DRUM AND JONES—AND US: The magnificent fast food sneering debate!


Part 3—The way we liberals roll:
It ought to be said that Scott Seitz was perhaps overstating a tad.

The Seitz family was interviewed by Van Jones at the start of last week's "town hall" special on CNN. Scott Seitz was identified as a two-time Obama voter who voted for Trump this fall.

Seitz hails from Ohio's Trumbull County, which includes part of Youngstown. Last Monday, as he previewed his program, Jones described the situation in Trumbull County to a fascinated Anderson Cooper.

"Over the last 40 years—well actually it's the last four years, especially Obama's second term—industry has been hit hard" in Trumbull County, Jones said. "Many steel mills, manufacturing plants have been closed, and thousands of jobs have been lost."

That didn't sound good. In this morning's New York Times, Eduardo Porter describes the disproportionate amount of job loss which has afflicted the white working class in such locations. (In the 2010 census, Trumbull County was 89.2% white.)

Seitz, a lifelong Democrat, has seen this up close and personal. Still, he was perhaps overstating a tad when he made the highlighted remarks, part of a bitter complaint about Candidate Clinton:
JONES (12/6/16): So how does a billionaire—I mean, you guys are seriously like the working class backbone of America and the industrial heartland. How does a billionaire break through to the blue-collar worker? And what's it about him? I mean, it just drives me crazy. I don't understand. I'm confused.

SEITZ: She wasn't even close. She never even mentioned us.

JONES: That's the—

SEITZ: Is she—she heard us. We put Democrats in office and she turned around and forgot completely about us.

We are what makes this world go round. We built the tanks and bombs that won this country's wars and for you to come through here and completely neglect us, we would have rather vote for anybody instead of her.
"We built the tanks and bombs that won this country's wars?" Whatever one thinks of Seitz's overall complaint, it might be said that he was perhaps over- or understating.

Many people from many groups "built the tanks and bombs that won this country's wars." It certainly wasn't just the people from Trumbull County.

Based on Seitz's interactions with Jones, we have no doubt that he would have quickly acknowledged this fact. Also in fairness, nothing Seitz said to Jones carried anything like an explicit racial context. Did we mention the fact that he supported Obama both times?

This time around, Seitz seemed to bear a serious grievance against Candidate Clinton. Let's try to puzzle that out.

Who exactly did Candidate Clinton fail to mention in this campaign? Who did she "completely forget?" In the material which CNN aired, Seitz was never asked and never explicitly said.

But in the weeks since November's election, many observers have criticized Clinton for allegedly failing to speak to the plight of the white working class. She spoke about everyone else, these observers have said. But she pretty much skipped past them.

Is that a fair assessment of Clinton's campaign? We don't really know. We do know this—when Jim Garland wrote a famous labor song in the 1930s, "We worked to build this country, Mister" tended to play differently in progressive and liberal ears.

Back then, liberals and progressives were inclined to see a nobility in the complaints of the white working class. "We worked to build this country, Mister" tended to sound like a justified, noble complaint.

In films like The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and It's A Wonderful Life (1946), the white working class was favorably, and accurately, portrayed as victims of an avaricious ruling class. We liberals no longer rush to see things that way. Consider what happened when Kevin Drum linked to Sarah Kliff's new report.

Like Jones, Kliff had ventured into the interior in search of Trump voters. Reporting from the wilds of Whitley County, she sought explanations from such people as to why they'd voted for Trump.

Kliff didn't fail to signal us concerning their comical culture; more on that whistle tomorrow. But when these degraded yahoos explained their reasons for supporting Trump, degraded yahoos who read Drum's post responded in typical fashion.

What happened wasn't Drum's fault! He had merely posted excerpts from Kliff's report. More specifically, he'd posted excerpts in which Trump voters explained why they voted for Trump even though it meant they might lose the health insurance they obtained through Obamacare.

In our view, these Trump voters made unwise assessments this fall. That said, their lack of wisdom was matched and topped by Drum's readers in comments.

Below, you see some typical reactions to those Kentucky Trump voters. We're quoting comments from our own tribe's reliable gang of unintelligent yahoos, who offered these typically thoughtful reactions in comments to Drum's post:
COMMENTER 1 (12/13/16): I've read a lot about how we liberals aren't supposed to "condescend" to Trump supporters, nor are we supposed to call them idiots. But . . .

One Trump supporter who knew he was promising to repeal Obamacare, and voted for him anyway? And another who didn't understand that the President and Congress are empowered to change the law? If "idiots" isn't an accurate term for these people, what is?

COMMENTER 2: These are people who thought kicking out the brown people was of more vital importance to them than their healthcare. So many accurate terms for them, yet so little will to use any of them.

COMMENTER 3: Lyndon Johnson said it best: If you let the lowest white man think he is better than any colored man, he won't notice that you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on, he'll empty his pockets for you.

COMMENTER 4: Nose. Face. Some spiteful disassembly required.

COMMENTER 5: The whole thing is deplorable. They handed the keys to the White House to a pussy grabbing reality TV show star because their feelings were hurt?
This is very typical stuff from our own legion of yahoos. Quickly, let's review:

Commenter 1 wanted to know how he could refer to These People except by calling them idiots. Commenter 2 quickly explained that they voted for Trump for the obvious reason:

They voted for Trump because they're racists! Our yahoos have memorized that!

In comments, the savants continued to muse. Is it possible that these Kentucky voters were the victims of avaricious elites? Our yahoos rarely take that path. Our yahoos seem to enjoy kicking down. We like to talk about "them:"
COMMENTER 1: Ms. Mills clearly deserves to be labeled an idiot for not understanding that the President and Congress can change the law. How the hell does she think Obamacare became law in the first place? From the revealed Word of God, I suppose, which is why Trump and the Republicans supposedly can't change it now. She needs to go back and watch Schoolhouse Rock.

I expect you're right that the bulk of those who like Obamacare and still voted for Trump simply believed he was bullshitting. I'm not sure that really makes them much better.

COMMENTER 6: Was it Churchill who observed that the most effective argument against democracy was a five-minute conversation with the average voter?

COMMENTER 7: These are the same people who complain that the elitist liberals look down on them.
You have to love Commenter 7. Meanwhile, darn those "average voters!" They aren't just racist, they're religious too! There they had gone again!

Needless to say, these are very familiar comments. In such comments, our highly useful "liberal" idiots agree to work overtime, without pay, creating supporters for Trump.

In the modern context, these are very familiar reactions. We pseudo-liberals have been thinking and talking this way at least since the 1960s, when an age of turmoil opened divisions between progressives and the white working class.

These comments aren't a reflection on Drum. They do reflect the tenor of the times. Almost surely, they help explain the tone of grievance in Seitz's remarks, which largely went unexplored on Jones' rushed, hour-long program. Note the wonderful use of the term "deplorable" one of our savants threw in! Darlings, it's simply delish!

Four days earlier, Drum had offered a post in which he discussed the way we liberals sneer at The Others. He was responding to Paul Krugman's latest claim that The Others are simply imagining things when they perceive such slights.

Drum said Krugman was just a bit nuts about this. Rather plainly, Drum was right, but Krugman is hardly alone.

In comments that day, Drum's readers seemed almost completely clueless concerning the ways we liberals sneer at The Others. Truth to tell, Drum seemed to serving some soft soap too, as had Matt Yglesias in the post to which Krugman responded.

Do we liberals sneer at Those People concerning their love of fast food? That was the question our savants discussed. Could we be more clueless?

Do we the liberals have any idea about the way we seem to The Others? Scott Seitz voted for Obama twice, was somehow offended by Clinton.

When this reaction occurred on a wider scale, it produced an appalling electoral outcome. But even now, we liberals seem unwilling to come to terms with these disastrous dynamics.

"Idiots" was the term in comments. Might it apply to Us?

Tomorrow: Moving beyond fast food


  1. These people are idiots. Calling them what they are is living in the reality-based community. I WILL NOT PRETEND that these people made reasoned, legitimate choices when they picked Trump.

    Hillary Clinton had many policies to benefit these people. She spoke to them and about them, repeatedly. These people chose instead to listen to Trump's lies about Hillary.

    She supposedly turned her back on them? She was Secretary of State, not in charge of domestic policy for Obama. At most her trade agreements might have affected them, remotely, but even then she was executing Obama's strategies and she broke from Obama over TPP and some other trade issues. How then did she abandon them? She has not been in the Senate since 2008 and when she was in the Senate she did many things to benefit them. And all of those things were described on her webpage and in her speeches.

    But these people chose instead of listen to Trump's lies about her. That makes them huge idiots. There is no excuse for their major and continuing idiocy. And it is very wrong to call those who perceive them to be idiots wrong for saying so.

    Get off this horse, Somerby. You are not going to get anyone to follow you on this. It is time for Democrats to spend their energies resisting Trump, not rolling over and playing dead because his followers dislike being called what they are, idiots.

    1. Dave the Guitar PlayerDecember 14, 2016 at 12:44 PM

      I think you made Bob's point. You might disagree about whether it matters, but obviously you do "look down" upon Trump voters.

    2. Dave, can you tell me the adjective to fit the GM or Chrysler worker whose jobs Obama saved without Republican help who voted for Trump because Trump could talk to the "working class"?

      Could you tell me the adjective for people who call themselves devout Christian who voted for a man who is the direct antithesis of everything Christ taught?

      Can you tell me the adjective for those Republican married women in the suburbs who also voted for a guy who has discarded wives twice for younger, prettier trophy models, and cheated on all three?

      Can you tell me why a person who hates Wall Street and Goldman Sachs would vote for the guy who has now put Goldman Sachs in charge of the Treasury?

      Can you tell me the adjective to describe the blue-blooded patriot who voted for the guy who is now going to play footsie with the world's worst autocrat, and a Russian one to boot?

    3. Dave, we liberals may look down on Trump voters but what is neat about us is that we support policies that would help them - unlike Trump, and these policies may not even help us liberals and some are at our expense, and yet we still support them because we believe in lifting up those that need help. We liberals may call Trump voters idiots and racists but we would still give them the shirt off our back. That is the difference between liberals and Trump and the Republicans.

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  2. BTW - you probably noticed that "we built the tanks and bombs that won this countries wars" is a line from Springsteen's "Youngstown".

    1. wow yeah the Seitz thing is a plant, wonder how CNN found them. also the thing about the cameraman tearing up sounds false too, the whole thing sounds fake, I think Bob got suckered.

  3. "Get off this horse, Somerby."

    He won't. Here's why [courtesy of Urban Dictionary]:

    Hippie Punching - the practice common among establishment centrists of ritualistically denigrating progressives in order to win over imaginary swing voters and David Brooks. Sometimes misinterpreted as a boneheaded political mistake, it's actually a sign of deep and unselfish commitment to pleasing owners and professionals even at the cost of losing elections.

    That's who he is.

    1. Your reply shows the Cassandra like quality of Bob's writing. Methinks you should be less dismissive and rethink what Bob has been saying, lo, these many years.

  4. The people who elected Trump have as much disdain, if not more, for liberals as liberals have for them. It's a two-way street, Bob.

    1. Dave the Guitar PlayerDecember 14, 2016 at 12:48 PM

      You can change the way you act, even if you can't change the way others behave. So, do you intend to continue to act in a obviously destructive manner just because you are "right" and you can?

    2. I am interested in what Bob has to say. I am an old upper middle class white guy surrounded by same. Expect in a group of twenty, my wife and I and another couple will likely be the only liberals. We get treated like shit. Especially now, with Dear Leader coming to make all of Obama's horrible sins right. My wife yelps let's not talk politics. I end up in screaming matches. Would be nice to know if there is a middle way.

    3. You know, Dave. I recall John Kerry acting real nice when his military service was being attacked with a bunch of lies.

      How did that work out for him?

  5. Hey, liberals! You're idiots! You lost the election, but you're so dumb, you don't even know why. You blame the people who won the election for you losing the election. What would be stupider than that? You don't even see how, as a group, you've changed from supporting the exploited, to being the supporters of Goldman Sachs. You think you're helping groups that are disadvantaged, but throw scorn at poor white people who have no power at all.

    Hey, liberals. How did you feel after the first couple of lines? Ready to listen to possibly cogent points? No? Now, why would that be?

    1. Because we don't speak or understand Moronese?

    2. anon 12:32 I am more than willing to listen to some cogent points. I might be characterized as a liberal in that I haven't ever voted for a GOP candidate for president, and e.g., have great antipathy for say Saint Ronald Reagan, and am more or less in shock over Trump's victory (though if it had been Cruz, that might be worse). I am not a Goldman Sachs supporter, few "liberals" are I would assume. Was Clinton? Those high paid speeches certainly didn't do her any good except in the pocketbook. You have some points there. As far as belittling the white working class Trump supporters (or the many professional class Trump supporters) - they are a lot of them that are pretty ignorant in some ways, though as TDH points out, it is dumb and counter effective (everyone now is a racist) for liberal spokespeople to voice that. What is true, but doesn't get stated much is if you were to interview most Clinton supporters, and why they voted for her, a large percentage will come off as being dumb too (though smart enough not to have voted for Trump). Not that many people have a very sophisticated understanding of the issues.

  6. Hey Somerby? Through how many hundreds of Drum comments did you have to pick through to find the handful that "proves" that all liberals are "degraded yahoos" and thus deserved to have Hillary Clinton lose to Donald Trump?

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