Election 2016 has prompted a wave of head-scratching on the left. Why would economically struggling blue collar voters reject a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The answer is simple – they don’t want these programs. Working class white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one I and my neighbors still enjoy.
Jeff Pearlman reached out shortly after the election and invited me to participate in one of his Quaz segments, a quirky Q&A session. Pearlman is a former ESPN and Sport Illustrated writer who has authored several books. His latest, Gunslinger, is a biography of Brett Favre. His questions were thought-provoking and I liked the format. You can find the final results here. Hope you enjoy it.
There was ample good news for Democrats in the 2016 results, but without some coherent vision it won’t matter. Clinton was remarkably popular in suburbs everywhere, even across the South and especially in Texas and Georgia. Trump is on track to finish this race with a lower popular vote percentage than Romney, and will possible reach McCain’s level by the time the last ballots are counted in California. Republicans won the generic national Congressional ballot with barely 51%. The last two Republican Presidents will have assumed office while losing the popular vote, finishing with 47% and 46% of the vote respectively.
Just to be clear, I know absolutely nothing about Chris Knight’s politics. For all I know he’s walking around right now with a safety pin on his lapel. That’s not the point. Knight’s music is a unique window into the frustrations of a certain chunk of the white electorate. If you want to understand the emotions that would inspire support for Trump among white voters who could still, potentially, vote for a Democrat, then you should probably become familiar with the music of Chris Knight.
For Brawndo and Starbucks and Carl’s Jr. and Costco to continue to function and thrive in this Idiocracy, an entire class of humans must have escaped the reach of democratic politics. They exist in a realm beyond the conception, much less the authority, of President Camacho and his cabinet of simpletons. Idiocracy may not be about the descent of humans into stupidity, but rather the collapse of politics as a means of achieving common human interests.
The left loved big government when they felt like they could potentially control it. With the entire central government under the leadership of a radically dangerous figure, maybe we have an opening to consider alternatives.
We have some time here before the shit truly hits the fan to gather our thoughts, get better informed, and make plans. Along those lines, here are a few things I’ll be reading over the next few weeks.
Let me suggest, however, that we resist the temptation to normalcy. Regardless what we may have done to fight this menace, we all own what happened here. I live in an affluent suburb, insulated from much of what was wrong about the world yesterday. I will still be insulated tomorrow and next week. I have a choice to make about whether to continue that isolation, whether to rest, whether to accept comfort.
No matter how this night ends, we are in for some bitter, miserable years. Apparently the damage we endured from the Bush years wasn’t enough. There’s more pain on the way.
Milgram’s research also suggests that the party will not be able to reform itself. Having purged dissenters and shrunk to a culturally and racially monolithic core, there is simply no force capable of resisting its present dynamics. The party will break and re-organize, or be replaced. How long this will take is anyone’s guess, but the process can be expected to spread instability all across our system.