Good Reading for Democrats and Liberals
This isn't so much a diary as it is a special post. Following up on this recent diary I wrote about the Sarah Palin speech, I present a posting today by Democrat and economics professor Mark Thoma titled Do Democrats Need to Learn Some Respect? . It strikes me as an apt follow up to this post he made about small towns and politics following the Palin speech which begins like this:
When you grow up in a small or mid-sized town, over time you come to realize that people from bigger towns, in general, have a condescending attitude about how and where you grew up. I think it starts to really dawn on you in junior high and high school as you begin interact with kids from bigger cities, and college certainly reinforces this feeling.
You couldn't possibly be up on the latest cool trends, be as sophisticated, be as savvy, etc., as they are because you grew up out in the sticks.
People who live in these areas are not, however, fools. They think that the people who think this way - the city boys - lack even the basics of common sense
You can tell how the rest will go. Thoma seems quite sensitive to watching liberals reinforce this "cultural elitism" that hurts their appeal in middle America.
But in his latest posting about learning respect, he writes a thoughtful entry that ends with this question:
If you don't truly respect the lifestyle and cultural beliefs and traditions of the religious or the working class, why do you expect them to vote with you? Maybe I'm wrong and Democrats do, in fact, have the greatest respect for alternative value systems and lifestyles, but sometimes I wonder. But if you really do believe that your beliefs are better than theirs, is it any surprise that identity politics - the politics of resentment - works?:
Thoma's posting and question about respect were prompted by this article by Clive Crook (posted on Thoma's site) appearing originally in the FT.
I found Clive's article to be powerfully provocative one about the contradictions in Modern American Liberalism. Now I see lots of contradictions in Modern American Liberalism in terms of policy, intent, objectives and results....but what Clive is talking about goes much deeper into culture and social fabric. Do read the whole thing but here's the crux of it, IMO:
Democrats speak up for the less prosperous; they have well-intentioned policies to help them; they are disturbed by inequality, and want to do something about it. Their concern is real and admirable. The trouble is, they lack respect for the objects of their solicitude. Their sympathy comes mixed with disdain, and even contempt.
Democrats regard their policies as self-evidently in the interests of the US working and middle classes. Yet those wide segments of US society keep helping to elect Republican presidents. How is one to account for this? Are those people idiots? Frankly, yes – or so many liberals are driven to conclude. Either that or bigots, clinging to guns, God and white supremacy; or else pathetic dupes, ever at the disposal of Republican strategists. If they only had the brains to vote in their interests, Democrats think, the party would never be out of power. But again and again, the Republicans tell their lies, and those stupid damned voters buy it. ...[Liberals] will have to develop some regard for the values that the middle of the country expresses when it votes Republican. Religion. Unembarrassed flag-waving patriotism. Freedom to succeed or fail through one’s own efforts. Refusal to be pitied, bossed around or talked down to. And all those other laughable redneck notions that made the United States what it is.
Cook does note that, ironically, Obama is not an elitist but risks being painted that way because of the attitude that many of his supporters paint on him by association.
Food for thought. BTW, looking at the comments at Thoma's, his liberal readers, by and large, don't seem to get his concern.