Friday, April 22, 2016

The "Liberals are Just Too Smug" Meme

At least some liberals are beginning to get it. Sort of. According to Emmett Rensin in Vox, liberals are just too smug.

The smugness has occurred because, over the last half century, the working class has moved away from liberals and their political organ, the Democratic Party.
Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the working class, once the core of the coalition, began abandoning the Democratic Party. In 1948, in the immediate wake of the Franklin Roosevelt, 66 percent of manual laborers voted for Democrats, along with 60 percent of farmers. In 1964, it was 55 percent of working-class voters. By 1980, it was 35 percent.
And in the white working class, the decline has been sharper. The result, according to Rensin, is that a "movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves."

The result has been the "what happened to Kansas" attitude, the smug assumption in LiberalLand that the poor schmucks don't know what is good for them. For,
It is central to the liberal self-conception that what separates them from reactionaries is a desire to help people, a desire to create a fairer and more just world. Liberals still want, or believe they still want, to make a more perfect union.
 Well, you know what my answer would be to that.

First, to echo Ronald Reagan, the white working class didn't leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left them. In the 1960s liberals decided that they wanted to help create a fairer and more just world for women and minorities, not working people so much. And part of that turning was to marginalize the white working class as racist, sexist bigots like Archie Bunker that didn't deserve that high-mined help of the liberals.

Second is the delicious confirmation of my idea that liberals like to think they are kindly librarians just trying to help people find a book. But liberals do not "help" people by taking them by the hand and leading them to the Promised Land. They propose to help by occupying the commanding heights of culture and government and using force create that fairer and most just world. That's why I never stop rapping out my catchphrases: government is force, politics is violence. It is one thing to help people. It is another thing to slam down your clunking fist and bellow THIS is the way it's going to be. And my belief is that the "help" that liberals gave the working class is a sufficient reason for the working class's troubles today. It is my belief that to thrive in the city you need to become middle-class and bourgeois and accept the idea of personal responsibility. Liberals told workers that they didn't need to change their culture and become middle class; liberals would take care of them. Until they didn't.

Liberals "know" that their issues are dispositive, that "police reform, that abortion rights, that labor unions are important[.]" Period. And the same with gay rights, the environment, transgender bathrooms etc.

But do you know? We have already done all these issues. Police no longer walk around cuffing people. Abortion is here to stay. Labor unions have risen and fallen. Environmentalists are all over our governments. The Supreme Court just imposed gay marriage. Government spends about a third of our national income, and regulates far more.

The problem for liberals is that they have enacted just about everything they ever dreamed of and now they are scraping the bottom of the barrel worrying about the one-tenth of one percent that have gender identification issues.

And I think that a man from Mars would have to say that all these efforts to help people and make a fairer and more just society are a mixed bag. Let's say that, on balance they have improved things.

But that means that thoughtful people would be concerned that many things in the liberal agenda need tidying up, and other things will have turned out to be not such a good idea and ought to be repealed. Maybe the travails of the white working class illustrate the operation of the law of unintended consequences, that piling all those social gains on workers in the first half of the 20th century set them up for a fall in the second half. Maybe, just maybe.

But what do liberals do now, poor things?
The smug style did not arise by accident, and it cannot be abolished with a little self-reproach. So long as liberals cannot find common cause with the larger section of the American working class, they will search for reasons to justify that failure. 
So liberals must mend their ways and find a way to understand the American working class before they can hope to get back to creating a fairer and more just world.

I don't think so. The problem is not what to do about the American working class. Liberals already did it, and the doing was the problem. As I wrote in The American Thinker:
Perhaps the answer is in the great question asked by Frederick Douglass. “What shall be done with the Negro?” And his answer: “Do nothing with us.”

Really, the same could be said for the white working class, that all of a sudden we recognize is in bad shape after a century and a half of doing from the state, with a suicide rate among white working class men only exceeded by the suicide rate among Native Americans.

As Douglass said, “Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us.” The doing with the Negro was the worst, and still is, but the doing with the worker has come a close second. First the worker had to be exempted from the law against combinations, then protected from the exploitation of long work days. Then the worker had to be protected from want with government social insurance instead of his own mutual-aid society. The result was inevitable. The working class came to expect that the ruling class would look after it with good jobs and good wages forever.
Now the ruling class smugly reckons that the working class is just a bunch of bigots and bitter clingers. So Emmett Rensin wants American liberals to recover their empathy for the working class so they can play the mischief with them all over again.

The problem is not that American liberals are too smug. The problem is the things they know that aren't so.

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