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Friday, November 27, 2015

Explaining America and Middle-Class Support for Republicans

I held off one day, in an effort for us all to maybe just simply enjoy Thanksgiving to post something about this terrific article I found yesterday.

Here’s how delusional nostalgia is killing the white working class

There's a great deal of good information here, backed by scientific, sociological studies but I'll just point out a few of the best highlights:

A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute finds there are a few things you can count on about those who believe America’s best days are behind us. They are overwhelmingly white, and if you dig a bit deeper and examine the socioeconomics, often working class. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they stubbornly believe white people are subject to the same levels of racism as black and other people of color. They think the U.S. was a better place in the 1950s, when Jim Crow was law, immigrants were overwhelmingly European, women knew their place, and gay people were essentially invisible.

In tandem with the findings of another recent study revealing middle-age, working-class white Americans are the only group in the country whose health and mortality rates are worsening, the survey offers more than just a look at the ideas and attitudes that characterize a slice of the population. It provides a possible diagnosis for what ails, and may very well be killing, an entire demographic.

There have been previous indications—scientific, sociological, and anecdotal—of some of PRRI’s findings. A 2011 Tufts University survey showed white Americans believe they actually experience more racism than African Americans, and a Pew survey from the same year found non-college-educated, working-class whites are the least hopeful group in the country about the future. The rightwing rallying cry to “Make America Great Again” (a recycled political slogan that is now the property of Donald Trump) is proof that a decent portion of white voters think America was at its best when fewer citizens had civil and political rights, at some arbitrary point in this country’s rich history of morally indefensible state-sanctioned injustice, violence and oppression. One cannot avoid noticing that the current culture wars, full of incoming attacks from the right on nearly every civil and human rights gain of the last 60 years, are being fought with renewed vigor by those who want to turn back the hands of time.

Really, this explains so much.

It explains why some people from my own, very deeply middle-class family would buy off on the Republican Party, its platform and so many of the things that come out of the Right Wing. It's just sad. But additionally, it's frustrating, even to the point, at their worst, frightening. 

What's also scary and even odd is that these people of the middle-, lower- and working classes who hold these views and vote Right Wing and Republican are also so very deeply proud of their membership in the Right Wing and Republican Party and so proud of their views. And along with being proud, they're also very emotional about their views and opinions and that's where hate and disdain for others with opposing views and even racism can and do, too frequently, jump in.

Here's one part of the studies that's exceptionally disturbing, if not frightening:

The 2015 American Values Survey reaffirms the myopic outlook of an astounding portion of the country. Researchers, who polled nearly 2,700 adults from every state and Washington, D.C., found that 43 percent of Americans overall believe racial bigotry against whites has become a problem on par with discrimination against black people and other people of color...

It goes on:

On “reverse racism,” half of white Americans overall agree “discrimination against whites is as big a problem today as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”

This certainly explains things I see even out of our own Kansas City and St. Louis and Springfield, let alone across the nation.

In all, it's stunning. What I don't know is how we change this. I don't know how we educate and inform people of how our nation actually is, today, let alone the total picture of our nation's history that got us to today, to where we are today. These people are adults, after all. They certainly aren't going back to any classroom to study American history they need to know, let alone any current events or civics or sociology classes that could get them up to speed with how things actually are, especially for people of other races in our country.

And in the meantime, Fox and Breitbart and Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are out there spreading untruths and emotionalism and ugly opinions and racism and all kinds of ugliness and negativity. Making things worse--worst, really--there's a Right Wing, racist, hating nutjob, Donald Trump, who's in first place in opinion polls in next year's presidential race.

Donald Trump

Usually, I can end these things with hope.

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