Why don't The Others trust Us?: It's a major question in American politics:
Why won't The Others trust Us?
We liberals keep telling The Others how they should speak, think and vote. Granted, we frequently start by telling Them what horrible terrible people they are. Still, we're willing to share our advice. Why won't The Others listen?
This became a large problem in 2016 when enough of The Others cast their votes for Donald J. Trump instead of for Hillary Clinton. (Starting in 1992, we'd sat around twiddling our thumbs while people like Chris Matthews conducted the wars on her person which continue to this very day.)
Despite losing the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, Trump ended up in the White House. Why hadn't The Others been willing to trust us when we told them how they should vote?
This is a major political question. Last night, we received a bit of an answer as we watched the first fifteen minutes of Tucker Carlson's Fox News show.
Overstating but also telling the truth, Carlson played tape of our various cable news stars and explained why The Other should hate them. We caught this segment at midnight Eastern. Minutes before, we'd watched Don Lemon lead a typically arrogant, unintelligent discussion in which The Others had been instructed in how they should think, speak and be.
Luckily, most people don't watch Lemon's show. This means that Dems may still have a chance to win the House next month.
Why don't The Others trust Us? If you've watched us in action and you aren't too far gone, you may have have some idea. If not, you might consider a book review from Sunday's Washington Post, in which Arlie Russell Hochschild discusses Ben Bradlee Jr.'s new book, The Forgotten: How the People of One Pennsylvania County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America.
Oof! Professor Hochschild made a substantial mistake right in her opening paragraph. We'll go ahead and produce the paragraph as it appeared in the hard copy Post:
HOCHSCHILD (10/21/18): A month after the 2016 election, Ben Bradlee Jr. began interviewing voters in Luzerne County, Pa. , where Donald Trump won 77 percent of the vote. The county, a working-class Democratic stronghold, hadn’t voted for a Republican president since 1988. Pennsylvania was one of three historically Democratic Rust Belt states that unexpectedly swung the election to Trump. By July 2018, Bradlee, a longtime reporter and editor for the Boston Globe, had talked to nearly 100 voters, most of whom felt that government and the Democratic Party had forgotten them. They had.Say what? Luzerne County, a working-class Democratic stronghold, hadn't voted Republican since 1988, but Trump won 77 percent of the vote? This did sound like an amazing political story.
For better or worse, the story was false. As we learn in a formal correction, Trump won 77 percent of Luzerne County's vote in the 2016 Republican primary. That represents a very big win, but Clinton wasn't directly involved.
That said, Trump did win 58 percent of the vote in the general election. Hochschild went on to describe Bradlee's basic take on this state of affairs.
Why did Luzerne County flip? According to Bradlee, Luzerne's flip might help Democrats and liberals contemplate the reason for many lost votes:
HOCHSCHILD (continuing directly): Among the flood of books explaining how we got Trump, “The Forgotten” serves as an unintended companion volume to Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?” Bradlee focuses on the impact of the growing income gap. If we ignore the taxes the government collects and benefits it distributes, from the middle of the Great Depression through 1980, the top 10 percent of Americans received 30 percent of the nation’s income growth, and the other 90 percent took in 70 percent of it. But from 1997 to the present, the top 10 percent took in all of the U.S. income growth, and the bottom 90 percent got none. This shift occurred partly under the watch of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Trump surged into the void claiming leadership of what he called “the forgotten people,” Bradlee writes. “Trump connected strongly to his aggrieved constituency,” and nowhere more than in Luzerne County. Trump won the general vote in part because he captured Pennsylvania, with strong support in its northeastern corner. And within that region, Luzerne County led the way.It would of course be an absolute stretch—in the most literal sense, a falsehood—to say that Luzerne County "won Trump Pennsylvania, and perhaps the presidency." (Trump would still have won the electoral vote had Clinton won Pennsylvania.)
“It is not a stretch to say,” Bradlee writes, “that this single county won Trump Pennsylvania—and perhaps the presidency.”
Beyond that, we're not sure why you'd want to "ignore the taxes the government collects and benefits it distributes" in making the type of income assessment Hochschild describes in that passage.
For our money, that's a lot of mistakes and peculiarities for the first three grafs of a book review. Still, Hochschild goes on to describe Bradlee doing The Thing Which Must Never Be Done:
She describes Bradlee trying to learn what The Others think about contemporary politics and government! In some circles, this has now been declared a subversive act.
Also, in what way have The Others in question possibly been "forgotten?" According to Hochschild, Bradlee tries to explore such important political and human questions in his book.
What did The Others think in Luzerne? Why did they cast so many votes for Trump, despite the advice we were willing to give them?
On cable, our corporate stars pleasure us with our standard answer to that question. But uh-oh! After describing a working-class county in headlong decline, Hochschild offers this assessment, presumably drawn from Bradlee's book:
HOCHSCHILD: During the 2016 campaign Hillary Clinton seemed deaf to the hardships of Hazleton. Residents wanted realistic hope, but what they got from the Democratic Party was suggested by its choice of a campaign theme song—the cheery Pharrell Williams tune “Happy” from the soundtrack of the animated film “Despicable Me 2.”According to this assessment, Kowalczyk once "fought for everyone else’s rights.” Now, in deciding to vote for Trump, she apparently felt she was fighting for her own.
Clinton lost women like hairdresser Donna Kowalczyk, a crime-fighting activist whose mother worked in cigar and sewing factories. Her father was a disabled alcoholic, and her husband maintained the grounds of a local university. “I used to be the most liberal person you could imagine, fighting for everyone else’s rights,” she told Bradlee. Her neighborhood fell under the blight of drug dealers, car thieves and prostitutes. This lifelong Democrat was now very unhappy. She “switched parties to vote for Donald Trump,” Bradlee writes.
That, of course, was only one vote. Clinjton, who won the popular vote, lost the three states which cost her the race by some 78,000 votes. No author can account for all those decisions, even though cable stars can.
In a fairly brief review, Hochschild offers several other portraits of Luzerne County votes lost to Trump. She ends by offering this assessment, again drawn from Bradlee's book:
HOCHSCHILD: “The Forgotten” reveals the political impact not so much of poverty as of decline—and not simply decline in wages but in well-being and self-respect, especially among white blue-collar men. Research shows that these men have also become more socially isolated, less likely to go to church and to marry. They experience what Princeton professors Angus Deaton and Anne Case identify as “deaths of despair” from suicide, drugs and alcohol at a greater level than blacks and Hispanics of the same age. Along with their loss of self-respect has come a loss of faith that government run by either mainstream party could help them recover it. This is not a big-thesis book, nor a deep dive into new facts or ideas. But whatever the Russians did or the Koch brothers funded, this searing portrait shines a light on the disheartened voters the Democratic Party forgot.In that passage, Hochschild explains why many white blue-collar men refused to take Our advice. Rribal leaders told them how to vote, but it looks like they just didn't trust us.
Are the "deaths of despair" of these blue-collar Others worth our tribe's attention? Bradlee seems to suggest that they are, and that the Democratic Party has brushed these "deaths" aside.
Have liberals and Democrats brushed them aside? If you watched Tucker Carlson last night, you saw that argument being made in real time, before your eyes. We'll suggest that you also saw that rejection being enacted if you watched the latest of Lemon's discussion, with the arrogance and condescension being quite hard to miss.
The Others are constantly told not to trust Us, especially over on Fox. On Monday night, without naming her name, Laura Ingraham explained why they can't trust you-know-who, a giant star Over Here.
Tomorrow: Our Rhodes scholar sells a fourth charge