Wednesday, May 14, 2008

DEMOCRATIC CLASS WAR: White, male and uneducated, the alleged bedrock of the nation

Quotes and claims from the pages of the news over the last few days confirm the Obama/Clinton conflict is not only about race but also class.

While few care to admit it, class war is never very far from the surface in the US. Under the codeword "values" it is the major tactic in the playbook of the Republican party. Bereft of policy issues and aims which stand up to serious scrutiny or logic, using "values" to motivate new voters is the battle tactic and just another way of saying, "Start the class war."

"Referring to an Associated Press article, Sen. Clinton said that it 'found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again. ...'" read one editorial from a daily newspaper.

"So only lazy white Americans support Sen. Obama, along with lazy blacks ... Her comment could have been the text of a campaign ad for Jesse Helms," it continued. See here.

In an article still taking the temperature of the white voters in Pennsylvania, the Washington Post delved into the nastiness Obama canvassers had encountered in the state's hinterland.

"Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign," read the newspaper. "One night was all she could take: 'It wasn't pretty.' She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn't possibly vote for Obama and concluded: 'Hang that darky from a tree!'"

"In a letter to the editor published in a local paper, Tunkhannock Borough Mayor Norm Ball explained his support of Hillary Clinton this way: 'Barack Hussein Obama and all of his talk will do nothing for our country. There is so much that people don't know about his upbringing in the Muslim world. His stepfather was a radical Muslim and the ranting of his minister against the white America, you can't convince me that some of that didn't rub off on him." See here.

The newspaper, in its adherence to old school journalistic process, felt it necessary to publish the standard misinformation. However, in the recent racial animosity and class war which has characterized the political race, readers will have noticed the poison is allowed to flow only one way -- at Barack Obama and, by extension, anyone who votes for him. No one is out canvassing white elitists for their opinion of Hillary Clinton. If someone has suggested that she be hung from a tree, DD has missed it.

On the Fox News Network, Bill O'Reilly is on the warpath.

In his show's case, those who watch and think he's always on the money -- part of Bill's large tribe, have been regularly told that anyone who has brought up the matter of race as a reason to vote nay in the contest is a despicable member of the left -- the very bad tribe. Naturally, it is not despicable to always show, as O'Reilly does, the fifteen-second snip of the black boogeyman, Jeremiah Wright, always dancing in the front of his church.

Setting aside Wright's ideas, already well hashed over, the other context, one delivered to the white American "Reagan Democrat" in Pennsyltucky or West Virginia, is the easily seen subtext. When WE go to church no one dances! That's just wrong! Our manner, our traditions, our values all tell us this to be so.

"Hillary Rodham Clinton bases what's left of her campaign on the message that [only the prole class is] the difference between victory and defeat, and that only she can keep [it in] the Democratic camp," wrote John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune.

One of the things one must do is make sure you bow to Ronald Reagan, intones Vinocur, implying that the salt-of-the-earth class will only come to know you are one of them once you genuflect.

"Obama, still short of a consistent blue-collar strategy, already has the occasional nice thing to say about Ronald Reagan," he writes.

This white working class is a patriotic one, Vinocur continues, and it constitutes "a particular American vision."

So generous in spirit, it leaves one to conclude that which is left hanging and unsaid: If you're not in the prole class, the right one, you're insubstantial. You're not only unpatriotic, but you have no "particular American vision."

(Whether blue-collar uneducated Americans are actually more "patriotic" than everyone else is easily debated. With the military lowering its standards to accommodate more flunkouts and petty criminals in recruitment, it's fairly obvious no American tribe is rushing to show its devotion and obligation to Uncle Sam through a couple years of toil on the eastern front.)

"[Paul Begala,] a Clinton supporter and political consultant, put his finger on the issue when he said on CNN last week, 'We can't win with eggheads and African-Americans.'"

And there it is -- bald-faced class resentment, passed off as a wisdom from someone who shares nothing with the blue-collar working class claimed to be important to him. Paul Begala might just have well said, "Bookworms get lost" or "No one cares what the Four-Eye's think, they aren't real Americans."

"[Obama] thinks he's better than everyone else ... he don't impress me," said one of the proles, a woman in West Virginia, to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

Uppity. Too big f'r yer britches. Conceited. Does it remind you of high school, all those times when the popular tribe painted you into a corner for their own satisfaction?

Gamely, Obama consented to have his picture taken playing pool in West Virginia. He lost the game. Did anyone think he was Pool Hall Richard? Obama also bowled and was lousy at that, just another sport one must endure to show one is an all right guy. The only thing not yet in the mainstream news coverage of the election contest is someone saying: "He throws like a girl."

Jose Ortega y Gasset, an author DD is not very familiar with, produces a wonderful quote in "The Revolt of the Masses:" "The characteristic of the hour is that the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurance to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them wherever it will."

If you are reading this from Pennsyltucky or someplace similar, and you're part of the prole class that voted for Hill, a "Reagan Democrat," DD knows that went into your snoot sideways. It's because DD upped his standards long ago, now -- up yours.

Haw!

Go ahead, say it. DD knows you want to. "You think you're better than everyone else!"

There's a very thin line between disdain or contempt and outright hate between the divisions which make up various middle-class tribes. And often there are no lines at all. Needle someone hard enough in a tribe different from yours and see it erupt.

The race and class distinctions laid bare in the nomination process won't be spackled over in a big happy come-together once Hillary Clinton is ushered from the stage at spearpoint. There may be some repair but in the class war as practiced in America, it has never been enough for one side to succeed. Others must fail, to cite Gore Vidal.

In "Class: A Guide Through the American Class System," Paul Fussell writes that bitterness is often not very far from the surface. It has many reasons to always be close to breaking through or in the clear, not all of them coming from the prole's susceptibility to crazes, delusions, rip-off advertising and the myths concerning values or the supposed lack of them among Democrats.

"Anyone uncertain about class consciousness in this country should listen to a working-class father whose son was killed [in Vietnam]," Fussell writes, specifically addressing the S-2 deferment, one college students used to escape the draft. "Class" was published in 1984.

"I'm bitter," Fussell quotes the man as saying. "You bet your goddamn dollar I'm bitter. It's people like us who gave up our sons for our country. The business people, they run the country and make money from it. The college types, the professors they go to Washington and tell the government what to do ... But their sons, they don't end up in the swamps over there, in Vietnam. No sir."

This time, however, the prole class can't blame the educated or the left. No one can. With no draft, not only aren't there enough people to make a stink on TV, but the only parties to properly direct one's bitterness toward would be the Republicans who voted for war, or even Hillary Clinton, alleged fighter for the white working-class blue-collar patriotic American. To reward them accordingly could be seen as something to do with the explicit aim of being at the expense of THEM, rather than having something bad done to you and your tribe by the powers-that-be.

Returning to the race, one will have to sweat many more times in which Barack Obama goes into bars, pool halls and bowling alleys in attempts to reach voters repulsed by him. It won't work.

Fussell explains that attempting to sink in class never works credibly. "No matter how much effort you expend, if your language doesn't give you away, your grammar will, or your taste in clothes or cars or ideas," he writes. "The upper class person caught slumming is as worthy of the scorn of proles for not dropping his g's as the prole among the upper class is betrayed by revealing he has no idea how to eat an artichoke."

(Side note: The mainstream media always tries to short-circuit this Fussell rule with fairy tales and lies, portraying a selected presidential candidates as someone who could be, or perhaps is, in your class. From a historical standpoint, the most deadly result of this malfeasance has been George W. Bush vs. Al Gore. Gore was the annoying conceited brain you allegedly couldn't stand to be in a room with. GWB was the brush-clearing, aw-shucksing member of the good tribe.)

Besides, Fussell reasons, there's no need to slum. Most of us are sinking, anyway.

"Inflation, unemployment, a static economy" have set into stone conditions in which "the mass of Americans now find themselves" moving down. "There used to be room at the top," he concludes. Now there's plenty of room at the bottom, vicinities near which many of us will become acquainted with, sooner than later.

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