Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama, Bittergate, Elitism, and the Historical Debacle

The truth is that among segments of the Democratic party there is an ugly elitism. Some highly educated, culturally liberal, affluent Democrats share a disdain of ordinary, working-class folks. They are viewed as racist, sexist, homophobic, flag-waving, gun-toting, unenlightened, religiously conservative foes of abortion. Truth is not altogether absent in this mental portrait of rural, small-town Protestants and urban Catholics. But the negative attitude toward them by elitist liberals at the feeling level is distinctly "elitist." Moreover, for Christians in this camp (I have known some), this unloving outlook is utterly unattractive and sad.

The larger historical background of all this is a tragic disjunction between the economic interests of ordinary working people which inclines them toward the Democratic party and their conservative cultural, social, and religious outlook which attracts them to the Republicans. It began when Lyndon Johnson signed civil rights and voting bills and, as he said to Richard Russell, handed the South over to the Republicans for a generation.

To those who believe that justice requires equality of race, gender, and sexual orientation without discrimination and more economic equality among social classes, this split has been painful indeed. We are puzzled that there is more tolerance of the greedy rich than of cultural and religious conservative folks among working class strivers.

The Republicans, who never tire of championing the money interests of the wealthy, have cleverly managed to portray themselves as the friend of the ordinary religious, patriotic American -- factory and office workers, small farmers, lower[paying service employees, etc, who usually. get paid by the hour. Their success in this endeavor is found in the stereotypical Southern Bubba and Northern Joe Sixpack who by economic interest should be Democrats becoming Reagan "Democrats," the "angry white men," who voted for Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I and II for racial, religious, and cultural reasons. Too often devoted to cultural diversity at the neglect of economic equality, the Democrats have lost a series of elections.

The asses of the Democratic Party have aided and abetted the Republican elephants by aligning themselves with a variety of liberal interest groups whose focus is on social and cultural values that puts them at odds with the conservative, white working class, small-town, rural, ethos of religion, patriotism, and tradition that may include bias toward minorities, immigrants, and others who are different from them. At them same time the Democrats moved toward the center on economic issues, becoming so friendly to business that the economic policies they offered were less attractive than the conservative social and cultural agenda of the Republicans.

Into this pile of historical, cultural, and political manure stepped Barack Obama so clumsily and so deep that he may not be able to shake it off his boots -- and will not succeed at all if Hillary Clinton and John McCain succeed in their demagoguery. Obama's remarks to a private group of the privileged about the less privileged contained such mangled thought and such a poor choice of words that it is hard to forgive him -- he should have known better.

I think Obama in his heart of hearts is sound in his empathy and identification with all races and classes, especially the less privileged. I hope he survives, but he better wise up politically lest his awkward bowling take its place in the cast of historical failures along with Dukakis in the tank and Kerry wind surfing -- all elitists. and losers.

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