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The Silver Bullet That Will Create A Progressive South Doesn’t Exist

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SC-Capitol

There are a couple comments to Paul’s post about Rick Hills’s “don’t talk about the racist flag” argument that bear citing.

First, from Tyro:

The entirety of post-Civil War history in the USA has been about the idea that letting the south hold on to their “heritage” and looking the other way regarding the consequences, instead of “naming and shaming” would be better for everyone. And after 150 years, the problems persist. Time to find another solution.

And second, from Abagail Nussbaum:

It is surely trivially, obviously true that you will not change hearts and minds by telling people “your culture is bad and you should feel bad.” Especially in a culture that already so coddles white people’s self-image, the possibility of this message being seen as anything other than an attack to be defended against is nonexistent. I have to say, looking at it from the outside, I’ve found the focus on the Confederate flag, understandable as it is, rather self-defeating. It seems to be more about self-gratification and taking out some amount of the terrible anger aroused by this massacre than any actual progress towards ensuring that nothing like it ever happens again.

Having said all that, is there any reason to believe that changing hearts and minds is even on the menu? It would be comforting to think that the one good thing to come out of this horror would be some real change, but I actually think the lesson from it is going to be that the political and social will to make that change doesn’t exist. (I saw someone online make the same point about Sandy Hook – if the murders of first-graders made no difference to the US’s commitment to arming itself to death, nothing ever will.) So why not burn flags and wave bloody shirts in the faces of people who would like to believe that they’re the real victims of a system that benefits them disproportionately? You won’t change their minds, but you might make some of the more open-minded people listening realize just what sort of world they’re living in.

There are a variety of reasons why I don’t like persistent arguments that if there was only some way of declaring a “truce” in the culture war then a natural progressive coalition on economic issues would finally emerge throughout the country. First of all — although, to be clear, I don’t think this is what Hillis means — issues like “silly women and their trivial reproductive rights” have a tendency to get subsumed in the “culture war” issues liberals are urged to abandon.

But Tyro really gets to the heart of the matter. The brutal truth is that most of American political history is an experiment in seeing what will happen if national political elites agree not to offend white supremacist Southern white men. The New Deal coalition agreed to take civil rights off the table from FDR until briefly Truman and then JFK, and the result was after a brief period of supporting (threadbare) national welfare state policies (that largely excluded African-Americans) during a period of particularly acute deprivation, Southern Democrats happily joined with Republicans to thwart economic reforms and pass Taft-Hartley with a veto-proof majority. Republicans took civil rights off the table by 1891, and in the resulting context Albama’s constitution was basically written by timber companies. The Jacksonian party system was essentially organized to take slavery off the table, and during this period the Southern Democrats who dominated the federal government largely had reactionary economic views.

I dunno, maybe at some point we have to consider the possibility that a lot of non-super-affluent white Americans, particularly outside of the northern coasts and upper midwest, have conservative economic views, or at least persistently vote for people with conservative economic policies for reasons that can’t be easily boiled down to culture war distractions. 1.2% of Kansas’s population is African-American,* and yet a majority of its electorate liked draconian spending cuts and tax increases on the poor to fund huge tax cuts for the wealthy so much they voted for more. I’m not saying that we should despair of this ever changing. But by the same token, the idea that “a cross-racial rural coalition rooted in church and guns” will emerge if we can only find the right kind of clever false-consciousness destroying rhetorical strategy is, at this late date, implausible in the extreme.

Does this mean that I think that drawing attention to the ugly history of the Confederate flag will lead to progressive economic outcomes in South Carolina either? No, but the history is true, and I think the burden of proof is always on those who want to deny the truth. And nor am I inclined to tell the multiracial coalition in South Carolina protesting against the Confederate flag that they should stop paying attention to mere white supremacist symbolism and focus on Real Issues.

*xq in comments is correct: I misread the chart.  The correct figure is 6.2%.  Since this is well below the national average I don’t think this materially affects my point, although on this narrow point Idaho or Utah would be better examples.

But the broader point about Kansas, and the reason I cited it, is that I don’t think anyone can reasonably say that the 2014 election came out the way it did because of “culture war” “distractions.”  Economic policy was the focus of Brownback’s first term.  It was the salient issue in the elections.  He signed legislation representing an extreme form of conservative Republicanism, it couldn’t have worked out any worse, and he won anyway.  It’s just very difficult to square this election with the idea that if some issues arbitrarily designated as “culture war” issues are boiled off a natural liberal majority would emerge.

 

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  • Shakezula

    Is anyone really arguing this in good faith? The LEAST offensive I’ve seen are various flavors of “Gee, if only black people could be more … Dolezalish.”

    The brutal truth is that most of American political history is an experiment in seeing what will happen if national political elites agree not to offend white supremacist Southern white men.

    Most of it? How about that 3/5ths compromise?

    • DrDick

      Too true. No problem ever goes away unless you confront it directly. Ignoring the racist history of the South (and of America generally) allows people to embrace the comforting delusion that this is a “postracial” society (actively promoted by those who benefit most from racism). We need to confront it constantly, everywhere. Shaming and naming is the least of what we need to do.

      • Judas Peckerwood

        Whatever you do, don’t mention the war.

      • Tehanu

        What you said, Dr. Dick. And what Scott says in the post. I’m so sick of these people claiming to be the only “real” Americans when they absolutely deny the basic, essential American idea that all human beings are created equal.

        • MeDrewNotYou

          Obvious response- Who said blacks/women/etc were human beings?

          • KmCO

            Well, 3/5 human beings, anyway.

  • MAJeff

    Nell Painter had an interesting op-de about whiteness in yesterday’s NYTimes. A key point is that justice is incompatible with maintaining many forms of white identity. The dominant form of Southern Whiteness, as it is expressed in both racist cultures and Calhounian economic theories of property, is utterly incompatible with a just society.

    It’s time to re-introduce reconstruction.

    • Linnaeus

      That’s a great link, and it reminds me a great deal of this Salon piece by Kartina Richardson from a couple of of years. Both confront the issue of white identity, particularly (though Richardson does so more explicitly, being that it’s a longer piece) the notion of white as “default”. By subsuming their particular experiences of race and ethnicity into a generalized white identity, white Americans have actually impoverished themselves in significant ways, to their detriment and of course the detriment of nonwhites.

    • DrDick

      It also highlights that there are many problems in Southern culture which desperately need confronting, of which racism is just one (though a very important one).

      • LosGatosCA

        Completely agree with this. Southern culture is a huge impediment to national progress and their regional progress as well. The lack of commitment to education for all citizens and the unwillingness to pay the taxes to support it is at the very root of the problem. It’s not the only cause, but it’s the main means that perpetuates the problem.

        Solve that and you can the count the generations to the destruction of the dysfunctional obstruction of legal/political/economic justice for all.

        Not solving it means we’ll be observing very similar attitudes in 2215 as was observed in 1815, 1915, 2015, and very likely. 2115.

        The American public changed its attitude on gays, personally and institutionally in just a single generation.

        The South hasn’t changed its fundamental attitude toward non-whites in 10 generations, and makes institutional changes due to coercion at the federal level when it does.

        There’s a clear lesson. The culture is impervious to shame or morality. It’s unaccountable for its transgressions, even after losing a war. Short of de-Nazification-like occupation I don’t know how you reach wretched people like these white supremacists, sympathizers, and enablers.

        • LosGatosCA

          This first thing progressives should start doing is excluding the South from national polling data in their discussions.

          America is a center left country. The South is something else.

          Discussing this dichotomy would turn the dialogue from why can’t Democrats reach the South into why can’t the South join the 20th century.

          We’ll save the 21st century talk for when they are only 100 years behind.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            Tell that to Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, Utah, and Kansas. The South of course has a particular and poisonous history. But the problems that the South exemplifies — from white supremacy to political cultures dominated by economic elites — are not uniquely Southern. It’s a fantasy that these things would go away without the South.

            • wca

              In 2008, South Carolina went 54-45 for McCain/Palin over Obama. In the same year, New York went 63-36 for Obama/Biden. Now let’s say you indulge the fantasy some people always express when a terrible, racist thing happens in the South and just kick them out.

              What are you gonna do with the 860,000 people who are “on your side” in SC? Leave ’em to rot?

              And perhaps more importantly, what are you going to do with the 2,800,000 racist reactionaries in New York?

              Edit: This isn’t actually addressed at IB above … just a reaction to the “the hell with the South” contingent…

              • IM

                What are you gonna do with the 860,000 people who are “on your side” in SC? Leave ‘em to rot?

                And perhaps more importantly, what are you going to do with the 2,800,000 racist reactionaries in New York?

                Population exchange!

                But of course then you would have used a logic even worse then “southern culture”…

    • Michael Cain

      It’s time to re-introduce reconstruction.

      Or give up. After 150 years, isn’t it time to consider that? With the door open for anyone who wants to leave from down there, but time to stop propping up their Medicaid, to stop trying to block voter suppression? Open the door, invite them to leave.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        well, it gets considered from time to time, with varying but generally low levels of success. Partly, I think, because it always sounds a lot like a conservative saying, “you lost your job? Just pick up your family and walk away from whatever roots you have and move somewhere else”. It isn’t that easy- and even if some could do just that, what about the people who *can’t* leave?

        • efgoldman

          It isn’t that easy- and even if some could do just that, what about the people who *can’t* leave?

          Yup. The ‘great migration’ was particular to its place and time. The early 21st century is neither.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        My goodness do I hate this arrogant, self-satisfied, reprehensible, reverse Confederate nonsense. Every single Southern state has a sizable minority that disagrees with the dominant culture, a minority that has benefitted from the post-Civil War decision to federalize civil rights as embodied in the Reconstruction Amendments and the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. Telling the people of the South to fuck off on the basis of the fact that a majority of them (and only a narrow one in such states as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) are unreconstructed white supremacists is a repudiation of everything progressives have fought for over the last 150 years. It’s letting the white supremacists win. And don’t salve your conscience with the false notion that, oh well, people can always move. Fantasy worlds in which things like moving have no financial or social costs are fit for conservatives and fresh water economists, not progressives. Tired of fighting for the rights of your fellow Americans? Fuck you.

        • cleek

          any time the subject turns to the South, liberals’ prejudice puts itself on display. there was a time i thought that maybe liberals weren’t as prone to prejudice as conservatives. but it didn’t take me long to learn otherwise.

          • KmCO

            Seriously? You see this as a BothSidesDoIt?

            • Linnaeus

              cleek and IB have a point, and it’s one that I agree with, too. These conversations have a tendency to elicit responses that come off as smug and self-satisfied. Look, I despise the Confederacy, Confederate iconography, and neo-Confederate romanticism as much as anyone else here. But the problem is a national one and to make the white South emblematic of America’s racial strife oversimplifies the problem and gives us leave to overlook the problems that are in our own backyards. There are regional cultural differences in America that have political implications, and it’s fine to talk about that. It’s just that often these conversations lack the necessary nuance.

              And let’s just have done with “let them secede”-type talk. We settled that question 150 years ago. “People can just move” is not a serious solution – there are a number of economic and social costs to moving and some folks can’t really bear those costs. Not to mention that there are a number of nonwhite Southerners and their white allies who have no desire to move and would like to work on making their homes better places. Let’s support those efforts.

              • KmCO

                I don’t disagree with that. But in having this discussion, we need to be honest about the limitations of the South and the fact that, overall, it is an impediment to our national progress. That can be done without “hang ’em all” and “let them secede” rhetoric.

  • Nick056

    The Comfederate flag isn’t just a symbol of hate; it’s a symbol of hate obscuring itself behind family, individuality, and farmhouse nobility. The point in taking on the flag — demanding that it come down, go into a museum, even burning it — is to demand formal, political acknowledgment of the connection between southern white defensiveness or hatred toward the Federal government (and outsiders in general) and southern white subjugation and denigration of blacks.

    We’ve never really had that kind of admission. But it’s a specific goal that I think can be achieved with the right amount of persuasion and pressure, and yes, it would be a watershed moment showing that inclusiveness matters more than fear and that the part of the country with the most political investment in dis honoring its black citizens is willing to let that go.

    • joe from Lowell

      Well put.

    • LosGatosCA

      it would be a watershed moment showing that inclusiveness matters more than fear and that the part of the country with the most political investment in dis honoring its black citizens is willing to let that go.

      I agree that moment would be a watershed. But they’ve had 150 years to establish themselves as complicit in crimes against humanity and it hasn’t happened yet. There’s really no reason to expect it to change unless it happens demographically.

      What their culture has learned is that the perks of of their collective, cumulative bad behavior has been and will continue to be incrementally essentially cost free. Sure there are the odd chances of Trent Lott getting fired for saying the quiet parts out loud, but the longer term lessons are that a white segregationist can rape one of the black minors working in his household and pay absolutely no cost for it, a racist vigilante can kill a black minor at will and get away scot free plus be a hero to boot.

      They aren’t willing to learn the right things and they are more than willing to embrace the wrong things.

  • NewishLawyer

    In other news both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have apparently said it is time for the Confederate Flag to come down. So did Russell Moore of the Southern Baptists. I don’t think this will turn them into bleeding-heart liberals but things do get better even if it takes tragedies to snap people into action.

    “I dunno, maybe at some point we have to consider the possibility that a lot of non-super-affluent white Americans, particularly outside of the northern coasts and upper midwest, have conservative economic views, or at least persistently vote for people with conservative economic policies for reasons that can’t be easily boiled down to culture war distractions.”

    I concur but there is always a problem in recognizing stuff like this in a representative democracy. What do you do? Do you do the whole Bill Clinton/Tony Blair neo-liberal thing? Do you keep plugging away at your message until things change and a majority becomes receptive to your policies? Something else. The Republican Party has some of the same issues with social policies. The base still wants homophobia but the younger generation clearly does not.

    To make an argument for the welfare state, isn’t there a whole world of polling that shows that the American people are basically much more liberal than politicians think? Don’t related studies show that rich people have different policies and tend to vote more and of course donate to political campaigns. Now the 1 percent could not control an election except in some very wealthy districts but there are probably plenty of upper-middle class people who don’t want high taxes either.

    http://www.vox.com/2015/6/16/8790357/rich-people-jerks

    • DAS

      I think part of the problem is that people, even educated people, are not all particularly high information voters. I’ve known people who are “libertarian” not because they support social liberalism and economic conservatism but because they are religious types who, while being actually more socially conservative than economically conservative, find the GOP to be too judgmental and mean and you know what you-know-who said about judging folks. Similarly, moderate politicians get a lot of support simply because of our culture’s innate Aristotleanism: “both sides are equally wrong but the truth is somewhere in between” — Blair/Clinton were more socially liberal than economically liberal while many such moderates were more economically liberal than socially liberal? Well “Clinton being too liberal socially is just more proof that both sides are equally wrong and the truth is somewhere in between”.

      Relatedly, as to the issue of people being more liberal than politicians, I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but in my experience* when you ask someone “do you support [Liberal Idea X]?” they will say “yes”, but when you ask that same person about the same idea “will you vote (for a Democrat) who supports [X]?” they will say “no”. Is there any polling data that shows this is not just my personal experience?

      * my most extreme example of this is a Republican aquaintance of mine who, in talking about how people are not valued for their hard work as well as in talking about how much everything costs nowadays, essentially described, without realizing it, Marx’s labor theory of value (although she would have blanched if I told her she was agreeing with Marx) and then later in the same rant called Obama a socialist.

      • muddy

        It is also my personal experience. Issue after issue they choose the Democratic position. But insist they are Republicans.

        It’s maddening.

        • My favorite version of that, which I first heard 30 years ago and heard as recently as a month ago, is “I’m a staunch Republican.” Apparently it’s some kind of heroic stance for which they are to be admired.

          • Lee Rudolph

            First you get the blood flowing, then you staunch it.

            • I was taught never to tie a tourniquet around the neck.

              • cpinva

                “I was taught never to tie a tourniquet around the neck.”

                there are some people for whom this is the only method that will work. fortunately, it only needs to be done once.

          • muddy

            “My family has always been Republican.”

            • KmCO

              I have a relative, born in the 1920s, who will insist that she has always been a Republican. This is false: according to her daughter, as late as 1976 she voted for Jimmy Carter. It wasn’t until Saint Ronald that her retroactive Republican-for-all-time belief developed, and it’s completely gelled now. I don’t suppose it will come as any surprise to note that she hates Obama with the heat of ten thousand suns.

              It’s such a weird phenomenon. I have pressed this relative on this issue, and she has just straight-up denied ever having voted for Democrats, even though her kids (and even her husband) are all unanimous that not only did she once vote for Dems, she also even campaigned for the local Democrats back in the ’60s. I wonder if her justification might be along the lines of, “I may have technically voted for Democrats, but it doesn’t count to me now because I have seen the Light.” I dunno.

            • StellaB

              My family truly always has been Republican. That’s the past tense. The smarter ones changed. My father attended the 1952 Republican convention — he was an Eisenhower man and his grandfather was a delegate — and voted a straight Democratic ticket from 1992 to 2004, but it took them twelve years before they could change their registration. The racists remained Republican and are pretty much consumed by their racial hatred.

              • Hogan

                “Are you a Communist?”

                “No, I am an anti-fascist.”

                “For a long time?”

                “Since I have understood fascism.”

                “How long is that?”

                “For nearly ten years.”

                “That is not much time,” the woman said. “I have been a Republican for twenty years.”

                “My father was a Republican all his life,” Maria said. “It was for that they shot him.”

                “My father was also a Republican all his life. Also my grandfather,” Robert Jordan said.

                “In what country?”

                “The United States.”

                “Did they shoot them?” the woman asked.

                “Qué va,” Maria said. “The United States is a country of Republicans. They don’t shoot you for being a Republican there.”

                “All the same it is a good thing to have a grandfather who was a Republican,” the woman said. “It shows a good blood.”

                “My grandfather was on the Republican national committee,” Robert Jordan said. That impressed even Maria.

                • Ahuitzotl

                  ?

                • Hogan

                  For Whom the Bell Tolls

                • IM

                  He is for once quite funny.

        • StellaB

          And these treason-flag worshippers are quite certain that they are “better American” who “love their country” more than I do.

          • cpinva

            cognitive dissonance runs strong in these people.

            • Larrry

              …which gives them special powers of inducing heartburn in people who recognize their cognitive dissonance.

          • Larrry

            It occurs to me that the reason these faux patriots lean so hard on how much of a ‘good American’ they are and how staunchly they ‘love their country’ is because at heart they really don’t have a country to love. The United States as it currently exists moved forward, leaving them behind, and if anything they hate the United States, therefore projecting the illusion rather than the truth of their feelings. Pity the poor pity-partying widdle wannabe expatriates. And since they hate the rest of the world even more than they hate their own contemporary nation, they can’t get away from the home-land that more or less somewhat rejects who they are. Not that they don’t get what they deserve.

            • the reason these faux patriots lean so hard on how much of a ‘good American’ they are and how staunchly they ‘love their country’ is because at heart they really don’t have a country to love.

              Well put. They cling to the brand identity even though the ingredients have gone rancid.

              In a way I feel bad for some of these people, the ones near the bottom for whom the only thing shoring up their sense of self-worth is the consciousness that the ni-clangs are more despised. Did anyone happen to catch the heartbreaking documentary “People Like Us,” shown on PBS about fifteen years ago? It was about class in America, and one of the segments dealt with a white single mother in southern Ohio and her two sons. The elder, perhaps fourteen at the time of filming (1999) was heartbreaking to watch: there was a yearning potential there, not for greatness but at least for a decent productive life, and watching the documentary back in 2001, I knew that it wasn’t going to happen. Nor did it. See a clip here.

              Such people (I do not refer specifically to the documentary subjects) are lost, too, and desperate, and clinging to whatever moral succor comes within reach of their grasping hands. Alas, the poison-laden vines that so descend are lowered from the banyans of the plutocrats. We do not need to excuse the racism of the Dixie Swastika set in order to understand what feeds it.

              • KmCO

                It can’t be a pleasant psychological experience, that’s for sure.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              What about Rhodesia? Don’t they always have Rhodesia in their hearts and minds? I am pretty sure DSR called himself the last Rhodesian not the last American or the last Confederate. By the way the word expatriate needs to be consigned to the dust heap of history. We don’t call Mexicans that come to work in the US or Africans that go to France to work expatriates. They are labor migrants, a very established and noble thing. Similarly white people who go to Africa or Asia to work are also labor migrants. I hate it when other white people call me an expatriate or worse an expat. No African is so rude as to do so. I am a simple labor migrant the same as the Ghanaian doctor who goes to work in the UK or Canada.

              • Ahuitzotl

                We don’t call Mexicans that come to work in the US

                perhaps we should?

                I’ve always understood expatriate as someone who has moved countries but is either (a) planning to move back, or (b) taken his culture with him and wants to cling to it. In the former sense, I’d include myself as an expatriate.

      • StellaB

        I’m surprised that the picture of Dylann Roof burning an American flag didn’t get him labeled a “liberal”.

        • Hogan

          You missed our Saturday troll, and aren’t you the lucky one.

      • Mike G

        Republicans don’t value people for hard work. They value people for how much money they have, and pretend that having the most money equals hardest-working.

        Migrant farmworkers work their butts off in conditions that would make me want to jump off a bridge, yet Republicans treat them like shit while kissing up to the worthless rich scions of the world like GW Bush.

    • Rick_B

      So the blood-price required to get the higher-ranked conservative politicians to stop defending the Confederate flag (the widely recognized symbol of racism and anti-government reaction) is the unprovoked murder of nine well-respected Black Christians in their church by a mentally ill White high school dropout.

      The price is too high in the first place, and the racist Republicans are merely blowing smoke until the public pressure dies down anyway.

      • LeeEsq

        Mit Romney has actually been protesting the continual use of the Confederate flags for years. He made similar arguments in 2008.

      • PatrickG

        a mentally ill

        Please don’t. Unless I missed something huge (and I just looked), we have absolutely no evidence of this.

        “Mentally ill” != violent asshole acting out a narrative of racism and entitlement.

        • KmCO

          Mental illness is not mental illness is not mental illness. I have no doubt whatsoever that Roof is characterized by a pretty severe personality disorder. Now I don’t know that he’s insane (i.e. afflicted with a mental disorder that impairs his reality orientation). The latter, if it does characterize Roof, could be significant legally; the former, not so much. But we do know that Roof has been dedicated to the cause of white supremacy for a long time and that he acted in cold calculation. That makes the legally insane idea pretty unlikely.

          • efgoldman

            Mental illness is not mental illness is not mental illness.

            No “sane” person goes into a church or theater or a grade school or even a parking lot and starts shooting people. Clearly they all have some screw loose, and maybe someday we’ll find a way to see it in time to prevent the worst acting out.
            Maybe.
            Someday.
            Meanwhile the easy access to firearms means the carnage continues.
            Jim Wright at his Stonekettle Station blog says it very well.
            http://www.stonekettle.com/2012/07/the-seven-stages-of-gun-violence.html

            • matt w

              No “sane” person goes into a church or theater or a grade school or even a parking lot and starts shooting people.

              For some reason this gets said much more when the shooter is whiter or more conservative or less Islamic than his victims. Pretty much without respect to the actual evidence concerning the shooter’s mental health.

              There’s no more evidence that Roof is mentally ill than that the Tsernaevs were. He is a terrorist who acted on his repugnant beliefs. Whatever it takes to do that, it’s not mental illness.

              • KmCO

                Well, again, I think it’s important to distinguish between mental illness* and insanity. Is Dylann Roof mentally ill? Almost certainly. Is he insane? Probably not.

                *And mental illness is a really broad category, encompassing everything from dysthymia to antisocial personality disorder (i.e., sociopathy).

                • JL

                  The problem – well, one of them – is that these “mental illness” tangents that happen every time a white person commits a mass shooting further stigmatize people who have mental illnesses, as well as being a distraction from the political context. And the tangents always seem to happen on little to no evidence except this idea we have that nobody, or at least no white non-Muslim American, could do such horrible things unless they were mentally ill.

            • KmCO

              Such people *can* be considered sane in a clinical sense, though. Sanity does not necessary necessitate decency, pro-social and/or rational behavior.

              • efgoldman

                Such people *can* be considered sane in a clinical sense, though. Sanity does not necessary necessitate decency, pro-social and/or rational behavior.

                And legal “sanity” is different from medical sanity is different from common sense.

                • KmCO

                  Yes. The term “sanity,” like “mental illness,” gets used in different ways, which was the point I was trying to make, along with “mental illness” and “insanity” not necessarily being synonyms (the latter is a subset of the former, but the former does not always include the latter).

            • JL

              Please stop stigmatizing millions of people with mental illnesses.

  • DAS

    I suspect the idea that rural whites will sign onto the progressive economic agenda if progressive social and civil rights agendas are off the table is influenced by the populist movement of just over a century ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Party_(United_States). But wasn’t that movement in some ways a one-off? At the very least, the people who remain in Kansas (for example) today are not the same kinds of people who lived in Kansas 100+ years ago: those who stay are often by definition more conservative than those who move elsewhere, aren’t they?

    I would say, though, that neo-liberalism is problematic. To the extent that neo-liberalism dominates mainstream liberal discourse (in part because media “liberals” tend to be neo-liberal), it does alienate a small fraction of people who might side with Progressives on economic but not social policies because neo-liberalism sends a message of “liberals care about the rights of ‘those people’ to do stuff but not about my economic situation”. And such people may make differences in elections.

    • CP

      I think the main idea behind the “rural whites just waiting to be progressives” thing is the fact that for such a huge chunk of history (say from about Andrew Jackson’s populist politics until the sixties and in some ways even the nineties), rural Southern whites, along with urban immigrant whites, were the main constituencies of the Democrats. Who often appealed to them with populist messages directed specifically against Northeastern wealth (i.e. “the 1%.”)

      A variety of people have been wringing their hands for decades wondering how to bring that arrangement back.

      • Tyro

        rural Southern whites, along with urban immigrant whites, were the main constituencies of the Democrats. Who often appealed to them with populist messages directed specifically against Northeastern wealth

        The thing is that this arrangement only works when the blacks support the other party. Rural southern whites and African Americans can never inhabit the same party at the same time. The party has to choose one or the other.

        • cpinva

          ” Rural southern whites and African Americans can never inhabit the same party at the same time.”

          almost like matter and anti-matter not being allowed to touch, everyone’s heads would explode. except, in this particular instance, both groups suffer from many of the same ills: ground in poverty, poor schools, practically no representation in the halls of gov’t power, etc., etc., etc. the only thing that really separates them is color. turn them all a lovely shade of, say, Kelly green, et voila’, they are nearly the same.

          where the reconstruction democrats and modern day republicans have been exceptionally successful, has been to constantly point out to those poor, rural white people, that they are at least one notch above African Americans on the social ladder. and as long as they keep voting for the “right sorts” of politicians (republicans), they will remain that way. let those progressive democrats get in there, and kiss social/economic superiority goodby!

          • DrDick

            Right and this has cost both groups dearly. It should be possible to empower both and make them see their common cause. It will not be easy and silver bullets do not exist, but it has happened there in the past in isolated pockets. I do not think it is an accident that the abandonment of the Democrats by poor Southern whites corresponded with the rise of the DLC corporate Democratic dominance. When the party got mushy on labor issues, there was nothing to hold the whites.

            • Barry_D

              “I do not think it is an accident that the abandonment of the Democrats by poor Southern whites corresponded with the rise of the DLC corporate Democratic dominance.”

              I believe that your timing is off. The abandonment started much earlier. It was clearly starting with Goldwater in ’64, was very strong with Nixon in ’68/’72. By 1980, the term ‘Reagan Democrats’ was in common use. IIRC, the DLC was a 1980’s reaction to this.

              • DrDick

                The corporatist shift started in the mid-1970s, though the actual DLC did not emerge until later. This is when the Democrats started pursuing corporate donations and backing off on labor issues. While there had been significant defections, at least in presidential elections earlier, it was not until Reagan that Southern whites started turning consistently Republican and and the South turned red. Oklahoma, where I grew up, did not elect its first Republican governor until 1986, right before I left the state.

      • KmCO

        I think the main idea behind the “rural whites just waiting to be progressives” thing is the fact that for such a huge chunk of history (say from about Andrew Jackson’s populist politics until the sixties and in some ways even the nineties), rural Southern whites, along with urban immigrant whites, were the main constituencies of the Democrats. Who often appealed to them with populist messages directed specifically against Northeastern wealth (i.e. “the 1%.”)

        Richard Hofstadter mentions this in The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Those populist messages were the precursors to the “liberal elitist” boogeyman employed by right-wing pundits evermore. This sentiment has always carried with it strong undertones of anti-intellectualism and anti-Semitism, and at times also attitudes of anglophobia (where it concerned overseas finances). Those populist messages have never really gone away, but the fact that someone like Sam Brownback–who is socially provincially populist but economically far, far right–got elected TWICE in historically populist Kansas goes to show how extremely this dynamic has twisted itself.

        • CP

          Those populist messages were the precursors to the “liberal elitist” boogeyman employed by right-wing pundits evermore.

          I think it was that, and more; I think social populist messages of “fuck the pointy headed intellectuals, they think they’re so much smarter than us” and economic populist messages of “fuck the greedy bankers, they’re going to squeeze us dry” (both pointing at the Northeast) fit together naturally at the time in a way that they don’t today.

          (And of course, either message lends itself easily to an “and you know they’re all Jews!” addendum).

    • Michael Cain

      “…the idea that rural whites will sign onto the progressive economic agenda…”

      is largely a non-starter. Anyone who takes a realistic look at the rural economy in the US discovers that it’s dying. The urban/suburban taxpayers are propping up rural schools, roads, the health care system, telecommunications, electrification, and the primary industry. The subsidies started in the 1930s and have continued to grow to this day. This is a very nasty piece of information for a culture that prides itself on independence and self-sufficiency to swallow. Rural areas are unlikely to give up their mythos about how well off they would be if “the government dominated by the cities and suburbs would just get off our backs.”

      The LA Times had an interesting quote from a budget director in one of the northern California counties that wants to split off and become the state of Jefferson: “We’d lose 50% of our K-12 education budget; 60% of our roads budget; more than that from health and human services. I have no idea what the board of supervisors is thinking.”

      • The Dark Avenger

        Yeah, where I live would have a poverty rate higher than that of MS, double-digit unemployment rate as of 12/2014, we’d have been up the proverbial creek of that POS initiative had become law.

      • KmCO

        This was recently seen in Colorado with the “Northern Colorado” proposal that failed. With the exception of Weld County (home to Greeley), all of the counties involved have extremely low population numbers and are almost entirely agricultural. They are also at this point financially dependent on Denver, much to their chagrin. It’s easy–and sometimes tempting–to laugh at the eastern plains hicks who think they can survive without gay, liberal Denver propping them up. But the fact that they are so dependent on the capitol and its finances, and nonetheless on account of their disgruntled-ness and the reality that their way of life is dying, makes me more sad than amused for them.

    • joe from Lowell

      At this point, most of the people we’re talking about are suburban, exurban at most, not rural.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Exurban. Drive out of the city, or big town, as far as it takes to be able to afford a 2-acre house lot. Then look around.

        There’s a small-but-non-zero chance you’re now in horse country, but if not, there they are. Carver. Plympton. Raynham…

  • wengler

    I’ve always thought that the Zombie Sherman option might yield the most hope. It’d at least cleanse the area of Confederate flags.

    • PhoenixRising

      Are our best scientists working on that now? And if not, why not?

      I read a very powerful essay on Sherman yesterday, and I’m filled with a new respect for burning Atlanta. Too bad about Charleston.

      • random

        Linky?

      • cpinva

        except Sherman didn’t burn Atlanta, the retreating confederate army did, to keep whatever supplies/arms they couldn’t take with them, out of the hands of the federals.

        • ploeg

          Nobody burned Atlanta if Sherman didn’t. The retreating Confederate Army burned military supplies (and not a few buildings along with them). Two months later, the Union Army burned five acres of railroad shops and warehouses, leaving only “churches the city hall and the private dwellings.”

          http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/10/the-burning-of-atlanta/

        • LesGS

          You may be thinking of Richmond. The Confederate military commander was ordered to burn stored tobacco and food so that the invading Union army would be denied them. The Richmond citizens, who had been starving, became enraged at seeing all this food (which had been kept from them) being burned and rioted. The military lost control of the fires and the crowds. The Union Army ended up putting out the fires.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Zombie Sherman with NUKES.

      No “silver bullet” for cleansing the South of racism, but a “cobalt bomb”? Maybe.

  • c u n d gulag

    I got nothin’, ‘cept this:

    The Swastika is forbidden in Germany.

    But we allow some states to fly the flag of state-sponsored treason, racism, slavery, and terrorism against a minority.

    “Heritage,” my ass!

    Tear it down.
    Burn it!
    Piss and shit on the fucking ashes!!!
    And then bury it deep in a concrete grave!!!

    But let the “MORANS” put it on their license plates, or bumpers, or fwapping in the breeze off an antenna – like their limp dicks.

    This way when I’m driving, I can tell who’s a racist douche-fuck-canoe – and probably armed – who thinks he/she is one of “Dukes of Hazzard,” and can stay far, far, away!!!

    • cpinva

      this. I want to be able to easily identify the assholes, so I can steer clear of them. letting them plaster themselves with a confederate battle flag seems like the easiest way to do this. in fact, I’ve been subconsciously doing that for years now, especially while driving on 95. if a car has a confederate battle flag sticker on it, I stay as far away as I reasonably can.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Those confederate flag stickers make a nice recognizable target, just sayin’. Why, you could probably lock in on them from ORBIT.

        Okay, okay, I admit that I was skeptical about SDI, but even a 70% kill ratio with high power orbital lasers does have some utility, just not with ICBMs.

        • JL

          What is it with you and bloodlust in this thread? Your murder fantasies are gross.

          • Tybalt

            And sad. Gross, and sad.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      The “some reason” is called the First Amendment. The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and I’m happy to work to deny it any government sponsorship. But like letting Nazis march in Skokie, letting assholes fly the Confederate flag as private individuals is a price that we ought to be willing to pay for freedom of expression.

  • random

    But by the same token, the idea that “a cross-racial rural coalition rooted in church and guns” will emerge if we can only find the right kind of clever false-consciousness destroying rhetorical strategy is, at this late date, implausible in the extreme.

    My comment from yesterday on that same article:

    Now of these two things, which sounds more plausible to
    you?

    1) White conservatives and the black population suddenly up and
    forge an effective and lasting socio-political-religious alliance,
    despite disparate religious traditions, incompatible political
    beliefs, and generally hating each others’ music.

    2) The existing socio-political alliance between white
    liberals and the black population continues as it has for decades
    cemented by both those groups having generally tolerant religious
    traditions, very similar political opinions, and being able to
    laugh at the same jokes.

    Brilliant minds and all that.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      1) The religious traditions and musical tastes of white conservatives and blacks are not as different as you think. On the religious issue I am a white member of a mostly black church. We have four white members out of over 1000. But, it is a Calvinist, evangelical, and rather fundamentalist church. The style of worship is Africanized, but the theology is pretty much straight up Calvinism. I am quite sure there are white Calvinists as well and that it is not confined to the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

      2) On music I think you are thinking far too narrowly. There are lots of black fans of country music. Go anywhere in Accra and you will hear Alan Jackson. It is true other than Charlie Pride and the guys in the link below there are not too many black country artists. But, black people in general don’t hate the music of Charlie Pride, Alan Jackson, or Willie Nelson. On the other hand early 60s Motown is the favored music of white conservatives in their late 60s and ealry 70s. Or at least all the ones I have known including my parents.

      http://jpohl.blogspot.com/2014/01/african-country-music.html

      • wjts

        I would like to advance the controversial hypotheses that the theological landscape of Ghana is not entirely identical to the theological landscape of the United States (which [is it churlish to note this fact?] is the country under discussion in random’s comment) and that the musical tastes of the people in Accra may not exactly mirror the musical tastes of the people in, to pick an American city entirely at random, Charleston.

        • Malaclypse

          It’s like, how much more J Otto could this be? and the answer is none. None more J Otto.

          • No mention of Stalin.

            • wjts

              Or how all progressives support Israel and all conservatives support Palestine.

              • DrS

                I would have liked to see a little more about working a minimum wage job in Sacramento in the late 1980s

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  It was the late 1990s. I wish I was making that much now the constant collapse of the cedi keeps reducing my salary.

  • Is there a copper-jacketed steel bullet that will create a decent & humane South that isn’t filled w/ ignernt hicks & inane goobers?

    (Asking for a gun nut friend.)

  • xq

    Where are you getting that Kansas has only 1.2% African American population? Census says 7.1% (http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-06.pdf)

    There are some examples of nearly all-white conservative states (Idaho). But 1) race isn’t the only culture war issue 2) politics in the US is almost all national, even whites who don’t interact with other races in their daily lives can buy into racist messaging. I think the evidence from polling data is pretty strong that “culture war distractions” are indeed why a large proportion of whites vote for Republicans with further-right economic views than their own.

    I agree, though, that there’s no silver bullet.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I just this morning read a recent Nation cover story about Kansas. The reporter said that the struggling people he (or she? I lost track) interviewed kept saying that there was someone out there getting the wonderful benefits they were being deprived of. Even if there aren’t actual black people to scapegoat, there are hypothetical black people, brown people (migrant workers, e.g.), hippie liberals in the cities and college towns, etc., gaming the system and sucking up scarce resources.

      IMHO the only way to work against these attitudes is to improve the economy first. It’s economic desperation that’s enhancing racism and resentment. It’s not narrative and can’t be rebuffed with counter-narrative. It’s not different kinds of promises. It’s just calm and prosperity.

      • xq

        Yes, I agree. But there are actual black people to scapegoat, and they are being scapegoated, in addition to hippies and Hispanics.

        • xq

          This is the article? A revealing paragraph:

          It’s a sentiment I heard often, talking with southeast Kansas’ sick and poor. Everyone is convinced that someone else is getting a better deal, that somewhere a horde of Kansans are gaming the system and preventing the truly needy from getting help. It’s a sentiment that Brownback eagerly exploits when attacking Medicaid expansion and other forms of public assistance. In his January State of the State address, he pointed to a black single mom in the audience, saying she had been on welfare and was now in a full-time job. He asked her to stand with her teenage son, then lauded the “courage and perseverance” of her redemptive journey. “We will continue to move forward,” he vowed, “helping people move from dependence on the government to independence.”

          I think racism is the main explanation even in Kansas.

          • Phil Perspective

            Nice of Brownback to out himself as a racist hatemonger in that speech. Because that’s what he was doing. What a revolting man he is.

      • Linnaeus

        IMHO the only way to work against these attitudes is to improve the economy first. It’s economic desperation that’s enhancing racism and resentment. It’s not narrative and can’t be rebuffed with counter-narrative. It’s not different kinds of promises. It’s just calm and prosperity.

        It’s funny that you say that, because the argument I’ve been seeing a bit more as of late (particularly at That Other Blog that both you and I comment at) is the notion that racism as a problem is anterior to economic insecurity and inequality. Solve that first, and tackling economic problems becomes easier.

        I tend to have your view, though these problems are of course intertwined to a very significant degree – you need to tackle both at the same time as best you can.

        • WabacMachinist

          It’s true that attitudes about race can’t be explained solely in economic terms. Bring about a Scandinavian-style social democracy and you would still have bigots. Still, an economy on the blink can aggravate already existing racial animosities and increase the probability that bigoted thought will turn into bigoted action. One little-known result of the Great Depression was a rise in the number of violent racial incidents, virtually all of them white-on-black. The idea that some people somewhere are riding a gravy train at your expense while you’re just barely making it can very quickly turn towards racial scapegoating.
          So it follows that fighting racism is something that has to happen on several fronts at once. Symbols–including pieces of colored cloth–are important. So is reducing economic inequality and improving job and income security, regardless of race.

          • Larrry

            America is mostly a white supremacist nation, one that doesn’t have the will or even inclination nor motivation to deeply and persistently question its own white privileges. Whites don’t think they’re superior; they ‘know’ they’re superior. Anyone not white to them is ‘the other’. And with such white group identification, progress is incremental and always prone to setback. Constant pressure from individuals, groups, and governments to maintain the stasis of a more tolerant and multiracial society is the only way to preserve, recover, and move forward. It takes persistence and courage. And lots of time.

            • burritoboy

              It’s much worse than that, actually. I would argue that white Americans simply don’t have the actual cognitive ability to challenge any predominant view (whether racism or vulgar capitalism or a host of others). It’s not only that they have incorrect views, but they are unable to analyze the structure of their own thinking. (They could theoretically adopt a better set of superstitions, but you can’t argue them into better superstitions. And the new superstitions are still superstitions.)

              I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but I’m going to make a leap a lot of people here are going to be puzzled by: white American’s racism is driven by America’s lack of philosophy. You can’t do actually substantive political analysis without either philosophy or something close to it. Americans are completely divorced from the history of philosophy, and thus don’t have any analytical tools in their gloveboxes except those you get from casual reading of crapola like Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson or Read’s I, Pencil.

              • Hogan

                Your views are intriguing to me, but I’m probably too dumb to read your newsletter.

      • RonC

        Yes, I have an acquaintance who cannot understand why his daughter isn’t getting that $1,500 to $2,000 a month in welfare that all those African Americans are getting. He knows its true.

      • efgoldman

        the only way to work against these attitudes is to improve the economy first.

        Sure, but how do you do that when the [white] political and economic structure is taking active steps *against* improving the economy in the states, and is in fact working in the opposite direction, committing economic arson wherever they go.
        See: Brownback, Jindal, Walker, Pence, etc, and their complicit legislatures.
        Throw thousands of state and municipal employees out of
        work!
        Cut the heart out of education!
        Cut public assistance to the marrow!
        Refuse billions of dollars in Medicaid!
        Refuse to fund a transportation infrastructure budget and let it rot!
        That’s the ticket!

        And yes, I blame the Yahoos who vote for these assholes, and the other Yahoo assholes who don’t vote at all, at least aas much as I blame the TeaHadis themselves.

    • Davis X. Machina

      2) politics in the US is almost all national, even whites who don’t interact with other races in their daily lives can buy into racist messaging.

      Maine is a good example. All my students (98.2% white) hate Mexicans, use ‘Mexican’ as an insult, and the nearest ones are how far away?

      We’re one nation, from sea to shining sea, and you can drive anywhere, on interstates, listening to the same music, and be comforted by the fact that when you come off at the next exit, you’ll be greeted by the same big-box stores, and the same chain restaurants, whose clientele will be bitching about the same Other.

      I’d like to think there’s a high school in Eagle Pass, Texas where all the boys sit around and swear about the damn Canadians. But I’m not hopeful.

      • efgoldman

        use ‘Mexican’ as an insult, and the nearest ones are how far away?

        Who does the gardening in Kennebunkport?

        • Davis X. Machina

          These kids certainly don’t have gardeners; most couldn’t find, sans Google, Kennebunkport, on a map.

          Once a year, a field day at Fort Williams Park to gaze upon the lighthouse. That’s as close as they’ll ever get.

          • efgoldman

            I guess I wasn’t obvious enough. I meant at chez GHWB and Barb.

      • Tybalt

        Perhaps they do; in many workplaces, for example, “Canadians” is used as code for African-Americans in order to allow discussions to occur that otherwise might attract attention.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yes, you’re right — see update.

    • burritoboy

      I think you underestimate the power of mass media, particularly TV, but also syndicated radio and the Internet – as well as mass evangelical religion. It really doesn’t matter if there are no minorities in your state or region to hate or not. The pictures coming over the TV and voices over talk radio are pretty much uniform across the country. Except for the small number of people who are really politically involved or exceptionally social, most people spend as much of their leisure time as possible consuming mass media.

      And that media is going to have the same racially tinged cop shows, the same racially tinged news and so forth no matter where you are. Talk radio is effectively the same no matter where you live. To some extent, Rupert Murdoch’s life work and genius has been to see that conservative narratives are essentially the same worldwide, except with different scapegoat groups filling in the blanks. That’s how he can run a worldwide media empire on the back of his team’s basic experience in British tabloid journalism. (Berlusconi saw the potential of doing the same thing within his smaller Italian context.)

      • xq

        I’m not underestimating it–that is exactly my point. American political culture is national, not local, and local racism has been subsumed into the national conservative movement. Another example of this is paranoia about Sharia law in places with literally zero Muslims.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Wait. Do you mean Al Qaeda isn’t about to truck-bomb the food court at my local mall and kill all my babies?

          • Lee Rudolph

            Well, duh. Of course not. ISIS has the Maine franchise.

          • wca

            If it’s anything like the food court at the mall here, the food would be killing people all on its own. No external assistance needed.

        • KmCO

          Oklahoma is definitely an exception, though. I mean, we all know that it’s a strongly Muslim state with an expressed antipathy toward white Christianity.

    • Michael Cain

      2) politics in the US is almost all national…

      As a registered Democrat (and donor) in a non-coastal state, where we have made substantial progress over the last eight or so years, I live in absolute terror of the Democratic national party deciding that they are going to run BosWash candidates on BosWash issues (with perhaps a nod to parts of California). That’s how you end up losing governors’ offices and state legislative chambers. And winding up the minority in both houses of Congress, and occasionally losing the Presidency.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        they cant even successfully run *Des Moines* candidates in my part of this state

        • Lee Rudolph

          They can’t even reliably run BosWash candidates in Massafuckingchusetts! (Assuming that Martha Coakley is a BosWash candidate, whatever that term of art may mean.)

          • efgoldman

            Assuming that Martha Coakley is a BosWash candidate

            Well, on the evidence, we have to assume she was a really *bad* candidate.

          • JL

            In fairness, Coakley, for whatever reason, was unusually bad at winning any non-attorney-general elections. Her proteges, like Katherine Clark (who represents my district), seem to be doing okay so far, though I guess none have run for statewide office other then AG.

      • Jackov

        Yet, Republicans candidates from the ColoradoSprings/Wichita/Bentonville/FraternityLane Axis run successfully across swathes of America by nationalizing the election.

  • Brett

    One upside of the much more openly partisan politics of the present is that it helps to strip away the myth of the “Grand Bargain” on social issues as some type of viable political tactic.

  • LeeEsq

    Several things need to be distilled here. An article of faith among American liberals and leftists has been that America doesn’t have a European style welfare state because of racism towards African-Americans. I think that racism towards African-Americans constitutes a major reason why America doesn’t have a European style welfare state but it is not the only reason. Another reason is that many Americans have associated American identity with free market capitalism for generations. We might not like this association but a lot of Americans do accept the logic of the market. Even if there was less racism in the United States, does not mean that America would be more economically progressive.

    Another way to put it is that South Korea and Japan are very homogeneous societies but they don’t have Nordic style welfare states or anything close. The South Korean and Japanese welfare states are less generous than the American one in many ways. They connection between lack of racism and a vigorous welfare state is a lot less than many American liberals and leftists would like.

    • Linnaeus

      I think that racism towards African-Americans constitutes a major reason why America doesn’t have a European style welfare state but it is not the only reason. Another reason is that many Americans have associated American identity with free market capitalism for generations. We might not like this association but a lot of Americans do accept the logic of the market.

      I agree – I think making racism the “root” problem leaves out a lot of other explanatory factors that need to be taken into account. “The market” is pretty much a secular religion in America.

      • Davis X. Machina

        The existence of a real, meaningful working-class Thatcherism suggests that it’s not just America.

        • random

          It just so happens that the economic right in England also has a strong racist tradition, both at the elite level and the working-class, that continues to this very day.

        • LeeEsq

          Fun fact: The Democratic Party got a higher percentage of the American working class vote in the 1948 election and earlier ones than any European socialist party ever did.

          • Lee Rudolph

            I’m surprised that any European socialist party ever got any percentage of the American working class vote.

            • Schadenboner

              All of my fives are belong to this post.

          • CP

            This might be because Communist Parties were a real thing in a lot of European nations, especially in the first couple decades of the Cold War, which meant that the working class vote could split between them and the more moderate socialist, social-democrat, labor etc parties.

          • joe from Lowell

            You have to be careful comparing outcomes in a two-party system to multi-party systems.

            • The Dark Avenger

              And the differences between the Communists in Europe and America as well. I came across this quote by Steinbeck about the Communists in America:

              Primer on the ’30s.” Esquire, June 1960: 85-93.

              “Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: ‘After the revolution even we will have more, won’t we, dear?’ Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picknickers on her property.
              “I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew—at least they claimed to be Communists—couldn’t have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves.”

    • CP

      I agree with this.

      If racism towards African-Americans is the big obstacle to a fully developed American welfare state, then why didn’t racism towards Jews, Roma, and the relevant nationality groups (the Corsicans, the Irish, the Walloon/Flemish split, etc) similarly block the emergence of European welfare states?

      If homogenous societies are most supportive of welfare states because people aren’t afraid of the benefits going to “others,” why are multiethnic, immigrant-heavy cities so often bluer than all-white rural areas (on economics as well as other things?)

      • random

        The undeniable fact that racism has played a major role in the suppression of a welfare state in the United States isn’t at all contradicted by pointing to what did or did not happen in another part of the world with different history, demographics, and political systems.

        The fact that homogenously white communities in the US are more opposed to a welfare state hardly supports the notion that white racism hasn’t played a primary roll in the opposition to the welfare state.

        • CP

          What did and did not happen in Europe, and in America, also suggests that you may need more than racism to explain the suppression of the welfare state. “A major reason, but not the only reason,” as LeeEsq puts it.

          • LeeEsq

            Racism explains probably half the reasons why the American welfare state is less developed than other countries. Other reasons include our political system having more veto points, many Americans closely identifying private property and the free market as American ideals, and a less strict class system.

      • joe from Lowell

        Good questions.

        Question one: ethnic minorities in European countries didn’t occupy the role of lower-class workers that African-American slaves occupied in a large part of America. The roughly equivalent role was taken by members of the majority nationality itself. Therefore, the French political elites and voting majorities who determined what their welfare state looked like were primed to view the people who needed welfare as part of an “us,” in a way that American political elites and electoral majorities were not primed to look at people who need welfare in our society.

        Question two: because those cities and rural areas are part of an overall system, and you need to look at the whole.

        • CP

          I get your first point, thx – not sure what you mean about the second one. Can you elaborate?

          • joe from Lowell

            I mean that the effect Scott is describing is still present in our society. Its relative scarcity in cities is a consequence of factors related to how the members of our society are geographically distributed, not because there is an overall absence.

            For various historical reasons, the people in our society least prone to the racist view of poverty (roughly, the inferiority of the less-white drives poverty) are most likely to be in cities. Some of this is the Great Migration. Some of it is the urban decline of the late 20th century. Some of it is the much-greater lived experience of multi-racial life in urban areas, and the consequence that has for one’s outlook.

            • Hogan

              And some of it is self-selection. Choosing to live in a city means having a fairly high tolerance for supporting social services you don’t expect to need yourself, which makes you in effect a social democrat.

        • Richard Gadsden

          You should bear in mind the importance of classism in Europe – the identification of people receiving benefits with “chavs” has been a key element in cutting benefits. Something like (the TV programme) Benefits Street is a near-explicit exercise in Othering poor people.

          • joe from Lowell

            Efforts to Other poor people will always happen.

            They are easier to accomplish when there are other distinctions to exploit that fall roughly along the same lines.

        • LeeEsq

          Question one needs qualification. Most people who needed welfare in the United States were white. However, there were enough African-Americans and other people of color who needed welfare that welfare opponents could argue that it was the other who needed it.

    • wengler

      There are a lot of reasons why the US doesn’t have a (western) European style welfare state- lots of land, cheaper housing, greater amount of natural resources, great prosperity instead of hunger and destroyed cities after WWII. I don’t think the commitment to free market capitalism other than as rhetoric scores very highly though.

      I would put the dumb US governmental system as the number one reason. Two chambers, neither of them very representative, lots of veto points, and a judiciary that asserts a right to legislate, usually seeking to maintain the status quo of 50 years ago.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        I largely agree with this. The market as a kind of secular religion is hardly a permanent feature of American political life. It first puts in an appearance during the Gilded Age, loses much of its importance during the Progressive Era, returns a bit in the 1920s, and becomes a distinctly minority point of view from the 1930s through the mid-1970s. Our present bout of market worship is largely a post-1980 phenomenon.

      • djw

        I would put the dumb US governmental system as the number one reason.

        Yes. (I’d place this as reason number one, our race issues preventing working class solidarity is a close second, and ideology and the rest are well behind these two.)

    • joe from Lowell

      I don’t think those two factors are as distinct as you describe them.

      You treat “the logic of the market” as if this adherence to capitalist ideology is a matter of being able to do math, but it’s not. It’s a political ideology that has grown up inexorably tied to the culture of American conservatism.

      Take a look at The Bell Curve and its explanations for black poverty, and it isn’t too hard to understand the overlap.

      • LeeEsq

        As early as the 1850s, nativist forces in the United States were arguing that socialism, labor unions, and similar things were alien and foreign to the United States. The main target of nativist and anti-socialist ire were German and to a lesser extent other immigrants than African-Americans. The same arguments resurfaced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The point is that a substantial number of Americans saw socialism or anything like it is distinctly non-American and capitalism as American for generations. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, African-Americans played little part in nativist anti-socialism.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          True, it is only in the 1920s that there was any organized attempts to organize blacks in socialist organizations. Before the formation of the CPUSA there isn’t much effort to recruit African-Americans to the cause of socialism. Ultimately, like its overall record it wasn’t hugely successful in attracting blacks to the party.

    • Sly

      I think that racism towards African-Americans constitutes a major reason why America doesn’t have a European style welfare state but it is not the only reason. Another reason is that many Americans have associated American identity with free market capitalism for generations. We might not like this association but a lot of Americans do accept the logic of the market. Even if there was less racism in the United States, does not mean that America would be more economically progressive.

      This assumes that American white supremacy and American love of laissez-faire economics are unconnected. I would argue that they are intimately connected, not only structurally but ideologically.

      • LeeEsq

        This strikes me as too much of an original sin argument, where all bad things can be traced back to one original flaw. The conservative version of this would argue that all of America’s problems are a result of either not strictly following the letter of the Constitution or not making religion more important in public life. These aren’t convincing arguments. Neither is America would be a European style welfare state but for racism. There is simply no evidence for this. There are multiple reasons why America did not end up as a large Sweden.

        • joe from Lowell

          And yet, there is very sound historical evidence for Sly’s claim that laissez faire economics/economic ideology does share an intellectual foundation and history with the racial caste system.

    • heckblazer

      I’d hazard that the other factor is that business interests have used religion to push back against the New Deal and promote laissez faire capitalism starting all the way back in the 1930s.

      • LeeEsq

        They did so during the Gilded Age to. Dwight Moody was funded by a lot of the big rich of the Gilded Age.

    • Manju

      I think that racism towards African-Americans constitutes a major reason why America doesn’t have a European style welfare state but it is not the only reason.

      I haven’t read this yet, but (via Paul Krugman) here is a study directly addressing this question:

      Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?

      “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”

      • Manju
      • Huh. Go figure. And all along, I thought it was our “rugged individualism”…

        • joe from Lowell

          The collectivism of the original New England settlements vs. the individualism of the South – for examples, villages built around commons, run by town meeting vs. individual plantations each with its dock on the river to connect it to the next plantation, each run by Papa Planter – was a big theme in early colonial history.

          Part of American rugged individualism is the freedom to exercise power over others without restraint. It’s not really distinct from racism.

          • Precisely my point: “rugged individualism” is about as subtle a coding for bigotry as one is likely to find.

            Disabled? Sorry, mate, but you’ll find a way. Minority? Sorry, mate, you ain’t of my tribe, so I won’t help, you’re on your own. Stranger in town? Unless you have a large wad (of cash, of man-meat, of breasts), we don’t serve your kind here.

  • Stag Party Palin

    I played in a member-guest event at a private golf club last week. My friend was a liberal retired Jewish doctor (GI) with whom I play frequently. We played with a Jewish orthopedic surgeon (2000 knee replacements and counting) and a Jewish trial lawyer.

    We’re all white and all my playing companions were, obviously, pretty damn smart. But, the surgeon and the lawyer were somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun, and the surgeon allowed as how he hated Obama more than he had anyone in his whole life. Both of them gave a nod to “everyone does it” by dissing some of our favorite Rethuglicans, but… There was also passing mention to black-on-black crime when the discussion touched on police brutality.

    (1) you don’t have to be dimwitted asshole to be a racist authoritarian bastard. It’s fun to rag on the rednecks, but this happened in west Los Angeles.
    (2) I wish I had spoken up a little, instead of behaving like a guest. I shall endeavor to change.

    • Linnaeus

      Did your liberal doctor friend say anything?

      • Stag Party Palin

        Not much. He rolled his eyes occasionally. But I can’t get on his case when I did much the same.

    • wengler

      If you start looking at surgeons like human mechanics, they lose that veneer of being ‘pretty damn smart’.

      • Nobdy

        Surgeons do have to get through med school so they are pretty damn smart. The thing is, being smart isn’t complete protection against believing dumb things. I like to remember that Isaac Newton, arguably the greatest scientist who ever lived, was really into alchemy and had weirdo beliefs about religion and sex. If Isaac Newton can believe a bunch of dumb junk then a smart surgeon can be a racist without causing me cognitive dissonance.

        • CP

          The thing is, being smart isn’t complete protection against believing dumb things.

          More specifically, being very knowledgeable in one field doesn’t protect you from being extremely stupid in others. Especially if you convince yourself that your success in the first field makes you objectively smarter than most people, and therefore more qualified to have opinions on utterly unrelated matters.

          • Tyro

            As I have personal experience with surgeons, the problem is that the profession of being a surgeon is so consuming that they essentially have to “outsource” their thinking on other issues to others. And in their case, they outsource their thinking about the world to other rich people who tell them that they should be conservative douchebags.

            • Mike G

              This. Becoming a doctor, especially a surgeon, puts such demands on their time they don’t have much left over to become well-read on politics and history, or even well-rounded personalities in a lot of cases.
              I find this also with some computer engineers, having worked with a lot of both groups.

            • CP

              The thing is (in re both of you), we all do this to some extent or other. *Most* of us are ignorant of *most* fields other than our own, which is why we rely on other people to inform us.

              The question after that is who you go to for your information. If you don’t know much about science, and you get your information from scientists, that’s fine: if you get it from Fox News anchors, you’re an idiot. If you don’t know much about Middle Eastern politics but prefer to get your information from Fox News anchors while dismissing professional diplomats, IR scholars, or actual Middle Easterners because “they all hate America” (common sentiment on the right), you’re an idiot. Etc.

              The problem with conservatives (doctor or engineer or otherwise) isn’t so much that they’re relying on outside opinion, it’s that they write off the opinions of actual experts who dedicate their professional lives to the subject matter, in favor of opinions from parallel communities of politically vetted “experts” who tell them what they feel more comfortable hearing.

              (They even do this when the “expert” community leans towards the conservative side of the spectrum, as in the run up to the Iraq War when the opinions of career soldiers – Shinseki, Zinni – were shit and pissed on in favor of What The Movement Wants To Believe, and few if any conservatives objected).

              • CP

                Addendum: and, of course, some people just short-circuit the whole “rely on Fox News because it tells me what I want to hear” and go straight to “rely on ME because I tell me what I want to hear,” which was my original point and applies beyond simply “look at all these right wing doctors.”

                These are the people you see arguing with the IT department: “Look, I just need you to do THIS.” “But sir, that’s not going to solve your problem.” “YES IT IS! YOU’RE JUST LAZY!”

          • wca

            More specifically, being very knowledgeable in one field doesn’t protect you from being extremely stupid in others.

            See also: Engineers of all stripes, not just computer folks. Plenty of anti-vax crankery, climate change denial, and general conspiracy theories floating around in the engineering community.

    • efgoldman

      As a [non-observant, atheist] Jew, I cannot understand that attitude, except as wealth overcomes common sense, which, of course, it does.
      But then, I do not understand gay or black Republicans, either. It has the ring of “Jewish Nazi” “black Klansman” to me, if not as drastic.

      • JL

        I don’t get it (non-Orthdox Jewish conservatism) either, but both my (dearly loved) father and my father-in-law suffer from it to some degree, though probably a little less than the people in Stag Party Palin’s story. Both of them are very bright people who made their careers in finance-related fields.

    • Jackov

      Rancho Park >>>> Hillcrest
      in the fewer racist bastards category

  • rickstersherpa

    I think there is also a huge underestimation of the material and psychological benefits of “withe privilege” and “white supremacy,” and the threat to that sensed of superiority and entitlement caused by the election of a Black President. Just as anecdote, consider Magistrate Gosnell’s strange speech at Dylan Roof’s bond hearing.http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/19/racist-talk-from-dylann-roof-s-judge.html This is how white privilege is woven into the very thinking of most “Real Murricans.”

    I understand why sacrificing Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics to the sensibilities of the White South occurred since the violence of the Dylan Roofs of the world is never far below the surface as remains a potential mass movement. When the North and a more racially liberal point of view moved into direct confrontation with Southern Interest in 1854, it set off a two decade period of intense violence. Even a devastating war was not able to tame that intractable willingness to use violence to enforce white supremacy. By 1876, it had worn down progressive Northern opinion, and had substantial support from white Northerners and Westerners with “Southern sensibilities” to reestablish White Supremacy without slavery in return for getting a functioning Union and Government. In some ways the same sort of thing followed the Civil Rights decade of the 1960s-70s.

  • dp

    Congratulations, Scott! I didn’t think anyone could post something even more depressing that Loomis’ labor history posts!

    You are largely correct, and it pisses me off. I must enjoy being pissed off, because I keep coming back for more.

  • tsam

    Last time I had an argument about this kind of thing, I said “you either believe in liberty and justice for ALL, or you don’t. There’s no nuance or gray area here. Choose which side you want–be an American or be a fucking fascist.”

    These aren’t complicated values. It’s about time we left those silly attitudes about respecting the opinions of others when they’re just plain evil and nasty. Racism isn’t ignorance. Bigotry against gays isn’t a fucking phobia-that’s a completely ridiculous term. We have to stop letting these fuckers off the hook in our day to day encounters. People are racist and bigoted because they’re shitty, worthless people, and we have to start calling them out with as much hate and anger as they use with their bigotry.

    • efgoldman

      People are racist and bigoted because they’re shitty, worthless people, and we have to start calling them out with as much hate and anger as they use with their bigotry.

      Yup.
      And let’s start by burning and defacing that fucking flag of treason, murder, and slavery.
      Fuck their feelings.
      And for a change, I’m not snarking.

    • JL

      People are racist and bigoted because they’re shitty, worthless people…

      This assumes that you’ve gotten rid of all of your racism and bigotry, which, frankly, I doubt, not because I think you’re a bad person (based on your comments, you don’t appear to be), but because we all live in a fucked-up society and internalize fucked-up messages that we have to work through and unlearn. I mean, I’m still working on shit. Everyone’s still working on shit. Some of us do better at it than others, and some of us are starting from a better baseline (e.g. liberal parents who tried to pass on just values) than others.

      That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call it out (we should – that’s part of how people unlearn the fucked-up messages that they’ve learned). It doesn’t mean that we should respect the opinions of others even when they do harm (that’s such a twisting of liberal values). It just means that sometimes people can learn to be better than what they are, and saying that another person’s racism makes them worthless is distancing yourself from the possibility that you have anything to work on.

      • tsam

        I don’t believe I’m distancing myself from the idea that I have anything to work on. I know for a fact that I’m quick tempered and quick to dismiss people based on one character flaw…

        I know I have shit to work on. But I also know that I have made a serious effort to be sure I’m not part of the problem in the suffering of others. It didn’t take a whole lot of introspection and logical work to figure out that being a racist is just plain wrong and has a direct effect on other people–whether it’s an ostensibly harmless joke or refusing to hire or rent to “those people”, it does real world harm. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect other people to quit being fucking racists–it’s not like that’s a brand new idea. People choose to be bigots. They need to choose more wisely.

  • random

    Economic policy was the focus of Brownback’s first term. It was the salient issue in the elections.

    Brownback voters didn’t see it in those terms. Davis thrashed Brownback among voters who labeled the economy as the #1 problem by a whopping 15 points, but lost the election anyway:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/elections/2014/governor/kansas/exit/

    By contrast, the group that broke almost 80/20 for Brownback considered illegal immigration to be the top issue.

    But the broader point about Kansas, and the reason I cited it, is that I don’t think anyone can reasonably say that the 2014 election came out the way it did because of “culture war” “distractions.”

    You can always reasonably argue that Kansas elections come out the way they do because of cultural issues. There’s every reason to think Brownback wouldn’t be governor now if it weren’t for his reliance on culture war issues.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      The key question, I guess, is whether those voters who put immigration as the #1 issue thought that Davismwould have been better for the economy. My guess would be that they didn’t.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Right. The fact that Brownback voters nominally placed a high priority on an issue over which the state government has very little power is just another way of stating the problem. (Given that presumably the tendency of voters to make the economy their #1 priority is inversely correlated with how well they’re going, I don’t think Davis winning these voters by 15 points tells is much either.)

        Perhaps a more precise way of stating the point in the update is that thinking that “economic” and “cultural” issues can be cleanly separated is nonsensical. When the state government spends a term engaging in radical economic policy revisions and its supporters focus on other issues on which the state government is nearly irrelevant, what does that tell you about the likelihood that elections can somehow be fought on pure “economic issues” if the left would only capitulate on “culture war” issues?

        • random

          Perhaps a more precise way of stating the point in the update is that thinking that “economic” and “cultural” issues can be cleanly separated is nonsensical.

          I have stated exactly that on many, many occasions in response to the Thomas Frank crowd. You can’t just cleave ‘economic’ from ‘cultural’ and then win red states with populist economics. Mark Pryor would still be in office if you could.

          presumably the tendency of voters to make the economy their #1 priority is inversely correlated with how well they’re goingI don’t think Davis winning these voters by 15 points tells is much either.)

          It just point-blank refutes the assertion that “the economy was the salient issue of the election” among the voters who went for the guy who actually won the election. We directly asked them what the salient issue was. “Foreigners!!!!” got significantly more votes than “the economy” from them.

          • Hogan

            “Immigration” may be the paradigmatic case of an issue that cuts across the economic v. cultural divide. They’re foreign, but they also take our jobs and drive down our wages.

            • random

              Though even that would be a lot less of a problem for your average Brownback voter if they were white English-speaking Protestants.

              I’m leaning towards “every issue is cultural, the issues we call ‘economic’ are just cultural issues heavily-informed by economic conditions.”

            • liberalrob

              They’re foreign, but they also take our jobs and drive down our wages.

              “Which they wouldn’t do if we just kept them out of the country?” is the question I always want to ask the people saying this. The fact these “free trade” deals are sucking away our jobs and driving down our wages to a far greater extent than illegal immigration just doesn’t seem to register. They seem to believe that if only we put up a big wall all the good-paying jobs will come back. They won’t.

        • random

          (Given that presumably the tendency of voters to make the economy their #1 priority is inversely correlated with how well they’re going, I don’t think Davis winning these voters by 15 points tells is much either.)

          Notice the questions asking about concerns for the economy in the next year. The people most worried about the future of the economy broke very hard for Brownback, not Davis. But a lot of them still weren’t willing to say it was the most crucial issue.

          In addition, if you look at the question “Do you think the Brownback tax cuts have mostly: (helped/hurt) Kansas” you’ll notice that people who thought the tax cuts helped but still voted for Davis was at 3%. By contrast, people who thought the tax cuts hurt, but voted for Brownback anyway is at 11%.

          Brownback’s margin of victory is drawn from people who think he screwed the budgetary pooch and don’t think the economy is the top issue. You certainly can reasonably argue that “culture” issues probably had something to do with electoral results in Kansas.

    • apropos

      It is also worth noting that Brownback was trailing Davis late in the polls. Then came the shocking revelation that Davis once visited a strip club with his boss when he was young and unmarried, and received a lap dance. Davis was raked over the coals by Brownback’s machine as lacking the character to govern, and Davis issued a public apology for his unforgivable actions. But the damage was already done, and he promptly lost the lead.

  • Larrry

    When it comes to a confederate battle flag being waved in my face, I’m a pissed-off bull. My goal is to be stoically calm enough to tolerate the damn disgraceful symbol on someone’s pickup or such, or worse a T-shirt, but especially be bullheaded enough to insist that it be removed from display at government buildings at all levels, and from public venues like sports arenas or anywhere else even partially funded by public money.

  • jamesepowell

    Since [6.2%] is well below the national average I don’t think this materially affects my point, although on this narrow point Idaho or Utah would be better examples.

    I understand you to be arguing that because blacks are such a small percentage of the total population, racist notions and race-coded appeals were not the major factor we might believe.

    I don’t think that’s a sound inference. I don’t have ready access to much data on this, but anecdata suggests that having a lot of X kind of people around can reduce the effectiveness of appeals based on hating/fearing X kind of people. Also, the less likely that people know and live with X kind of people makes it easier to turn them into mythical threats.

    Traveling around the US, I’ve noticed that anti-immigrant and especially anti-Spanish-speaking-immigrant fever thrives where there are few, if any, such people living.

    And, hell, let me go full Godwin. The Jewish population of Germany in 1933 was just under 1%.

    The voters’ behavior in Kansas and other places is about identity & narrative and almost nothing else.

    • Shakezula

      Yes this. One of the biggest dogwhistles is “the inner-city.” It is remarkably effective on people who live nowhere near anything remotely resembling a city. Why? Because they understand it means “Nwords.”

      And there’s also the post-911 hijinks, where you have people who live in places with the strategic value of a turnip insisting that we absolutely must round up all Muslims and torture Muslims and bomb countries they perceive as Muslim because “they’re scared” of being killed by Muslims. LOL, no. They’re scared that someone will deny them the vicarious thrill of hurting people they don’t like.

      • matt w

        Like Paul Ryan’s “inner city” faceplant, which he later tried to weasel out of by claiming he was also talking about rural poverty–as absurd as that is. He managed to out-racist Charles Murray there.

    • DrDick

      I would also point out that Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, all have very few minorities other than Indians, but broad spectrum racists are thick on the ground in all three. Many white supremacists have relocated to Montana and northern Idaho for that very reason and have generally found lots of people ready to welcome them.

      • Mike Lommler

        Sadly, yup.

      • KmCO

        Yep. A lot of them are racist former Californians. There are also a lot of former Coloradans who have moved to those states once Colorado became too gay and messican for them.

    • MAJeff

      I don’t have ready access to much data on this, but anecdata suggests that having a lot of X kind of people around can reduce the effectiveness of appeals based on hating/fearing X kind of people.

      In sociology, we refer to this as the “contact hypothesis.”

      One of the things this relies upon, though, is actual contact. If you take a look at lots of places, segregation operates to limit such contacts. Just because a metro area may be racially/ethnically diverse doesn’t necessarily lead to interactions between members of different groups. This is particularly the case for African-Americans, who tend to face higher levels of segregation on every measure in pretty much every area. (I use census bureau stuff on “dissimilarity indices” to discuss this in class. )

    • LeeEsq

      At the same time, some of the most overtly and aggressively racist states were those where the largest percentage of the population was or is African-American.

    • Scott Lemieux

      racist notions and race-coded appeals

      I think it’s important to distinguish the two. As I understand it, Hillis is saying that if the left stops making a big deal about race-coded appeals, than racist notions will be less of an influence on how people perceive their economic interests. But in actuality, I don’t think racial issues and economic issues can be disentangled in this way.

      • jamesepowell

        Agreed. The current white population of America has been raised in world where the discussion of economic policies in public discourse and political campaigns has always been race-coded.

  • The Southern conservatives are the resentful, easily riled up populists that the old fashioned Republicans endlessly warned against, in other words they are the contemporary version of Jacksonian Democrats. The Tea Party’s furious anger with the bank bailout reminds me of the Democrat’s campaign against the National Bank back in the 1830s. In both cases, what began as an attack on the evil financiers transmogrified into support for a deregulated and even less responsible banking industry and a call for policies to inflate new bubbles, real estate in our times, the expansion of slavery in theirs. A combination of ceaseless rhetoric against public spending with fiscal irresponsibility in practice is a hallmark of both the old Democrats and the current Republican party

    Isn’t it about time that modern day Democrats disavowed their connection with Jackson and the racism, imperialism, and corruption he stood for? If the South Carolina ought to give up the Stars and Bars, the Democrats should give up Jackson day dinners. Modern Democrats have much more in common with the Whigs and Lincoln than with the brutal demagogues who rallied the plebs in support of the slave power.

    • Davis X. Machina

      The Tea Party’s furious anger with the bank bailout reminds me of the Democrat’s campaign against the National Bank back in the 1830s.

      They’re not much for internal improvements or land-grant universities either.

  • Not particularly off-topic: How ’bout that Chuck Todd guy?

    • Sooooooo, will Brian Williams be the next host of Meet the Press? (Link added for context)

    • Fuck him and the network he rode in on.

    • joe from Lowell

      In a statement, Todd said the footage had been compiled earlier in the week before the shooting for a different segment on guns in America, and that he and his staff thought it was pertinent to the topic at hand.

      See, that’s what I thought happened.

      In terms of framing the segment, first he had to “zoom out” all the way from the Charleston shooting to the general topic of guns and gun control – which I contend would be one of a number of perfectly legitimate angles to take on a political talk show several days later – but then he zoomed in again, to the specific subject of black criminality. At this point, Charleston isn’t anywhere in the shot.

      So he tried to create a segue between those two distinct issues, and did so with all the skill we’ve come to expect from Chuck Todd when he isn’t explaining numbers.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    It’s Rick Hills not Rick Hillis. He’s actually the son of the former HUD Secretary and US trade representative Carla Hills and the late SEC Chair Roderick Hills. Though I agree with you, and disagree with Rick, on the topic under discussion, Rick is a pretty brilliant and terrific guy (I knew him on the college debate circuit in the 1980s).

  • The only thing that will change historically intransigent viewpoints is a demographic change.

    Fortunately, that change is coming, and rather quickly. Why else did you think the Koch’s have taken a panicked approach to instituting ALEC policies and gerrymandering? They see what’s coming, a dying of the old conservative guard, and the hope that these policies will breed a new Aryan race for them to leave behind.

    It doesn’t seem to be working, and there’s a distinct “rear-guard, controlled burn” aroma to the latest tactics to fight the wildfire approaching.

  • wca

    And nor am I inclined to tell the multiracial coalition in South Carolina protesting against the Confederate flag that they should stop paying attention to mere white supremacist symbolism and focus on Real Issues.

    Right. Because proudly displaying the symbol – which is what you’re doing when you’re flying the symbol in front of your main government building – means you’re okay with what the symbol represents. Sending the signal that the racism the flag represents isn’t going to be tolerated by the state is actually an important part of making sure it won’t be tolerated.

  • j_kay

    Because Presidents LBJ and Carter die annoyingly too good to have existed. Especially LBJ, whom did the most bill good ever between Congress and Presidency so couldn’t’ve existed.

    The way to get back is back to thouhgtful 50-states’ counter-propaganda, like worked for Wilson and the FDR coalition. How Clinton and Obama won twice; and Obama amped it his reelection campaign. We oughtta appoint Krugman our Democratic counterpropaganda chief, because the economy and jobs are what matter, and Keynesiasm’s what works.

    It’s already well already on its here. How many southern Millenials like GOP after Shrub, and given their religious devotion to Reagan, whose charisma died died long ago? And most even Southern young are liberal on racism and gays, and even climate.

    The posters’ and commenter wrong and confusion were created by the original Hillis’s article being so bad it wasn’t even wrong.

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  • Aaron Morrow

    Economic policy was the focus of Brownback’s first term. It was the salient issue in the elections.

    Brownback said didn’t want to take away “your money” to give to “those people;” not exactly a new construction amongst conservatives. No matter whether racists have black families move into their neighborhoods, or rail against welfare cheats in some far-off city they’ll never see (KCK might as well be KC, Missouri to them). Even if you try to separate the economic from the social issues, you will fail; generations of the “Southern Strategy” have worked in rural areas across the country. Conservative economics doesn’t rely on culture war distractions; it is part and parcel of the culture war.

    I say, get what support you can for those limited elements of liberalism that white working class and white middle class people like. I’d think you can get support for making the age for Medicare eligibility the same as Social Security, and lowering the early retirement age to 60. (I am open to other suggestions as well, but I really would like to get more Democrats back into the entitlement business.)

  • Tybalt

    The brutal truth is that most of American political history is an experiment in seeing what will happen if national political elites agree not to offend white supremacist Southern white men.

    And women. I think we ought not to underestimate the role of white women in perpetuating white supremacy within the old Confederacy (and indeed elsewhere, but particularly strongly in the OC)

    • Tyro

      Actually, the thing is that I don’t know very much about that at all. White women are always portrayed as innocent bystanders in the whole legacy of the Confederacy and Jim Crow, being exploited as a symbol to enforce segregation via violence, but we hear very little about the active participation, if any, of women in maintaining segregation and slavery.

      • burritoboy

        It’s a pretty complicated issue, and one I’m not sure feminism has fully grappled with. Part of women being politically empowered is that many women will make bad political decisions, or embrace bad or worse political theories. A substantial minority will use other feminists to get into power, and then use that power against other women or to commit other injustices.

        Quite rightly, people prefer to talk about women who largely had the right theories and made the right decisions politically. But that’s only part of the story.

        • LeeEsq

          The idea that women should be given equal rights even though some women are just as self-interested, corrupt, or bad as men isn’t really what you would call an inspiring political message for the feminists themselves or the people they are trying to convince of the righteousness of their cause.

          We talked about this a bit when B. Spencer posted on the right to be average. Not every woman who breaks into a formerly all male preserve is going to be great. Some are merely going to be capable and average. The idea of a woman breaking into a formerly all male preserve and doing spectacularly well is a lot more inspiring though.

      • LeeEsq

        The biggest piece of Pro-Confederate myth making in American culture was written by a woman. A lot of Southern women were very active in promoting Confederate myth making through their literary efforts. They depicted the antebellum South as a chivalrous place with Plantation set as type of genteel aristocracy and the non-slave owning whites and of course the African-American slaves as happy in their place. Gone with the Wind is just the most egregious example of this.

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