I want to talk a little bit more about what I call, in our blissfully post-PC era, Red State Stupid.
Red State Stupid is also really Red State Mean. It’s shoot-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face mean.
And I don’t think that we can separate the two
My friend J. says that you can identify, with 100% accuracy, Democrats vs. Republicans with one simple test. Democrats, he says, don’t care if some “undeserving” folks cash in on, for example, a free lunch program, as long as not one child goes out to recess hungry. While Republicans, according to J., don’t really care how many children starve as long as not one, single “undeserving” child gets a free meal.
I think J. is right. It’s pretty clear where I come down.
And I’ve been coming back to his test over and over as I ponder this article that I cited earlier about a woman whose husband will die without Obamacare but who voted for Trump in spite of Trump’s and the Republican Party’s explicitly-avowed intent to destroy the very program keeping her husband alive.
But her frustration [with Obamacare] isn’t just about the money she has to pay. She sees other people signing up for Medicaid, the health program for the poor that is arguably better coverage than she receives and almost free for enrollees. She is not eligible for Medicaid because her husband works and they are above the earnings threshold.
Medicaid is reserved for people who earn less than 138 percent of the poverty line — about $22,000 for a couple. This woman understood the Medicaid expansion is also part of Obamacare, and she doesn’t think the system is fair.
“They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” she says. “They’re going to the doctor for pills, and that’s what they’re on.”
She felt like this happened a lot to her: that she and her husband have worked most their lives but don’t seem to get nearly as much help as the poorer people she knows. She told a story about when she used to work as a school secretary: “They had a Christmas program. Some of the area programs would talk to teachers, and ask for a list of their poorest kids and get them clothes and toys and stuff. They’re not the ones who need help. They’re the ones getting the welfare and food stamps. I’m the one who is the working poor.”
Oller, the enrollment worker, expressed similar ideas the day we met.
“I really think Medicaid is good, but I’m really having a problem with the people that don’t want to work,” she said. “Us middle-class people are really, really upset about having to work constantly, and then these people are not responsible.”
Oller had told me earlier that she had enrolled on Medicaid for a few months, right before she started this job. She was taking some time off to care for her husband, who has cancer and was in chemotherapy treatment. I asked how she felt about enrolling in a program she sometimes criticizes.
“Oh, no,” she said quickly. “I worked my whole life, so I know I paid into it. I just felt like it was a time that I needed it. That’s what the system is set up for.”
Just to be crystal clear, we’re talking about a woman who voted for the candidate who promised to cut off the only thing that is keeping her husband alive because she’s just that pissed at some poor elementary-school kid who got an Xmas gift. (Be sure to tell her “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays.” She’s sent off more money than she can afford to some Elmer Gantry who got her all hepped up on the War on Xmas. Jebuz is the reason for the season. She’s a devout Xian but some poor kid getting an Xmas present is JUST TOO GODDAMN MUCH FOR HER.) That damn kid got an Xmas gift even though his parents received a few dollars of welfare and food stamps and she’s just NOT HAVING IT anymore.
Here’s a six-year old who got a Tonka truck and a stocking cap at Xmas and here’s her husband getting the health care that keeps him alive. And she’s so damn mad at that six-year old that she’s willing to risk her husband. Fuck the love of her life. If he dies, so be it, but at least Trump won’t be handing out hand-knit scarves and tea sets to those undeserving brats. *
My friend J. is right.
Look, can I say something very un-PC to you? Lean closer; I want to whisper.
Oh, wait. We don’t have to be politically correct anymore. Back off. I can yell.
So let me say this loud and clear: That woman is evil, and venal, and stupid and she’s not going to stop voting out of hate even if Democrats nominate another white man and even if he, what . . . ? What is it that the Democrat is supposed to do to win her vote? Wave the Confederate flag? Cheer about black people who don’t vote? I keep hearing this assertion that Democrats have to find the exact, magic, politically-correct words to “reach out” to people like this woman, although no one will give me, and I’m a woman who would recognize it, the magic incantation. Bernie Sanders, who’s not even a Democrat, can hardly look in the mirror of the third guest room of his lake house to shave every morning due to his shame that Democrats can’t, according to him, “talk” to people from what Senator Sanders calls the “white working class.”
He’s from Queens and he would know.
Apparently, offering assistance with the skyrocketing costs of childcare that plague white working class families (not to mention working class families of color but, apparently, those votes don’t count, plus, see above re: J.) isn’t PC enough. Providing free college for working class families and debt-free college for everyone isn’t PC enough. Offering Medicare for everyone over over 55 isn’t PC enough. An entire, comprehensive plan to care for current coal workers and to train a new generation to build clean energy infrastructure doesn’t appropriately “reach out” to the “white working class,” at least not in a PC-enough manner. Talking almost exclusively about jobs, workers, and the economy more than any other topic apparently wasn’t the way to reach out in an appropriately PC manner to that all-important “white working class.” Tax credits for the working class do not reach out, at least not in a PC enough manner, to the “white working class,” either. **
Sadly, according to Propane Jane, the Democratic party has not been able to “talk” in some magically-PC manner to the “white working class” ever since, oh, wait, I know: ever since Lyndon Johnson, who was a better President because he was a good teacher, signed the Civil Rights Act and may or may not have said that Democrats had lost the South for (he was optimistic) a generation. Before then, Democrats had this magical ability to “talk” to the “white working class,” and then, suddenly, they lost it. But keep trying, Dems. One of these days, Lucy’s sure to hold that football in place.
I’m a clever girl who sings for her supper by crafting messages geared to any specific audience you can name. And I’m flummoxed. What exactly did those precious “white working class” snowflakes need to hear? Well apparently, they needed to hear that Mexicans are rapists, that African Americans all live in urban hellholes with nothing left to lose, that women should be grabbed by the pussy, that women who seek power are “crooked” and that we should”Trump that bitch,” and “lock her up!” That’s the language that brought them to the voting booth. Apparently, they needed to be protected, in warm, safe, PC spaces, from those un-PC black people talking about racism. Once those black people open their yaps and complain (at least when they complain in language that is not sufficiently PC) about getting shot walking home from 7-11 or in their churches, bam!, the white working class has to vote against their own self-interest and there’s just nothing anyone can do.
So get on that, will you, Dems? Make sure black people stop talking about racism and triggering those delicate snowflakes. Do it now.
Also, if you could shut up those women who have to be punished for having abortions, that would be good. Damn bitches aren’t even 10s and they talk too much about things that give those “white working class” voters the vapors and send them running for safe spaces where they can vote for one of the two white men who are running. As they should be.
I have two things to say: (1) Shunning, shaming, and blaming are actually effective tactics of social control. See, e.g., Mothers v. Drunk Driving. And pretending that stupid people are really just simple farmers, people of the land, the common clay of the new West who would suddenly vote in their own best interests if only a Democrat would finally go hunting, or ride a motorcycle, or get in a tank hasn’t worked for the last half century or so and I’m now ready to try shaming them and focusing on how they’re not the cool kids who are in with the in crowd; (2) If we’re not going to magically convince Ms. Red State Mean to vote in her her own self interest (and we’re almost certainly not), then we’re going to have to figure out how to get other voters to the polls with the needed ID. And that effort needs to start now. Waiting until a few weeks before the election to get them IDs is too late.
*Let’s just set aside that this woman and her husband certainly don’t get nearly the amount of government largesse that, say, Lockheed Martin shareholders get, or that Donald Trump gets, or that even the children of your basic millionaires get. She’s not standing in the doctor’s office behind, say, me and, even if she were, she doesn’t see the advantages that I get on my capital gains. Since she can’t see those things, and since she’s too stupid to inquire, she’s angrier at the poor man ahead of her in line who’s getting his pain pills for free due to Medicaid while she, relegated to Obamacare, must pay a few dollars for her pap smear, than she is at me for the thousands and thousands of dollars of government assistance that I get on my sales of stock.
** I’ll stipulate here that, as Atrios often notes, we should stop having (albeit that we do this to make the Republicans happy) programs that make people jump through hoops and fill out forms in order to get benefits. We’re just trying to placate the Republicans who can’t stand for any child to go out to recess with a really full stomach. The real solution, and one that we’re going to need to reach sooner rather than later, is a basic economic income. Now that robots and computers can do all of our jobs, we need: (1) far fewer people on the planet and (2) an income for all of the people who are left. We can’t even begin to have this conversation until we stop trying to placate Ms. Umbridge.
See how easy that was? That was shaming and blaming.
Picture found here.