Has The Revolution Cured White Middle Class Xenophobia?


ParadeWVA (3)

Parade, Romney, West Virginia. 1937. FSA/LOC.

I agree with Richard (Luttegen): the white middle class is no longer willing to commit economic suicide, and while a large portion perhaps has not shorn itself of xenophobia and racial bias, 8 years under President Obama has left it realizing it is not race or the welfare state that is a drag on wages; it is not race or the “nanny state” that is closing producing, profitable plants, shipping jobs to China’s Pearl River zone; it is not their worst fears of blacks and minorities in power (witness 2 Hispanics topping the Republican charts!) that resulted in the loss of family net worth: they have felt the long arm of capitalism and know it has no velvet hand. 

Blaming Obamacare for hours cut is a sham. No matter how often repeated, they see with their eyes: their college educated children drown in debt and work at Starbucks; in too many stores, shifts are never set; a glimpse at “Undercover Boss” tells how hard America works even as the corporations fail to keep up.

What is up are profits: year over year, they are at record highs. But Apple, Samsung, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Toyota and Pfizer–top 20 global companies–have small labor footprints, smaller in the US. Apple alone holds more cash than all but the top 50 nations’ GDPs, their total national production.

Blamed, Obama didn’t “divide” the country. Instead, he has been the object of its activation and the instrument of its recognition in our national dialogue. The stone rejected is being used.



(All Replies)

~~Brilliant, spot on.

~~Thank you, Walter!

~~WR: I hope you’re right. I think, however, that as more and more are bitten by the toxic economy, they still blame the wrong people and policies. For example, we hear that US corporations relocate abroad because of punitive taxation… so it’s the fault of DemocRats. Certainly, if all government oversight were eliminated, together with Social Security and Medicare, Apple might fall closer to home. But who wants to live in such a frightful country?

~~Leutgen and Rhett both make good points, but they underrate the importance of racism. If you listen to the under-educated working class you will hear it over and over: the black man (President Obama) did this to them. As someone else said, when they hear Trump say “make America great again” they hear “make America white again”; when they hear Tea Partiers say “take my country back” they hear take it back from the black man. To keep saying that the heartbreak of whites is not about race, it’s not about race is to ignore reality. Mr. Blow is correct in everything he says here.

~~Mr. Rhett, I respectfully disagree. The white middle class doesn’t really understand all the good points you made about why the US economy has sunk so low and their jobs have gone away. If they did, they wouldn’t be on the Republican bandwagons, falling for all this claptrap that blames immigrants and Mr. Obama for their misfortune, and praising CEOs for achieving the American Dream.

~~Everything is relative. In a globalized world, we Americans are still significantly wealthier than the vast majority of people and there are only two options. The rest of the world “wants theirs too”. They move here, or we share wealth there. Both are happening, and people around the world are increasing their standard of living — we have lifted more people out of poverty in the last 20 years that in all human history. We had a good run since WWII when the world was in ruins and we were the only people left standing. We can not stop it, we can only hope to control the rate of change at the margin, but it is inexorable, and it will continue — it will be an increasingly competitive world economically and we must adapted.

~~America’s problems now are exactly the same as they have always been- “How can the masses of the poor laborers likely to be able to support our ever-growing numbers of self-worshipping wealthy upper classes??”


I would add to your dead on assertions that Obama was already white Americans first cut at electing someone who could make the changes necessary to help the middle class. Bill Clinton does not want to admit it as it does not help HRC or perhaps he is just out of touch as he is living in the 1%.

Obama railed against Wall Street during his election speeches. Layer on that Obama was a bit of an outsider relative to HRC, many of his social policies were agreeable and his ticket was punched to the WH. One would also believe that being black he would go the extra mile to help the unfortunate and shun the 1%. It appeared that there was only upside for the middle class.

Now with the 1% becoming richer many Americans are realizing the problem is the legacy political parties as they are owned by the 1% and their nominees are only front men/women. You want a woman? Here you go. You want a Hispanic? Here you go. You want a black person? Hey we have one of those too.

Enter Trump and Sanders. Two extreme outsiders whose diagnostics, messages and remedies are tied to the realities of peoples’ struggles not some far off promised land dream which never comes.

The electorate is poised for dramatic change. The parties want to hang on to their power and hold the reins. This struggle is intensifying and it started with the Obama election.

~~America’s problems now are exactly the same as they have always been- “How can the masses of the poor laborers likely to be able to support our ever-growing numbers of self-worshipping wealthy upper classes??”

I do think xenophobia and racial bias are a major factor in the Republican Party. Not that many Republicans are really racists in the literal sense: the new “racism” is something like libertarianism, the idea that we succeed only by individual initiative. It misses the fact that the ability to take individual initiative, as valuable is it is, depends on social factors to some extent.

A lot of the arguments for this kind of “libertarian” view are stated in terms of some white person who has worked hard and played by the rules and achieved a “middle class” life, while some non-white apparently worked less hard and got more help to achieve the same. I think it’s important to honor whites who have worked hard and played by the rules, while trying to make them recognize that as whites, they still have a strong advantage. It’s important to make the distinction between individual virtue and aggregate social advantage. They are both real.

~~”…the white middle class is no longer willing to commit economic suicide.” Really? Then why do we see so many of them consistently voting Republican against their own financial (and physical, and social, etc.) interests?


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