Quote of the Day:
Given the availability of government benefits, most working-class people of any race could be on welfare if they chose. That they're not drawing government checks means that they value work.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds in USA Today
We should be grateful that, in a world where alternatives to honest work are readily available, some people make a more moral choice: they work.
Instead of heaping much-deserved praise on these Americans, our elites dismiss them, and, in the wake of the midterms, when these working people came out to help deliver a stunning rebuke to the policies of President and his party, are more likely than ever to denigrate them as racists. Reynolds writes:
A standard talking-point is that these voters don't like Obama because they're racist. But that assumes that the key word in "white working class" is "white." In fact, the key word is "working." After all, Obama isn't any blacker than he was in 2009.
Reynolds quotes Kevin Drum of Mother Jones—who both gets it and doesn’t get it:
So who does the WWC take out its anger on? Largely, the answer is the poor. In particular, the undeserving poor. Liberals may hate this distinction, but it doesn't matter if we hate it. Lots of ordinary people make this distinction as a matter of simple common sense, and the WWC makes it more than any. That's because they're closer to it. For them, the poor aren't merely a set of statistics or a cause to be championed. They're the folks next door who don't do a lick of work but somehow keep getting government checks paid for by their tax dollars. "
Rather than portraying the working class voter as mysteriously angry, why not call the anger what it is: righteous indignation?
The value of work is being eroded at great cost, both financial and spiritual. These Americans stand against that form of degradation.
Regarding the financial costs, Robert Samuelson’s column today says that, "judged by how much countries devote of their national income to social spending, we have the world's second-largest welfare state — just behind France.” These working class voters (I am honestly getting sick of referring to people by class and ethnicity, aren't you?) are the last bulwark against more expansion of the welfare state.
Reynolds writes that people make an interesting distinction about entitlement programs. He refers to Slate's Jamelle Bouie, who notes, that programs such as Social Security and Medicare are viewed differently because they aren’t seen as making not working lucrative. Reynolds writes:
When your neighbor gets welfare, it makes you feel like a sucker for going to work. Medicare, not so much.
I guess the challenge is to make sure that other entitlement programs don't come to be regarded in the same way as Social Security and Medicare, both of which need to be reformed if they are to be solvent.
Reynolds is more sanguine than I am about outgoing plans from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist, to honor work by spending more on infrastructure. Why not get rid of harmful regulations and allow the private sector to create jobs? Repairing bad roads is one thing; perpetuating the New Deal’s make-work for pay system is another.
But I was amused at the criticism of the Sanders plan by some radical feminists, who oppose such programs because they make work for “burly men!”
Another observation: the GOP should be able to appeal to workers who still value work. It is a golden opportunity. On the Democratic side, Jim Webb, a populist Democrat with a genuinely working class appeal, which is different from being lectured by elitists, seems to recognize the possibilities.
The political landscape may be a-changing.