How to Talk to the Working Class
“Democrats need to learn how to talk to working class people. They need to be able to get their message out.”
I hear that over and over. Progressives, liberals, and Democrats nod along when they hear it and they repeat it to each other. “High school-educated white men don’t have jobs. Democrats need to learn to talk to them.” With the rise of robot manufactory, it’s very difficult to get a job without any training or education. But people with only a high school diploma often have great difficulty getting training because of the cost. And if you can’t afford to train as an electrician or a plumber, you certainly can’t afford college. Besides, working class men sneer at those overeducated egghead college types who think they know everything.
The right-wing conceit is that the liberals want “free stuff.” They want to dig into the pockets of honest hard working people and take their money to fund free stuff for lazy nig — uh, Mex — uh, urban welfare bums. The Democrats are a mix of the moochers who voted for the Food Stamp President and the snooty elites who tell you what to say, what to do and how to live your life.
And Democrats nod along. Stop it. Just stop it.
The idea that “liberals want free stuff” is insulting to people who work full time but who can’t buy a house because they owe more in college debt than a house would cost. It’s insulting to people who work two minimum wage jobs because an adult with one child can’t live on $9.50 per hour. It’s insulting to people who used education to lift themselves out of poverty and who go to work every day as accountants, architects, librarians, business managers, computer programmers, logistics coordinators, etc. etc.
For some reason, people who don’t know that Obamacare and the ACA are the same thing are “real” people. People who don’t know that 30–40 percent of illegal immigrants come here in an airplane and would never see a silly wall — somehow those are the “real” people.
Democrats don’t need to talk to those “real” people. They aren’t listening.
Democrats are supposed to stop playing identity politics and ignore the fact that if we do, the voiceless will have no voice. Championing the poor, weak and oppressed just makes those angry white men angrier. We are told it’s not a winning message and we need to let it go.
Okay, that’s not going to happen.
Democrats are scolded because they don’t know how to talk to people for whom “overeducated” is even a thing. You aren’t supposed to snoot down your nose at them or call them racist even though we all know that the wall is to keep out brown people, not illegal immigrants. Even though we all know that “urban welfare bum” means “black person.” “I hate political correctness” translates into English as “I want to be able to say n****er without people getting mad at me.” Trump hates political correctness! Me too! Trump wants to build a wall! Me too!
I’m proposing that Democrats stop scolding themselves and each other. Everybody else needs to lay off.
Trump won because
1. I don’t like Hillary. She’s not exciting like Obama;
2. Hillary’s going to win anyway;
3. I don’t need to get off the couch and go vote this time.
That 3-step process is why the polls were wrong. People intended to vote for Hillary and just didn’t at the last minute. Because of the above line of thinking, Hillary lost in a few key swing states. Otherwise, she would have won as predicted.
It had nothing to do with her inability to talk to disaffected, angry white male voters.
It has nothing at all to do with the people who, in the 1950s-1980s had well-paying (because of unions) jobs as human robots. Steel robots have taken over the human robot jobs and there is a large slice of the nation that needed those jobs to have a life of prosperity and dignity even if they didn’t get much or any education. We just don’t live in that world anymore.
What’s the answer? What should we talk about? Two things.
The first is economics. We need to figure out the economics of Robot World. In Star Trek: New Generation, Captain Picard would go up to the replicator and say “tea, earl gray, hot” and a door would open with a lovely bone china teacup filled with the hot beverage specified. Remember that? What happened to the factory workers who made teacups? The tea plantation pickers? The driers, shippers, and packagers? The people who brewed and served the tea? They can’t all be working the computers on the Enterprise. What are they doing with their lives?
I’ve asked that question about Robot World and just get told that “we’ll make more jobs.” The human robots that used to make buggy whips became the human robots who worked in the Ford car factory. No problem. But we don’t need human robots anymore. Now what?
The second answer is education. We need to reclaim education as a good thing. Kids try to lift themselves out of poverty by becoming Youtube stars or basketball players. That’s a pipe dream, similar to buying a lottery ticket.
Only education can reliably lift you out of poverty. That needs to be a thunderously loud Democratic message and the message needs to include how to pay for it. By education, I don’t necessarily mean college. A lot of people just view college as four more boring years of boring high school. But there are lots of jobs that pay well with just some training. It might not be much help to out-of-work human robots but it’s better than sitting around wishing for the steel robots to go away.
So, Democrats, liberals and progressives need to stop accepting the idea that an education makes you a snobbish, out of touch “elite.” We need to stop agreeing that librarians and accountants aren’t “real” people because they didn’t work 30 years tightening screws in a Fort Escort factory. We need to not be bullied into giving up our ideals. We must refuse to be apologetic because we defend people who are poor and weak. Poor people don’t want free stuff. They work harder than anyone else for their living. If we lose every election going forward because we tried to get food, housing, education, dignity and equality for everyone…
Well, I’d rather do that than win.
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