Michael Gerson on Obama the snob

Before you dismiss what he’s saying too quickly, be aware this is precisely what leftie journalist Joe Bageant says too. Democrats too often tend to be elitist and contemptuous of those living in the country or who disagree with them.

In April 2008, Obama described small-town voters to wealthy donors in San Francisco: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.”

This is not the way to build coalitions or attract voters.

Understanding America’s class system

The Wobblies Pyramid of Capitalist System

Joe Bageant, who is redneck and leftist has a new genuinely wondrous (and painfully true) rant. Here’s a few excerpts. Be sure to read the whole thing.

Honk if you love caviar

Moneywise, Washington’s political class is richer than the working class by the same orders of magnitude as the ruling class is richer than the political class.

Along with the habits, the political class adopts the ruling class’s social canon and presumptions, especially the one most necessary for acceptance: That the public has the collective intelligence of a chicken. OK, so it may be very hard to disprove that at the moment, but we must maintain at least some egalitarian semblance here. Anyway, as a group, the political elites think, look and act alike, and act toward their own interests. That makes them a class.

He just said in a couple of sentences what some Marxists take entire books to say. Yes, we have a class system in the US. The political and media elites are the lower rungs of the ruling class, and thus emulate, defend, and support that class. This explains quite a lot about the corporatist slant of the media and Congress. What they do is of benefit to the elites, not the rest of us.

You hear it all the time these days: The top one percent of Americans own more wealth than the bottom 45% of the rest of Americans combined.

I have seldom met an American who thought this is a good thing, and seldom met one who understood how the ruling class got so rich. Simply put, it was through constant cultivation of bigger and more labyrinthine government, creating legal and technical complexities to sluice money nationally and globally in their direction, and to cover their asses in the process. The results are such things as 3,000 page health care bills (defining which corporate elites get which parts of the cake), or the 2,000-page NAFTA and its 9,000 tariff product codes.

This is called kleptocracy, the deliberate looting of the many by the few.

Most educated American liberals, however, believe simply being progressive makes them, by default, the nation’s saviors — morally and intellectually right in all things. As proof, they read more and, allegedly, are more open minded than most conservatives, except when it comes to their daughter dating a redneck named Ernest who lives in a trailer court behind the strip mall.

Look at the arrogance of Barack Obama’s characterization of American heartlanders “clinging to God and guns.” Which we do. However, implicit in his statement was that both God and guns are indicators of an ignorant loser class. When opponents scalded him for his remarks, he justified them by pointing out he had said, “what everybody knows is true.” Meaning everybody in his class, the educated liberal class. Hard to believe their predecessors were the point men and women for the Scopes trial, the eight-hour day, unions, anti-McCarthyism, Cesar Chavez, Negro civil rights.

Yup. This is sneering liberal elites class bias. We know what is best for those illiterate gun nuts who don’t live in big coastal cities. Even if we’ve never actually talked to or know any of them.

Bageant thinks we’re screwed. I’m more optimistic than that. I see the populace across the political spectrum being increasingly aware of what’s going on. They just aren’t sure what to do about it yet. History shows us that one day they will know.

Shoot the fat guys, hang the smokers

This excerpt is from email to Joe Bageant (who is probably a small “s” socialist) about WTF is up with lefties having a religious crusade against smokers and overweight people, using that as metaphor for the unfortunate tendency of lefties to preach to the underclass and working class about what is best for them.

I don’t see how punishing smokers, many of whom have been dedicated and effective “members” of the Left, throughout their lives, is responding to cries of help from those who most desperately need it. I don’t see how punishing fat people fits into this framework, either.

Bageant responds

Given the afore named virtues and qualities possessed by most lefties, they are convinced they know everything about the people around them and what is best for everyone else. People should not own guns, or eat meat, wear fur or shop at WalMart. They should be able to obtain abortion on demand and pot should be legal. Maybe so, but those who do not agree will never be convinced of that by people they will never meet, but who insist upon calling them “sheeple” and “‘Merkins” on the Internet and in other public venues.

Or worse, giggling as they call them “trailer trash,” thinking themselves to be oh so clever when doing so.

There are a million ways to be smug and the American left holds the copyright on three quarters of them. Down inside most lefties feel superior to the majority of Americans for the simple reason that they are indeed superior. Morally superior (at least in the justice sense), intellectually and politically superior too, if you exclude every member of the Democratic Party. However, the American left is void of compassion, the thing that is at the very heart of the true left the world round. And by true left I mean the people dying for the cause in places we never heard of and never will.

Maybe this explains why the American far left has been so asleep during the current economic crisis. Many of them, despite their pretensions about serving the working class, are middle-class, mostly well-off, and thus insulated from the worst of the crisis. And their contempt for the white working class is obvious and pervasive.

America’s white underclass

joe bageant

Joe Bageant on race, class, and poverty in the US.

There’s a bizarre conceit in the US that we are somehow classless. Bageant knows that’s not true, and wrote about it in Deer Hunting With Jesus, which explores his redneck roots and the small Virginia town he grew up in and where he moved back to for a while. The white underclass gets exploited by politicians, shafted by most everyone, and studiously ignored by the far left, too many of whom appear to think that only people of color can be genuinely exploited and that poor whites just aren’t, y’know, worthy of being organized. Bageant doesn’t make that mistake. Among the reasons, they are his tribe. And he is an astute observer about race and class.

For all practical purposes and to most Americans, regardless of race, the term “middle class” means “white.” Plain and simple. We all know that, even members of the “black middle class.”

I can see that social scientists dislike plural nouns, and thus shun the word losers. So they call this the “educational underclass.” Either way, it comes down to folks too wooly and uncurried for office water cooler society. Nobody is denying that they all should have jobs, of course, just nowhere near the water cooler.

The unwed mothers come in two varieties. There are those who decide they want children, but are choosy about the husband that traditionally comes with the deal. And there are those who are so young and naïve due to cultural circumstance and environment they do not know what this country does to, not for, single mothers

Armchair sociologist that I am, I have a theory about this: Millions of American women are in poverty because they are paid poverty wages. I could be wrong, I often am, but there seems to be a connection between poverty and money. I started developing this theory last year when I was in a Melbourne, Australia hotel and learned from a single mother hotel housekeeper there that she made $19 an hour, had government assisted childcare and was going to college at night toward becoming a medical technician. Hmmm”¦ Over here we tell single mothers, “Get a six dollar an hour job or get married bitch! Workfare, baby, workfare.”

Believe me from personal experience, a Southern accent in America is no ticket to the top. But even with a Southern accent, if you talk like a college grad, don’t wear bib overhauls or gang banger gear, and appear to know where South America is on a map, Americans will deem you middle class.

America needs to have a good discussion about class.