". . . Trying to be positive, I was thinking that how I feel now is how many conservatives have felt since Obama was first elected. I'd like to think that my feeling is more legitimate, but feelings are feelings. They may or may not be tied to a rational, realistic assessment. But it's clear that progressives haven't really listened to the pain of the working class. . . "Oxo Beppo took issue (third comment) with that part about not listening:
". . . wait, it's not at all true that anyone can say, 'progressives haven't listened to the pain of the working class'.
That's not a true statement, progressives are the only people who have paid any attention to the pain of the working class. That hasn't changed.
What's changed is the propaganda from the right has 'trumped' that reality.
We know that unions are good, we know that healthcare for all is good, we know that minimum wage is good. Progressives have and still do champion the working class. The right never has and never will. . . "
I think that he's right and I'm right. I've sat on this for several days trying to figure out how to articulate what I meant. It seemed this was getting too long for the comment section, so I'm putting it in a new post. But do go back and see the old one to see the full context.
Oxo, I think we’re talking past each other. I agree with much of what you say. I’ve been sitting on this while I thought out how to respond.
1. I shouldn’t have used the term ‘working class.’ I don’t even know what that means any more and the issues I was talking about spread beyond economic class.
2. Yes, right wing propaganda demonized Clinton. And there were a lot of people who simply can’t deal with a strong woman, so the emails and all the other charges gave them a non-sexist ‘cover’ to hate her. But the hate was all out of proportion to the ‘crimes’ she was charged with and how these people have responded to men who have much worse records, including Trump.
3. Unions? I agree and disagree. Unions have done and still do a lot of good for workers. Historically, they got workers to 40 hour weeks, they got sick leave, and vacation time. They got health care and pensions. (Though if health care hadn’t been tied to work, maybe we would have gotten national health care a long time ago and people wouldn’t have been tied to bad jobs just to keep the health care.) And eventually businesses without unions began matching union benefits and pay to keep unions out. And as the right has been successful in breaking union power, pay and benefits for workers has lost ground. So yes, unions have done a lot of good. But like any powerful institutions, unions also attracted the power hungry and the greedy who took advantage of the fact that most workers didn’t pay a lot of attention to their union politics, or rules that made it easy to keep workers uninformed. Many people resented paying union dues and corrupt or callous union leaders. And, most importantly, very few people are even members of unions. Union membership was 20% of workers in 1983 and now it's 11%. Today 32% of government employees are unionized and only 7% of private sector employees are unionized.
But the key difference between us is the notion of listening. Yes, Democrats did all the traditional things that they have done for the working poor, if it was about jobs or health care - pushed for day care, minimum wage, health care, and on and on. But those aren’t the pains I was talking about. When the complaints were about blacks and other minorities getting treated better than they were being treated, progressives didn't listen. And I understand why. But they didn't even listen; they just dismissed them.
These are the people I was alluding. People who had fallen out of the comfortable middle class, or had never been in it. Mostly white people on the margins. They’d bought into the American dream and when they had money they did what advertisers told them to do - they spent it. And as they got older, they found themselves without enough money to maintain that life. Liberals can make all the smug arguments they want - "where is your self-reliance and your belief in the free market?" but that's besides the point.
Many of them came from dysfunctional families where the father was the head of the household and everyone had to follow his rules. [See George Lakoff on this. Scroll down to Conservatism and Liberalism and the two models of family.] And there may have been physical as well as verbal abuse. The pain I was talking about is the pain of not being respected, of being condescended to, of not being taken seriously that often stems from parental belittling. It’s the pain that Palin appealed to and won applause for when she talked about elites, about the college professors, the ‘experts,’ the people who thought they were ‘better’ than ‘us.’
Liberals have supported every group that was outside the ideal American WASP image - blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBT, women, Native Americans, and on and on. Rightfully so. In an attempt to encourage tolerance, liberals have made racial epithets and other derogatory terms against the rules - sometimes actual enforceable rules, sometimes just social rules of decency. All the derogatory terms except for slurs for WASPS, particularly poor whites, words like trailer trash, poor white trash, and hillbillies. It was still ok to use those. And the people who no longer were allowed to use their traditional epithets in public, found themselves as the only people against whom epithets could be used with impunity.
It’s the anger over that double standard that I’m talking about. Liberals have not heard those cries to be treated with respect, to not be called stupid and ignorant.
Admittedly, it’s hard for liberals to be accepting of people who make racist and sexist remarks. Rich and powerful racists get deference, but when they aren’t in positions of power that liberal intolerance comes out.
It's a dilemma. I don’t find racial and sexual discrimination acceptable. I don’t find treating others badly acceptable. We have to separate the behavior from the human being. We can condemn the behavior, but in a way that is respectful of the human being. And that's strategically difficult. When you deal with a bully, standing up to that bully is often the only successful strategy. And after watching Democratic presidential candidates like Gore and Kerry get creamed by bully politics, the Clinton campaign did stand up to every Trump attack. But for the Trump supporters it was about being respected not about rational arguments.
I’ve talked about being more sympathetic and understanding of people I disagree with on this blog from early on. The first post that I remember, because I got flak for it, was when I complained about liberals trashing Vic Kohring after he’d been convicted and sentenced to prison. He still was a human being, he was down and out, and I thought continuing to kick him was mean spirited.
There's the behavior. But more interesting to me is what personal history deep inside causes someone to be mean and nasty to others based on their race or gender or sexuality or religion. I'm of the belief that people regularly attack innocent others when they are unhappy about themselves. Being mean and angry and controlling isn't being happy and at peace with oneself. When people understand the source of that unhappiness they have a chance to start changing the behavior. And parental modeling plays a big role in whether we lash out or talk quietly and rationally. The quiet rationality, that liberal ideal, can also cause problems if one is suppressing great anger and pain.
What I was trying to say was that Trump heard those people who felt they were looked down on as stupid, ignorant, bigoted white people. And he told them they were ok. He did it by defying liberal standards of acceptable speech. The very things that alarmed liberals so much resonated with his supporters. He was saying the things they were thinking but had been told were unacceptable to say out loud. He said them on national television. He said them unapologetically. And he did it as a presidential candidate. He was saying with his behavior - you're ok! I suspect for many of them who had authoritarian fathers, he had the additional appeal as a familiar father figure.
Liberals haven’t been able to get past the sexist and racist comments. They generally overlook the sexism of rap, excusing it because of the context of racist oppression. But the context of white racism is never treated with the same tolerance. I’ve talked about listening and needing to talk, and that racists are humans too. (And let's not forget that in the US, everyone has been infected by racism. For some the symptoms rarely show, but others become full blown racists. But that's a discussion for another day.)
This post describes just one segment, probably a large segment, of Trump voters. People voted for Trump for many reasons and Clinton's message and manner didn't swing enough people in enough key states to win the electoral college vote. That's not blaming Clinton, it's just descriptive of what happened.
I've used the terms liberal and progressive and generally used the pronoun 'they' even though I fall in that category. While I have advocated for treating conservatives as people and for listening to them on this blog, I haven’t done a lot about it, so I’m not excusing myself here either.