Friday, February 26, 2016

The kids may not be alright

If you read one "Do not underestimate Donald Trump's impact" article today, make it this one.
Looking at the electoral map, Oliver concluded that “the counties where Republican margins grew the largest tended to be predominantly white places in otherwise racially mixed states.” These are areas, he observed, where “locally segregated whites have less contact with nearby minorities yet also feel greater competition for public goods.”

You might think that white twentysomethings are more racially enlightened than their parents, and therefore less likely to fall into supremacist mania. You’d be wrong. A recent Washington Post analysis of survey data found that 23% of white millennials would “rate blacks less intelligent than whites,” compared to 24% of boomers and 19% of generation X-ers. Similarly, a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 58% of white millennials believe “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.” On measures of implicit bias, white members of my generation don’t do much better than their elders.
2016 is a backlash election.  That can bode either ill or good depending on the direction in which the backlash goes. Both parties are dealing with insurrectionist candidates who have drawn broad bases of support among the growing number of voters left behind by our increasingly oligarchic political economy. There are a lot of ways to explain the Trump phenomenon. None of them are encouraging to contemplate. But if you are leaning on some version that dismisses large numbers of desperate angry working class people as merely ignorant rubes, you need to work on that.

Trump is a con man. But to dismiss the validity of the desperation that makes his con possible is basically snobbery.
All of this is why Cruz and Rubio will fall flat with their attacks. For the most part, they hit him from the right, as if Trump was just another politician, walking an ideological bridge too far. But that’s wrong. Trump doesn’t win his support from the most conservative Republicans; his base is among moderates and “somewhat” conservative voters. On the same score, it doesn’t make sense to hit Trump for his lack of policy knowledge. He isn’t winning because he’s competent; he’s winning because he connects with millions of Republicans who feel, strongly, that their leaders aren’t interested in them or their lives. Trump, more than anyone else in the GOP field, feels their pain."  
The dismissal of Trump is not the same as the dismissal of Bernie.  Bernie is not a con man and he actually addresses the desperation with substance instead of platitudes and "unintelligible yelling." But it is in the same general category as the dismissal of Bernie in that it originates from an elitist and entitled sense among the ruling classes that they are better than us poor folk being left behind.

But that's exactly the message elites in the Democratic Party are sending us in their aggressive rejection of Bernie's campaign as "pie in the sky" while they promote a banking class backed war criminal as their preferred candidate.  There's revolt in the air. And by choosing to thumb their noses at it rather than seeing it as the cry for help that it is, they're giving Trump exactly what he needs to destroy them.  If you're looking for the real villains in this mess, I'd suggest that's who you focus on.

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