No More Condescension: What We Can Do Now

Shortly before Election Day, I saw a clip of Hillary Clinton telling a crowd that she understands that many people are angry. She then added quickly: “but let’s face it, anger is not a program.”

Wrong. Anger actually is a kind of program. Anger at the implicit condescension in Secretary Clinton’s comment, for example. People can sometimes be angry enough to burn down their own houses. That’s no kind of “program” by conventional measures, but it is nevertheless programmatic in regard to its real-world consequence.

Enough people voted with a vengeance to give Donald Trump the presidency.

Simultaneously apologizing for and defending the pollsters, Nate Cohn tells us that analysts probably underestimated the number of white working-class voters over age 45 by ten million. Think about that for a moment: ten million members of a traditional Democratic constituency who apparently became invisible or even nonexistent to the chattering classes.

What I’m going to say about this may be taken ill by many RD readers, but it is fully consistent with what I have written in these pages previously. For more than thirty years, a Democratic Party financed by wealthy globalists focused its energies on issues related to culture liberalism (feminism, multiculturalism, LGBTQ advancement, etc.) while ignoring the devastating wage stagnation facing most American working people, even younger working people with college degrees.

I am a gay man who strongly supports the multicultural agenda. But I also worked professionally for many years in the labor movement (e.g., I was communications director for the United Auto Workers during the early intra-party skirmishing over “free” trade). I have always feared how the accelerating Democratic abandonment of the white working class would end. It turns out that 1980’s “Reagan Democrat” phenomenon in places like Macomb County was just the first ripple in the tidal wave that now sweeps over us.

On this dark day of reckoning, we can of course choose to to continue to condescend to the people who supported Trump, dismissing them as ignorant racists and misogynists–in short, as “deplorables.” But choosing a course of still more condescension will only dig us in deeper. Religiously, those embittered folks out in the heartland are also God’s children. Politically, as Bernie Sanders understood, they were repeatedly and blatantly betrayed by their own party.

It ought to be possible to forge a Workers Party that is fully progressive on social issues as well. There are precedents elsewhere. If we can’t or won’t do that, we will deserve what we get.