of assuming privilege is completely orthogonal to my point.

  5. Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Since there were also plenty of poor rural people who did vote liberal, I find that the claim that people who voted for Trump did so just becasue of economics to be a bit specious, especially since Clinton had a coherent plan to help the economy adn Trump didn’t. The common attribute to Trump and his voters is his ignorance and racism and sexism. I also grew up poor and rural and I know exactly how many of those people. The casual racism, the bullying of those who dare show themselves to be intelligent, the “keep them barefoot and pregnant” attitude. And now, many of those people are still believing in the lies that Trump and his ilk spreads, that the economy is foundering. They want to believe those lies and they have no use for anyone who tells them a fact.

    • eric
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think this is right. IIRC in the rust belt, voting analysis shows that Trump won around the same number of votes as Romney. The difference in those states was that there were far fewer votes for Hilary than there were for Obama. IOW no racists suddenly came out of the woodwork to propel Trump to victory. Secondly, this also means Trump didn’t actually “flip” anyone in those areas. What really happened is a lot of former democratic voting blue collar adults stayed home. And while the rust best isn’t Placer county CA, and while Adam is implying some flips, the sort of voting pattern seen in the rust belt is very consistent with the argument that HRC didn’t speak to the needs of working class people.

      • Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        I think she had a point, if you take “rural” out of the equation. It’s not only in rural areas that you find low-income folks. There are lots of reliably blue low-income folks.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      I think that is too reductionist. Each person brings a range of values to his vote, and just because two people are poor, rural whites doesn’t mean that they voted for a candidate for the same reasons. Especially in this latest contest there had to have been a good deal of nose-holding on both sides. People might have voted for Trump because of his racism and ignorance, or in spite of it, or for other things he appeared to represent. (Whatever those might be; I honestly don’t think we yet know who the hell he is, other than an opportunist.)

      • Posted December 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        I find “nose-holding” a rather benign term for deciding that racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and outright lies, including all of your wishes coming true, to not be a deal breaker, and saying “hey, it’s okay, as long as I get mine”.

  6. merilee
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink


  7. jay
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    “Jacobin” .

    Just the title is terrifying.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 10, 2016 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      You’d be more comfortable with the “Ancien Régime Magazine”?

  8. eric
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    But how about the poor? Should they be preferentially recruited as college students, professors, or employees in general?

    In California at least, there is a way to do it without doing it, so to speak. The top 10% of every accredited HS’s class gets guaranteed admission to the US or Cal State system. So you don’t need to give them special bonus admission points or anything (although I’m not particularly averse to that). How about CA start by giving the communities the teaching staff, books, and other resources needed to remain accredited. That on its own will go a fair way towards giving kids in communities like Adam’s access to a quality higher education. It won’t solve every problem, but it would be a good start – and the only thing it requires is giving state public high schools the resources they should have anyway.

    • eric
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Oops, that should be “UC,” not “US.”

  9. jay
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I strongly think, if you’re going to do affirmative action, leave race completely out of it. Disadvantaged background should be the ONLY criterion.

    • colnago80
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      It’s always amusing to me that critics of affirmative action are rather silent on legacy admissions.

      • Jay
        Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        You are making assumptions.

        However if the criterion is (legitimately) disadvantaged background, there is no reason to invoke race, unless ypu are expecting some races to perform less well.

        • colnago80
          Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          Re Jay

          I’m not sure what you are getting at. Examples of legacy admissions almost always involve people from wealthy backgrounds, e.g. George W. Bush. There is no difference between legacy admissions and affirmative action. Both are designed to admit students whose high school grades and College Board scores are not up to snuff.

    • eric
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Except that studies such as changing names on resumes etc. show that our systemic problems aren’t just about poor people not being given equal opportunity. There is a component of (perceived) race-based bias too, wholly separate from class or income.

      I don’t think there is going to be an elegant simple solution to US social problems; any good solution-set is likely going to include a complex mix of different strategies and tactics that address a host of different inequities that are the result of a host of different causes.

  10. colnago80
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Re Adam Fisher

    Adam Fisher may be a nomme de plume.

    As for Jacobin Magazine, it does appear to be rather left wing with an article supporting Keith Ellison and trashing his critics. Apparently, it’s OK to be critical of Ellison’s critics but not OK to be critical of him.

  11. Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Class is generally disregarded but I don’t want it to be swallowed under the umbrella of ‘identity’.

    There’s nothing necessarily exploitative about gender relations – even if that’s the way things often work out. There’s nothing necessarily exploitative about racial divisions even though historically they were used to justify slavery; gay people, while marginalised, have never been defined by their economic exploitation.

    But class is defined by unequitable economic relationships.

    Some people work for the enrichment of others. Some people pay rent for property other people own. That relationship is structurally unequal and crosses all boundaries of gender, race, or sexual preference.

  12. Carl
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m also the product of a small California gold rush town that subsists now mainly on ranching and farming. It’s a different world, but not one wholly without advantages. Until I finally got out, life in a big city was about the worst imaginable fate.

    I hope this article will drive home the point that Trump voters were not, in any significant numbers, Nazis, white supremacists, or Klansmen.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 10, 2016 at 12:31 am | Permalink

      The Nazis, white supremacists, and Klansmen have merged with the so-called “racial realists,” the human-biodiversity crowd, and the men’s rights advocates into the “alt-right” (a term coined by Richard Spencer, the guy who was recently filmed giving the Nazi salute and leading a chant of “Hail Trump” at a white-nationalist conference in Washington D.C.) Breitbart News — the self-described “platform for the alt-right” — now gets more visitors than The Los Angeles Times and many other mainstream news sources (as do several other far-right websites).

      The man who turned Breitbart into the platform for the alt-right, Steven Bannon, was the CEO of Donald Trump’s campaign and, as of next month, will be the “chief strategist” and “senior advisor” to the president of the United States. And he isn’t the only one on the Trump team. The son of Trump’s NSA designee, who served as his father’s chief-of-staff until earlier this week, is a confirmed alt-righter. (The Trump transition time had applied for a security clearance on his behalf.) His father, Michael Flynn Sr., the soon-to-be National Security Advisor himself, has one foot in the alt-right camp.

      This element by no means constituted the majority of Trump voters. But let us not kid ourselves. This element has once again emerged as a force in right-wing politics. And it is on the cusp of gaining a significant voice — what may well prove to be the most significant voice — in the Trump White House.

      • Carl
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 1:03 am | Permalink

        Ken, you should really go easy on the wild conspiracy theories. I own guns, know how to use them, and can live off the grid. If I saw things being as dire as you seem to, I’d be in my mountain hideout already. But I expect to die peacefully in a free, liberal republic many years from now.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 1:46 am | Permalink

          You’ve yet to take issue with any facts as I’ve stated them.

          Donald Trump rode to political prominence on a waive of racism and bigotry — as the cynical leader of the ridiculous “birther” movement, and with his ugly, asinine slurs against immigrants, many of them American citizens. He is the unanimous hero of bigots and nativists and misogynists across this nation (of both the paleo- and neo- variety). They constitute his hardcore base, his most fervent supporters.

          I’ve indulged in no paranoia; I feel no need to retreat to an armed compound. I’ll fight them politically, here where I stand. I expect my side to prevail — the arc of moral universe does indeed bend toward justice — so that we may all continue live in a free, liberal republic.

          • pablo
            Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

            Yes the nation that voted Barak Obama in twice and likely would’ve voted him in a third term given the opportunity suddenly became Nazi.

            • Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

              + 1

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted December 10, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

              Where in the world are you coming up with that — that the nation has become Nazi?

              All I’ve stated — and the facts supporting this are plain — is that “white nationalism” (in the form of the “alt-right”) is on the rise in this nation, and that this element has a voice in the Trump administration.

              Feel free to dispute either of these propositions — if you can muster any facts with which to do so — but do not mischaracterize what I’ve said.

              • Carl
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

                This is an example of the type of thing you’ve often said here:

                Donald Trump rode to political prominence on a waive of racism and bigotry.

                I believe this is over the top nonsense. Racism and bigotry were minor factors in Trump’s election and his rise to prominence. That’s the claim of the topic article. Many explanations have been offered for Trump’s election. To pretend anyone *knows* with any degree of certainty should be uncontroversial.

                What is the point of insulting Trump voters en masse? It won’t persuade any of them to your side, but the exaggerated accusations may well work the other way.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

                The only thing worse than overestimating the role of bigotry among Trump supporters is underestimating it. Nobody is asserting (that I know of) that Trump rose solely on the basis of racism and bigotry and if you haven’t noticed all of the introspective recognition of failures in the Democratic Party you haven’t been paying attention.

                I find all the denial of ethnic bigotry in Trumpland akin to the denial of global warming. It is all of a piece, IMO.

              • pablo
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                The alt-right consists entirely of internet trolls. Instead of being worried about Pepe the frog, worry about plain old righty Paul Ryan.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

                Why this constant false choice?

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

                Until he began pushing the “birther” line in 2012, Donald Trump was naught but a schlock-tv celebrity with no political base whatever. He developed his base by becoming the most high-profile birther in the nation. It was impossible to push the birther line without being both a racist AND either a fool or a cynic. Over 40% of registered Republicans still believe the birther claims.

                The racist base that Trump developed as a birther is what gave him his initial lift upon announcing his presidential candidacy. Trump played to this base off and on throughout his candidacy — with his claim that Mexican immigrants were rapists and murders, with his call for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” with his attacks on Judge Curiel and the Muslim gold-star family, and with his claims that Barack Obama was a secret jihadi and “the founder of ISIS.”

                When his campaign was in deep trouble last August, Trump brought in Steve Bannon to be his campaign’s CEO. Bannon had taken Breitbart News — a gadfly website for right-wing wiseacres — and turned it into “the platform for the alt-right” (that’s his description, not mine). Under Bannon’s direction Breitbart became a cesspool of nativism, misogyny, and racial-resentment (and claims to have 65 million visitors). Steve Bannon is now set to become the “chief strategist” and “senior counselor” in the Trump White House (and has reportedly been muscling Trump’s new chief-of-staff, Reince Priebus, out of power).

                Does Steve Bannon actually believe the terrible bigoted crap he publishes on Breitbart? I don’t know — and I suspect you don’t either. Maybe he’s just a cynic who used Breitbart to line his pockets. If so, he and Trump are pees in a pod, which should give comfort to none.

                The racists and nativists and misogynists did not constitute a majority of Trump voters. Not even close. But everyone who voted for Trump demonstrated that they’re willing to tolerate blatant racism on the part of their candidate (a candidate who was otherwise completely unqualified for office and spouted nothing but nonsense). Trump’s ugly, far-right base played a significant role in his election, for which they expect to be acknowledged and rewarded. With Steve Bannon, they have a pipeline to power in the west wing of the White House.

                That should give pause to us all. It does our nation no good to stick your head in the sand and ignore it.

              • Barney
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

                +1. You analyse this very well, Ken.

              • Diane G.
                Posted December 10, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

                “That should give pause to us all. It does our nation no good to stick your head in the sand and ignore it.”

                (Just to make it clear what post I’m responding to.)

                Hear, hear, to your entire comment, Ken!

  13. Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    OK, they aren’t racists, but they aren’t racists in the sense that they don’t believe racism is a problem either. If you are poor, and black you’ve got a double whammy, and just acknowledging that, or got forbid implementing policies that acknowledge that is perceived as anti-white.

    This is the kind of rhetoric I hear from anti-sjws on youtube all the time. Look Obama is black, the leader of the UofM’s BLM movement is black, and his father is a multi-millionaire.

    The only way we’re going to get the poor white vote in the face of that is by completely ignoring the additional lack of privileged poor minorities, and women suffer.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      *god forbid

      • steve
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 5:18 am | Permalink

        I thought you forgot a “t” trying to be funny.

    • Carl
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      The question would be better phrased as “how big of a problem is racism?”

      Answer: Not nearly what it was in the past. Serious racism continues being constricted to ever smaller constituencies.


      Trotting out accusations of “racism” indiscriminately should be seen as a problem itself.

      Yes, discrimination of any sort, can be an impediment – but more so if it mires you in self pity and you use it as justification not to help yourself.

    • eric
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I’m more optimistic; I think the dems can run on both the ‘support for labor’ and ‘support for minority rights’. There’s nothing about wanting to expand access to abortion and make SSM legal that is contradictory with support for unions and a desire to grow the US manufacturing job base.

      I also think its fairly true that WJC was pro-business more than pro-labor. Obama wasn’t visibly much of either, he put his political capital elsewhere, into ACA and US international action among other things. HRC was looking much like her husband in terms of economic policy. So in hindsight its not too surprising that the rust belt working class didn’t show up in large numbers to support her. The Dems have to become more explicitly pro-labor if they want to win that group back, and they have to be convincing about it.

      Another lesson I draw from this year’s election: it isn’t enough to point out ‘the other guy sucks worse for you’, even if its true. That doesn’t inspire people who are living paycheck to paycheck to leave their job early, on a cold November day, to stand in lines at a voting place. Is it true? Absolutely. Trump’s economic policies will IMO likely make it harder for lower income folk to climb the social ladder, not easier. The current wage stagnation and inability of the younger generation to out-earn their parents will IMO get worse under a Republican government, not better. But even so, it appears voter turnout is not increased by pointing out the failings of the other candidate. At least, not amongst the working class Americans who would otherwise normally vote Dem.

      • GBJames
        Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        I mostly agree with you, eric, but will note that voter turnout among Republicans seems to have been very much helped by pointing the failings of the other candidate, even though the failings were mostly fabrications. He got a tremendous boost when FBI Director Comey made his well-timed comments.

        • eric
          Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          As I noted elsewhere, AIUI Trump didn’t receive much more votes in the rust belt states than Romney did. The major difference was that HRC received far fewer votes than Obama did. So whatever temporary boost Trump received from Comey’s mud-slinging, it didn’t have much of an effect on the final turnout.

          Time to stop pointing fingers at the other guy. Or claiming it was racism. Or sexism. Our folks didn’t turn out because our folks didn’t like Hilary. If the other guy’s folks turned out even though they didn’t like him, well lucky for him. Its unfair. Life is unfair. Time to move on and realign the platform to be more responsive to voter needs, rather than wish Dems acted like GOPers.

          • GBJames
            Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

            No. Timing is critical. Comey’s comments were perfectly timed to re-stimulate the well-prepared Hillary-email-scandle meme. The fact that the results are temporary is not really relevant. Everything is temporary in some sense. It only needs to be temporary at the right time to be effective.

            I think it is simply naive to claim that negative politics isn’t effective. We have far to much history to the contrary.

            Recognizing that in no way absolves the Democratic Party for its failure to confront the central issue here. The Democrats began moving away from support for “the working man” back in the Reagan years. They decided to go the DLC route and “triangulate”, to move closer to the interests of business and away from labor. They did little to shore up the ever-more threatened union movement. Which led them to this defeat.

            This time around the Dems had a choice between some serious re-direction in the form of Bernie Sanders. They chose to go with the DLC option instead. The platform wasn’t the problem. It was the history of putting labor interests behind others that finally caught up to them.

            Let’s just cut out the false choice scenarios. Negative campaigning works. It works particularly well when you have prepared the ground with it for decades and you have an opponent who is not positioned to presenting a convincing counter argument.

            • darrelle
              Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

              That last paragraph in particular, very well said.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

              I absolutely agree about Comey. Hoover himself couldn’t have corrupted the electoral process more blatantly.


          • darrelle
            Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            I agree at least partially with most of what you are saying as well, but . . .

            But why didn’t they like Hillary? Lets keep pointing fingers because it is important that lying cheating and stealing be outed. Even if, or especially if, many people don’t seem to be willing to accept clear evidence when it is shown to them.

            You pointed out that in the Rust Belt less Dems turned out. How is that not in favor of the other guy? How is it not plausible that things like Comey’s last minute sabotage attempt contributed to those Dems staying home?

            Hillary received more votes than any candidate in history. More even than Obama. This doesn’t quite fit with many of the rationalizations about why HC lost that people are discussing.

            • Posted December 9, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

              According to Wikipedia, Hillary got about 65.5M, compared to 65.9M for Obama 2012 and 69.5M for Obama 2008. Don’t forget that population was growing all along. So truly, Trump didn’t win it so much as Hillary lost it.

              • darrelle
                Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

                That could be said about every presidential election for the past 25 years or more. And the voting population has not changed by that much in the past 8 years. The point is not that Hillary set a record. The point is that putting the blame on her for not getting enough votes isn’t very convincing when the numbers she pulled in are comparable to any candidate in recent history and better than most.

              • darrelle
                Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

                Oh yes, thanks for the correction. Not sure how but I forgot the “except Obama.”

            • Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

              This article (which reads like written yesterday, though actually from September) makes an attempt to explain why Hillary wasn’t liked by the poor:

              “The telling word in Hillary’s remarks is ‘Right?’. She is not seeking to convince her audience; she knows they all agree. They are patting themselves on the back for being ‘aware’ and supposedly tolerant. Rich and powerful people making it clear that they are not like the hicks out there in middle America. We’re better than them.
              Hillary is also using an insider’s language: see her litany of ‘phobias’. These are terms she and her influential supporters wield all the time as weapons, words that enable them to occupy the moral high ground. From their dominant perch in the culture, they are the ones who get to accuse others of suffering from ‘phobias’.”


    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      “If you are poor, and black you’ve got a double whammy, and just acknowledging that, or got forbid implementing policies that acknowledge that is perceived as anti-white.”

      You can make many similar constructions. If you are black and disabled you’ve got a double whammy, but nobody ever acknowledges this and tells non-disabled blacks to check their privilege. Which, to me, shows that there really is some hostile feeling of well-to-do whites to poor whites.

      • Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        “You can make many similar constructions. If you are black and disabled you’ve got a double whammy, but nobody ever acknowledges this and tells non-disabled blacks to check their privilege.”

        Who doesn’t acknowledge that? I disagree that it’s not acknowledged, and I’m sure if a black person didn’t recognize he had privilege over a handicapped black person he’s be told exactly that.

        • Posted December 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          And does an able-bodied black person have ‘privilege’ over a disabled white person or vis-versa?

          The problem with ‘privilege’ is that, despite claims to intersectionality, it is based on simple hierarchical binaries of power instead of complex, situational and synergistic networks of advantage.

          • Carl
            Posted December 9, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            That realization might lead one to admit the whole Procrustean ideology is a mistake.

    • Pikolo
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s more of an “I have a problem, but I’m classified as privileged” view. They feared that affirmative actions for minorities would make their conditions even worse

      • Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        Even if they don’t fear this, I think they fear – with much justification – that the “privilege” talk is a way to silence them; that their problems will never come to the agenda of their elected representatives because the latter are always occupied with other people’s problems considered more urgent and important.

        Once you are in this situation, the only way out is to elect someone else. So, to me, “white privilege” must become a taboo expression reserved for those who enjoy losing elections.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    A family member informs me that Bill begged Hillary to do more to reach out to working class whites and she ignored his advice.

    I am a bit more inclined to post a comment on posts I somewhat disagree with than ones I do, but count this as a major exception.

    Why has this so obvious truth been so utterly forgotten?? Labor used to be the backbone of the democrats.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps the Democrats didn’t care to keep their backbone, thinking that it would vote for them no matter what.

      • Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        Or perhaps the Republicans tried to do all they can to weaken the unions, particularly in the states like WI, MI, PA, and OH, where they had Republican governors and Republican legislatures for several years before 2016.

        • GBJames
          Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

          I live in Wisconsin. I marched many winter days around the capital building in Madison when Scott Walker was ramming Act 10 through.

          We did not see high profile Democrats flying in to support us. The President, who had once commented about “putting on his marching shoes” (or words to that affect) did not make a visit. To the national Democrats it was an interesting thing to watch from afar.

          I like Obama a lot. But he let us down at that time. The Democratic Party did not make this matter a top issue.

          • nicky
            Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

            Read up on act 10. It indeed appears to me the ‘national Democrats’ let you down there, and in the end let down themselves.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

          Exactly my take as well, List of X. Unions have suffered mightily recently, due not only to the machinations you mention but to globalization and the fact that while corporations are now international, for the most part unions are not.

          Can anyone name the head exec of any of the traditional unions these days? When was the last time anyone heard from the AFL_CIO?

          Three years ago MI became a “right-to-work” state, and it was painful to listen to all those who would most benefit from union representation drink the Kool-Aid and loudly proclaim the anti-union propaganda.

    • eric
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Well, few people saw this backlash coming (except Bill, if your family member is right). Bill won, was then very pro-business, and was popular with Dems of all classes. Obama won, was then middling on economic issues, and was popular with Dems of all classes. Hilary’s head-to-head numbers against Trump were promising, her economic policies initially sounded much like Bill’s…is it all that surprising she thought she was going to be popular with all classes?

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Yes. In my home state of Michigan, Bernie and Trump both beat Hillary. This is not a coincidence. Adam Fisher pretty much nailed it.

      • Posted December 10, 2016 at 1:03 am | Permalink

        In certain areas, the Democratic Party is still fighting for Bernie and can’t seem to get on with business. I think there were a substantial number of Democrats who would not vote for Hilary because they wanted only Bernie. Those missing votes helped Trump win.
        Congratulations to us all.

        Hilary, when perceived as being her very worst, does in no way compare to the ME-ME-ME liar, Donald Trump.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      HRC had a fairly labor-friendly platform and argument — much more so than WJC. And she talked about hr programs on the stump.

      The white working class didn’t want to hear it from her because of 30 years of fake scandals, and the fact the she has a vagina.

      We are misdiagnosing this problem again.

      Also she won the popular vote by upwards of 2.5 million votes.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        + 1

  15. Adrian
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I can’t recommend Jacobin enough, many prominent liberals seem to hate it more than they hate the Right. Red-baiting is alive and well in 2016.

  16. Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Public sector efficacy should usurp private sector privilege. Few have the leverage, voice, or access to challenge plutocracy. Subsequently, scapegoating offers spontaneous catharsis in the wake of economic marginalization. The problem in our country is that desperation is often recognized by the donor class as a gateway opportunity for further exploitation while engineering even greater levels of inequality.

  17. Historian
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    If class were the most important factor in determining voting behavior, you would be hard pressed to find an elected Republican. But, that rarely has been the case in American history except, perhaps, in periods of great economic distress, such as the Great Depression. Conservatives have long realized that in this country the working class can be divided by demagogic appeals to racism, ethnic prejudice, and religious affiliation. The best part for conservatives is that physical repression has not at all been necessary (with a few exceptions). By and large, this strategy of divide-and-conquer has been quite successful and simple to implement. People who are suffering economically look for someone or some group to blame. The ruling elite provides these people with a scapegoat: blacks, Catholics (in the 19th century), immigrants, Hispanics. It really doesn’t matter because the effect is the same: the masses, in their general ignorance, are diverted from the true source of their woes.

    One theme that runs through American history is the failure of labor (the working class) to emerge as a lasting, powerful political force that could rein in the ruling elites. This was demonstrated in the last election by the success of a con man and huckster to once again dupe the working class to vote against their best interests. I wonder how many working class supporters of Trump know that the person he has nominated for Secretary of Labor opposes the minimum wage. Eventually, his working class supporters will realize they been conned one again. But, I fear that their solution will be to look for another demagogue to fool them once again. Ignorance and prejudice with a dose of fundamentalist religion, in combination with economic distress, create the perfect conditions for the emergence of fascism.

    • GBJames
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes. It is rather depressing.

    • eric
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Opposes minimum wage. Opposes overtime. Opposes workplace safety regulation. Thinks his idea for a commercial where hot women eat burgers while clad in white bikinis is not sexist or objectifying at all, it’s just “American.” A real winner.

      My prediction is that unions will greatly suffer in the next four years. Labor rights will suffer. The middle class will fall further behind. After four years of this, Democrats will believe labor can’t possibly vote GOP after all of this has happened…and they will be wrong. Again. The Dems are the working women of American politics: they have to work twice as hard to realize half the respect. So be it. Time to work twice as hard.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes. This.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

  18. Barney
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    “A $15 minimum wage would be a more significant win for feminism than gender parity for CEOs.”

    And the $15 minimum wage was in the Democratic platform, while the Republicans just said it “should be handled at the state and local level”.

    The Democrats never said that class issues should be ignored, or made subordinate to racial or sexual ones. There was no such things “identity politics” on the Democratic side. It was the Republicans, with the claims of Mexico sending murderers and rapists to the USA, that it’s OK to grab women by the pussy, or that all Muslims should be stopped from entering the USA, who have this idea of “identity” they put above humanity.

    No-one should fall for the “identity politics” lies.

  19. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Just another point to make on the class. Poor vs not poor is often separated by education. The high school drop outs, and there are many, as well as the no college class are today, condemned to poor wages more than ever before. When you look at the lifetime earning of this group vs college grads it is enormous. The protection use to be lots of low skill jobs and strong unions and those things are no longer available to the poor.

    The politicians must concentrate efforts to do something for this class and they do not. The answer is not college for everyone because many cannot do it. They need living wages and much stronger training in specific skilled areas, such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, brink layers and more. There are lots of jobs out there that do not require higher education but the people must be trained for these jobs and they must get the pay they deserve. Look at the want-ads and see all the openings for truck drivers or carpenters.

    • Pikolo
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      These jobs are passing away ever faster. By 2030 there will probably be no truck drivers in the US outside the military. sure, plumbers and electricians will still be needed, but these jobs require more skills.

      My knowledge of SF suggests that most low skill jobs will have to do with caring for the elderly

      • Posted December 12, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Don’t be so sure. SF is near to Silicon Valley, and care bots are being worked on …

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      And as long as international corporations find the labor cheaper by far overseas, there’s not much any political party can do to make them continue to offer such jobs locally.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        I am not sure what world we are talking about but last I checked you cannot export most of the jobs required right here. Truck drivers would be one and I wish Pikolo would explain where these jobs go in 2030. That all the truck drivers will be gone?? How do you export brick layers, electricians carpenters, mechanics to fix your cars. I am talking about all the jobs needed here, not exporting manufacturing. I don’t think they can export housing and by the way….many of those foreign cars are now made right here.

        • Pikolo
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          AI controlled trucks are already running around the US( or While currently only “on trials”, the software is here and so is the hardware. With growing wages and falling computer components costs, companies will increasingly move to AI driven trucks without human supervision. In 10 years human operated trucks will stop being bought, and they will be slowly phased out. Newer designs will be able to save space and mass of the cabin. Probably before 2030 the demand for truck drivers will be falling faster than they’ll be leaving the job market(*kg2IBv4Rah6It0-u9_B4mA.png).

          The only areas where it’ll take longer will be in the wilderness, hence the military and some extreme offroad conditions(think “Ice Road Truckers”). Even there, the process will happen eventually, just later.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

            You should try not to believe everything you read and you should read what you do read more carefully. Your own article above says- Another 890,000 new drivers will be needed in the next 10 years. How many decades ago was it they said we would all be flying and the car would be obsolete.

            You pick up a piece of information and think…ah, that is the answer, case closed. Please think a little more before you purchase.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

          Quite true regarding those jobs. Though one might presume the need for those has always been strong and therefore it’s the manufacturing sector that’s been most affected by unemployment. I am unaware of a dearth of tradespeople in the areas you mention but that could easily be my fault (the unawareness, not any dearth that exists. 🙂 ).

          One of the other ploys industry uses to impoverish workers it doing away with full-time, benefits-paying jobs in favor of temps, owner-operators, adjuncts, etc. It’s a sure sign of the current impotence of unions that there’s no effective push-back from them on that maneuver.

  20. Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The Worker’s Party platform program contained “demands for ‘the eradication of work-free, effortless income’ (Point 11) and the ‘confiscation of all wartime profits without exception’ (Point 12). Demands for the nationalisation of big business, for profit-sharing and for an expansion of the pension system (Points 13-15) were designed to appeal to the working classes. A promise to communalise large department stores (Point 16) was aimed at the middle classes, and the prospect of land reform (Point 17) at farmers. The programme also contained the slogans ‘communal welfare comes before selfishness’ (Point 24) and “strengthening of central authority’ (Point 25), combined with the pledge to fight against ‘the corrupting parliamentary system’ (Point 6).

    The program was introduced at a rally of 2,000 disaffected citizens who were angry about an international treaty and directing their ire at a scapegoated group of people from a certain religion. They responded with applause and shouts (“Beatings! Hangings!”, “Hang them!”) as the charismatic speaker denounced the undesirables in their country, usury, the treaty, and “bloodsuckers.”

    It was February 1920, and the party was the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. You can guess who the speaker was. The quote is from Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1949 by Volker Ullrich.

    • Posted December 9, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      So your point is that anyone who demands a fair wage is a Nazi?

      • Posted December 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        No, and I’m sorry if my comment came off that way. My point is that we are headed for some extremely dark times and I have no idea what can be done about it except try to point out cases where resentment-driven strongman populism has gone very badly.

  21. Larry Smith
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I would just like to point out that invoking the 63% turnout for Kamala Harris is misleading. A Democrat, Harris was running against another Democratic woman, Loretta Sanches, a Latina. So, by itself, this is hardly compelling proof of a non-sexist, non-racist Placer County. It’s an apples to oranges comparison, and if not deliberately misleading, sloppy at best.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 10, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Good point but, can one read some significance into the fact that both candidates were non-white women? If racism/sexism was rife in the area, surely someone would have found a white male to stand?

      I know we’re getting into the ‘what-if’s here.


      • Barney
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        The election the two were in was for the California-wide senate seat. California has a ‘top two’ primary system, which makes the election effectively into a run-off election – the top two from all parties in the primary contest the seat in the general election, and for the first time, that was 2 Democrats. So that’s a sign that California overall is strongly Democratic, but not necessarily for the local area the writer came from.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 10, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          OK, that makes my comment about potential white male candidates inapplicable.

          Still, the fact that Kamala Harris got 16,000 votes more than Hilary did would suggest, to me at least, that her colour was not a problem for many voters.

          But I’m probably out of my depth here.


  22. Posted December 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    “If you are poor, and black you’ve got a double whammy”

    Not necessarily. Poor blacks are more urban, and so closer to wealthy white liberals and their panoply of non-profits, government agencies, and institutions of higher learning that thrive on subsidized student loans. In other words there’s a slight geographical-cum-economic advantage.

  23. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    “Jacobin Magazine” — do the Sans-culottes get a glossy of their own, too?

    As to any claim that the majority of Trump voters are among the class described by “Adam Fisher,” I call BS. Sure, there was a slice of the electorate who voted for Trump that fits that bill, the impoverished working class. But the average income of Trump supporters was $70,000 per annum, by no means wealthy, but hardly struggling for their next meal.

    The majority of Trump voters came not from the impecunious, but from one of two groups — the deplorables and the deluded. The “deplorables” we know: the alt-right imbeciles, the bigots and xenophobes and misogynists, the ones who propagate fake news stories about “Pizzagate” sex-rings and Hillary’s having whacked Vince Foster. They’re drawn from the 40-plus% of registered Republican voters who — at this late date, after the long-form birth-certificate, after Trump himself has abandoned the issue — continue to cling to the notion that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya.

    The “deluded” make up an even larger group, the Trump voters who, while not bigots themselves, were nonetheless willing to swallow their candidate’s blatant bigotry and vote for him anyway. They’re drawn from the chronically misinformed; much of what they know is flat wrong. According to a poll released today by Public Policy Polling, 53% of Trump voters believe there were millions of illegal votes cast in California; 40% of them believe that Trump won the popular vote anyway; 73% of Trump voters are convinced that people protesting the election results are being paid by George Soros.

    Indeed, the majority of Trump voters cannot tell “up” form “down”: 67% of them claim that unemployment has risen under Barack Obama (when in fact, it has steadily dropped over the last eight years, to the current low of 4.8%). And 39% of Trump voters believe the stock market has fallen under Obama (with another 19% saying they’re not sure), even though the Dow has risen 150% since Obama took office.

    The driving force behind Trump’s victory wasn’t economic — for only a desperate fool could believe that the savior of the working class would arrive in the form of a nonsense-spouting billionaire descending from a gilded palace in a midtown tower, his Eurotrash supermodel wife riding two steps below him on the escalator, a man who’s done nothing but screw the little guy his entire life. The difference in this election was that Trump provided more-entertaining media.

    For all her scandals — some real, some imagined — Hillary Clinton is boring. She’s cautious and guarded, fundamentally conservative in her approach to campaigning and politics, often oozing insincerity. People know the general outlines of her story — its theme that of a wife scorned — but they don’t connect with her personally.

    Trump on the other hand — love him or hate him — made for a riveting public presence. With his incessant tweeting, with the wall-to-wall coverage of his rallies afforded by cable news, there was always a WTF-will-he-do-next aura about him.

    Trump began the primaries with a hardcore base among the “deplorables,” owing to his having charged to the head of the “birther” movement in 2012, and to his having kicked off his campaign with outrages lies about Mexicans, Muslims, and the wall he claimed he’d build. He added to that base with the “deludeds” — these were the people who knew him as el jefe/i>, the big boss-man who came into their home through the tube every week, lumbering around a penthouse office, shouting “you’re fired” at fellow celebritantes. Voters feel they know this Donald, the billionaire with all the shiny toys and the supermodel wife, never mind that they never got down in the weeds to learn much about his history, about his bankruptcies and cons and scams, about all his busted-out deals with investors and buyers and partners left high-and-dry.

    Trump has promised the working class bread, but all he’s delivered (all he’s ever delivered, all he needed to deliver to win this election, and all he’s likely to deliver to the American public over the next four years) are media circuses.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      There seems to be a long thread of evidence that supports the description of Americans in this way — they will only do the right thing once everything else has failed. Let’s just hope they get a chance to do the right thing.

      A tweet talking president elect that goes after union bosses who call him out for his lies on the jobs he saved is lower than anything I could call a president.

    • Historian
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Probably a dozen theories have been presented to try to explain what primarily motivated Trump voters. There is probably no right answer since a combination of reasons undoubtedly played into their decision. But, whatever the reason, these people are very discontented with the way things have been going. Anger and delusion create a toxic brew. You are quite right that their ignorance has morphed into delusion. If a person is just ignorant, he is usually open to relieving the ignorance with new factual, information. The deluded cover their ears and close their eyes when presented with new information. Of course, this applies to the devoutly religious. It also applies to the ardent Trump supporters. And it is their delusions that make them dangerous. They don’t care about facts and they don’t care about democracy. The only thing that motivates them is to follow the Leader, no matter where he goes, even if the destination is the abyss. The Leader gives them a sense of self-worth and superiority over all the “others.” This is for them what makes life worth living.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        All this is not new, Joseph Goebbels had it all worked out pretty well in the 1930’s.

        The people will hear what they want to hear, and if it includes handy scapegoats and simplistic ‘solutions’ so much the better. Any connection to truth or reality is completely irrelevant.



      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 10, 2016 at 12:49 am | Permalink

        You’ve described the quintessential “authoritarian personality.” Obeisance to those above; submission from those below — or, as the saying goes, “kiss up, kick down.”

    • Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I think that if the USA really contained tens of millions of such people, there would be no need to discuss immigration control – nobody would want to immigrate.

  24. Pikolo
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    What struck me is that this is exactly what Sanders said. He even got asked in some interview if he saw racial problems as an issue of class, and he got bashed in the following editorial after agreeing with the statement.

    I generally don’t like “tick-off” affirmative action, because it leads to madness. Making it an equality of chances, like the “top 10% of every school is guaranteed a university spot” is much less divisive and auto-adjusts for future disadvantaged groups

  25. Gabrielle
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Back in the 1980s and 90s, I worked for a large US chemical company, and watched how the upper management did away with union jobs, brick by brick. A plant in Missouri voted to go union in 1990 – and the next year the company shut the plant down, with the production work shipping to a non-union plant in Iowa. The site I worked in on the East Coast had long been union, and after years of management/union tension, the site was closed and the jobs moved to a non-union site in a neighboring state (and fewer jobs at that).
    These good paying, fairly stable union jobs were demolished due to decisions made by corporate elites, who by and large support the Republican Party. But these elites are not who gets blamed for the loss of these jobs – it’s Mexicans and Muslims other assorted immigrants who get blamed.
    Along comes Trump* who plays on these ill-placed sentiments, and it’s no wonder he is appealing to some working class folks. But underneath, he’s no friend of unions; witness his recent twitterstorm exchange with the union boss at Carrier in Indiana.

    *On comments in the Washington Post, people are now calling referring to Trump as “Tweety Bird”.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:27 pm | Permalink


      Hard to believe “Roger & Me” is 17 years old, now, and timelier than ever.

      (And Flint’s in yet more trouble, this time the result of the inhumanity of the GOP.)

  26. nicky
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    GBJames referred (in 14 above) to the high profile democrats not doing enough to try to stop act 10 in WI, but that is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg, immo.
    I think they failed particularly in preventing/stopping electoral fraud. Which should not be confused with ‘voter fraud’. Ill-supported allegations of the latter were a cover for the former in many cases. Disenfranchising voters who should never have been disenfranchised lost the Dems the elections*. ‘Crosscheck’ alone would be -was- enough to give the victory to the Reps in several swing states (and we don’t even talk about gerrymandering and the polling station locations and hours reminiscent of Jim Crow).
    I know there were some efforts to counter voter suppression, but evidently too little too late.
    I think the Dems should put a major effort in undoing voter suppression, but with both houses and soon SCOTUS in Rep hands, it looks like an uphill battle.

    *[at risk of repeating myself, I find it highly significant that all the swing states where HRC led in the raw exit polls and DJT won the count, were states where the counts were overseen by a Rep. In the only swing state where this didn’t happen, Virginia, the count was overseen by a Dem.]

  27. Wayne Tyson
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Let’s face it, the Democratic Machine’s “professional class” ignores (the worst kind of “dissing”) and looks down its nose at “working” people. THAT’S the “class system” we have to worry about most. Self-righteousness on steroids. The Committee was hell-bent on Hillary, baggage (some real, some lies, but it doesn’t matter in terms of campaigning.

    Sanders didn’t have the baggage, and he could have slaughtered the Orange King in the election because working people were for him. The Machine in its wisdummy, thought the Sanders people would flock to Hillary. They didn’t.

    Now we have authoritarians in control, but our self-assuredness continues to delude us. A new Axis of Power is forming around the world.

  28. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    we need to stop demonizing the working classes and find a platform that offers them substantive hope

    That is the one platform they tend to write off, perhaps due to alarmist populism. Populist unwarranted angst waving rejects the statistics of increasing prosperity correlated with increasing democracy and free markets.

    Though increasing populism may be more of a symptom than a cause. Apparently the idea of fake news being problematic is itself fake (or rather, based on biased selection of news). I must assume then that we (or rather, I) don’t know the impact of populism.

    In any case US was doing fine under the last year of Obama’s administration, its employment et cetera figures are above the expectations. So a candidate promoting something like his policies should have been the best choice based on shown performance. To spell out the obvious, not Sanders, not Trump, probably very few Republican nominees but quite a few Democrat ones. Yet Trump became the president elect.

  29. Posted December 12, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve said that the most influential class-conscious group in the US are the elites of the Republican party.

    Susan Haack at one point ridicules the idea that she is “less privileged” as a woman than all males. As she points out, she’s a university professor, etc., etc. Has she experienced sexism? Yes. But doesn’t override everything else.

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