Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The tea partiers are as good as you and me


[P]eople feel legitimate anger toward their government. They sense that the vague democratic ideals they have held since childhood have been traduced and betrayed. And they have.

We live in a post-manufacturing society, but this has different implications for different people.

Communities whose wealth came from manufacturing operations have had to replace that with some service-sector alternative. You're going from $30-an-hour jobs to minimum wage.

Then you have a wave of immigration from Mexico: you've got people willing to work for less than minimum wage -- people who get picked up by van services in the mornings, get robbed by their employers, and then pay a fee to the van service to bring them home.

Naturally, if you're going from some decent union job to competing with desperate immigrants for work, you're going to be pissed. Sure, you want to "take back your country," and you probably don't have good things to say about Mexicans, either. Meanwhile, you're listening to Beck and Limbaugh, because they're making sense of what is happening to you. No one else is addressing your concerns, so you tune into the people that do.

If we judge the Tea Party-types by the racism they display while bearing the brunt of the pain that comes from NAFTA and a move away from manufacturing, and put them up against all the progressively-minded people in corporate America who helped bring these things about, I don't see much of a moral distinction to get worked up about.

The only meaningful distinction comes from people who do something to challenge these trends.


cb said...

Good points. The main problem I see is that the conservative media message has conditioned them with reports of people that don't look like them getting all sorts of free stuff, saying awful things about america.

It's difficult to get around those built-in resentments

Anonymous said...

Mexico is bearing the brunt of NAFTA. People are dying there not protesting at church rallies.

JRB said...


And if you want to understand the whole, you look at how the parts fit together.

Just remember the ladypoverty rhyme:

"Peeps might be in different situations, but that don't mean there ain't no relations."

For it is written.

JRB said...


Yes -- difficult!

It's not like you can just buy endless influence on credit like some classes do!

The irony is that people will cite this as an argument against class struggle.

cb said...

Damn you jrb! Your patience and compassion put mine in the shade. this article was actually quite enlightening.

And they may be nice on a person to person level, donate to charity help their neighbors out, struggle with the difficulties of daily life. But the policies that generate broad agreement - immigration especially - would be a trainwreck.

I understand that a lot of it is the natural fear of the brown people who speak a seekrit language. But the people exploiting those fears do not have noble ends in mind.

JM said...

I agree with CB here plus a lot of them are upper middle class:

JRB said...


That's a good article. It seems to confirm what I am saying about the importance of engaging these people. I also agree with your other points, as well. Thanks.


People who only understand class as a socioeconomic category often raise this point, but it isn't relevant. The fact is, people can make $50 or $70,000 a year and still lose their jobs and homes -- and people in certain industries are more vulnerable to this than others. See the comment thread below the article for more about this.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat related to the post and one article suggested: