Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wow, New York Times article equates all white working class people with racist Southerners

(title link) "A Fault Line that Haunts Democrats" by John Harwood:

"As long ago as 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson foretold that the landmark civil rights legislation he engineered would be met with a powerful backlash from aggrieved Southern whites. He was right. Even though he won the election, defeating Barry M. Goldwater, who opposed the legislation, in a massive landslide, President Johnson lost five states in his native South — states that had historically voted for Democrats.

...

But that coalition did not form easily. And, in the North, while the party’s base of working-class whites remained loyal to the legacy of the New Deal and to Mr. Johnson’s Great Society — and programs like Social Security and Medicare — a new generation of activists drove the party to the left. These tensions flared into open hostility at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, in Chicago, when the party’s older “establishment” base, aligned with the Democratic vice president, Hubert Humphrey, defeated antiwar delegates who backed the insurgent candidacies of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern."

I'm kind of speechless here. Although at the very end of the article he presents the view that the divide is more about economics than race, the main thesis is that white working class people don't support Obama because they're racist. And that this lack of support is directly connected to the civil rights movement, in both North and South, which supposedly alienated white workers in the North like it did whites who grew up during segregation in the South.

The actual fault line has little to do with racism and more to do with the abandonment of political progressivism by the Democrats while promoting identity politics. People who are struggling don't support people who not only ignore their day to day struggles but brand them as incorrigible racists, while promoting affirmative action for other groups. The problem isn't race, or, for example, gay rights, another fault line, but the fact that this promotion has come from comfortable people who don't recognize that there's more wrong with this country than just minorities not being represented in schools and in jobs.

If you combine the two ideas, that of economic justice for everyone, white, black, hispanic, native, with sensitivity towards race and progressive programs, you're going to get a mix that working people, white working people, will be much more likely to support.

Since the '60s the white working class has become something of a punching bag, but it's the same people who organized the CIO in the '30s, the Congress of Industrial Workers, which was the most radical union of its time, and who not only pushed through New Deal reforms but worked to extend them towards socialism.

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