Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chauncey Devega Says: Obama and the White Working Class Sacred Cow Test

As others have correctly observed, it seems that Obama is a smart man who at times isn't a very smart politician. Democrats have always struggled with the easy mark of being effeminate "intellectuals" that are out of touch with "common" American folk. The Reagan revolution, Nixon's Southern strategy, and the rise of Conservative talk radio and television mined this narrative, added some race baiting "law and order talk," and rode this wave for some four decades--Rush Limbaugh's jab at "liberals" where he describes them as "Rolls Royce driving socialists" and as supporters of "welfare queens" immediately comes to mind:

It seems that Obama has now failed the white working class sacred cow test twice in a row.

First, a few weeks back Barack bowls a 37, yes a 37! how in the hell do you do that Obama?

That is little more than 3 pins a frame, and apparently he bowled one strike in the twelve frames, so that means there were quite a few empty frames. As a respectable Negro and long-time kegler, I am personally offended, but I can get over that.

More importantly, if you want to appeal to the white working class you got to bowl well. To Obama I would offer the following advice: visualize the constituency you are trying to win over in Pennsylvania--in this case imagine thousands of Archie Bunkers--bowling is integral to their lifestyles and if you can bowl well, maybe these Archie Bunkers will be generous enough to overlook the fact that you are a black man:

The first President Bush was also a horrible bowler, but then again he was also pretty liberal by Conservative standards:

Second, Obama dares to talk about white working class resentment, religion, and guns (and then promptly backpedals). Uh ooh, Barack was brazen enough to state that poor and working class white people may run to religion and guns out of anger and frustration. Maybe I am one of the effeminate intellectual types, but this sounds like one of those old school religion as the opiate of the masses types of arguments. Obama, didn't anyone tell you that Marxist analysis is so 1960s? You should certainly know better.

Again, here is where you can brush up on your political skills. Americans don't like to talk about race and class. White Americans, and poor whites in particular, don't want to reflect on their material self-interests and the fact that they have consistently supported political movements where racial interests (that is a polite term for white supremacy) trumped class interests. History provides a litany of examples: Populism; the Progressive movement; the rightward turn from Civil Rights and the Great Society; the Reagan Revolution; the New Democrats (i.e. Clinton and their bunch) all knew you can win big by running for the center (or right) on race and by not talking about poor and middle class white folk having lots in common with poor and middle class brown and black folk.

On religion, you committed a similar gaff. Again, a smart politician, especially a black Democrat where the label of "liberal" looms like the sword of Damocles over his head, better not hint or imply that religion, and the Right's co-optation of the white Church and God, is a function of fear, of an anxiety about a changing world, and an effort to run to the church instead of engaging in a deep and critical analysis of State, power, and leadership:

Remember, religion, and good, old fashioned, conservative, fundamentalist religion in particular, makes people strong! As Hillary said:

“Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a constitutional right. Americans who believe in God believe it’s a matter of personal faith. Americans who believe in protecting good American jobs believe it’s a matter of the American dream,” she said. “People embrace faith not because they are materially poor but because they are spiritually rich.”

I am sure some do, but a hell of lot don't. Bro'Bama please be careful and don't commit a 3rd strike in the white working class sacred cow test. You are smart, and frankly in my opinion quite correct, but never underestimate the stupidity of the American people.

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