As long as I've brought up the subject of Governor Scott Walker, your post this week made me realize some things about the groundswell of popular opinion against him here in Wisconsin. About a year ago when the massive demonstrations against his anti-union policies were occuring in Madison, it was really good to see so many people caring about those issues. But I couldn't help but wonder why they were caring now and not thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago.
And the answer is that Walker's moves against public employees are an assault on the middle class, whereas in the past, the policy-assaults were mostly on the laboring class. And this probably explains the puzzling number of white working-class people who support Scott Walker. On a level these people likely don't even entirely recognize, they are probably thinking, "You middle-class liberals didn't care when people like me were having our lives ground into sausage by those rich people!" I like to think that I cared at least at little, but I have pretty much been a rather marginalized and isolated person ever since being forced to realize that the denizens of the college "PC" scene weren't really my friends.
Here is JMG's response:
Mister R., bingo! When the blue collar jobs were the ones being thrown under the bus, the middle class was babbling horseradish about the wonderful new globalized economy, and how everybody (meaning, of course, everybody in their class) would prosper in it. Now it's the turn of the middle class to go under the bus, and the survivors of the old working class are not impressed by the screams of outrage.
The clown-car primary for which the strategically-incompetent Democrats are currently gearing up may be one reason the recall election might fail to oust Governor Scott Walker from office. But the main reason it could fail is that bitter, alienated working-class people could well turn out in droves to make sure that the ultimate fate of middle-class liberals gets tossed into the wood-chipper the way the fate of their class was tossed into the wood-chipper all those years ago. And it's not entirely undeserved, either.
I remember the Eighties and the Nineties, and the tacit subtext of socio-economic discussions amongst middle-class liberals back then was that laboring-class folk are not among The People Who Matter in the new exegesis of the age. And that has a lot to do with why so many working-class men tune in to right-wing talk-radio to hear Rush Limbaugh stroke their mad-on about upper-middle-class liberals. And why does one suppose that Republican wave-elections such as 2010 and 1994 are such tidal waves, whereas Democratic wave-elections such as 2006 and 2008 are more like municipal-swimming-pool-on-a-windy-day waves? There is an invisible class of dispossessed caucasians in this country who are the children of the rural underclass, and it is because these people feel so forgotten about that they can be counted on to put Republicans in office out of ignorance and spite when they bother to vote.
Without a doubt, putting Republicans in office will cause their lot to deteriorate more quickly. But their lot has been getting worse for so long with nobody really seeming to care that much that they figure it will get worse no matter what, so why not speed it up a bit in order to stick to the assholes who let them down? It's not a very rational line of thinking to be sure, but human nature just ain't rational. Never has been, never will be.
I guess that has a lot to do with my decision to just "let it all go and let it all die" if Scott Walker's tenure in the governor's mansion survives the recall. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that whatever is going to happen is simply going to happen and have peace over it.
For more insight into this phenomenon, here's a reworked version of Exiled.com editor and writer Mark Ames's classic Spite The Vote.
See also Chris Hedges on the death of the liberal class.