Sunday, July 08, 2018

Mitch 2020: Fuck Your Feelings

There's a lot we could pick on in this Politco piece. There's the "gee-wiz a white southerner isn't overtly racist" framing along with some other condescending observations about how a person can both say "y'all" and also be literate. ("OMG he quoted a thing JFK liked to quote from Tennyson!") Many other annoying things happen.  Mitch is buds with Obama. Mitch is buds with Michael Bloomberg.  He's gonna be on Oprah's podcast.  There is this sentence: "He doesn’t have consultants, other than a rickety breakfast-nook cabinet of Donna Brazile, James Carville and Mary Matalin."

But you don't have to read all that stuff. You can probably predict most of it anyway.  The true key to understanding what's the matter with a Mitch for President campaign is right here in this paragraph where the potential candidate tells us he doesn't know what everybody is so upset about.
“We are not in a place where the world is about to take us over, and we ought not be in a position of crouched fear and hunched-in and isolated. We ought to be feeling much better about ourselves. But here’s the thing: We’re not,” Landrieu says. “And so I’m not trying to diminish people’s feelings. I think the question is, why do we feel that way? Because there’s an answer there, and I don’t know what the answer is at the moment.”
Mitch doesn't know the answer. Why should he? This whole running for higher office gig is just one of several options available to him, anyway.  And, hey, good for him. Inherited wealth and status is pretty nice but there are some people who manage to screw up in spite of all that. Mitch made sure he didn't squander his many opportunities. This is why he's able to dazzle Politico with his adequately educated adult's level of reasonably expected erudition.  But for someone so concerned about why people feel the way they do, you'd think he'd be able to empathize maybe a little bit with the problems that real people face. Or at least exhibit a passing familiarity with those problems.
So why does a large subset of workers continue to feel left behind? We can find some clues in a new 296-page report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a club of advanced and advancing nations that has long been a top source for international economic data and research. Most of the figures are from 2016 or before, but they reflect underlying features of the economies analyzed that continue today.

In particular, the report shows the United States’s unemployed and at-risk workers are getting very little support from the government, and their employed peers are set back by a particularly weak collective-bargaining system.

Those factors have contributed to the United States having a higher level of income inequality and a larger share of low-income residents than almost any other advanced nation. Only Spain and Greece, whose economies have been ravaged by the euro-zone crisis, have more households earning less than half the nation’s median income — an indicator that unusually large numbers of people either are poor or close to being poor.
Mitch can't possibly guess why an immiserated American working class isn't "feeling much better" about itself.  He's fine. His friends are fine.  Why is everybody else so pissed off? It's a mystery.

It's not just Mitch, of course. He's only one product of a political system that rewards insular networking among a privileged class of donors, office holders, and complicit media rather than working class organizing and power building. The glad-handers who rise to the top in this system have no clue what people outside of the circle actually have to deal with.

Think again about LaToya Cantrell's reaction when we had to tell her not to put a guy who helped cover up the Danziger shootings in charge of Homeland Security.  Somehow she didn't see the "uptick" coming.  But even after a week of meetings with concerned parties, her conclusion was just that we were all too "traumatized" to make a sound judgement. LaToya never really got what the issue was there because people like she and Mitch aren't capable of ever getting it. The successful politicos can fake their way past it well enough but there is a fundamental disconnect between the self-serving careerist priorities of the professional administrative class and the life and death crises faced by the people who live with consequences of those ambitions.  This is why none of them can ever really be trusted. They can be made to act correctly given enough pressure, but at a basic level, they are incapable of actually giving a shit.  

Mitch Landrieu, Michael Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey, and the Carvilles are not among the "unusually large number of people who are poor or close to being poor." They are very interested in who gets to rule those people, though, so maybe some homework is in order at some point. Otherwise the Landrieu 2020 campaign's message is just a dressed up version of "Fuck Your Feelings" and I thought the whole point of this was to offer an alternative to Trumpism. Is this really the best we can do?

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