White Victimhood Is The End Of The GOP
In the latest print issue of the National review, Kevin Williamson wrote this
It is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn’t. The white middle class may like the idea of Trump as a giant pulsing humanoid middle finger held up in the face of the Cathedral, they may sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about “globalists” and — odious, stupid term — “the Establishment,” but nobody did this to them. They failed themselves. If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that. Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.”
White victimhood was not addressed when William Buckley pontificated on blacks sowing the seeds of their own demise at the time of the founding of what would become the leading conservative thought magazine in the 1950s. “It’s your own fault” would become the bedrock of conservative thought on poverty and racism.
I give them credit for being consistent. Literally for decades, the publication has been pointing to cultural dysfunction as the root cause of the problem with black America. Many of the people outraged by Williamson’s words on white victimhood uttered no objection when they were said about blacks. The outrage is both fascinating and telling.
I agree with much of Williamson’s critique, whether aimed at blacks or whites. The features that define the American underclass, in my opinion, have almost as much to do with culture as they do race.
Where I differ from Williamson, the National Review, libertarians and conservatives as a liberal progressive is in my belief that racism is an inevitable offshoot of capitalism and that it also inhibits personal freedoms; therefore, it must be mitigated by government intervention through policy. How much and how often are the arguments that we have on the left.
Currently, we’re seeing white America affected in much the same way that black America has been for decades. This is what happens when the state can no longer legally sanction racism. Everybody who can fall hard does fall hard.
White victimhood means articulating the burden of the virtue of personal responsibility (and it has a burden, as do all virtues — that’s what makes virtues difficult and vices easy) is to be borne only by inner city blacks subject to bad economic and social circumstances, but not by working class whites subject to bad economic and social circumstances. Why this is requires an honest look into the America that many people think was great.
The America Trump and his supporters think was great was one where employers often agreed not to hire blacks, which cut down on competition for jobs and led to rising wages. I love unions, but they too often collaborated with businesses to keep employment white.
Fifty years after the end of state-sanctioned racism, whites are getting a taste of what minorities have gotten for generations. The “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” pill in the face of harsh economic realities is apparently too bitter for many to swallow.
The reality is that “personal responsibility” is a term many white people happily endorsed as long as it wasn’t used against them. Take that mindset and expand it across all of our institutional structures and you don’t get a rosy picture for people of color in the country. Now that the racism does not have the force of law, white victimhood is here.
Conservatism Is Done
White victimhood is completely antithetical to conservatism, which promises nothing except to get government out of the way and let the free market determine winners and losers. This means absorbing the creative destruction inherent in the business cycle. White people are wholeheartedly rejecting this ideology en masse.
New Deal-era programs were massive and lasted for a number of years before transitioning into longterm programs like Social Security. FDR understood that what people wanted were jobs and he organized federal programs to provide them. Conservatives have never really been able to combat the spirit of the New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society invectives. The Great Recession, after years of advocating for tax cuts and business-friendly policy embodying the 80s, 90s and 2000s, effectively ended conservatism as an answer for white people.
If the Trump candidacy does any good, it is this fleshing out of the actual meaning of conservatism. Honestly, this is the first time in my life that I’ve seen so many self-proclaimed conservatives engage in any serious introspection of what exactly that means.
White victimhood means when BMW invests in the United States, it’s no big deal. However, Carrier moving a factory to Mexico means the world is ending.
NAFTA is the boogieman, but we have as much industrial production in this country now as we did prior to NAFTA. Trade deals are not the reason we have lost jobs in manufacturing; rather, increasing automation and industrial production transitioning to high tech as opposed to low-skilled work is the more likely culprit.
This is why protectionism is flawed. The beneficial effect it has on jobs affects only a few people. The negative effect it has on prices affects everyone. Even stagnant wages here have meant increased spending power because of less expensive goods and services for all.
Protectionist tariffs allow business and labor to force Americans to buy from them instead of foreign competitors. Banning all that nefarious competition from cheaper foreign workers only incentivizes businesses to automate their labor forces faster.
Generally, jobs are lost because they’re not competitive and not because the government isn’t there to save them. Buying American “just because” is not in the consumer’s best interest. Buying the best product at the lowest price, and striving to provide the same if you have your own business, is beneficial to everyone.
Nobody owes you their business. If what you are selling isn’t worth very much on the market, offer a better product or service. For labor, this means learning a skill or moving to a place where what you are selling, your labor, is worth more. Otherwise, you relegate to stagnating in dying towns.
Unfortunately, low-skilled work is a losing proposition in the US as the hardship to live on the wages it provides are too much. We have to move people up the skills ladder if they want to earn a decent living in 2016.
The only way to top a big, beautiful lie about one’s ability to create low-skilled manufacturing jobs by cleansing America of all things foreign is to tell a bigger, more beautiful lie. Thus we have the growing “whites as victims” narrative, which white supremacists and nationalists have been arguing for years.
White victimhood allows us to pretend that getting rid of immigrants will make everything better for whites on the job, education, healthcare and societal fronts. Ironically, the poverty in the worst parts of the U.S. does not compare to the kind that plagues other parts of the world, yet a lot of those people come all the way here to escape their poverty.
Once here, they work hard to feed their kids and provide them a better life than they’ve had. We complain about immigration, and yet how many people do you see willing to make the equivalent of that effort?
Worldwide industrial production during World War II was busy churning out war materials, driving up the demand for labor, while the draft reduced the supply of it. This increased wages for workers.
After the war, most of the world’s industrial plant had been destroyed. The US represented a majority of the world’s industrial capacity for a while, severely reducing competition for American output.
When the Cold War ended and Soviet-backed third world governments collapsed over the next decade, American labor became overpriced relative to these newer, more open markets with lower costs of living and friendlier governments to business and manufacturing. What Trump and a lot of Sanders supporters don’t understand is that you can’t have a post World War II economy when the rest of the world has now rebuilt and can provide cheaper labor. This demographic appears to want historically ineffective government solutions to problems the government cannot really solve.
White victimhood does not account for this not happening instantaneously. GM pulled out of Flint and Detroit, Michigan decades before NAFTA, and the steel industries pulled out of Cleveland, Ohio and Gary, Indiana in the 1960s.
Corporations invest where they see profit and an attractive tax environment. White victimhood states they should be in business to be patriotic. Profits and patriotism, while not mutually exclusive, are certainly not synonimous.
While many mistakenly subscribed to “trickle down economics,” an economic philosophy that is no better then social Darwinism, capitalism does have the potential to raise people out of poverty. The problem is that it’s no longer capitalism, but corporate welfare.
Corporate welfare is destructive as it turns people into statistics without regard for their well-being nor quality of life. The key is finding the right balance between individual and community, which is not something many ascribe to nowadays. It’s more popular being an ultra-partisan ideologue.
Most people, including white people, react poorly when you tell them that they need to get an education and move to where they can get productive work. There’s really no way around it, though, as it’s a many-thousand-year-old proclamation that has been making people angry for just as long.
The “entitlement mentality” long associated with people of color, unleashed by the “welfare state,” is only reinforced when people say “nothing is being done about it by either Party.” The question is what have you done for yourself? “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” is long gone.
In fact, persistent American poverty is largely a rural phenomena, which is mainly the domain of white people. The biological concept of adaption, migration or extinction applies to everyone.
In America, the path to political success is finding someone to blame, because it’s never the voters’ fault. Democrats blame racism and corporations, Trump blames immigrants and China. That’s a lot easier than facing the causes of their problems, namely themselves.
White victimhood is understandable. Generations of families have been going straight to work out of high school and earning a living that pays the bills and puts food on the table. They raised their children much the same way they had been raised. When jobs that had been disappearing over decades accelerate their rate of loss, that’s going to cause problems. Unfortunately, you have to create your own “well-being”. Expecting others to create it is foolhardy.
In theory, it’s impossible to “provide” anyone with a way to escape poverty. Society provides free education, supplemented with free books, free computers, free internet, free lunches, free breakfasts, free transportation, free counselors, free birth control, etc. Getting an education and moving to a place where you can get a job or a reasonably priced education is something a person has to want to do themselves.
White victimhood is not necessarily laziness, but an unrealistic view of the amount of work required to make a decent living in 2016. The ability to make a living working 40 hours a week, particularly if you have limited skills/education, occurred in the U.S. for a relatively short time period that has passed. Better trade deals and protectionism are not going to put the genie back in the bottle. The American worker must compete internationally moving forward.
There are opportunities out there for less-educated individuals but they are going to have work harder then the previous generation to earn it. For example, construction companies are looking for good people. The requirements can be tough but making 53,000 dollars (approximate median income of the U.S.) within a year is very possible. Most jobs require the following: show up every day, be willing to listen and get trained, pass drug test, work 6 days a week and up to 12 hours a day (you will get lots of money for overtime) when needed, work outside in bad weather and work hard. If you want more opportunity and more money, be willing travel.
If you do this for a few years you will advance to higher-paying positions. Good companies will provide you with lots of training and educational opportunities if you put in the work. The people managing most successful construction firms today are aging baby boomers. They are desperate to find people to run these companies in the next 10 to 15 years. The point is that there are opportunities to have a very good middle class career for people who don’t have a college education.
Earning these opportunities requires a lot of work that it seems like many Americans are not willing to put in. A very common story you hear from foremen in construction is that new guys show up everyday for a week, call in sick 2 of 6 days the next week and the next time you see them at Walmart working part time for 8 bucks an hour (the construction job paid $20 to start and was 60 hours a week)
If all you know are broken families, if all you know is poverty, if you come from a family that does not value education, you have few of the tools and little of the necessary knowledge to escape those circumstances. This is independent of race.
In the wider history of the world, and even this nation, a calamity is something like the Great Depression. Or the Civil War. Our issues, challenging as they may be, are not yet at that level. The sense of urgency existing now is nothing other than a heightened response of white victimhood exacerbated by our first black president. After all, what’s happening to white people now has been happening to minorities and people of color for years.