4/19/17

On Krugman's review of Elizabeth Warren's This Fight is our Fight

I agree with Krugman that Warren probably misses altogether the forces that lead disadvantaged workers to support nasty false prophets. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff to get some understanding, and my basic conclusion is that it comes down to emotion, especially respect and the lack of it. The politicians, intellectuals, policy wonks, and professional classes that for the last 50 years have been in charge of public policy, one way or another, have significantly disregarded workers and their unions, and one way or another showed agreement with Hillary’s term “deplorables.” In reality, we have rendered, or allowed the Republicans to render many of our citizens incapable of functioning effectively in the modern economy. As they have slipped into the fox hole of helpless poverty they have done what we all do in a fox hole, where there are no atheists, self-protection is crucial, and the enemy is ever-present. Which party, then, stands for God, guns, and blaming immigrants?

That said, whatever policy prescriptions people like Warren (and us) come up with doesn’t mean anything without political competence, which starts with understanding peoples’ emotions, the communications necessary to speak to those emotions, and the organizing ability to make personal connections. The fact that Obama, as Krugman notes, did a lot for these people doesn’t weigh much against the enormous resources that right wingers (and Putin?) have poured into a cultural onslaught against liberalism through their manipulation of media like Fox and Rush Limbaugh, and their attacks on the "lame stream media." There are voices, like Drew Westen and Sandy Lakoff, who have tried to warn the Democrats, and written brilliantly about this stuff for decades now. I wish they had more influence.

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