Hilary Clinton made a speech, the nerve of her, while traveling in India promoting her book. She talked about the election, which of course she should never, ever do. Most of the media, certainly the right wing media but plenty of mainstream media as well, believe her unqualified to talk about the 2016 election. Whatever she says it’s inappropriate, no matter how accurate, because it came from her mouth.
“All that red in the middle, where Trump won, what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And this whole campaign “make America great again” was looking backwards. ‘You didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you see that Indian American succeeding more than you are, whatever your problem is I’m gonna solve it.'”
She said that Trump spoke to that portion of the country which was angry and resentful and “looking backwards.” The right wing attacked and now the story is that Hillary Clinton called the middle of the country backwards. So Democratic candidates just have to separate themselves from her. But that’s par for the course of politics. The right wing will make Hillary and Nancy Pelosi the story next November, like they did against Conor Lamb. It didn’t work that well. But be sympathetic, it’s all they have. And for the media its a convenient shorthand to tell a story without actually thinking, which can hurt.
Which brings us to a discussion on Morning Joe wherein participants whose self-image is that they are thinking people, perhaps even intellectuals, used the Hillary speech as the entre into a talk about our tribalism problem. The problem is that they were completely unable to see that Hillary was describing those people in the middle of the country that Trump conned as the tribal people whose identity determined their votes. In this discussion, as it is mostly in the media (oddly coming from the coastal elite enclaves), it was all about Hillary and coastal elite enclaves being tribal and looking down on the “fly-over states.” Remember, no matter what Hillary said she’s wrong and should be quiet, that’s a given. But what her speech illustrates is that liberals are illiberal and so tribal.
The conversation veered into how it is true that people in the blue areas of the country are more diverse and because of that they are less set in their tribal ways, more apt to flow freely from tribe to tribe, less exclusionary and open. While it’s not uncommon that those people who spread racism and xenophobia have very often not ever interacted with people out of their race, religion or orientation.
What Mika, Amy Chua (the Tiger Mom and Yale Law School professor) and Anand Giridharadas were talking about was cities. Cities are the real melting pot of the country, where yes! many kinds of people live and do indeed create 2/3 of our GNP. And yes, cities all over the country vote overwhelmingly Democratic. They are the blue areas on the coasts and dotting even the red countryside.
So the conversation was supporting exactly what Hillary said, while using her as a cautionary tale for being so tribal and not reaching out to others. In attacking liberal tribalism they admitted that Trump pandered to a form of virulent tribalism that thinks of themselves as the real Americans and looks down on the other side the way Pennsylvania loser Rick Saccone described them:
“They have a hatred for our president…. a hatred for our country… They have a hatred for God”
So let’s weigh these sentiments:
They vote against their own best interests and cling to a past in fear of a future they don’t see themselves in.
They hate America and god and we want our country back from them.
The bottom line was that the left needs to be bigger and reach out to the middle of the country. Of course, hatred, racism, xenophobia are bad – and none of the people on the panel were volunteering to go live in those red areas – it’s still the left’s fault. There was a sense that the left should be bigger and more paternal (but not paternalistic) to the great middle of the country, to listen to them, hear their fears and invite them onto the porch (or the stoop, I guess) for some lemonade to talk.
Should those people in the middle of the country who are screaming “go home” to brown people and wear shirts that say “Fuck Your Feelings”, who shouted “lock her up” at Trump rallies, invite Hillary in for lemonade and talk to her? No, they think she’s a heinous bitch who hates America, you can’t blame them for not reaching out. But she should listen to them anyway they may have a point about her bitchiness or something.
Sure, there’s tribalism on both sides, but really, no really, this shit has gone on for fucking ever. The gun debate has always been that people in cities need to understand the gun culture and stop asking for gun control. What do people in Montana have to understand about people in cities who are the victims of gun violence? Nothing. Just hate them because they live in cities and couldn’t love Jesus like gun owners do. There’s just something about shooting things that really brings out the Jesusiness.
That’s the level of burden that is always put on the left – to be bigger, more generous and less vocal (read: shrill, if you’re a vagina owner). Nobody ever asks anything of the people who vote to keep the country backwards. Why?
Because they’re just doing the best they can?
It’s the height of true paternalism to say that we can’t ask anything more of these people. We couldn’t ask them to educate themselves, become more informed, try to have more contact with people unlike them, and live up their own Christian teachings.
To avoid being called an elitist, the very worst of the elite media look down on their own kind and pat the real idiots on the head and say “you run along and play with your guns and god.” “I don’t understand you but I know you’re wonderful even if we don’t agree on anything.”
It’s placating them and shitting on their own, again because it’s easy. And the hate mail from the blue states is always better punctuated with proper spelling.
And just to tie all of this together in a centrist Morning Joe knot – what Conor Lamb’s victory in PA-18 really should be informing the political elitists is that their models of right/left/center are all wrong:
A reachable middle of the country moderate in 2018 is not someone who is more conservative economically and more lefty socially – it’s the opposite. The way to reach people in places that are 95% white like rural Pennsylvania are to be more economically left but without the overt messages of inclusion and multi-culturalism that challenge these people.