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The Golden Age of the Democratic Party (TM), the Populist Paradise of the Jim Crow South Edition

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stromAbove: Oddly, Strom Was Not Filibustering the Taft-Hartley Act

There is the core of a useful point in Matt Stoller’s Atlantic story about “Watergate babies.” I largely agree with him about Carter-era Democrats, although I think he’s completely and obviously wrong to assert that the Democratic Party remains where it was in 1978 or 1994. The historical context presented by the article, however…is remarkable even by “misplaced nostalgia for the New Deal-era Democratic Party” standard. This passage, about the politics of the Jim Crow South, is absolutely astounding:

Competition policy was also a powerful political strategy. Democrats lost the U.S. House of Representatives just twice between 1930 and 1994. To get a sense of how rural Democrats used to relate to voters, one need only pick up an old flyer from the Patman archives in Texas: “Here Is What Our Democratic Party Has Given Us” was the title. There were no fancy slogans or focus-grouped logos. Each item listed is a solid thing that was relevant to the lives of conservative white Southern voters in rural Texas: Electricity. Telephone. Roads. Social Security. Soil conservation. Price supports. Foreclosure prevention.

Did the Democrats maintain their hold on the House because southern politicians ran and acted as economic liberals? This is…utterly wrong, cherrypicked flyers aside. First of all, one thing that doesn’t mention is that the benefits of the New Deal were distributed in a racially exclusionary manner — not all residents of the south had access to the policies offered by those NON-FOCUS-GROUPED flyers. And in related news, most Southern Democrats stopped being economic liberals well before FDR left office. They didn’t just obstruct civil rights legislation — they collaborated with Republicans to stop expansions of the welfare state as well. It’s particularly remarkable that Stoller does not once mention a little thing called Taft-Hartley, which had far more to do with increasing economic inequality that the decline in antitrust enforcement. The fact that it was sustained over Truman’s veto with a majority of Democratic members of the House and 20 Senate democrats seems highly relevant to evaluating the politics of Southern Democrats in the New Deal era. And it would be belaboring the obvious to point out that James Eastland and Strom Thurmond and John Stennis relied rather more on racist demagoguery than economic liberalism when they “related to rural voters.”

I never thought I’d say this, but this is where the misbogotten second volume of Caro’s LBJ bio might have some value. Caro was wrong to conclude that the 1948 Texas Senate Democratic Primary was not “a campaign between a liberal and a conservative” because both LBJ or Stevenson campaigned as reactionaries — New Dealers supported LBJ for a reason. But Means of Ascent certainly provides a more accurate sense of how Southern politicians “related to rural voters” in the Jim Crow south than Stoller’s whitewashed-in-multiple-senses account.

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  • Sly

    Sadly, Stoller is not aware of all internet traditions.

  • Tom Till

    Old flyers in rural New Deal Texas are apparently just like yard signs. Stoller must have attended the Noonan Institute for Political Analysis and Historiography.

    One question I do have is, Were Southern politicians ever economic liberals during FDR’s presidency? Or did they want to get what they could from federal programs for their white constituents while still opposing organized labor and favoring corporate power?

    • NeonTrotsky

      Well for what its worth, on average it appears that southern Democrats were notably more right leaning economically than the rest of the party: http://voteview.com/images/polar_house_means_2014.png

    • DrDick

      The Southern aristocracy have always been adamantly anti-union, whether they were Democratic, as then, of Republican, as now. They were certainly for programs that bolstered the agricultural economy, on which the region depended, and welfare programs for the poor (who cannot buy much if there are no jobs).

      • CP

        So basically, Southern Democrats were okay-ish with economic populism as long as it flowed through them. Helping the poor and working class, yes, empowering them with institutions that gave them their own voice, no.

        Sounds like them.

        • twbb

          When it came to poor and working class whites, racial resentment was the opiate of the masses. No matter how bad you off they were, they could say (and were told) that at least they were white. All that labor union stuff is just a plot by big city miscegnationists from the north.

          • DrDick

            “The Jews”, doncha know!

        • DrDick

          Pretty much spot on. Southern politics was generally a big patronage system with elites doling out benefits to those who are suitably subservient.

          • Rob in CT

            “I am a river to my people!”

            • liberalrob

              In a manner of speaking…Auda Abu Tayi’s river ran to all of his people, while that of Southern politicos flowed through certain areas but bypassed others.

              • Rob in CT

                The key is “my people.” The others weren’t their people, ’nuff said.

        • Harkov311

          Pretty much exactly this, yes.

      • (((Hogan)))

        Cloward and Piven talk about welfare programs administered by counties in the South that would decide, every year, just before the cotton harvest, that working-age women were no longer eligible for benefits. This freed them up to pick cotton for 25 cents a day (i.e., less than welfare) until the crop was in, at which point they would again become eligible for benefits.

        • (((Hogan)))

          Working-age black women, that is.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Stoller’s byline = not interested in reading.

    • Craigo

      I just had an acid flashback of MyDD eight years ago. Quite the frontpage collection of hacks, frauds, and twits.

      • liberalrob

        Just like Breitbart!

  • Rob in CT

    I mean, shit, those fliers do seem decent. Let’s make some! The rest of his argument… meh.

    • Linnaeus

      I think Stoller’s point about antitrust isn’t a bad one. I do think he relies far too heavily on it.

    • Murc

      I’m on board for this.

      I think in the modern sense doing that sort of thing is kind of regarded as declasse for whatever reason. You’re supposed to make high-minded abstract arguments for why you should be supported, backed up by the standard bromides.

      I’ve met far too many people who would regard a pamphlet with a set of explicit goodies as one step removed from “buying votes.”

      • Rob in CT

        That’s right-wing framing that they’ve gotten far too many people to accept.

        Fuck that noise.

        • LeeEsq

          A lot of people on liberal and left side of politics hated this sort of why you should vote for us pamphlet since the late 19th century. It seemed to be to machine-politician and retail politics like to them. There have always been many people on our side of the aisle that hated retail politics for a variety of reasons.

          • CP

            I had to look up what “retail politics” meant and it doesn’t seem objectionable on the face of it. I sympathize with the disgust for “machine politics,” but if these people broaden “machine politics” to the point that it includes “politicians delivering things that their constituents want,” count me out.

      • CP Norris

        Yeah, Atrios has been pushing this point forever. Tell people why they should vote for you.

        That’s why I was upset by Clinton’s “free this free that” line.

        • MPAVictoria

          Atrios is the best political commentator in the US. I am 100% serious.

      • JustRuss

        Yeah, didn’t Republicans manage to get clasue in the stimulus bill preventing any signage on stimulus-funded projects that mentioned they were stimulus-funded? Don’t want the proles to know that their tax dollars actually make stuff happen.

        • D.N. Nation

          Some states, not all. I’ve seen quite a few stimulus project signs in Georgia.

        • ResumeMan

          For sure ARRA signs were everywhere in California.

          • catclub

            didn’t Republicans manage to get clasue in the stimulus bill preventing any signage on stimulus-funded projects

            Just no, they were also on ARRA projects in Mississippi.

        • Donna Gratehouse

          It also helped the likes of Jan Brewer and other odious GOP Governors to claim credit, with photo-ops and all, for projects funded by that hated stimulus in their states. “See, this happened here! And we still cut your taxes!”

      • CP

        I’ve met far too many people who would regard a pamphlet with a set of explicit goodies as one step removed from “buying votes.”

        Like the bitching that Hillary only changed her mind on the TPP because it was popular to do so and she had an election to win. … yes, and? It’s a bad thing now that politicians respond to public opinion?

        • Linnaeus

          No, it’s not bad thing. The concern is that Clinton’s shift in position is purely tactical and that she will reverse her position when she’s able to do so. While I think that Clinton should be given a chance to demonstrate that she won’t do that, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have some skepticism of Clinton’s change in position.

          • twbb

            Even if Clinton’s shift in position is purely tactical, why on earth would she reverse it when it will continue to be tactically sound for the next 4-8 years? That’s what I don’t get — the theory that she will blow with the wind until she gets into office, in which case she will bravely stand with the 1% no matter what the political cost.

            • Linnaeus

              Clinton’s too smart of a politician to just immediately return to her previous support of the TPP. If you listen to Clinton’s position on the TPP now, she says, more or less, that the agreement as it stands now has some problems with it – her criticism of it doesn’t run as deep as Sanders’s does. If she were to change back (and please note that I said “if”), she’d do it after some kind of modification (which may or may not be substantive) would then allow her to claim that her objections have been addressed.

              she will bravely stand with the 1% no matter what the political cost.

              Of course, it won’t be sold that way. No trade agreement is – quite the opposite.

            • Murc

              Even if Clinton’s shift in position is purely tactical, why on earth would she reverse it when it will continue to be tactically sound for the next 4-8 years?

              Because she might believe in it as a piece of policy strongly enough to take the hit, especially since a sitting President needs to do something particularly egregious to not simply be automatically re-nominated?

              Barack Obama bailed on telecom immunity the very, very instant he no longer had a primary to win.

              Politicians do this sometimes. Not saying she will. But the probability is high enough to be taken seriously.

              • twbb

                “especially since a sitting President needs to do something particularly egregious to not simply be automatically re-nominated?”

                I’m not talking about re-nomination, I’m talking about the general election. She has to know that the next GOP candidate will likely be, on the surface at least, less odious than Trump, and pushing an obviously neoliberal agenda her first term could easily lose her the election in 2020 as liberals stay home or vote for [insert green party fringe candidate here].

                • JustRuss

                  I hate to give Little-Fingers any credit, but demonstrating that Republicans are capable of attacking trade policy from the left might actually get us some nice things.

            • John Selmer Dix

              Because the electorate’s focus changes, because politicians have a good feel for the memory of the electorate…

              I remember in ’08 there were several trade deals under discussion, some of which involved South American countries. There was a split among Democrats, with Clinton (and Obama) on the free trade side. Criticism from Edwards, among others, caused her to publicly state that she was opposed to a future deal with Colombia, citing violence against labor leaders in that country. During her tenure as Secretary of State, however, she lobbied members of Congress to pass the agreement, with one email claiming that Colombian workers would experience better conditions than even American workers! The deal passed, and we know that violence towards labor activists in Colombia have not abated.

  • D.N. Nation

    Freaking Matt Stoller. How do these vapid twits keep getting work?

    • Captain Oblivious

      They peddle contrarianism, and it gets clicks because bloggers and twitterers link to it to tear it apart.

      • liberalrob

        And other bloggers and twitterers link to it to support it. And then the two sides start posting on each others’ threads, and flame wars break out, and battle lines are drawn and trenches dug, and the MSM writes about how fractious and undisciplined and nekulturny (to borrow the Russian term) The Left in general and Democrats in particular are.

        And the world spins merrily on.

    • LiveFreeOrShop

      Because they happily push the agenda of their publishers.

      For a while, the Atlantic was stark raving mad barking dog bat shit crazy. Then it gradually became an interesting, mostly credible source of information.

      But it seems to be creeping back into cra-cra, now that David Frum is over his neocontrite period and rediscovering his inner WMDs.

      • XTPD

        Was that during the McArdle years? (Also, millennial culture pedant here: /kɹeɪ – kɹeɪ/ should be spelled “cray-cray”, not “cra-cra” which would be pronounced “craw-craw” [/kɹɔː/).

        • (((Hogan)))

          Totes.

    • Aexia

      Stoller’s been desperately hoping for Obama to fail for nearly a decade at this point.

      • D.N. Nation

        Ahaha. That’s classic. I was unaware his derp was old enough to be in grade school.

        Obama, with his recent speech and his Oprah obsession, has now made it quite clear that his strategy is targeted at elites and that he will not pull this coalition together.

        Oops, and….Oprah obsession? I’ve never heard that particular code term in the annals of leftier-than-thou types wink-wink-nudge-nudging about how Those People just don’t get the revolution, etc.

  • Dilan Esper

    On Southern politicians, for what it’s worth, I always liked the scene in the hospital in “Blaze” where Paul Newman manages to get both the whites who run the hospital and the black doctors who are protesting to support him, by buttering up the whites and appealing to their racism and also delivering a concrete result for the blacks.

    I don’t know to what extent this is really true, but it seems like the way politicians might have played it in that environment.

    • liberalrob

      True or apocryphal, it’s the kind of thing Earl K. Long would have done. The Longs were colorful but hardly the stereotypical racist “Southern Democrat” when it came to policy.

  • Drexciya

    I won’t reiterate my suspicions just yet, but I found this passage totally fascinating, since it’s framed as a nefarious divergence from the proper voice, emphasis and coalition of true leftism, as encapsulated by the New Deal. The piece even draws on the canard that diversity is no more than changing the level of representation of the elite while concealing a corporatist neoliberal agenda:

    With the help of strategist Fred Dutton, Democrats forged a new coalition. By quietly cutting back the influence of unions, Dutton sought to eject the white working class from the Democratic Party, which he saw as “a major redoubt of traditional Americanism and of the antinegro, antiyouth vote.” The future, he argued, lay in a coalition of African Americans, feminists, and affluent, young, college-educated whites.

    “sought to eject” the white working class is supported by this revealing article from David Brooks that’s very interesting for a leftist to cite:

    In 1971, Fred Dutton, an important Democratic strategist, acknowledged the rift between educated liberals and the white working class. In a short book, ”Changing Sources of Power,” Dutton argued that white workers had ”tended, in fact, to become a major redoubt of traditional Americanism and of the antinegro, antiyouth vote.”

    The New Deal coalition, including Catholics and white ethnics, was dying, he argued, and should be replaced by a ”loose peace coalition” of young people, educated suburbanites, feminists and blacks.

    That plan wasn’t stupid, but it didn’t work. The party has been in a downward spiral ever since. John Kerry lost the white working class by 23 percentage points. He lost among his fellow Catholics. He lost the election.

    After every defeat, Democrats vow to reconnect with middle-class whites. But if there is one lesson of the Alito hearings, it is that the Democratic Party continues to repel those voters just as vigorously as ever. The Democrats have amply shown why they remain the party of gown, but not town.

    First, there was the old subject of police brutality. If you listened to the questions of Jeff Sessions, a Republican, you heard a man exercised by the terror drug dealers can inflict on a neighborhood. If you listened to Ted Kennedy, you heard a man exercised by the terror law enforcement officials can inflict on a neighborhood. Kennedy railed against ”Gestapo-like” tactics. Patrick Leahy accused Alito of rendering decisions in a ”light most favorable to law enforcement.”

    If forced to choose, most Americans side with the party that errs on the side of the cops, not the criminals.

    I have nothing else to add.

    • Murc

      Well, that Brooks column is execrable, but it is correct about Dutton as far as I know.

      The thing with Dutton is… well, if the white working class were indeed anti-black (what the heck is anti-youth shorthand for? I’ve seen the term many places in the context of 60s/70s politics but don’t quite get what it means) then working to eject them from the Democratic Party would be absolutely the right move.

      That said, things are of course more complex than that. The Democratic Party really didn’t make a strong effort to eject working-class whites. What it did do was make it increasingly clear (much to the consternation of many Democrats, but it did happen) that it would continue to act in their interest as members of the working class but not as whites, while the Republicans made it clear they’d work in their interests as the latter and not the former.

      And a lot of people made their choice, and that choice revealed a lot about them.

      • JustRuss

        Yes, I wasn’t aware that “eject” was synonymous with “stop pandering to the worst instincts of”.

      • Dilan Esper

        The thing with Dutton is… well, if the white working class were indeed anti-black (what the heck is anti-youth shorthand for? I’ve seen the term many places in the context of 60s/70s politics but don’t quite get what it means) then working to eject them from the Democratic Party would be absolutely the right move.

        At some level this depends on ethical debates that nobody really wants to have. (I.e., the “priors” thing that I always get bashed on.)

        Let’s assume a society controlled by white racists. Among them are some that can be worked with on relatively tepid reforms that will make things slightly better, including for black people. There’s also an argument that such reforms, once passed, could later be expanded to a point where they make a more meaningful contribution to black people (as happened with certain New Deal reforms).

        On the other hand, the whole system is rotten and one would be totally justified in refusing to work with racists and basically fomenting a revolution.

        What’s the right answer?

        In American politics, our political actors (of both parties, by the way– the Republicans weren’t as effective at getting racists in the South to vote for them but they definitely pulled punches on civil rights for fear of offending bigots they wanted to work with too) decided to play ball with the white racists. Is that moral, or was the right answer to just say “screw the south” and work to overthrow the system (as eventually happened)?

        • PJ

          Let’s assume a society controlled by white racists. Among them are some that can be worked with on relatively tepid reforms that will make things slightly better, including for black people. There’s also an argument that such reforms, once passed, could later be expanded to a point where they make a more meaningful contribution to black people (as happened with certain New Deal reforms).

          On the other hand, the whole system is rotten and one would be totally justified in refusing to work with racists and basically fomenting a revolution.

          What’s the right answer?

          I have no idea why you think that second option is the one that exists in this scenario or the one that people who are contradicting Stoller are pushing.

          About Black workers and the New Deal: you do realize via basic logic that this means that Black workers were denied wealth creation, correct? The whole point of NOT ignoring the racism of white voters is specifically so they CAN’T dictate major policy like this anymore. Those kinds of economics do not trickle down.

      • Linnaeus

        What it did do was make it increasingly clear (much to the consternation of many Democrats, but it did happen) that it would continue to act in their interest as members of the working class

        I think this is debatable to some extent, although the Democrats were still better on these issues as a whole compared to the Republicans.

      • Rob in CT

        (what the heck is anti-youth shorthand for? I’ve seen the term many places in the context of 60s/70s politics but don’t quite get what it means)

        Just guessing:

        Youth:

        1) anti-war
        2) hippies (drugs/free love, man!)

        So anti-youth = fuck you, dirty hippies! We’re gonna have the cops crack your skulls.

        • weirdnoise

          Both those things. And a lot of bloviating about “the generation gap,” “counterculture,” etc. But at base it was the same authoritarian/progressive split we have today, with the Vietnam war raising the stakes.

      • Peterr

        In 1971, I think “anti-youth” was shorthand for “anti-dirty-f’ing-hippies who should shave their beards, cut their hair, get jobs, and obey their betters in authority.”

      • Woodrowfan

        (what the heck is anti-youth shorthand for?

        hippie-punching

      • Scott P.

        (what the heck is anti-youth shorthand for?)

        Hippie punching?

        • Rob in CT

          Wow. An hour since Murc’s question and then four people answer it the same way simultaneously. That’s just freaky, man!

      • NewishLawyer

        I’m currently reading True Confessions which is set in LA during late 1940s. Probably around 47-48 like the real Black Dhalia murder.

        What is interesting is that back then white ethnic neighborhoods were really divided from each other in ways that modern society would find silly. If you were Irish, you lived in the Irish neighborhoods, went to the Irish Catholic Churches with the Irish priests, sent your kids to the Irish Parochial Schools, etc. Repeat for Italians, Poles, etc.

        Now we would find this kind of silly. But in a lot of ways it made society less atomized. Most people attended some form of religious service. Secular urban intellectuals were even smaller in number. There seem to be less divisions among social/entertainment choices between Republicans and Democrats because of fewer options.

        So something about the post-WWII consumer era created generational and political culture choices which lead to an environment where people’s entertainment tastes differs as wildly as their politics.

      • chris9059

        “What it did do was make it increasingly clear (much to the consternation of many Democrats, but it did happen) that it would continue to act in their interest as members of the working class but not as whites, while the Republicans made it clear they’d work in their interests as the latter and not the former.”

        I would suggest the second part of this statement is completely accurate, the first part however is problematic. The Democratic Party over the last 35 years has placed the interests of the wealthy, well placed, and well educated over the interests of the working class (both black and white).

        • bender

          I agree. Not having come from a working class family, it’s taken me a long time to recognize this.

          It’s not particularly shocking. It’s the line of least resistance. But when none of the major parties looks out for the interests of the working class, and this behavior persists for a generation or more, it creates openings for demagogues.

    • Sly

      The piece even draws on the canard that diversity is no more than changing the level of representation of the elite while concealing a corporatist neoliberal agenda

      As that cute SNL Black Jeapordy skit demonstrates, with notably rare exceptions the white and black working classes have the exact same political attitudes. They’re just being artificially divided against each other by Free Trade, Monsanto, and the Democratic National Committee.

      You can find my full analysis on /r/ItsAboutClassNotRace

      • weirdnoise

        Only if you carefully ignore non-economic factors. The white working class was willing to put up with quite a bit of being shat upon as long as they could still look down upon blacks.

        • Linnaeus

          I suspect Sly is being snarky here.

  • LeeEsq

    I think its worth noting that there was a broad movement away from what could be called class and economic liberalism/center-leftism through out the developed world at the time. Its just that a lot of the electorate in the developed world really didn’t want that type of liberalism or leftism anymore so political parties needed to adapt. The winning combination seemed to be a basic acceptance of globalized capitalism combined with social liberalism while preserving t

    • CP

      My impression was that after all the economic reforms of the early twentieth century eventually leading to what was called the “liberal consensus” in America, Western liberals and leftists basically considered the class/economic issues “solved.” And moved on to other issues, like antiwar politics or the identity-politics based injustices (racism, sexism, homophobia).

  • I learned a lot from the article; I was especially interested by the section about left-liberal thinking in support of massive business centralization, because I had a professor in college in h 1980s– a lefty, which Wiki confirms–who insisted the economy really is directed entirely top down and small business entrepreneurship is a myth, which I found bizarre, but there were some facts about how somewhat laissez-faire ideas took over the party and “liberalism” generally that I didn’t know.

    • Quincy

      Yes, while the lionization of 20th century southern populism is gross, the discussion of antitrust as a tool to combat concentrations of economic power is really important and shouldn’t be overlooked in the rush to take shots at Stoller.

      Einer Elhauge published an extraordinarily provocative paper this past spring on horizontal shareholding in which he argued, almost as an aside, that vigorous antitrust enforcement was the main driver of the U.S. emergence from the great depression. A decent summary is here and the full paper here.

      Without congress, Hillary will need to rely on regulatory agencies to implement positive change and she should be pushed to go as big as possible on antitrust.

      • I had been taught in high school how important anti-trust was and was pretty surprised when in past years the liberal line seemed to be that “nobody” cared about it and that “everybody” who knew anything about it had known nobody ever had.

      • liberalrob

        Which will result in defunding of those regulatory agencies to prevent them from implementing those positive changes. Just as with Obama, Congress will be the stumbling block on getting things done.

    • Hob

      If you ever happen to read Jack London’s The Iron Heel – which I don’t really recommend, at least not for any literary value – you’ll see a vivid example of this now-mostly-forgotten school of thought. The lefty hero, Ernest Everhard (yes, that’s his name), has a scene with a bunch of ineffectual straw-liberal doofuses where by sheer force of charisma he bludgeons them into understanding that they were wrong to be against monopolies, and should instead work to take over the monopolies (I think he refers to them as “great machines”) and turn them into socialist tools.

  • daves09

    Anyone harboring notions about The Golden Age of the Democrats should make an effort to find and read Allen Drury’s *Senate Journal*. Written before the pressure of fame drove him batshit crazy, its
    depiction of the southern barons will douse any feelings of nostalgia for that era-they were evil men and their evil lives on.

  • NewishLawyer

    Here is one thing that I will say that LeeEsq has mentioned in the past and has been mentioned above indirectly. A lot of good good government liberals are really bad at retail politics. It seems to me that a lot of liberals or center-left people find retail politics to be vaguely to very distasteful.

    Maybe this also exists on the right but a lot of young liberals are very bad at rhetoric. When I read sites like ThinkProgress, I get frustrated because the arguments never seem to amount to more than “Expert X in White Paper Y said we should do this. So we should.” There seems to be little understanding that this is not good rhetoric or that their might be competeting interests.

    One thing that seems to be going on are debates about how long should the school year be. One set of progressives argues for a longer school year because studies show that minorities and people from lower-economic status don’t retain as much info with long summer breaks plus they might need the subsidized food.

    This could very well be true but it seems to miss a lot. There are still a lot of middle class and above people who use public schools and don’t want to send their kids to school in the summer for whatever reason (romantic notion of what a childhood summer should be). There is also the issue that we seem to be in the Homework Wars where one set of experts says schools are assigning too much and another set of experts is saying more, more, more, we gotta compete with Asia. A lot of my friends who are parents complain about battles with their kids over HW that leaves no one happy. The author of the article did not even question whether low-income parents wanted to send their kids to school year round. An expert said it was necessary, so it should be.

    This is without even asking what a summer session would be like. Would it be more of the same with more homework or would it be fun field trips to museums and more creative projects.

    When I read people like Matt Y and Ezra Klein, I get the impression that they find campaigning to be distasteful and debased.

    • To be fair, the audience at ThinkProgress is not what most people mean by “retail.”

      The existence of a bunch of noncredentialed, officeless amateur policy wonks on the Intertubes doesn’t really change that. If you were talking about the Boston Globe it would be different.

    • sharculese

      This could very well be true but it seems to miss a lot. There are still a lot of middle class and above people who use public schools and don’t want to send their kids to school in the summer for whatever reason (romantic notion of what a childhood summer should be).

      If the argument is that the practice disadvantages groups that have been historically disadvantaged, I’m not sure why “but I don’t waaaant to” is a response I’m supposed to find compelling.

      • Rob in CT

        I’d think a lot of working parents would fine that it would make their lives somewhat easier (just like the push for full-day pre-K) because they’d have a smaller period of time during which to figure out who is caring for the kids, activities, etc.

        My wife and I were talking about life once both kids were in school full time, and how we wouldn’t need full time childcare anymore and she pointed out “well, except for the summer.”

        I had literally blocked that out of my mind. It’s been eating at me ever since.

        • NewishLawyer

          Summer camp but this is also expensive.

          I’d be for state funded summer camp or “year-round” school where the summer looked a lot like camp.

          • Rob in CT

            Expensive and only works if your kid is up for that.

            I, as a child, wanted no part of it. But I had a stay-at-home parent, so…

            I’m sure we’ll try that route. My wife did the camp thing and enjoyed it and both kids can benefit in different ways from camp (kid #1 needs physical activity to build up some semblance of strength; kid #2 needs to burn off energy so she can sit still for 2 seconds).

      • Gareth

        “I don’t want to, and the majority of the electorate doesn’t want to either.”

        This really shows the limits of technocrats. Experts can give you very clear advice on the benefits of a longer school year for minorities and poor children. But if most families don’t benefit, or are slightly harmed, there’s no expert who can tell what choice to make.

      • NewishLawyer

        Because we live in a democracy and whether we like it or not, democracy means politicians need to be concerned with things like this if they want to keep their jobs.

        I don’t have kids yet but there is a strong possibility that I will in the next few years. Based on my experiences in reading articles and listening to my friends with kids, school is very different than when I was a kid. Kindergarten has less unstructured play and has a lot of sit down work and homework even though a lot of experts feel that unstructured play is the most important thing for young minds. From what I hear with parents of kids in the 7-10 range, there is also just much more homework than when I was a kid because the experts who are winning this fight are the ones who think school needs to be joyless slog so we can compete in the world, economic arena. This is despite the fact that there are studies that show homework really doesn’t help young children learn.

        So I might be open to more year round school (or a kind of 3 months on, one month off cycle) but not if it is going to be some kind of corporatist slog filled with absurd amounts of homework that takes all the joy out of learning. And I am not an unschooler either. You need a structured syllabus/agenda with all subjects.

        From what I hear and read, recess is reduced to nearly nothing.

        • Rob in CT

          Yeah, I’m hearing similar things and have a similar sense of dread.

          My eldest is in 1st grade now, and still gets recess and doesn’t appear to be involved in a joyless slog. So far (not very far!) so good.

    • (((Hogan)))

      A lot of good good government liberals are really bad at retail politics. It seems to me that a lot of liberals or center-left people find retail politics to be vaguely to very distasteful.

      The first sentence is true; the second doesn’t follow from the first, and I don’t know where you get that impression. Wonking and retail politicking demand very different temperaments, and it’s extremely rare for anyone to work comfortably in both worlds. (Bill Clinton is the only example I can think of; Obama might qualify.)

      I find door knocking and phone banking and petitioning uncomfortable; I’m an introvert with a very limited fund of small talk. But I don’t disrespect the people who are good at them.

      • NewishLawyer

        I think that a lot of young or now not-so young so-called progressives (especially those who write on the net) want to live in a truly technocratic society where they can enact policies without thinking about convincing people of their worth.

        • (((Hogan)))

          Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, and I’ll be 60 in January. It’s not a realistic expectation, and you might have to live a certain amount before that sinks in.

  • Gwen

    I briefly skimmed the article. But I’d like to dwell for a minute on the part of the article talking about Texas campaigns in the 1930s.

    The Texas Democratic Party was *particularly* fractious during the 1930s. Several times, you had groups (Regulars, etc.) who were extremely anti-New Deal. Of course in all areas of the South you had a split between conservative Bourbon Democrats and a few different types of progressives (some of whom were extremely racist).

    It thus makes me wonder who the “us” is when this flyer talks about “Our Democratic Party.” My guess is that it’s basically an appeal to white rural identity politics. You know — *our* Democratic Party, as opposed to *those* people (wealthy urbanites, blacks and Latinos) in the GOP, as well as *those* people in the Roosevelt administration.

    Although there is not blatant racial appeal in the list of Dem accomplishments, I think you’d have to be incredibly naive to assume that “us/our” is referring to some transcendental/universal proletarian class.

    The worst sins that revisionist historians of old-fashioned Democratic Populism make are: 1.) To forget that “white working class” is very much a socially-constructed identity; and 2.) that appeals to the “white working class” are very much a form of “identity politics.”

    • Gwen

      Moreover, there were some parts of the South, as I understand it, where the “populist” party was the GOP, contra big Democrat landowners (and former slaveowners). Examples being Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

  • PJ

    “Diversity” is an exploited concept. For sure. It can be used to sell things, obscure the true relations of power, etc.

    THAT SAID.

    If you think that anti-racist/feminist activists are all using that concept in the same way as corporations do, you are:

    1) ignorant
    2) condescending
    3) passive-aggressively undercutting political movements that prioritize women and people of color
    4) anti-intellectual in terms of denying the transnational, post-colonial, anti-racist leanings of many Marxist thinkers, many of whom were women, Black, brown, members of religious minorities.

    This whole division between Marxist/socialist thinking and anti-racist/feminist politics is contrary to the evolution of those lines of political philosophy. It strikes me as primarily news media/ social media driven. It’s not fair to accuse people who work in non-academic fields for being uninformed about theory, but …

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    Really wish cats like Stoller would just man up and say that they’re upset because the Real Adult Work of solving class issues in this country is being help up by Those People who insist on distracting everyone with their identity politics.

    Read this article last night. I’d be more pissed off about it if it weren’t so predictable at this point.

  • Harkov311

    I see the Thomas Franks and Matt Stollers of the world are still trying to somehow blame the Democratic party for the fact that poor whites (especially in the South) continue to care more about being white than being poor.

    And as I’ve said before, if the white working class isn’t on board with economic and social liberalism, then they can jolly well stay Republican for all I care.

    • liberalrob

      And they jolly well will.

      • sapient

        The old, dumb as rocks ones will. The youngsters will not.

    • Jackov

      A majority of poor white voters in the non-South supported Obama.
      This was not the case for white voters in the 31st to 90th income percentiles
      with upper middle class whites voting against the president at the highest rates.
      In the South, poor whites voted for Obama at higher percentages than whites
      at all other income levels.

      Within any education category, richer people vote more Republican. What does this say about America’s elites? If you define elites as high-income non-Hispanic whites, the elites vote strongly Republican. If you define elites as college-educated high-income whites, they vote moderately Republican.
      Andrew Gelman

      • PJ

        There are definitely progressive white working class and poor voters who voted for Obama, but the statistics have it that if you are lower income, you are less likely to vote. It appears from statistics that white voters this year are more likely to support Trump as they have any republican candidate. So higher income whites likely will form a big part of his voting block; as long as they form a large part of the voting block, whites will be responsible for any republican victory.

        This line of thinking about white voters can be disaggregated by the following actions if you wish to take them on personally:

        -Tell those pro-Republican voters over a certain income to stop identifying themselves as working class

        -Tell Republican lawmakers to stop talking about how they are more in touch with working class voters

        -Tell Republican lawmakers that working to suppress the minority vote also works to suppress the poor and working-class white vote

        -Tell Trump to stop identifying himself and his policies with the working class

        -Tell major TV and internet journalists to stop making generalizations about the white working class and their voting preferences without research

        -Tell white leftists to stop equating the majority working class vote with the majority white vote

        However, I wish to commiserate that, yes, it does suck to be subject to untrue generalizations about your people that are widespread in national culture. You know who else hates it? Women and minorities.

        • efgoldman

          Tell whom what?
          You have to convince them, first, that 2+2=4; that the earth is round and not ~6000 years old; that magick asterisks don’t fix the budget; that magick incantations (“Islamic terrorism”) don’t solve anything; that wearing the right or wrong flag pin doesn’t make you more or less American; that the soon-to-be ex-president was, in fact, a US citizen born here, and on and on and on….
          You have to cut thru all the irrational, unmoored-from-reality bullshit before you can even think of having a rational discussion.

  • Donna Gratehouse

    What I wish all these White Brocialist cats would do is stop demanding that the very people their white working class heroes hate the most (ie all the marginalized people who make up most of the modern Dem Tent) do the persuading of said WWC heroes. They hate us, so why would they listen to us?

    YOU reach out to them, Matt Stoller et al. Stop expecting women, PoC, LGBT, etc., to do that emotional and cultural grunt work for you. We’ve got enough on our plates already, FFS.

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