Stephen Hartwell: Working people afraid for the future

  • jacoblund

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Working people afraid for the future

Thank you, Joe Gannon, for laying out for all to read just why the political fault lines in this country seem so hopeless these days (“Exploited proletariat a ‘basket of deplorables’,” June 9).

While I would disagree that is it merely education level that is the significant factor among voters today, I will agree that it is the “exploited proletariat” that is being accused of reverting back to their tribes (as former president Barack Obama reportedly opined in trying to explain Donald Trump’s presidential victory).

History will be very unkind to the legacy of Bill Clinton. No president, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement and his administration’s trading policies regarding China, has done more to undermine the working class of this country — and that means the working class of all races in America, something that is lost in conversations (however few) about class in the United States.

Justified or not, it was Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” gibe that symbolically signaled the break with the Democrats and the working class. Hillary, with that remark, branded the Democrats for the foreseeable future as the party of the elite and the enlightened, rising above all forms of racism, sexism, and a host of innumerable equally execrable “isms” those unfortunate deplorables just could not come to terms with.

In the meantime, her comments, and the general tenor of her entire campaign, came up against an exploited class that was just beginning to realize that this globalization thing was not in their interest at all and that maybe they had been hoodwinked back there in the 1990s. Things take a while to sink in, but it was becoming quite clear that people who worked for a living in this country had no friends in the nation’s capital — in either party.

Partisan Democrats will dispute this, but Obama failed miserably in even beginning to champion the interests of the “little guy,” something that used to be the hallmark of his party. Like both Clintons, Obama found solace in Hollywood idolatry and with the financial high rollers rather than within the union halls and farming communities that had previously been strongholds of the Democrats.

And while such a notion as worker solidarity seems an anachronism in today’s United States, I am afraid it is the identity politics that Gannon writes of that represents the future of politics in this country, and this goes beyond the “town and gown” divide.

Working people are afraid for the future, and there does not seem to be any place for them to turn.

Stephen Hartwell