Democrats & Liberals Archives

It's The Class Warfare, Stupid!

I really wanted to blog on China today, but I recently finished Thomas Frank’s book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas”, and I’m still thinking about it. When I reviewed it on my site, I focused on how “values voters” are mistargeting their outrage against liberal culture (I’m the kind of guy for whom irony holds great appeal), but Frank makes another, more important point: The basis for today’s conservative movement is class warfare.

Frank points out that the Republican Party tapped into working-class dissatisfaction - and made it work for them. The Republican elite are using backlash politics to enlist the morally outraged working class in their war against the working class. Of course, over the last few decades they've stripped out the socialist buzz-words, but if you look behind the labels, "middle America" versus the "liberal elite" is pretty obviously "working class America" versus the "wealthy".

Frank's book focuses on Kansas where everyone's a Republican, so instead of working-class Democrats versus wealthy Republicans, he speaks of working-class conservative Republicans (Cons) trash-talking wealthy moderate Republicans (Mods). As amusing as it is to see Republicans at each other's throats, Frank writes, this is a real problem for the working-class,

...Mods are the primary beneficiaries of the class war that rages against them. Although the Cons vituperate against the high and the mighty, the policies they help to enact - deregulating, privatizing - only serve to make the Mods high and mightier still. And while it may hurt the Mods' feelings to overhear their secretaries referring to them as RINOs, the many rounds of tax cuts the Cons have accomplished surely made the sting subside. The Mods win even when they lose.

...The angry workers, mighty in their numbers, are marching irresistibly against the arrogant. They are shaking their fist at the sons of privilege. They are laughing at the dainty affectations of the Leawood toffs. They are massing at the gates of Mission Hills, hoisting the black flag, and while millionaires tremble in their mansions, they are bellowing out their terrifying demands. "We are here," they scream, "to cut your taxes."

President Bush's nomination of John Roberts, Jr. to the Supreme Court should really bring home the message that "values voters" are screwing themselves. President Bush could have nominated someone who spoke out unabashedly against Roe v. Wade. Instead, he chose a justice who is staunchly pro-business, but who may - or may not - have the conviction to abolish abortion. As Frank puts it in his book, "The leaders of the backlash may talk Christ, but they walk corporate."

Despite the values voters sending their Republican culture warriors off to Washington every two years, abortion is never halted, affirmative action is never abolished, and the "liberal" media is never forced to clean up its act,

The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization; Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.

And just to tie in China, because I really did want to blog about China today, our headlong rush into global free-trade is having the easily foreseen result of lowering our wages to the level of the 800-yuan girls toiling in Chinese factories. The global economy is just that: global. Both business AND workers are competing across borders, and the result is a win-win for business. Corporations get new markets, as well as cheap labor.

We voted for it; we got it. It's like that old joke where a guy goes to the doctor and says, "Doc, it hurts when I do this." The Doctor replies, "So, don't do that."

Posted by American Pundit at July 22, 2005 5:32 AM