James F on Hatred in Our Divided Nation: Anger at Flyover Country

By reader James F. Hoisted from comments

I, too, am worried by our descent into prewar hatred. I had a friend from Dubrovnik in the’80s. She was a typical Yugoslav – half Croatian, quarter Serbian, and a quarter Russian. She was full of hope, smart, pretty, and heartbreakingly naïve. If she survived the war, I’m pretty sure my friend lost what made her a beautiful human being. She haunts me. Civil wars seem implausible until they start and then they follow the devil’s logic. People like my friend tend to die in them or turn into something less than they were in order to survive.

I’m an old man now working on my doctorate through a senior citizens’ scholarship. I grew on the North-East Coast. I live in the rural South now. I know people from everywhere because I’ve been around a long time. Comfortable people from the cities, Democrat or Republican, want to hit someone, hard… but they have by and large never worn a uniform or had a gun pointed at their heads. They’re frustrated which makes sense but they don’t know when a bloody fight is coming. You can smell it coming like folks down here can smell a tornado or like mothers smell death on its way and snatch their children off the front porch.

Here in Flyover Country things are bad, really bad. I recently visited family in Northern California. Things were pretty nice. Not opulent by any means but the shelves were stocked. Security guards in Target let the kids play around. Around here – not so much. Not so much as a Target. We have long lines, empty shelves, and the kids, black and white, always seem aware that they’re not safe. Comfortable people in cities worry about reproductive health care. We worry about getting a four-dollar antibiotic for pneumonia at Wal-Mart without having to spend several hundred bucks for the prescription (real life experience with insurance). Our mean income is about a quarter of Northern California’s. Housing is cheaper but it’s not cheap and it’s a lot worse housing. Food and utilities are a lot more expensive. Everything including food and medicine is taxed. We’re dying here, slowly perhaps but we’re dying none the less.

Even so, my Democrat and Republican friends and family from the coasts couldn’t care less about my neighbors. They couldn’t care less about fifteen years of war or the kids we send to fight it or the kids our kids kill. I understand. It’s only natural to look to one’s own interests and what happens in Natchez or Mosul doesn’t hit home. However, they’re all angry – angry at Flyover people for being sick and poor and tired of being cannon fodder. And so I have to listen to why we don’t deserve jobs or health care because we’re stupid. We should move or die because markets. I had to justify FDR, religion, the very idea of peace, and social solidarity. I have to defend unions and explain why my state voted for Trump – sometimes to the same person. I have to advocate for veterans, the majority of cops that don’t murder kids, and BLM while I’m trying to eat my potatoes. It’s exhausting. It’s depressing.

Statistics show that urban areas are ‘bluer’. They have better health care, better functioning government, and better opportunities. However, not all urban dwellers are comfortable. Chicago has world class hospitals, universities, and pizza. It also has an astronomical murder rate and a police force that got caught torturing its citizens. It has a deep blue machine that excels in privatization. Blue cities are rough with their mostly black and brown poor citizens but poor whites suffer too. I know. I spent decades doing social work in city hell-scapes. I know what it’s like to step over bodies and have people bleed all over me. Crime isn’t out of control when statistics say so. Crime is out of control when you or people you love get hurt. Likewise, cops shooting unarmed black people is a problem; cops shooting unarmed white people is a problem; people deciding to start an idiosyncratic revolution by shooting cops is a problem; criminals killing kids is also a problem. Statistics and social theory don’t really matter at a child’s funeral. Life is statistically better in blue enclaves but there is a difference between Compton and Hollywood, Brookline and Dorchester, Harlem and Manhattan. That’s a brute fact that uncomfortable people face every day.

Flyover people and the uncomfortable urban poor fight the never-ending wars. We provide commodities like food and coal and oil and metals. We provide cheap labor. Comfortable people have decided that most of us aren’t really needed. Immigration, free trade, and automation have made us redundant but we’re not going away. At least we’re not going away fast. Flyover people and the uncomfortable urban poor have no real place in establishment Democratic or Republican thinking. We are the establishment’s problem and the establishment is our problem.

Where do we go from here? Bernie had some good answers to some burning questions. Trump has some very questionable answers to the same problems. I don’t know if the Anarchists on Inauguration Day had any answers but they recognized the problem. The comfortable people who posed with pussy hats leave me questioning whether this country can or even should be saved. The comfortable protesters certainly have the legal right to their comfortable lives and they have the legal right to advocate for war with Russia and they have the legal right to hate the President and wear silly hats. They have a legal right to despise the Deplorables and to petition to have sleeping homeless people removed from their places of business. They have the legal right to demand respect for their sexual choices. They have these legal rights because the government guarantees them and if they tear down the civic peace of government, who will protect these rights? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I see the postmodern farce of Madonna in an orange prison jumper. Is she supposed to be King Christian wearing the Star of David during Nazi occupation? Are Ashley Judd And Julia Roberts supposed to be our Red Emma and our pistol packing Connie Markowitz? Is Lena Durham supposed to be our Marianne or our Greece Expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi? What I really want to know is will those people drinking Starbucks die with us on the barricades because the differences between guerrilla theater and guerrilla war are getting really blurry.

I don’t want to get too snarky but I am getting pretty cranky. Revolutions, as Lenin insisted, are not tea parties. In revolutions resisters get shot for showing courage; in films about revolutions actors get applause for making a courageous performance. The Democratic Resistance may be as silly looking as Teapartiers dressed in revolutionary drag but it is much more dangerous. In 2008, Obama was really popular and he had the support of his own party. Obama failed to ram through his agenda because he refused to rally the people who put him into office. By the time the Republicans hamstrung his administration, he had already lost his momentum. Obama was defeated in the Massachusetts senatorial campaign and by his failure to support Wisconsin’s unions. McConnel’s obstructionism and Trump’s birtherism were obnoxious but they didn’t destroy Obama’s agenda. Failure to push for card check, Medicare for all, voter registration, prosecuting Wall Street fraud and war crimes, new trade deals, authorizing the extra-judicial murder of US citizens, and overthrowing the government in Guatemala, Ukraine, and Libya were the real disasters.

In 2016, Trump is much less popular than Obama in 2008. His most progressive polices (which he shared with Sanders) like reversing trade agreements, renegotiating drug prices, building infrastructure, and stopping a war with Russia depend on Democratic support. His own party hates him. Impeaching or (God forbid) assassinating Trump would throw the entire government into the hands of Pence and Ryan. That would re-gear the war on Russia, reinstate the trade deals and guarantee the end of the New Deal and the Civil Rights era. Does anyone on the so-called Left really think that’s a good idea? There’d be a real fight then; the kind where lots of people die in loud and messy ways. Who is going to do the fighting and dying then? I don’t think it’s going to be the people in pussy hats but I’m sure I’ll be going to plenty of funerals if I live that long.

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    1. sgt_doom

      Quite a few books over the years have been churned out, being snarky and disingenuous (lying like hell) about jobs NOT going to China, about foreign visa replacement workers NOT being used to take Americans’ jobs!

      We know better —– since 2001, when China officially entered the WTO, over 70,000 production facilities were relocated there. Over 70,000 . . .

      That’s a lot of jobs —- and since the mid 1980s, when GE’s swinish Jack Welch offshored many many thousands of scientific R&D jobs, engineering jobs, programming jobs, technician jobs and more manufacturing jobs, things have been growing worse year in and year out.

      But they continue to churn out Fake News, Fake Books, Fake Documentaries — today PBS and Frontline are completely financed by the Koch brothers — and controlled — through WGBH Educational Foundation, and then there’s Murdoch’s News Corporation, whose lawsuits in the federal courts (circa 1999 to 2002) legalized the fictionalization of the news, and the firing of any employees who refused to do so, the propaganda stream is obvious.

      And under the Obama Administration, it is now legal for the government to propagandize the citizenry!

      Fake News all my life, Fake News every day – – – and that’s why we come to sites like these.

      1. Big Mike

        Trump has an incomprehensible opportunity here to split the neocons from the Republican Party and the neoliberals from the Democratic Party; creating a new national unity party. The MSM are helpful, useful idiots in this regard; I don’t think they are capable of comprehending the hatred that working class leftists hold them in. They seem to have negotiated and agreed to a social contract that does not reconcile with the needs of anyone outside of their narrow circles. …transgender rights! I live and work in a government town and no one I know could care less. In military terms they have charged beyond their shield wall; out in the open, apt to be destroyed.

        Times are changing – I think there are perhaps 20 million Americans ready to fight and die to restore this country to the people, out of the hands of Wall Street. I agree with James F; the comfortable people in pussy hats best go run and hide.

        1. Lambert Strether

          On my first reading of this piece I thought that “flyover” was sticky because it was vivid language, but it seems that the distinction between “comfortable” and “uncomfortable” was the more subtle and deadly. Interesting.

          And flyover* is geographic, whereas comfortable is much more class-based, so I really should have spotted this.

          * Though also colonial, if you start thinking of the non-metropolitan areas of the country as colonized (resource extraction, pipelines, data storage, hog lagoons, landfills) which is a good way to think about them.

        2. Active Listener

          I’m transgender. I’m well-educated. I participated in the Occupy movement. I haven’t earned more than $12,000 (gross) since 2008, when my job (a job I’d held since before I came out/transitioned) was eliminated “because of the financial crisis.” I’d like to think my civil rights are relevant, but I guess not, because Real People like you don’t have time to tolerate media discussion of “fringe people” like me.

          Go ahead, just let the socially conservative types raise a ruckus about “transgender bathroom predators” or whatever so they can Pence away our ability to function in society by denying housing access, medical access, and public accommodations access, promoting mandatory “reparative therapy,” or whatever. Go ahead and rubber-stamp social regression on gender issues because we don’t have time for nonsense like my existence and my ability to earn income when the larger issues that affect your existence and ability to earn income are possibly at stake. Those occasional days when the media was devoting some attention to Laverne Cox or Janet Mock or Chas Bono or Caitlyn Jenner (not a fan, but I think she has the right to exist) during the last few years were just too goddamned much, I guess. You don’t see why it’s important, so it becomes trivial.

          How to even have a place in any social movement (or any hope of a meaningful social role) when your existence is either a hot-button wedge issue, an upsetting distraction from actual things that matter, or an abomination, depending on whom you ask…

    2. Lorri

      50% of Americans make $30,000 or less. A recent study shows that 57% of Americans can’t cover a $500 emergency.

      Words fail me also. If there’s one thing I have learned from all the comments online, it’s that coastal types DO NOT CARE about the working class. Condescension and dismissal drips from them, and is forming an ocean of apathy.

      1. Jim

        It is my belief that the “Medical Congressional Complex” – now clearly encompassing both Parties – doesn’t give an Expletive Deleted about EITHER the Coasts or Flyover/Uncomfortable/Whatever, Democrat/Replublican/Left/Right/Center. The MCC has created a set of monopolies that will simply strangle the US economy, sooner rather than later.

        A White House Petition for the prosecution of these monopolies under 15 USC Chapter 1 has been created. I have signed on and request that you pop over, take a look at it, and decide if you want to do the same:


        Thank you for your time and attention.

      2. Nicholas

        That is a bizarre statement. The majority of “coastal folks” are working class, I assure you. That includes the white people living in coastal states, indeed even the “liberal” ones. Consider that you may be engaging in projection based on a selection of celebrities and cliches.

  1. Disturbed Voter

    Western Civilization lives on colonization. We either colonize our neighbors … over the national border line, or we colonize our neighbors … inside the border line. Usually this works as asymmetric exploitation. The narrative that the victims of exploitation, are unworthy … is the logic of the imperialist and slave master. Fly-over country has been subject to Coastal exploitation for over 100 years now, ever since local communities became dependent on outside goods and services (which are cheaper in many cases). In the name of greater efficiency and lower cost, we have traded locality for globalism, first nationally, then literally globally. Podunk Tennessee is just as much a target as Jaipur India. The Elites have more in common with each other, than the people the claim to lead, but really rule. Of course the Middle Class is always ready to help the Elite at the expense of everyone else, they are the apparachnicks supporting the Party and Moscow … the narrative gets broken when the Elite starting throwing their Middle Class clients under the bus.

    All societies are moved by greed and fear. This is a question of personal development and character … not economics or politics. If the people are bad, then the politics and economics will be bad. And the government can’t push that rope … though they do pull the rope of greed and fear, asymmetrically … to achieve the goals of the Elite.

    1. Vatch

      Western Civilization lives on colonization.

      True, but several other civilizations also thrive on colonization. Witness the Chinese colonization of Tibet and eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang), and the colonies of Chinese communities all over Southeast Asia. The Chinese also have commercial colonial activities in Africa, although this is still on a much lower scale than the European and American activities in Africa. Islam spread far from Arabia to the islands of Indonesia, the nations of central Asia and west Africa. Then there’s Russia, which is part of Western Civilization, but is also somewhat separate. Russia’s colonial empire is vast.

      1. Expat

        I think equating ethnic Chinese communities with colonization is a stretch. I am not sure if you are trying to defend the West or simply attack the world at large, but there is a huge difference between a hundred thousand Chinese living in, say, Vancouver and US military bases in just about every nation on earth.

        1. Vatch

          The presence of U.S. military bases just about everywhere is an aberration, and is not an example of Western Civilization in general. I’m neither trying to defend the West or attack the world at large. I’m just pointing out that Disturbed Voter oversimplified the reality of colonialism.

          Your choice of Vancouver as an example is misleading, and the majority population of Singapore would be a better example of overseas Chinese colonization. The imperialistic colonization of Tibet and Xinjiang is very similar to what the U.S. has done to American Indians.

          1. Anon

            The US did not colonize the North American natives; it explicitly exterminated them. Yes, most died from small pox, but the US Cavalry ensured many died from small bullets.

            1. Vatch

              With the exception of smallpox, measles, and a few other diseases, what you describe is very similar to what has happened in Tibet. It hasn’t all been extermination; as with the American Indians, there’s been plenty of ethnic cleansing in the form of forced relocations.

          2. ToivoS

            Han Chinese have been living in Xinjiang since the Tang dynasty (more than 1000 years ago. Today the population is about 50:50:: Han:Uighers. Somehow this does not sound like colonization. Tibet has also been a province of China at least since the Sung dynasty.

            1. Vatch

              No, until the mid twentieth century, Tibet was usually not a province of China, except in the imagination of arrogant Chinese emperors. There were periods when it was a Chinese province, such as the Mongol Yuan dynasty and the middle of the Manchu Qing dynasty. But most of the time, Tibet was an independent country.

          3. steelyman

            Your choice of Singapore is a poor one. The Chinese populace of Singapore was originally allowed to settle by the colonial master aka Great Britain. It was mostly cheap labour or immigrants from Southern China seeking better opportunity during the 18th and 19th centuries. To speak of Singapore as the product of a grand ‘imperialistic’ Chinese colonial project is completely misguided. Most Singaporean Chinese now refer to themselves as Singaporeans.

        2. Jacob Gadikian

          Been to Cambodia lately?

          Straight-out Chinese colony. There isn’t even any other way to put it, that’s what it is.

          The twist: I prefer to live in a Chinese colony than in America or one of its colonies.

      2. LT

        Any country currently infighting over the spoils of exploitation and colonization will have to come to terms with what level of comfort can be maintained without that present and/or historical reliance on various form of colonization and exploitation.
        That includes all the diverse populations within a country that expects a share of the spoils.

        1. Thirdeye

          It’s anachronistic to talk about “spoils of colonization” benefiting any particular nation in the era of globalization. Everybody in the productive classes, especially those holding a significant amount of debt, is in essence a colonial subject of the financial classes, The only beneficiaries of globalization, including unrestricted immigration, are the financial classes. We in the US have globalization to thank for the fact that we have gone from a value-added economy to an asset-inflation economy driven by mountains of debt.

      3. Disturbed Voter

        Yes, Western Civilization is not unique. I would have addressed this differently to a Chinese audience, and would have posted thru TOR ;-)

        1. Lambert Strether

          I agree with Vatch, and it’s always useful to have historical perspective, as long as it doesn’t turn into “Well, actually….” which isn’t helpful in our current plight.

  2. I Have Strange Dreams

    An excellent piece of writing – much better than could be found in the msm.

    I believe the break up of the US is inevitable. Russian political scientist prof. Igor Panarin thought it was 50/50 to have happened by 2010. What will the new nations be called? Clintonia, Mexicali, Anarchia, Texola?

    1. Knot Galt

      There is still too much to lose and those already lost, or in flyover country, no longer have the means to start, let alone participate in, a breakup of this country. Inside the U.S., a break up of the States would just be too expensive for the majority and would still be too uncomfortable to a vaster majority. It would be a zero sum game that even the elites will shy away from. After all, there is the largess of the US Government to use to your advantage; that is if you are the one in power. And there are plenty of individuals who play the two party system both ways? (Out of balance right now are the self-made idiots who are split between the Obama and Clinton camps; both of which in my estimation form their own agencies of corruption.)

      That’s not to say a break up would be impossible. Outside influences and spheres of power could wreak havoc but that seems unlikely too. However, there are a myriad of ‘black swans’ that could occur and those are the signs we should be looking out for. History and life on this planet is not always evolutionary. Sometimes it is revolutionary and revolutions, or sudden change, is difficult to predict. But they do happen. Always with results disastrous to the status quo.

      Again, I don’t think a breakup is inevitable. However, everything else may be ‘just-fodder’ sitting around for the next conflagration?

        1. Waldenpond

          Everything old is new again. Rs and libertarians try to break up the state to gained electoral power… it fails. Rs, libertarians and what? liberals want to break off? It might be possible with WA,OR and CA plus some others (MT,ID,NV, AZ won’t, maybe hop over to CO?) but they have the same problem that state efforts to override the electoral college… the constitution. 2/3 of the House, 2/3 of the Senate, 75% of the states.

          1. Anon

            With Trump the Constitution means nothing. Try and locate California Governor’s 2017 State of the State address. Or listen closely to the words of Ca. Attorney General: Ca. sends more money to the Feds than it receives in return—cutting funding is a two-way street.

            I agree that a CA-OR-WA secession is the most likely to succeed.

            1. Waking Up

              People from Southern Oregon and Northern California have tried numerous secession attempts to make the “State of Jefferson” since 1852.

            2. aab

              California is not going to secede. While the state pays more than it gets back, I’m pretty sure the power players in California — like the Silicon Valley dudes — get more than they contribute. The Silicon Valley boys that were agitating for secession are already getting cosy with the Trump family. Expect that to continue.

              I wonder what would happen to employment in Silicon Valley if it wasn’t part of the United States of America, with the United States of America’s visa program, for example? What would happen to California’s international trade if it had to set up its own currency?

              And for the record, California is a hellhole for many of its citizens. A lot of the problems James describes are true in California, as well. Just because a lot of fools marched to the polls for Hillary Clinton does not mean they are happy with neoliberalism or happy in general. Los Angeles and San Francisco both have exploding crises with homelessness and housing unaffordability; we have the best set-up for ACA utilization, but it is still failing here in many ways; our transportation is bad and getting worse. It’s a known phenomenon in LA that middle-aged people who used to be executives (at least middle management) in the entertainment business have never returned to traditional employment. We certainly have a better safety net than a lot of other states, but neoliberalism is still the Democratic Party way, we are a one party, Democratic government, and we are also suffering as a state. Our famously “liberal” governor happily sold our water to Nestle for a song during the worst of the drought, and allowed more to be contaminated with fracking.

              I don’t want to secede, and be subject to the whims of Tim Cook and George Clooney. I am a leftist. They are my enemies. We would need a leftist government and a whole lot of infrastructure (like solar energy storage for a new California grid, and some way to handle our water problem) for it to make even a morsel of sense.

              1. aab

                I was thinking about that, but there’s no political driver for that. Democratic power is now isolated to the actual coasts, other than Chicago. People living on the thousands of miles in the middle would push back against the edges.

        2. bob

          Cali. Every time someone brings up cali.

          How much land in cali does fed gov own? How much of that land is currently occupied by US armed forces, in the form of militarily bases?

          “they seceded, and then before putting the pen down, started negotiating the terms of their surrender.”

            1. pretzelattack

              which leads to some other questions, but i’m not sure how specific one wants to be on this subject.

              1. aab

                Erm…I honestly didn’t even think California had nukes, despite our tons and tons of military bases and contractors, and our position as the front line for the mainland in case of a renewed Pacific theater conflict.

                Just found this. If you sort ONLY for weapons, and not reactors and the like, it looks to me like California does not have any nuclear weapon storage: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/11/map-nuclear-bombs-power-weapons

                It’s six years old, though.

                1. BajaMike


                  Ever seen a U.S. Naval ship in CA? San Diego, San Fransisco, Etc. You’ve seen Nukes-

                  Stimulating conversation, but…

                  1. aab

                    But that wouldn’t be relevant to the issue of California seceding, would it? They’d just move the ship to another port.

                    The United States losing the Pacific shoreline and the bases themselves would be a bigger problem than moving a boat, I would think.

            2. Crazy Horse

              Where are the Nukes stored? On Indian Island across the bay from the quaint city of Port Townsend in Washington State. I personally consider myself a citizen of the nation of Cascadia which encompasses the former territory of British Colombia, Washington, and Oregon. With our fleet of Trident submarines we certainly have enough MAD weapons to deter any attempt by the dying Empire to bring us back into their grasp.

              The country to the immediate south of us, Nuevo California, has the seventh largest economy in the world along with the most advanced cyberwarfare capabilities , and is well able to take care of itself. Especially since their thorium fueled reactors have made desalination cheap enough to provide sufficient water for aquaponic agriculture.

        3. Kfish

          If California does secede, the first thing that’s going to happen is that the six states upstream on the Colorado River are going to tell them where they can stick their water rights. How much of California’s economic domination is based on Central Valley agriculture? Because all of that depends on depleted aquifers and Colorado River water.

        1. Dave

          That’s only Coastal California, where I live, in the Bay Area, in the belly of the Hilldebeast. In my county, the cadres for succession, are in no particular order the Grateful Red Diaper Babies, their newly arrived cousins with their Teslas, Hispanics and a young traumatized pussycats in pussyhats.

          California activism is powerful. We have a process whereby the voters can put state initiatives on the ballot. They often go nowhere, i.e. Actually California did get to vote directly, rather than through a presidential candidate on illegal immigration back in 1994 with Proposition 187. The voters, 59 to 41%, said no to illegals right to obtain public services like hospitals, housing and welfare. However one judge, Mariana Pfaelzer, a Clinton appointee, ruled it unconstitutional and the politicians never got around to appealing that ruling. You can thank that corrupt Beverly Hills judge for helping to elect Donald Trump.

          In spite of the Trumpphobia, there is a strong balancing force pro trump:

          1. pretzelattack

            why do you say the judge was corrupt? if the politicians never appealed the decsion, they probably thought they would lose in a higher court. and clinton won california heavily, so i don’t see how that decision helped elect trump.

            1. Scott

              only reason I saw to vote strategically was for the Democratic Party’s ostensible adoption of the Sanders Platform.

          2. Anon

            California Prop 187 was the end of Republicans in the state. Dems now have a super-majority in the Legislature and can override any vetoed legislation. The state supreme court is another matter.

              1. aab

                Here in California, the mythology, at least, is that it was 187. That’s what corporate media told me; I wasn’t as suspicious then as I am now, and I wasn’t looking for more granular analysis.

                Pretty sure the jungle primaries came later, as a way for the neoliberal Democrats to guarantee they could keep their left flank shut out of power.

      1. pissed younger baby boomer

        It is already starting the collapse look around your area ,where you live .increasing poor and the new poor since 2008 depression . Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore have no manufacturing in there city , if there is industrial production those cities .Then it is drying . I see it when I visit Salem OR near me and I visit Portland OR few times a year. I never heard or read of any dead empires come back to life. now it is our turn to decided the fate of our nation .That’s if all of us get our heads of out are rear ends .

      2. Justicia

        I agree with F’s observation that “Flyover people and the uncomfortable urban poor have no real place in establishment Democratic or Republican thinking. We are the establishment’s problem and the establishment is our problem.”

        Unfortunately, he doesn’t discuss what keeps ‘flyover people’ and ‘the urban poor’ from forming common cause. These euphemisms for white and black members of the precariat fly over a core obstacle to political realignment — race. If we can’t name it and discuss it frankly we’ll never find a way to bridge the working class divide.

        Before we get to revolution or civil war, I’d like to hope we try for political realignment based on support for policies that ensure all Americans a good education, a living wage and social security — or is that too utopian an aspiration.

        1. aab

          I think the Sanders campaign proved that’s not a real problem. Rural whites, Southern working and middle class whites were quite open to voting for the elderly Socialist, by the time they had a chance to learn about him. The only reason many black voters were resistant was because of the misleadership class herding them to Clinton — plus the class-based segment that is comfortable and likes the status quo. But that was an economic driver, not race.

          Again, that’s why they went to so much trouble to stop Sanders. Now, with Trump in power, the Democratic Party shell game of pretending whites are too irredeemably racist to be allowed to live (unless they’re in the properly credentialed overlord class) can continue full bore.

          The people of this country were fully prepared to align along universal benefits. The Democratic elite intentionally, consciously, and with enormous effort, stopped it. That’s why people such as myself rage at them and consider them the enemy of progress and economic justice. Because they are.

    2. different clue

      I hope it is still ” evitable”. But if it can’t be prevented, I hope the Free and Separate countries of Great Lakestan and Appalachia are able to emerge from the wreckage.

  3. Ulysses

    “We provide cheap labor. Comfortable people have decided that most of us aren’t really needed. Immigration, free trade, and automation have made us redundant but we’re not going away.”

    The comfortable people wouldn’t last a week without all the workers who make their lives comfortable. They are particularly dependent on workers driving trucks, on the docks, and in the warehouses who ensure access to all those goods made overseas.

    The ancient Roman republic emerged when the plebeians removed themselves from the city in a general strike. [Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, 1,59] Our only hope to restore our Republic is through a similar show of class solidarity and resolve.

    1. Norm

      There are lots of people all over the world who would be happy to work on our docks and drive our trucks for a lot less than those pushy flyover people would be willing to work for. Exploitation will continue until the exploited throughout the global economy start to really care about each other’s welfare. Don’t hold your breath.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “There are lots of people all over the world who would be happy to work on our docks and drive our trucks for a lot less than those pushy flyover people would be willing to work for”

        Wow, Norm, keep punching down. Spoken like a true unapologetic globalist. Those greedy flyover people with their SHRINKING LIFE EXPECTANCY are living high on the hog off the coastal elites!

        1. Binky

          While the west coast elites are people from….the Midwest and South who took the initiative to go to where the opportunity was.

          Some even made their nut and moved back to buy land, start organic farms, and bring back some jobs suitable for people who didn’t get along with school or business culture, or didn’t feel like they could leave.

          Why, it’s almost like there isn’t really an Us and Them; it’s like an All of Us Are in Trouble So Deep We can’t Worry About Your Problems. Our flavor of Capitalism from the Reagan/Thatcher days is theology that all of us have bought into to be where we are, though. It’s your own damn fault you’re broke. Shoulda got an engineering degree so you could compete with H1b labor. Don’t hang out with those people or it will be your own damn fault when you get shot or arrested. Accountability!

          1. Dave

            “There are lots of people all over the world who would be happy to work on our docks and drive our trucks for a lot less than those pushy flyover people would be willing to work for”

            Anyone who thinks heartland people are working the docks, or driving truck, at least in Northern California, is mistaken.

            The majority of truck drivers carrying containers out of the main Northern California port, Oakland, are turban wearing Sikhs. I have no idea why they are taking over truck driving, except possibly, Oakland City Governments’ minority preference policies.
            The second new group almost monopolizing truck driving are really young Hispanics.
            They work cheap.

            The only white truckdrivers, from wherever, I see around here, are speeding around in FedEx trucks at breakneck speed, trying to service the debt, buy gas, insurance, unforms as part of their “independent contractor” servitude. The “-Ex” in FedEx is green.

            The “Ex” that is orange, shows them to be regular employees. This is why we always use United Parcel Service, who treat their employees like employees and who can earn a sustainable wage.

            1. Flame

              The Sikhs who are driving the trucks are traditionally driving trucks (& buses and taxis) in India. It’s what they do.

            2. moving left

              United Parcel Service, who treat their employees like employees and who can earn a sustainable wage.

              Because they are unionized.

              1. justawoman

                It is actually because UPS employees have a stake in the business. It is an employee “owned” business.

              2. Dave

                Forgot to mention the union. George W. Bush’s college buddy started FedEx, need you know more?

                Everyone should re familiarize themself with the Post Office and their services. It is a great institution, started by Benjamin Franklin, that has been crippled deliberately.

                I like to analogize it to passenger railroad, where decent trains once went almost everywhere before the fraud of AMTRAK and deregulation. Protect it from Diane Feinstein’s husband and his pals that want the prime real estate.

                “To quote famed short seller David Einhorn: “No matter how bad you think it is, it’s worse.” On the “corruption among what passes for our elites” front, this story about self-dealing in the privatization of the Postal Service gives an indication of how bad things really are.

                By way of backstory: the Postal Service is being plundered through the device of a completely fabricated financial crisis. The mail provider has been widely declared to be broke, but that’s utter hogwash. Congress has created the appearance of financial ill health via a 2006 measure which astonishingly makes it prepay retiree benefits 75 years in advance. Yes, you read that right. It has to fund benefits now for workers who haven’t even been hired. The Postal Service is the only agency subject to this absurd requirement. If that were eliminated, and the Post Office charged stopped pricing business mail (meaning all that junk you get) at a loss, the Postal Service would be profitable. The Save the Post Office site sets forth the forces behind the campaign to turn the Post Office into a looting opportunity public-private partnership, including Pitney Bowes, DHL, Federal Express, UPS, and USPS supplier Ursa Major.”


          2. Lambert Strether

            Shorter, assuming this comment is not parody: Everybody should move to Brooklyn and become an artisanal pickle maker.

            In the face of what even conventional economists say is a collapse in aggregate demand.

            “Accountability” is a two-way street. The ComfortaBubble™ may not like it when it comes.

        2. PhilM

          Norm looks like the realist here to me. You have to follow his logic through: until you “build the wall,” there will be no power for labor here.

          People who wage predatory class warfare, saying “the rich should be expropriated so I can have more,” or “I will buy the right to control these markets and exploit my monopoly,” are like the middle fish in the three-fish comic. There’s a planet of 6 billion people saying exactly the same thing with their lips smacking.

          “Where do you put the wall” is the most difficult question of all, but unless everybody agrees, the city will not survive the siege as a productive unit.

          1. JTFaraday

            I think he’s being serious. Just wait until the British put in another leg down on the race to the bottom no-tax regime. May is holding Trump’s hand now, but…

            I’m not sure they even want a trade deal. They’re an island nation, their elite is one of the most corrupt, and they are true believing free traders. They’ll “trade” on exactly that, and that’s it. Works well enough for them

        1. Lambert Strether

          Yep. And forty years after the process they helped set in motion and sell, mainstream economists are saying “Oh my goodness, the averages concealed the fact that the benefits were unevenly distributed!” [slapping foreheads] “We forgot to compensate the losers!”

          Chickens coming home to roost or, more elegantly, Hosea 8:7.

      2. redleg

        And right there is the explanation for Trump support in rural America, as well as their collective antipathy towards immigrants.

  4. digi_owl

    “We have long lines, empty shelves, and the kids, black and white, always seem aware that they’re not safe.”

    Sounds oddly similar to the lines written about a certain “socialist” nation thats doing so bad down south…

    1. Adamski

      And they have a balance of payments problem due to the plunge in the oil price and the same has happened under right-wing govts. What’s America’s excuse?

  5. twisted

    What are you complaining about, James F? Both Madonna and Julia Roberts can afford food for them and theirs. And medicine if their kids get sick. And they don’t have to worry if their children will be able to make ends meet when they grow up. They have every right to bitch and whinge if anyone else dares to want the same for their own family.

    I offer one cold consolation. If the political left can’t work out how to stop blaming everything on Putin and/or Russia, sooner or later there will be a war – not the kind which is fought by watching CNN on a TV but a real, shooting war, and not against some tin-pot country which hasn’t a hope of either defending themselves or retaliating. Then the children of the Madonnas and Julias will be fighting and dying right beside the children of the deplorables from the fly-over states.

    1. a different chris

      >hey have every right to bitch and whinge if anyone else dares to want the same for their own family.

      ???? They didn’t say they should have and others should have not. It doesn’t help us to make up stuff — or maybe it does, but I’m not going to be part of it.

      1. jrs


        I don’t think our political advocates should be entertainment industry people but … no they aren’t saying that.

    2. James F.

      I can’t find any consolation in our situation. People I love on both sides of a growing divide are getting more or more angry and more and more willing to make war on other people I love. Sometimes I just want to scream stop while you can. My comment was written in a passion because I keep seeing the face of a lovely young woman going home to country that was about to implode. She couldn’t see it coming. She knew Yugoslavia had major problems but she couldn’t imagine that people that were friends and family would go to war with other and then they did. I don’t want to believe that she died or that she killed and I really can’t imagine any other possibilities.

      1. Lupemax

        Thank you for your article. It made me cry. I shared it with people I hope will read it, but probably won’t, because they know so much more than I do. It was insightful and poignant and compassionate. All of which is so lacking in most of the other media, or most people I talk to these days.

        I live in a tony suburb of Massachusetts where “flyover country” is mentioned in my town’s listserve with condescension. Those hurting in this state (Springfield, New Bedford, Leominster, Lawrence, etc.) are virtually invisible to the golden building on the hill, that way the pols don’t have to do anything to help them – they’re not there. As The State senate and house vote for a huge pay raise for themselves, that is veto proof.

        I keep recommending NC to many many people and I know few to none have even tried it. I know, I ask. I have given up on most everything else. And still even democracynow this morning dwelt on the march numbers from the weekend and on Bannon because he told the press to “shut up” because it is fake news. It amazes me how Bannon/Goebbels has everyone’s attention but then he has his fingers on the upcoming violence too.

      2. Judith

        The documentary film We Are All Neighbors, by the Norwegian anthropologist Tone Bringa, will validate your concerns about your friend. It documents what happened in a village of Christians and Muslims in Bosnia during the civil war. How people who had been friends and neighbors for decades became estranged. I saw it when I was taking a human rights and anthropology class. A deeply troubling story. https://www.therai.org.uk/film/film-sales/we-are-all-neighbours

        1. Ivy

          One way to get the attention of Americans on that issue would be to bring up a basketball story. Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic were once friends, and then war broke out. Being on opposite sides of the Serbian-Croatian divide split them up. There was an ESPN 30-For-30 episode to capture the attention of sports fans and others.

      3. jrs

        But what might liberals/leftists or whatever screaming about? They know that there are whole other groups of people that are going to be in a WORLD OF HURT with Trump. The native American folks at standing rock for one thing … (no Obama is not good I know that already). So it’s not all lack of empathy, and it’s not all P.C., it’s sometimes empathy and fear for the harm people like Trump will do to people and planet (no not every single thing he does is bad).

        1. JonboinAR

          Trump is not necessarily going to do all those terrible things ascribed to his presumed intentions, but I imagine that you didn’t mean to suggest he was. We write in a slight amount of haste on these blogs and our precise words shouldn’t be parsed too closely. I would think you mean that, by his words, and maybe his early appointments, that there is a greater chance of these bad directions being made in a Trump presidency rather than in a Clinton one. I guess I can’t disagree with that, in general.

          But applying the same tools of predicting, tea-leaf reading, or what have you, to Clinton, had she won there’s a greater chance that we would see the end of the world as we know it. She was provoking Russia in a way that rational US leaders simply don’t do. She’s also, in my opinion, shown during her term in the Senate and as SOS, a neo-con like recklessness with regard to destabilizing nations where it suits “our” strategic purpose. From what I understand these followed policies have left a huge amount of havoc in their wake to dubious benefit. So I guess I can’t see how electing Clinton would have been particularly likely to yield an improved result.

          But perhaps you, and others, aren’t trying to say it would have. I don’t know,

          1. JonboinAR

            Also, I think her economic philosophy is every bit as rightward leaning as Trump’s, if not more so.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > liberals/leftists or whatever


          Liberals are because markets. That’s why we have ObamaCare instead of Medicare for All.

          The left is not.

          Big difference! It is, of course, in the interests of both liberals and conservatives to confuse the two, to try force what is in fact a three-dimensional space back into a two-dimensional one.

          1. Propertius

            Minor quibble: As both Euclid and Descartes would point out, the Liberal/Conservative axis is one-dimensional, not two ;-).

              1. integer

                One dimension is a line.
                Two points are needed to define.
                Two dimensions is a plane.
                Three points are needed to explain.
                And four points are needed to describe all faces,
                of a triangular pyramid in three dimensional spaces.

                I just made that up!
                Now I’m going to go to the pub to celebrate!

            1. Lambert Strether

              If the Greens can’t make 5% when the choice is Trump and Clinton, their existence might as well be theoretical rather than actual; sort of like string theory.

              So you can bid, but I’m not a taker.

              1. Fiver

                Oh, for crying out loud. I was not advocating for the Green Party, merely nudging forward the minor point that absent a deep recognition of the environmental constraints within which this will of necessity play out, all other macro policy advocacy is moot and meaningless. It is supreme hypocrisy, for instance, to tell vast numbers of Americans (let alone the down-trodden billions around the globe) they can all ‘have the nice things’ well-off American consumers are now accustomed to enjoy, instead of telling them and the well-off that ordinary well-off Americans can no longer live that way, that in fact the entire economy requires an immediate, radical transformation that completely re-defines individual and collective aspirations – the alternatives being literally too horrible to contemplate.

                But hey, without an EPA nobody will know the world died, will they?

                1. Lambert Strether

                  Fair enough. Liberals and conservatives are associated with (dys)functional party structures, the left is trying to be, and the greens have tried, are not, and will not be, being (as you say) about “deep recognition” something something.

      4. Norb

        The frustration I feel with friends and acquaintances is the sense of, “why can’t you see?” The acceptance of propaganda- that war, poverty, ignorance and inequality are acceptable norms not to be questioned but excused is abhorrent. That systemic social failures are placed on isolated individual characteristics of a weak person, rather than the consequences of social organizational priorities. To see the necessity to seek peace and love over violence.

        My workplace is becoming intolerable for me. It is a very liberal place, and the endless anti-Trump rhetoric and joking hilarity they find in our current national dilemma is tragic. I want to scream- this is not some form of entertainment, but the blank stares of effrontery at calling them out on the inappropriateness of it all leaves a void that is becoming unbridgeable. They are safe and secure in their worldview and wish to stay there. I keep asking myself, what will it take for these people, who I care about, to see the real danger.

        Great piece of writing by the way.

        1. jrs

          Most of my work places have been very much middle class people doing ok, and often leaning economically Republican. I know it’s dangerous to talk politics at work anyway, you can’t be left of Lenin in the corporate workplace you know (haha well maybe not quite that left :))

      5. laughingsong

        Back when Glasnost was the things, Babs Bush created a program of pen pals with USSR countries. I jumped at the chance and got a lovely family in Tbilisi. During the dissolution things got ugly there. I never heard from them after that. I sent maybe four unanswered letters. It was an awful feeling, not knowing.

        I am comfortable. I haven’t always been, and maybe that gives me a different perspective. That, and the fact that most of my closest friends are very not comfortable.

        What I am experiencing now is a huge rift with my comfortable friends, and these friendships actually may die. I can’t help it, I get so angry when they are all in sending money to the Red Cross or Sponsor a Child, but ‘deplore’ their own neighbors and fellow citizens. I have lost it more than once. I am now finding other ‘comfortable’ people who are also having this problem. It feels almost surreal having to convince people who volunteer to give time and money to save an animal, or an overseas population, to actually give a hoot about suffering under their noses.

      6. aab

        I don’t know if this helps, and I still haven’t caught up to everything in this thread, but I believe the majority of Californians would be unwilling to go to war for the neoliberal project. And we’re where most of that vaunted “popular vote win” comes from. People who aren’t from here or didn’t engage at all at the grass roots level this year are being misled by that talking point.

        And if California (and Washington) won’t go to war, I don’t see where that army comes from. I’m not saying the country won’t explode (further) in violence, but I don’t see how it becomes a formal civil war. You need two forces for that. And the people that are othering the citizens of the interior are a lazy, selfish, cowardly minority, with no culture history to lure them toward warrior status.

        We’re a suffering people. But that suffering is better understood and more shared in the Democratic citadels than the Democratic media elite are letting on.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > If California (and Washington) won’t go to war, I don’t see where that army comes from

          Perhaps not a war, but a putsch? A few cycles of escalation onward, that’s would the punching Nazis thing could lead to. The liberals are really working themselves up (and forgetting they’re not actually the ones who fought the wars….)

          1. aab

            The thing is, the liberals aren’t punching anybody; they’re just enjoying the spectacle while yammering on social media. Wasn’t it a black bloc dude that punched Spencer? I found all the cheering around that very distasteful, so I haven’t paid all that much attention to it, but I don’t think one of the pussy cap chicks did or will throw a punch. They have an app for that.

            That’s my key point. People looking at the news, and all the “three million votes”/California seceding stuff misunderstand what’s going on here. This is not a Democratic paradise for the non-10%. The voting base here is to the left of the elected and professional party members. My direct participation (like at the party elections this month) as well as being hooked into California Left social media, also suggests this, although I realize that’s mere anecdote. But I really don’t think all the young Hispanics who probably contributed greatly to Hillary’s big vote totals in the general election would actually go to war for the liberals. Already, fissures are opening up. I saw a LOT of complaints about how the comfortable white women treated women of color at the march in DC.

            And for an actual Civil War, wouldn’t we need liberals actually joining some version of a military, and all those young, screwed-over Millennials marching behind them? I just don’t see it. Not to mention, having only concentrated citadels on the coasts seems like a nightmare in terms of trying to fight an actual land war. You and Yves have trained me to think in more concrete terms about these issues. It’s like the whole California seceding thing. Even if the rest of the country said, “Fine, go!” and didn’t mess with the grid and happily negotiated water treaties, how are we supposed to set up a going currency? I’m still new to understanding this issue, but wouldn’t that be a problem?

            I’m not saying the country couldn’t devolve into chaos. Arguably, that has already started. But that’s not quite the same as one half of the country setting out to murder the other half in a systematic way. “California” is not a monolithic entity stuffed with Silicon Valley douchebros and pussy cap wearing symbol manipulators. They’re the minority here, just as they are everywhere else. And those working class people of color who may still feel enough allegiance to the Democratic Party to vote for it in elections I don’t think are going to follow Joss Whedon and Meryl Streep into the gates of hell. Nor do I think Meryl would put a single one of her children in harm’s way for the sake of the cause. And wouldn’t that kind of demonstration of commitment be necessary?

            1. Lambert Strether

              That’s why I reframed Civil War (no operational capability for that) with putsch (just possibly).

              But yes, it’s great to have more detail on the ground. This is such a vast country, so much more vast than you can see from the Acela…

              1. aab

                The only frame of reference I have for a putsch is Hitler. Extrapolating from that, I gather the difference between a coup and a putsch is that a coup is executed by insiders (the military; an opposing party with some formal governmental power; the CIA), and a putsch is executed by an outside group using raw, street level violence. Is that a workable definition?

                If that’s correct, then a Democratic Party putsch would require young, able-bodied men to fight on street level. (I realize women could do it, but we’re still heavily socialized not to) Given the way the parties’ demographics break out, that would require young black and brown men to do the heavy, street level lifting on behalf of Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, right? Maybe I’m being overly optimistic and influenced by my interactions and relationships with people of color on the left, but I just don’t see it. I think there’s too much of a disconnect between the young people of color in the Democratic base and its existing, formal (credentialed and “civil”) leadership. I can imagine Trump utilizing loyal street muscle (I’m not saying he WOULD, only that there are young, angry men committed enough to him to do it, potentially), but not the DC Republican elite, either.

                Hopefully, we don’t break down enough as a society to test my analysis.

                And this whole discussion has gotten me thinking about that “three million vote” in a different light. The East Coast elites do seem to be using California as a cudgel. “See? If you just elect all Democrats, you have the nirvana of California!” And then they conveniently don’t report on California’s many problems, none of which can be blamed on Republicans, since the Republican Party has no power here. And then the people in the interior with whom Californians could and should make common cause resent and hate us, thinking we’ve got it good at their expense. I mean, to some degree, they’re right. Many Californians are suffering, but other Californians definitely do benefit from the exploitation and neglect of the interior.

                But a look at the county level map of the election results should help disabuse anyone of the notion that “California” loves its Democratic rulers. It’s literally a couple of mega-city citadels, in which most of the citizens do not have comfortable, secure lives and are already agitating for change.

      7. Katharine

        James, I valued most of what you wrote originally, and here, as a cry from the heart. It was powerful and moving. But you talk about your concern with people growing more hateful and yet write something like this:

        The comfortable people who posed with pussy hats leave me questioning whether this country can or even should be saved. The comfortable protesters certainly have the legal right to their comfortable lives and they have the legal right to advocate for war with Russia and they have the legal right to hate the President and wear silly hats. They have a legal right to despise the Deplorables and to petition to have sleeping homeless people removed from their places of business. They have the legal right to demand respect for their sexual choices.

        There were thousands of those silly hats, and you generalize about all those people as advocating war with Russia, despising their fellow citizens, and petitioning for the removal of homeless people. When you write like that, you are the one sowing hatred. You don’t know all those people, you don’t know what they all think, or what their individual lives are like, and when you tar them all with the same brush, on the basis of God knows what you heard from a handful of them, you do no good to yourself or anyone you care about. A lot of those people could be allies, or could have been before you told them you despised them and wanted nothing to do with them.

        1. LC

          +1 AND the Dem party is mostly the opposite of “left” – after all, the two major parties in the US are both neoliberal. The dumpster fire that is the Trump administration is diverting attention from the Dems pathetic inability to change course.

    3. different clue

      Well . . . that’s why I voted against Clinton . . . was to prevent or at least delay a war between America and Russia. Though those Sanders leftists who were bitter enough to vote against Clinton one way or another are not the get-tough-on-Putin problem. Only the people who supported Clinton and/or voted for her are the problem.

  6. bigorangecat

    this is why obama will go down as the worst president ever not only for the nasty stuff that he did do, but for what he refused to do when it was absolutely neccessary to do it. everyone who argued that demographics would be the deus ex machina that would save the left should be herded onto an ice floe and shoved towards greenland.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please, again, repeat after me: OBAMA IS NOT A LEFTIST! He was neoliberal! He wasn’t not even that solid on social issues. He didn’t support gay marriage until it was very safe to do so. What did he do to stop the denial of abortion rights in the heartland (recall it wasn’t just the intimidation by protestors but the lack of funding for poor women)? He was slow and very cautious in dealing with Ferguson. And look at his Supreme Court picks. Better than what you’d get from a Republican but that isn’t saying much.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        He had Overclass support in 2008 because they knew that he would harmlessly dissipate the energies and demands that motivated people to vote for him… a political shape-shifter of the worst (well, OK, Corey Booker is the actual worst) kind, whose legacy is Trump and Republican control of the country.

        I dread having to hear his emissions of “uplifting” platitudes in the coming years, while lobotomized liberals pine for the arrogant complacency he provided them.

        1. different clue

          If the Ds nominate something like Booker, I will vote for Trump all over again. Because Booker or something-like-Booker would try to revive the Clintonite goals of Free Trade Agreements, regime change all over the world, and reviving the Cold War 2.0 with Russia.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        If I recall, Obama’s support for the repeal of DADT came after a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional for the district that includes the Pentagon and his support for gay marriage came after OFA actively worked against the candidate opposed to that hideous North Carolina amendment for the Governor’s nomination. Joe Biden came out and said the President secretly supports gay marriage, and the White House went to the ground for three days before Obama came out and mumbled about how he personally supports gay marriage but wants it left to the states.

        The North Carolina Democrats have completely collapsed since OFA’s chicanery.

      3. CDT

        A thousand times, yes. A neoliberal with manners is not a leftist. James F., I see the same things you do, but the “left” — to the extent it even exists – is not the enemy. True left-wing people hate the liberal establishment more than anyone.

        1. Art Eclectic

          True left-wing people hate the liberal establishment more than anyone.

          Thank you. Our loathing of the establishment is a festering wound. We know perfectly well we’ve been sold out for campaign donations and power.

          The idea of Makers and Takers is the toxic poison that will destroy our country. People don’t realize what they really fighting is the dark side of capitalism. Until we correct how we view money and who deserves it, we are lost.

      4. Expat

        Sadly, Yves, Obama was simply a politician. “Change we can believe in!” Yep, as in no change at all. I sometimes try to believe that Obama wanted to do the right things but then faced a very hostile Washington and Wall Street. When I am feeling more cynical, I think that he was really just Bush with a deep tan.
        The nutcases on the right love to call Obama a communist (when they are not calling him a nigger, muslim, kenyan, or elitist liberal). We have not had a left wing president in the US since….well, ever. LBJ was probably the last one to carry out major left-leaning policies and LBJ was not, by most accounts, much of a red.

        1. JonboinAR

          I think Obama just wanted to reach the pinnacle of his chosen profession, politics. I don’t think he has any particular abiding polical, social, economic, or other relevant philosophy, or approached his terms in office with strongly felt goals, at all, certaily none thought through or strategized.

          He was really little more than a gifted, fairly handsome speech giver.

      5. LT

        Mr. Smith…
        “Liberalism as Class Warfare” posted on Conterpunch today is a good emphasis to your point.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Obama was the best 1990’s Republican President that Newt could have wished for:

      #1. Got the Health Care plan proposed by the Heritage Foundation as an alternative to Hillary’s plan in the early 90’s by Democratic votes.
      #2. Passed one of the largest tax cuts in history under the excuse of a “stimulus”.
      #3. Continued and expanded military conflicts across the world.

      If I told you it was Colin Powell supporting all these policies instead of Obama, I would nod and tell you that this was all expected.

    3. Skip Intro

      ‘Obama’s Agenda’ didn’t need to get pushed through, he had bipartisan consensus for it. His campaign slogans were never really on the table, and those of us who believed him learned the hard way. On the bright side, his betrayal basically killed the whole Identity Politics scam and thus saved the world from another President Clinton.

        1. different clue

          And wearing Pink KittyCaps. ( The Pink KittyCap marches are mainly about de-legitimizing Trump strictly and only in order to engineer a Clintonite Restoration after getting Trump removed in favor of Pence . . . who is really just a Clinton Sandwhich with a bunch of Evangelical gravy on it).

        2. Skip Intro

          Kill it with Fire?
          Perhaps I was being overoptimistic, Clinton may have just been too to much weight for IdPol to carry.

    4. Benedict@Large

      Obama is hardly the worst ever. In fact, he’s only bad if you say he’s a leftist. Obama is probably typical of perhaps a Nixon (minus Watergate) or Eisenhower presidency.

      The real problem with Obama is in what he could and should have done but failed to do. When you have a systemic collapse (and there were/are more than one), a systemic response is necessary, and each time Obama was thus called upon, his stock answer was to further embed and secure the roles of the perpetrators. But that is not a “worst ever” response. It is merely a Republican response.

      1. aab

        Except that’s not his party, his voter base, or his “brand,” so trying to fight him was like fighting smoke, and made his Trojan Horse con much more effective.

        He may not be the worse President ever, but I believe entering office with almost a super-majority and then overseeing the functional death of the oldest political party in the country due to your governing decisions is pretty bad. As is the fact that he had an opportunity to make the history books not simply for his melanin content but for leadership in a time of crisis, and he punted. Again and again and again.

        1. Propertius

          I really don’t understand how anyone could have taken his “brand” seriously even in 2008, after Goolsbee told the Canadians he wasn’t really serious about NAFTA, he flipped on public financing, and then flipped again on telecom immunity. He gave some pretty clear signals before the election of just what kind of administration he was going to run and who his real constituency was. 11-dimensional chess, indeed.

          1. aab

            Just as the corporate Democrats look to benefit from getting Trump, Pence and Ryan as their enemies, Obama benefited from opposing Clinton and then McCain.

            I was running my own business, raising my child and caring for a dying parent during that campaign. I was aware of all that stuff, and wasn’t happy about it. But I still figured he’d be better than Clinton or McCain. You know, he was a smart guy who’d worked as a community organizer and was depending on small donations to run and all that. I figured he had to be less corrupt than Clinton; why else would he take the Clinton machine on?

            I console myself over my foolishness that I made it a point to learn from being conned. This mark was not cooled.

            Lots of people still adore him, and hope Michelle runs for office soon.

    5. skippy

      NC covered this ages ago, many time imo…

      His pattern of grand promises producing at-best-in-name only and at worst outright bait and switch was well established by his 2008 campaign. Some close observers pointed out his past legerdemain, for instance, his misleading account of his years in New York, his record of fronting for finance and real estate interests in Chicago, his promise to bring a state-wide health care program to Illinois, which in the end was walked back to a mere study. And there were more decisive tells in 2008: the high level of Wall Street funding for his campaign, the inclusion of neoliberal “Chicago boys” in his economics team, his reversal on FISA after promising to filibuster it, which gave retroactive immunity to telecoms for aiding and abetting illegal wiretapping, and his whipping for TARP.

      Obama didn’t make compromises necessary to lead effectively. He entered office with majorities in both houses and a country eager for a new direction. He has repudiated or retraded every pledge he made. He promised transformational leadership, and instead emulated Wall Street, devising complex programs that to sell average Americans short and reap his funders handsome rewards in the process. Rather than elevate his fellow citizens, Obama’s transactional focus and neoliberal philosophy have kicked the struggling middle class down the road greased by the right.


      disheveled…. additional searches available…

  7. Bugs Bunny

    When I got an “Our Revolution” email yesterday about California taking unilateral steps to disobey Trump’s executive orders, my first thought was “civil war looms”. I don’t think the US can manage the stresses between its factions any longer. I pray that a decent political compromise and reforms can be put in place before there is blood in the streets.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Quite a few of his executive orders don’t get him all that far in terms of action. He looks to be using them to show his base he’s delivering on his promises when he hasn’t really or hasn’t yet. Reactions like those of CA thus play into the image of Trump having taking much more ground than he really has.

      If Trump gets control of the military and intel apparatus, CA does not have a leg to stand on. The NSA has the capacity to shut down the electrical grid all over the US. There are probably more measured ways to discipline CA (like having the Navy selectively interfere with shipments into Long Beach). Let us not forget that most of the people who use guns in their line of work voted for Trump.

      1. Moneta

        Then it just goes to show that the system is bigger than the person… the system needed a neoliberal and got one… so Obama could not change anything because he was the neoliberal needed to fill the spot.

        The question now is whether the system can change direction and if so what is the tipping point.

        1. UserFriendly

          That is some BS defeatist crap. The system hates change but that didn’t stop FDR, MLK or Gandhi.

          1. ambrit

            MLK was killed just as he was embarking on a social justice course. Civil rights for a segment of the population was barely doable. Civil rights for all was not.
            Someone once quipped that they wondered how well Gandhi would have done had he gone up against Hitler. Remember that Gandhi was a sophisticated manipulator of public opinion. Sociopaths consider their own prejudices to be public opinion, to be enforced with maximum force if need be.
            FDR didn’t so much change the Capitalist system as save it. As authoritarian a figure as Bismarck realized the necessity of social welfare programs for the stability of modern industrial civilization.
            So, each of the figures you referred to tweaked the extant system, not fully remade it.
            Napoleon was defeated by a coalition of states. They were not identical, but congruous in their methodologies. Napoleon utilized the new found powers of a true social revolution that he inherited; the citizen army, based on industrialization.
            As for Moneta’s “tipping point,” well, I would lay my bets on some visible expression of contempt of the elites for the ‘lower orders.’ The dismantling of Social Security should do the trick.
            See you at the barricades.

            1. Moneta

              One thing I have noticed over time is that most of the progressive changes were not done because it was the nice or fair thing to do. They were done to serve some powerful group’s interests.

              Most of the time when progressives get what they want, it’s because resources are plentiful. When scarcity hits, discrimination goes through the roof.

              1. Michael Fiorillo

                An intelligent Overclass with minimal awareness of its mid/long term interests will have at least an influential faction that recognizes when concessions must be made in order to save the system that enriches and empowers them. FDR did so, and was reviled for decades as a traitor to his class.

                This time, we have an Overclass with neither awareness, impulse control nor concern for social cohesion: it’s all smash and grab, all the time. They seem to all be Peter Thiels, dreaming of floating cities of the mega rich, and given eternal life by the blood of the young.

                1. Lyle James

                  Many historians argue that FDR enacted the socialist legislation he did in order to head off the growing popularity of Communism among both the intelligentsia and the working classes. In other words, rather than being a genuine leftist program, it was a faux-Leftist way of protecting the oligarchical Capitalist society.

                2. Lyle James

                  Adding … The way FDR threw Henry Wallace under the bus in 1944 supports this view. Wallace represented a genuine Socialist policy. For FDR to capitulate as easily as he did to insider pressure to dump Wallace — in favor of the pro-business TRUMAN?! — shows a complete lack of conviction.

          2. Moneta

            I would argue that the system was ready for FDR, MLK and Gandhi. If it wasn’t, they would have been chewed up and spat out.

            It’s all about being at the right place at the right time with the right package.

    2. John Wright

      California is not the unified monolith the MSM promotes.

      CA is somewhat similar to the rest of the country, a number of prosperous coastal communities with a central agricultural region, the San Joaquin Valley, that is economically struggling compared to the coastal enclaves.

      The prosperous coastal regions also have great income inequality with poor and rich communities.

      Some CA people are aware of how fragile the economic environment and infrastructure is in California.

      My Los Angeles based brother mentioned hearing that if LA were cut off from its supply lines (trucking, water, utilities) it would be in serious difficulty within three days.

      If one reads the history of LA water, in the 1920’s the LA aqueduct was dynamited periodically by angry rural citizens watching the Owens Valley water piped 200 miles to LA.

      I believe that people will put up with a lot if they can foresee a better future, but if that is no longer a widely held belief, the USA could be in great trouble.

      I suspect the “Our Revolution” email people would be astounded by, and ill-prepared for, a real revolution.

      1. DH

        The recent water bill almost didn’t get through the Senate because of a battle between Sen. Boxer wanting to protection the delta by San Francisco and the Sen. Feinstein focusing on Central Valley farmers’ water rights. Even the Democrats have different constituencies in CA.

    3. Old Jake

      Wars take money. There is certainly lots of money out there, but who is going to finance which factions? Not rhetorical, making sense of that seems to me to be a way of penetrating the fog of the future.

  8. Carla

    Remarkable, James F. I wish every American had the chance to read it.

    As one who lives in a city and county that remain blue in the sea of red that is my state and region, I know there are only a handful of people in my acquaintance who would still speak to me if I even sent them your post.

    Like you, I have family and friends on the coasts, most of whom are oblivious to the realities of life here in flyover country. Hell, plenty of people in my town are doing their damnedest to remain in the dark about it. Anyway, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and your anger.

  9. Northeaster

    “They couldn’t care less about fifteen years of war or the kids we send to fight it or the kids our kids kill.”

    Let me correct you, that’s over 25 years we have been sending “kids”, I was one of them. It also started before I was sent as a fellow military colleague was shipped to Saudi Arabia two (2) years before anyone even knew we started full operations over there (1989-ish).

    Funny, that smell of civil war was just raised in the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts, as our state legislature, in both The State House & The State Senate, in an eat cake fashion, gave themselves ridiculous pay raises. This is just weeks after they received their state constitutional raises due to increases in the state median household income. Throw in that the legislature has also ignored the will and vote of The People via ballot (legalization of pot), and years ago in what triggered automatic reduction in state income tax triggers.

    If that’s not enough, they have sold out, just like their Congressional brethren when it comes to Wall Street, Big Pharma, and H-1B’s in this state. Just because it’s “blue” doesn’t mean all is well, especially in a state full of political hypocrites.

    1. James F.

      I was on active during Desert Storm/Shield too. I didn’t deploy but I shipped people out and I processed them back in. It was horrible when drilling reservists got shipped straight from a combat zone to a homeless shelter in ’91. I’m no warrior but I like the company of soldiers. If it wasn’t for my wife’s forethought I probably would have re-upped and never got out. . The post 9-11 kids (they’re kids to me) really get to me though. Maybe it’s because I seem so old and they seem so damn young. I feel more responsible, like I should have done or should be doing more for them. No disrespect meant for the people who deployed to Latin America or the Balkans in the 80’s or 90’s. I guess the post 9-11 kids feel like they could be my kids. Again no disrespect meant.

    2. Alan Edwards

      I notice Trump hasn’t said anything lately about the H-1Bs, nor does it look like he’s gonna take any action. H-1Bs take many good paying jobs from middle class Americans and drive down wages, particularly (almost exclusively) in tech, and mainly in california.

      1. jrs

        He hasn’t said anything about prison labor either, which takes jobs away from free (non imprisoned that is) people.

        1. Anonymous

          I think you’re absolutely right about Trump and Silicon Valley. The SCOTUS legalization of gay marriage, etcetera, has allowed Silicon Valley moguls to feel good about voting their pocketbooks, rather than their consciences. Their money will follow, and money has a way of influencing opinions.

      2. Ann

        There’s a draft of an executive order relating to H-1B (and the whole smorgasbord of visas) that was posted on Vox this week in a rundown of Trump’s immigration actions so far. Vox apparently got ahold of six executive order drafts that they declined to publish at first, because they couldn’t ascertain their validity, but subsequent developments have borne at least two of them out, so they decided to run with them. I know some here are not fond of Vox, but I am watching the H-1B issue closely.

        Apologies if this has already been posted here somewhere. The article (admittedly full of caveats) links to the supposed draft.


        I have heard there are various proposals on the table, some of which are window dressing (the Issa bill, for instance), and others that are potentially more substantive. I have found Patrick Thibodeau’s column at Computerworld and Norman Matloff’s blog (https://normsaysno.wordpress.com/) to be good sources on the topic. We shall see.

        Beautiful post and follow up comments, BTW.

    3. Judith

      There is an ad currently displayed in the Harvard Square T Station. It shows a picture of a young woman dressed in fatigues, holding and kissing her infant child. The text says: When Vet benefits can’t keep up, we put food on the table. We’re ending hunger in eastern Massachusetts. The Greater Boston Food Bank.

      It says a lot about us that our soldiers cannot afford to feed themselves and their families.

      1. Northeaster

        James F. – I can relate, I actually feel bad for the kids being sent over there now. At this point, many are simply joining due to no other options as the post-9/11 patriotic enlistment has abated. Then they come back, from the worst environment possible and severely psychologically/emotionally scarred, which is the complete opposite from The Desert Storm days.

        Alan – I wrote into his campaign, as my publisher (for local paper) had an in, and I sent a Q & A sheet in regard to his “tech” meeting earlier this month. All those present were some of the worst corporate serial abusers of H-1B’s. I still have not heard back, and most likely won’t. I also worked the back channels with members of my state legislature who thought we had an ally in Seth Moulton’s camp. We were wrong. They didn’t want to discuss anything to do with H-1B’s.

        Judith – Yet Massachusetts spends over $2 BILLION on housing, food/support, and education for Invaders, while the disaster known as the Bedford VA continues. It’s all good though, Beacon Hill just gave themselves a second raise in four weeks and issued a billion dollars of debt issuance to close the budget gap.

      2. Jason Boxman

        It’s weird living somewhere big enough other posters see what you see!

        I’ve seen that same ad. And I had the same question. It’s also disturbing that the subways are filled with ads for both higher education and depression. Interesting, that.

      3. berit

        … “ending hunger in eastern Massachusetts … by The Greater Boston Food Bank” … I’ve cut and pasted this comment on top, as I’m sharing this formidable article. It says what needs to be said, here in Europe too, about the deplorable, unsustainable, tragic state of the US, which did not start with the election of Donald Trump. People here were as mesmerized by “hope you can belive in” as his fellow Americans, even prematurely awarding a soon warring, dronebombing prez Obama The Nobel Peace Prize.

  10. semiconscious

    great post! :) …

    as long as naked capitalism continues to provide a place for the voice of (non-partisan) reason to be heard is as long as i’ll continue enjoying & supporting it. keep the faith…

  11. Dc buc

    I agree with most of this post but a lot of flyover has been voting for crazy Republicans for the last 30 years culminating in Trump, with no improvement in their lot. Blame the coastal “elites” , but they aren’t voting for Michelle Bachmann, Louie Gohmert or Jeff Sessions.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please look at a map.

      Sessions is from Alabama, which is not flyover, it’s the Deep South. And since I visit Alabama regularly, I have to tell you it is faring better than the Rust Belt.

      Don’t ask me to explain Bachman, who is from Minnesota, a pretty prosperous and blue state. And Minnesota went for Hillary, or did you miss that?

      Gohmert is from Texas which is virtually a different country, relatively prosperous and gaining in population, while Flyover is losing people.

      1. Dc buc

        Fine – it depends on your definition of “flyover” – please spell it out – do you mean places in the North losing population that are not coastal?

        I’m saying “not the coasts”. But if you want the north losing population, how about Jim Jordan? Shelly Moore Capito? I can come up with more of them.

        Anyways, many of these places are voting for Koch-backed nutballs with extremist agendas. The Dems or the Berniecarts should compete harder there, but the choices the voters in these districts are making are not helping.

        1. Eureka Springs

          I think you have to remember what’s on offer is in the – not a dimes worth of difference – category. And the Koch (and their ilk) backed nutballs are also in both parties. As a post by Bill Black just yesterday here on NC pointed in re who funds the Third Way /DLC.

          Here in Arkansas a few years back the Koch Bros wanted the State to generously subsidize their new steel mill along the Mississippi River not far south of West Memphis. State Democrats (Gov, Reps and Senate) were as eager as the State GOP to shovel money into the enemies hands. Koch Industry fingers are in so many pies… I suspect major infrastructure spending in the U.S. would benefit them as much if not more than anyone else.

      2. Merf56

        The writer of this piece says he is lives in the ‘rural south’ which then by your statement above is also not ‘flyover country’…. by his statement of ’empty shelves’ in Walmart etc it sounds as if a lot of the rural south can be considered flyover country for the purposes of this article. I also visit family in Alabama and they live in a small town which is coming apart at the seams( though they are ok as my cousin is the area’s only physician….. ) so perhaps not all of Alabama is as prosperous as your experience indicates….

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          1. I would never call Alabama prosperous. It overall is a low income state and it has terrible education and social safety nets. Even so, it still isn’t losing people like Rust Belt states. It is still growing but not as fast as the US overall. And the growth does appear to be concentrated in 6 counties:


          2. IMHO Alabama going for Trump has more to do with it being hard core conservative than resonating with the anti-globalist message.

          1. Susan C

            Rust Belt states are losing people for a variety of reasons, such as high taxes, cost of living and few jobs. Plus their Baby Boomers are hitting retirement and they are pulling up to go South where the living is easier and much more affordable.

            Two other points – there is this irrational anger and hatred going on right now from the coasts to the flyover people which is unjustified – is it because Trump won in Michigan and Wisconsin so in their minds it is all the fault of the Midwest? I just don’t understand where this anger is coming from but it is dangerous – this striking out at people. Is it coming from a generation of young people who may lack certain social skills due to their immersion in technology and social media? Things go from Republican to Democratic all the time in this country – way it goes – all you can do is shrug and get things better for the next election. A good percentage of people who live in CA or NYC are from the flyover states so I don’t see a civil war coming up – too much family in the heartland. One other point – Madonna is a worn out old fool, as is Steinem – I think they wanted to put it out there one more time although I doubt anyone cared or listened. I really liked the article written by James F – he tells us much about the rural South as it is today and the value of the people there. Thank you James.

            1. Skip Intro

              The hate- and fear-based Clinton campaign spent hundreds of millions demonizing Trump and by extension, his deplorables. That terror campaign had some effect, even if it didn’t drive the right turn out. It was a horrifically destructive, divisive campaign that has unleashed irrational forces of fear and anger directed at anyone who is not part of the Clinton cult, from Putin to Sanderistas to the flyover deplorables.

              1. Lynne

                Remember Trump’s comment in Nevada that he loved the poorly educated? Along with all the other voting segments that he claimed to have won handily? What struck me in the reaction to that statement was the visceral hatred and scorn directed at the “poorly educated”. It was as if nobody should be allowed to admit the possibility that the “poorly educated” were actually human beings perfectly able to ask, “If you cut us, do we not bleed?” That reaction was terrifying.

                1. MP

                  Don is a Con who is extremely dangerous. He loves the “poorly educated” about as much as the rest of the pirates love those who are not members of Treasure Island.

                  These “rulers” have utter contempt for other human beings. Some of them have waged brutal public battles against their own family members.

            2. jrs

              Plausible source for the hate of Trump voters though you won’t believe it (as it’s not quite irrational): abhorrence of Trump policies and all they perceive will hurt from them. So if they perceive that Trump policies are deeply harmful, it’s easy to hate those who gave him power, and that’s his voters. As in: what right have they to cause this much harm? I know, I know, no good choices after Bernie and all that but … this is the source of political hate.

              As for what part of the country is to blame haha, a dangerous game, but really if the South was to leave and everyone else stay I suspect the U.S. would have social democracy like every other industrial country on earth. We’d have a decent healthcare system like most countries on earth, and paid vacation, and labor standards and etc. etc..

              1. JTFaraday

                Well, I spent some time on non-denominational Twitter this past election season, just watching the general flow of things, and I feel pretty confident in saying that some portion of Trump voters did vote for Trump because he promised to hurt those people. Or, at least, that’s how he came across to them.

            3. Anon

              Flyover emigres to California may have been substantial after WWII, but no more. California is a majority Minority state, now. The Hispanic population is over 40% and growing fastest. Many white folks are fleeing to Nevada (which just flipped from a Red legislature to a Blue one).

              California has big-time inequalities (housing, income, schools,etc.) but at least it is attempting to solve it’s issues fairly.

              1. Carla

                Red, blue — they’re all working for the Kochs. Aren’t you paying attention?

                All the division on social issues is just a smoke-screen to convince people there’s a difference between the parties.

                But they both work for the moneyed interests — yesterday, today, and tomorrow, forever and ever, Amen.

                Until the guillotine.

              2. aab

                It is? Where? How?

                I’m still waiting for our super-majority to get rid of Disneyland being covered under Prop. 13.

        2. Praedor

          Larger or large-ish cities, regardless of state, generally do fairly well. Those that do best are those that base income on looting via Big Finance and “free trade”, via big tax giveaways to multinational outsourcing corporations, via “globalization”…the very things that have absolutely destroyed the flyovers.

          “Flyover” generally means the broad midwest where there is a large proportion of rurals, small towns, former industrial centers, etc. It is a messy term because it doesn’t clearly include rural Southern areas, or more sparsely populated/rural locations in California, New Mexico, Nevada, etc.

          I see the divide more along the lines of Big Cities and their comfy self-absorbed latte sippers who make bank on global trade, mega-corporations, love “safe zones” and believe in “trigger warnings”, etc, and rurals – those raped and pillaged by trade policies, polluted by mega-corporations, layed-off because of off-shoring, generally demonized because they aren’t the same as city folk on guns, migration, etc. City people are office dwellers shuffling paper and answering phones, rural people work for a living (actual labor, or try to labor when globalists haven’t sent their jobs to Bangladesh or India).

          1. Lord Koos

            I live in a blue coastal state, the urban areas of the coast is very “liberal, but the eastern half of the state is Trump country. It is really urban vs rural from what I can see. We see people on the right leaving their cities and moving to the country where they can be around like-minded folks.

          2. Lambert Strether

            Maine’s Second District is very definitely flyover.

            The powers that be fly over it in their private jets, and see “waste space.” So they get Augusta to site landfills there, and then they fill the landfill up with out-of-state trash.

            I think in this post “flyover” means just that. Jurisdictions that are “flown over” by airplanes on their way to somewhere else. Not just the midwest.

        3. Michael Fiorillo

          I live in New York, and can confidently say that “flyover country” is a three hour drive or so from Times Square.

          Once outside NYC, its commutershed, various resort Valhallas or college towns (think Ithaca), or the state capitol with its relatively secure government jobs, there’s an awful lot of blight and desperation. Also a lot more Confederate flags hanging from porches.

          In the mid-1970’s, NYC was broke (actually, it was a banker’s coup, brought about by a capital strike, and the downbeat of the Neoliberal Era), and was partially saved by the stronger economy of Upstate. Now, we might as well be talking about another country…

          1. DH

            The NYC boroughs, and urban Albany, Rochester, and Buffalo areas have Democrats in Congress. The rest of the congressional districts in NYS are Republican.

            Flyover country basically starts just west of Albany once you are out of the NYC commute and state capitol of Albany. West of Albany is the beginning of the Rust Belt that extends to Chicago and down through Pennsylvania and WV.

            The Democratic Party has offered nothing practical to these areas since Lyndon Johnson. Even the environmental acts that resulted in clean air and water and contaminated site remediation were signed by Nixon and Reagan. The Affordable Care Act was pretty much the sole attempt to do something and that is one of the most botched PR campaigns in history. It has slowly been catching up to the Democratic Party as they first lost state legislative seats, then Congressional Districts and governorships, and now the presidential vote in some states.

            The only reason the Republican Party hasn’t simply taken over everything is because it is also fundamentally flawed with its single-minded focus on tax cuts for the wealthy and intrusion into personal lives.

            1. Carla

              ACA was not a botched PR campaign. It is, in fact, a piece of crap. Give it up. The “Republican plan” will be even worse, especially for those who actually were helped by Obamacare. But it’s essential to go “worser” before we can go “better,” because that’s how this country works (or doesn’t).

              1. DH

                It is crap, as is just about every other aspect of US health insurance coverage. But in places like Kentucky, voters on ACA coverage were voting for politicians railing against Obamacare. They were getting KYNECT and Passport Insurance graciously provided by state Republicans. They didn’t even realize these programs were actually Obamacare due to the rebranding.

                A bad PR campaign is when people are covered by something, don’t know it, and want to reject a vilified thing not realizing they are voting against their own coverage. That has allowed the dialogue to simply be diatribes instead of a constructive attempt to come up with something rational.

      3. Carolinian

        I thought Flyover just meant anything between Acela and California….more a middle America versus urban/media America thing.

        That said it’s surely true that the Midwest is currently ground zero for our economic decline while the formerly depressed South (which used to be much poorer than it is now and has been greatly benefited by the New Deal, military bases and other federal largesse) is making a bit of a comeback. To be sure there are pockets of great poverty in parts of Appalachia and the old cotton states (JamesF doesn’t say what part of the “rural south” he lives in) but at least here in SC I have no sense that people are desperately poor. Of course if the Republicans carry through with cuts to food stamps that may change.

        However I do agree that the coastal versus middle hatred is becoming alarming and it seems to be more directed from the coastal against the middle rather than vice versa. After Trump won a weeping protestor was quoted as saying “we were the insiders and now we are going to be the outsiders.” That pretty much sums it up imo. This coastal > middle hatred could be much less about money and more about “you’re not the boss of me.”

        Things will calm down after awhile and if they don’t it’s hard to see coastal America coming out the winners. They need to carefully consider the wisdom of their current intransigence.

        1. Benedict@Large

          “Flyover” has taken on a more general meaning, but originally it referred to the decaying auto belt and its related steel industries. I first recall hearing the term in the early 90s, although I suspect its origins lie in the Union busting Reagan years.

        2. Oregoncharles

          It’s a bit strange, given that Trump himself is such an archetypal New Yorker, as well as a plutocrat – though not in finance. A lot of his tenants probably are, though.

          1. cojo

            Have you ever been to Atlantic City? Definitely not the posh NYC crowd. I wonder if the sting of his bankruptcies in AC had a lot to do with his soft spot for the decaying American middle class.

      4. UserFriendly

        Bachman was in by far the most GOP favored district in the state and barely won her last election in 2012 which is why she retired. MN only went to Clinton because we had McMullin on our ballot. If, like Wisconsin, he wasn’t and Trump got those votes Trump would have won.

      5. Stephanie

        Re Bachmann: the 6th district is heavily pro-life Catholic. It’s also heavy with hunters/gun-owners/NRA members. It’s also not particularly prosperous; few places in MN outside of Mpls/StP and Rochester are. The Culture War found very fertile soil there.

      6. amousie


        Clinton didn’t by much in Minnesota. For a supposedly solid blue state, I think that says a lot.

        Bachmann was an ex-burber, invested in her religious community, an early advocate of charter schools and school board politics. From what I could see, it seemed like she represented the viewpoint of the area she represented until she became one of the Republican pitbulls for fringe viewpoints. Her entire look got updated and polished. Much like former Governor Palin’s did. Whatever they really believe comes second to what they were actively promoted to sell. The more batshit crazy you can appear, the more attention you pull. Which is entirely the point.

        Anyway, Minnesota is the epitome of the urban elites vs. the flyover country motif. Everything that James F. said is definitely present here if you’re willing to look beyond the stats. From all of the recent immigrants (highest population of Somalians in the US if you don’t think that’s a big deal well…), the major gentrification of the urban core(s) plus showy showy wealth (something that used to be a social no-no here in urban core) to racketing up of the in your face snobbishness about education (especially now that the costs are astronomical compared to 20 years ago and you can’t get in the door at major corporations here without the right credentials and grade point averages.).

        Now throw in the Black Lives Matter movement where Minnesotans just “know” that this isn’t “The South” so what the hell are these “people” complaining about. The latest proposal that protestors should bear the police costs is yet another symptom of the growing divide.

        Plus so many more examples.

        Minnesota used to be a seemingly homogeneous enclave of shared prosperity. It’s certainly more prosperous as a whole than the purposeful dead zones that Chris Hedges reported on. But there are dying zones here too. So even here, all it would take is a little heat in the right places to get that simmering anger to explode.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > Minnesota is the epitome of the urban elites vs. the flyover country motif

          Would be fascinating to see Lake Wobegon and the Garrison Keillor phenomenon interpreted through that lens…

        2. redleg

          There’s a water rights revolt brewing/fulminating in MN right now that pits the farmers outstate backed by big ag vs. the State of Minnesota, especially the city slicker regulators.
          The Strib article today regarding the “water summit” over buffers is the tip of the spear. The farmers don’t like being told what to do but big ag has turned this into a fight over MN’s jurisdiction to regulate groundwater AT ALL for any reason.
          Keep an eye on this.
          Background: right now MN has “waters of the State” water rights- it’s all public unlike most western states. There is a priority of use, with domestic first.
          Most of the farmers don’t know what they’re getting into.

      7. running dog lackey

        OK – I waited a day to see how “flyover” is geographically defined. So far i don’t see it.
        This is not too fine a point. If people living outside the transmontaine “hinterland” are going to define THEM geographically, our definition by itself could lead to politically forcing all those within that geographical area into a united tribalism, or “class” as a means of self preservation; and several commenters here document exactly that happening. That hardly cures anyone’s ignorance.
        My only other point here is this: across the media and within blogs and in magazines I notice no one references much history. Historical arguments are boring and apparently nothing has ever happened prior to World War II. In this time of tectonic extremism, the less we know the more we talk about it. Until you can for instance define fascism, then you can’t predict what the fascists will do; and as long as you write off entire geographical areas, you will never understand how to come to terms with the lumpenproletariat in your own backyard and, believe me, we need them.

      8. Anonymous

        Yves, I’m not that familiar with Alabama, but I suspect it is much like my home state of SC: there are areas of great prosperity, but rural places are not doing that well. I have lunch with the former mayor of our town, which is a suburb of Charlotte, just across the state line. We’re booming, and barely slowed down during the Great Recession, but, he tells me, ‘ninety five percent of the counties in our state are dying on the vine’. My wife and I drove through some more rural parts of the state this summer, and it looks as if a neutron bomb hit. You can tell people were once there, and were engaged in organized activity, but they are long gone. I don’t think we saw a single Hillary sign.

  12. CitizenSissy

    Why the indignation directed at Women’s march attendees? Madonna’s an idiot, but the grievances addressed by the marchers are more than legitimate, and pushback long overdue.

    I see the 2016 election the logical culmination of Reaganism and the dismantling of the middle-class New Deal supports that were a historical blip on an otherwise prettified American feudalism. Goldman alums in the cabinet gonna help Flyover America? Really?

    James is absolutely correct that this won’t end well.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      They were overwhelmingly upper class women, and if you’ve been reading on the Web, many of the have displayed open hatred of Trump voters, and even of voters who merely stayed home or voted for Stein. It’s not unreasonable to depict many, and potentially most, as believing the canard that the deep distress in the heartlands is all their fault, they needed to get educated and move out.

      One of many realities is if you are over 35, you are already facing intense age discrimination. Unless you are highly connected and/or credentialed, reinventing yourself after that age is pretty much impossible. The comfortable coastal types then hype starting your own business as the salvation, when people with no money in dying towns are hardly in a position to start a new venture. And that’s before you get to the fact that being an entrepreneur is a crappy bet. 90% of new businesses fail in 3 years.

      1. Praedor

        Everyone is expected to create yet another social network startup! A ridiculous Google App or Apple app! To create yet ANOTHER restaurant or coffee shop or quaint store, even though there’s a glut of restaurants and they are dying, coffee shops are in saturation, and quaint stores are hopeless against Amazon, etc.

        Everyone’s supposed to start a new business but no one is supposed to work for those businesses because entrepreneurs!

        1. DH

          Some of the best recent TV ads have been the GE ads looking for software engineers to help design actual things instead of an app to locate a dog-walker. Now if only GE actually opened up some new design and manufacturing plants in the Rust Belt to replace the ones they shuttered in the 80s……

          1. Praedor

            Do the adds include, “Must be willing to relocate to India” so they can be paid $25k/yr, no benefits?

      2. CitizenSissy

        Marched in Philly, and didn’t see the Trump-voter hating affluent women caricatured on the web. VERY diverse group which happily included many children and teenagers.

        I’m also a 20-year dues-paying Union member and a shop steward. Will be very interested to see how the Administration reconciles Davis-Bacon, specifically brought up in this week’s photo op with the Building trades unions with the race-to-the-bottom ethos of congressional Republicans.

        Vigilance absolutely necessary to protect whatever rights remain.

        1. Bullwinkle

          Where were all of you during Obama’s presidency when he was trampling all over the Constitution? Guerilla Theater is really what much of last weekend was.

          1. CitizenSissy

            Doing The unglamorous and necessary grunt work for my Union Local and for reproductive rights, as I have since the 80s. And you?

            1. Maggie

              Bullwinkle, I don’t really understand why people on the left are held to such higher standards of conduct and activism than everyone else. So we weren’t all vanguard revolutionaries during Obama’s 2 terms…that doesn’t mean we weren’t trying to live right. I come from flyover country and a family of ‘deplorables.’ I no longer fit that description through luck and circumstance but I don’t think I should feel ashamed of that. All groups of people are homo sapiens–no group should be patronized or lionized or idealized, even flyover country people. I found this article depressingly self-righteous and unhelpfully antagonistic to wide swaths of people.

              1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                If your point is that it’s worthwhile to try to be charitable toward everyone, including both flyover people and non-flyover people, then I doubt the author of the article would disagree. However, I was a bit confused by other parts of your comment.

                When you say that you come from a family of deplorables, and you no longer fit that description, do you mean that it remains a reasonable description of them? If you feel like the reason that they are still deplorables but you are not is merely due to “luck and circumstance” on your part, then does that imply that the distinction is not based on virtue, and therefore moralizing terms like “deplorable” are unfair and unhelpfully antagonistic?

                The article does not idealize flyover country people – while the author is circumspect, it’s clear that he spends a lot of time arguing with flyover people whose views he disagrees with.

                I was perplexed at how you found the article “self-righteous.” Of course, any time someone expresses some sort of moral preference, it’s possible to attach the “self-righteous” label at them. By this standard, you could be considered “self-righteous” because you claim you are “trying to live right” and that you are no longer a deplorable – but if someone said that, I would consider it rhetorical acrobatics.

                The article was hoisted from comments – that means the author wrote it without realizing that it would end up becoming an article that hundreds of people have commented on. If we apply the same interpretive charity to him that you recommend in general, then we might say: the author knows that some of the attitudes he describes do not apply to all urban liberals, and even reproaches himself at one point for maybe being too snarky. However, if a person whose attitudes are still halfway anchored by liberal culture is feeling this frustrated, maybe it’s a canary in the coal mine that is worth thinking about.

      3. LT

        No one wants to have the conversation about age discrimination.
        But such discrimination is past its due date, especially as the nature of the kind of work performed has changed and with people now having to have more jobs in a lifetime than before.
        It short- changes the temporarily young as well. Most of one’s adult life will be spent over the age of 35. And much of it has to do with the phony mantras of marketing and advertising that feel its easier to manipulate youth.
        When we stop sharing those values, everyone can get out of that trap and have the possibility of sustaining themselves longer, without the sad desperation of “gotta do everything at young age or its not worth doing.”

        Really, every time we re-inforce the age based marketing terms like Gen X, Y, Z…we are killing ourselves.

        1. Ivy

          HR departments will not admit it, but they look at the benefit premium differential of older versus younger workers. That can be a large expense number, directly impacting the bottom line. Therefore, older workers need to have a lot more going for them to offset that hidden obstacle, whether in experience, technical skills or some vague network contact. It would be good to see that type of benefit penalty spelled out for all to see.

          1. jrs

            Maybe but age discrimination is actually a global phenomena so not just based on high u.s. healthcare costs.

            I’m not sure older people CAN overcome discrimination with technical skills, because part of the discrimination is thinking older people don’t have the hot new skills (even when they do). I suspect there is a level of irrational prejudice to it after all, as with many other forms of discrimination of course. Older people will in most cases (unless they have been out of the workforce a long time or switched careers) have more experience anyway, so that’s kind of a given.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            The benefit premiums were also an excuse for discriminating against young women, since (gah!) they might get pregnant! Big cost! And they are better than young men about getting regular checkups plus seeing their gynecologist.

        2. Lambert Strether

          Age discrimination is yet one more reason for a Jobs Guarantee. Let me just check those “Unity Principles”…

          We believe in an economy powered by transparency, accountability, security and equity.* All women should be paid equitably, with access to affordable childcare, sick days, healthcare, paid family leave, and healthy work environments. All workers – including domestic and farm workers, undocumented and migrant workers – must have the right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage.

          Nope, no Jobs Guarantee. Which is odd, because if you really want workers to have “security” and be paid equitably, etc., setting the baseline with a Jobs Guarantee would be an excellent way to do what. Combine a Jobs Guarantee with a Post Office Bank, and every woman has an independent income (if she wants it) and a checking account. That would do more for reproductive rights than any amount of marching.

          * Shorter: Because markets. Also, “powered by”? What kind of language is that?

          1. different clue

            If there is going to be a Jobs Guarantee . . . it should be a Jobs-at-decent-pay-and-full-benefits Guarantee. Otherwise it risks becoming an underpaid forced-labor guarantee.

      4. allison

        They were overwhelmingly upper class women

        How do you know this?

        and if you’ve been reading on the Web, many of the have displayed open hatred of Trump voters

        Reading where? At breitbart or Infowars?

        The simple fact is that rural people who keep voting for Trump and other Republicans ARE largely to blame for the problems they are facing – they’re like chickens voting over and over again for Colonel Sanders. After watching this for years and years one does indeed start to have some contempt for people with such self-destructive behaviour.

        Assuming the women at the march are mostly “liberal” then they generally support protection of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, investment in infrastructure and renewable energy sources, jobs training programs, and abortion rights – all things that will benefit the “flyover country” people who voted for Trump. The nerve of those “elite coastal types”!

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I overstated on “overwhelmingly” and I do tend to be more strident when I write before I turn in. However, the general point stands.

          That assessment came from upper middle class women I know, one with wide ranging views (she’s conservative on some issues, hard left on others) and two women who were Sanders supporters but wished he had been more forceful, as well as participants in San Francisco. They were confident they could recognize the markers.

          And the Boston Globe voices similar reservations:

          The bright-pink afterglow of the weekend’s massive Women’s March on Washington had barely faded Sunday and thousands of women were still boarding planes and buses home when the critics came out swinging.

          No, not President Donald Trump, who did wonder Sunday on Twitter, ‘‘Why didn’t these people vote?’’

          The critics were women and men of color.

          They saw privilege in the march that allowed hundreds of thousands of women — the overwhelming majority of them white — to march freely, beyond the borders of their permitted route in Washington, filling the streets in Los Angeles, effectively shutting down downtown Chicago, yet never encountering police in riot gear, never having to wipe away pepper spray, never fearing arrest. They saw privilege in the women posing for photos with grinning officers wearing pink ‘‘pussy hats’’ alongside them. High-fiving police, even.


          The critique is more pointed at Essence:

          I realize somewhere between being pushed into a trash can by an oblivious “Nasty Woman,” and being racially profiled by an elderly feminist, that white women marched yesterday for themselves alone. My presence was inconsequential. No, worse, my participation in this march was an act of violence against the organizers all around the country fighting for Black liberation.


          There are TONS of post election posts, by women in leftist venues, on YouTube, or on their own websites, openly displaying hatred for Trump voters. I even had someone send me a poem to publish! If you haven’t seen them you haven’t been looking. This has nothing to do right wing sites, which contrary to your snark, I don’t read.

          Sorry, those women were NOT protesting against Trump’s economic policies. The onus is on you to provide evidence they were. There was nothing of the kind in the platform and I have yet to see a photo of a sign or a statement from a participant or speaker to that effect (Sanders might have worked that in but he would be an exception that proved the rule).

          And where were these women when progressives were pushing for $15/hour wages? Better union rights? Single payer? Prosecuting bankers? Were they involved in Occupy? Or do they instead use Uber or forms of other gig economy labor exploitation?

          You seem to be unaware of the fact that Obamacare has been a negative for many people (we’ve chronicled that at length), that Hillary’s top Treasury Secretary pick was pushing a plan that everyone recognized as a first step in privatizing Social Security, and that her talk of “preserving” it meant mean testing. Once you turn Social Security into welfare, it is on its way to being over.

          1. aab

            I can testify from personal experience that my white, upper middle class female friends don’t only hate Trump voters, they hate anyone who did not vote for Hillary, or even simply refused to cheer for Hillary. I lost my oldest friend in the world over this.

            And Facebook and Twitter has been jammed with privileged liberal white women saying horrible things on the order of “you deserve to die and I hope you suffer first” about everyone in the interior, everyone on the left, everyone who isn’t them or didn’t obey them and give them what they wanted, essentially. They are very articulate about who they are. They are very proud of their class, status and identity markers.

              1. aab

                Being exposed to so much of it — despite the fact that I try to filter my TL and places I read to limit how much I have to see — probably plays a role in my strident criticism of the “Womens March”(TM). I do realize that lots of well-intentioned people who want more left wing economic policies also marched. But I don’t see how they made progress towards those goals by doing so, while I do see how the march’s obvious goal of rehabilitating the corporate wing of the Democratic Party and setting up Harris and Booker as presidential contenders (among other objectives I find repugnant) were achieved to some degree. And given what a horrible situation the country and the planet is in, I don’t have a lot of patience with people saying “yeah, but I want a different thing in my heart, so your criticism of the action I took is irrelevant.” If your march was so non-threatening to power that cops were posing for pictures with you, you’re doing it wrong, if you think that’s protest. The neoliberals have been feasting on well-intentioned people for decades. If they’re not working effectively for real change, they’re part of the problem, and gathering together in public to vaguely denounce the party that has functional national hegemony is going to get an ironic slow golf clap from me.

                1. JTFaraday

                  The cops and “elite women” were posing for pictures, and they were HIGH FIVING each other?

                  Sure they were, LOL.

      5. nobody

        I’m doubtful that the marchers were overwhelmingly upper class women; I suspect that in most if not all cities and towns it wasn’t even a simple majority. From what I saw on facebook, most people I know locally went to the march. This includes many dozens of people I know from Occupy, the majority of whom are in the precariat if not the underclass, or at best lower-middle class, and most of the people I know who were Berners during the primaries. It seems to me that whatever the organizational origins the thing really took off and grew into something that transcended its origins and organizational structures and along the way sucked in almost everyone oriented toward activism and social justice movements. That is not to say that I am optimistic that the large majority of participants won’t go home and stay there if it continues and the batons and handcuffs start coming out, but the reduction of the marches to an upper or upper middle phenomenon seems mistaken to me, and it is premature to conclude that it can’t possibly develop into something that can begin to challenge power. (I also saw considerable antipathy among participants towards Gloria Steinem in particular.)

        1. Spring Texan

          Yep, I didn’t go, but SO many people I know did, and not all are upper-class, including my housecleaner. It is a mistake to reduce the marches to something only upper-class. And, we can use allies in EVERY class.

          1. Spring Texan

            Also, an 82-year-old ailing neighbor made it to the march and she’s almost never voted in her life, and lives on a meager social security check. This has really galvanized people who aren’t normally involved, and in my opinion it is positive.

            I was really STUNNED at the huge number of my friends and acquaintances who went.

          2. Lambert Strether

            “We” can in the sense that the Duke of Orleans was an “ally.”

            Not in the sense that, say, Neera Tanden is. I distrust that term, ally. I think it’s awfully slippery.

            1. aab

              When Neera uses the term “ally”, its meaning depends on context. When she refers to herself as an ally, that means “exploiter.” When she refers to people of marginalized identities and circumstances as “allies,” that means “dinner.”

              And I will be THRILLED if all these people who marched “for women” start doing difficult, uncomfortable things “for women,” like demand that the head of Planned Parenthood step down for corruption and dereliction of duty, and primarying every single Clinton endorser when they run in 2018 and 2020. Will they help progressives in California get rid of Feinstein? We need money for that. Will they march for Fight for $15? Will they help build an underground railroad for abortion services in the interior? Will they join a General Strike? How about just an organized Facebook strike? Would they give up their updates for a day?

              1. pretzelattack

                “When she refers to people of marginalized identities and circumstances as “allies,” that means “dinner.”

                + a lot

          3. Praedor

            With most such things, MOST of the grunts are real people with real concern. The problem is the leaders/movers/shakers that got the thing off the ground. They are the rich apparatchiks, the Democrap establishment, the looter class underwritten by big Soros dollars. They are there to co-opt YOUR fervor, your anger and twist it into continued support for globalization, “free trade”, Wall St, etc. They are NOT on the same team and do NOT have the same concerns.

            The rich get abortions and healthcare without hiccup regardless of the laws. It’s the grunts who aren’t in the Club who suffer and it is them they seek to sucker into putting them back into power.

            1. Eowyn

              The people I know who went to the march in D.C. were definitely not the type of ‘grunts’ who are about to have their fervor co-opted by anyone. In fact most of them didn’t get close enough to the stage to even know who was speaking, nor did they care. I don’t know anyone who went because of who organized it, or who was speaking. The numerous marches in other cities and countries were more spontaneous gatherings.

              Not sure why you keep bringing up George Soros either.

              1. aab

                Soros seeded and funded the major marches, including the systems to transport people.

                If the people who went were so disengaged they didn’t even care who was speaking, what good are they? That march was designed to elevate chosen figures in the Democratic Party. If people left that march thinking Kamala Harris would make a good President, the march succeeded on the Democratic Party’s terms.

                Not knowing or caring who spoke is practically the definition of “grunt” in the paradigm you were responding to. If you’re not aware, you’re a tool..

                  1. aab

                    https://sputniknews.com/us/201701241049960639-soros-funding-women-march/ includes an embedded link to the New York Times piece that all the right wing media sources jumped on as well. Sputnik’s take seems reasonably well-grounded and cautious, and includes Open Society’s response, which I agree seems pretty weaselly when it comes to the march.

                    I realize that in many cases, like that of Planned Parenthood, Soros giving the organization money and the organization backing the march is a weak connection. I saw much more specific and concrete links flow across my Twitter feed — to funding for buses and the like — but I didn’t save them. I could probably get more from @ActualFlatticus, but in my feeble attempts to keep my more and less secure online identities siloed, I don’t feel comfortable either tweeting or DMing him around the same time I’m posting about the issue here. (Feel free to explain to me that this is about as protective as taking off shoes at the airport, if that’s so).

                    It looks to me like a pretty close parallel to the astroturfing of the Tea Partiers. Among other things, you’ll notice that although it was called a Womens March, a lot of funding and organizing came from groups with no clear link to women and their issues, other than “women are humans who live on the planet,” and despite the miraculously effective and detailed organizing to market the event and get people there, there was oddly NO effort to sign people up for further action around specific initiatives, which is political activism 101. Someone right in this thread who marched in Chicago confirmed that she was not asked to commit to doing anything else, or had even been educated that this was necessary.

                    I find it quite odd that so many well-known national and international activist organizations were able to coalesce around and cooperate to deliver an event with a sophisticated logo and array of branded lifestyle products for sale (even if everybody knitted their own pussy cap, there are those “Womens March” scarves with the date on them that were clearly machined) that moved millions of people to Washington, D.C. and get so many famous speakers in under three months, and yet apparently all these organizations suddenly forgot the most basic steps on how to mobilize people for further action. That’s a lot of logistical and marketing muscle with clear top-down elements that worked together in every way very effectively, except for the ONE THING that might have challenged corporate Democratic leadership.

                    I realize Soros is a right wing shibboleth. But there’s a whole lot of kindling and charcoal behind the smoke in this case. If people accept that the Kochs do a lot of destructive damage behind the scenes, I suggest that there is meaningful evidence that Soros is doing likewise, for similar self-enrichment purposes. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean no one is out to get you. I presume billionaires, like lions and tigers, see the rest of us as dinner.

              2. integer

                Not sure why you keep bringing up George Soros either.

                Because he is funding NGO’s around the world that are used as proxies to subvert the interests of the citizens of whichever country they are located in? To his benefit of course. Soros is a master manipulator and a sociopathic opportunist. The whole “women’s march” has his fingerprints all over it, regardless of whether people with good intentions were a part of it. From where I’m standing it was yet another play to deligitimize Trump, who was by far the better option in the general election, even if the more short-sighted and emotional types (men included) could not see this. There’s a reason why Wall St., the MSM, the neocons, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the upper echelons of the CIA were opposed to Trump and all in for Clinton.

                1. Waldenpond

                  Soros is just a generic term… people use oligarch, plutocrat etc. The Ds went on a Koch schtick as representative of R corruption and although digging through the trails of Koch money is challenging, it was an effective example of the twists, turns and infiltration of soft and dark money.

                  Soros is convenient as he’s philantropied his economic interests to the tune of $12 billion dollars. Open Society funds numerous entities and those entities fund entities. It’s a cesspool.

                  Cracked me up the person who commented “Soros. Drink!” A person would O.D if Saban, Steyer and Simons (donates to Clinton and Cruz) were included in that game.

                  1. integer

                    I’ve spent some time looking into Saban. Currently I’m looking into Saudi billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal. I’ll check Steyer and Simons out too.

                    On a slightly different (yet connected) note, I watched a few Bill Kristol MSM appearances via YouTube yesterday. What a world.

        2. jrs

          “and along the way sucked in almost everyone oriented toward activism and social justice movements.”

          I believe this, that’s how serious left activists often are, they will join stuff like that as well if they think it may do some good, even though they are often involved in a lot of more direct local action.

        3. aab

          (I also saw considerable antipathy among participants towards Gloria Steinem in particular.)

          I think that’s the first heartening thing I have heard from the marches, honestly.

          (I think back on my aviator glasses and pre-pubescent Ms. Magazine subscription now with deeply complicated emotions.)

      6. Eowyn

        I marched in Chicago and find it a stretch to characterize the marchers as overwhelmingly upper class. There were many young people, families with young children, and elderly couples. Yes, many middle-aged affluent women like me, as well. The truly ‘upper class’ wouldn’t be caught dead protesting, for the most part.

        It stings a bit to read the criticism of the marchers. It appeared to me that every conceivable concern was being addressed by the posters people carried. Far beyond pro-choice or abortion rights. People were and are justifiably angry at Trump, yet I saw no animosity directed at those who voted for him. To me, people were there because they cared and wanted to take action. It seemed like a kickoff campaign for activism. And if most of the protesters were and are ‘comfortable’, well, good for them for getting out of their cocoons and engaging with others.

        For a white person who wants to help the homeless, the poor urban black kids who live in violence-plagued neighborhoods, the single mothers, and on and on: what are we supposed to do? These people need good jobs, which I am unable to personally provide. They need preschool, before-and-afterschool programs that won’t fold after a year or two. They need parenting support and a robust social safety net that doesn’t sap what little drive and determination they may have growing up in an environment utterly lacking in hope or a clear path out.

        My childhood and young adulthood were spent in flyover country and I do not scorn those who live in small-town or rural America. Many of my relatives live there. The truth is, the manufacturing and agricultural jobs that kept these areas stable and reasonably prosperous are gone, and are not coming back. What’s to be done? Job training for skilled trades? Great, but they may be forced to move to get a position. Like I did. Like many people who live in cities and suburbs did.

        The area where I live is pretty solidly socially liberal and fiscally conservative. No need for much activism in the immediate region. Would I be well received if I went down to Lawndale or Englewood and tried to volunteer? Maybe I could drive up to Wisconsin to help people get photo IDs and register to vote. Would I be considered a carpetbagger? Are these just excuses? Perhaps. I do feel motivated to get out of my comfort zone, whatever the reception may be.

        I donate. I make phone calls and write letters. I am open to suggestions.

        1. Norb

          What matters most is the acknowledgement of the ongoing class war being waged on working people. Trump was elected on that very fact alone- leaving aside his sincerity or ability to actually deliver relief. Fiscally conservative is code word for class warfare and anti labor. How is support for bank bailouts and corporate welfare, in all its forms, fiscally conservative? In a word, it is not. It is hypocrisy. It is support of corporate welfare over human welfare.

          Neoliberalism is the root problem, which both parties support, and identity politics attempt to hide. Identity politics and lesser of two evils voting are the one-two punch that keep hammering away at the wage working classes- however they are defined in America.

          Any meaningful support for working people and the poor underclass must begin there. If it doesn’t, it is only temporary help, and can be taken away at a moments notice. It is conditional, not a right.

          When the discontent, that is rising around the country, finally reaches your area, which eventually it will, how you identify the cause of that discontent will determine which side you will support. With Trump, you are about to see what unregulated corporate capitalism looks like- in raw unpolished form.

          Liberals want to make this all about Trump and not neoliberalism or class warfare. Any support for the poor is welcome, but fundamentally, without pressure to restore accountability and social justice in the corporate realm, any efforts to alleviate the suffering and injustice will be fleeting and ineffective at answering the root problems.

        2. aab

          I think you just perfectly illustrated why people like me criticize the march. You came away from the experience with no more idea of how to effect change than you had before. Heck, the church I used to attend did better than that. Every week, there were numerous tables set up after the service right outside the door to get people both informed and involved about specific action they could take, in keeping with the church’s progressive mission. (All Saints in Pasadena, which was investigated by the Bush administration for its political activism, IIRC.)

          Who do you donate to? If it’s the DNC/DCCC/DSCC, you are part of the problem. Don’t give them money. There are groups working to fund and assist women in getting abortions. You could donate and support that. No one is going to think you’re a carpetbagger for going to another state to help people get IDs or get registered. That’s exactly the important, hard work the Democratic Party refuses to do. There must be Sandernista groups in Chicago. Many of the Bernie subReddits have activism links. (Stay away from r/PoliticalRevolution and r/SandersforPresident. My favorite is Way of the Bern, but it’s not the most activism-focused option.). Check out your local DSA chapter. Brand New Congress still needs volunteers to do stuff online, I think. I’m not sold on BNC yet, but it might be a good start for you.

          There is a great deal you can do with your money and time that is far more effective than whatever happened on that march. And just as a point of clarification, the critique is not “upper class women,” it’s “upper middle class women,” aka “affluent,” aka you, as you self-identified. That’s not an attack. I’m just pointing out that in your attempt to counter the description, you affirmed it. Meanwhile, that criticism is not personal. People like me argue that people like you were conned into thinking that march was helpful, not that you are a bad person. I volunteered for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign; I’ve been there, when it comes to being conned by the Democratic Party. If you did nothing but work to get Rahm Emmanuel removed from office, you would be doing important work.

          1. JTFaraday

            No, she didn’t. She said she was comfortable. She said she didn’t necessarily think everyone else was.

            I think you people have a problem listening to women, which explains a lot maybe.

        3. Lambert Strether

          > socially liberal and fiscally conservative

          Suggestion. Consider studying MMT and getting that “fiscally conservative” bullshit out of your mind, and then persuade your neighbors.

          Attacking the ideological foundation of austerity is work well worth doing.

      7. FluffytheObeseCat

        The people at the march in Reno, NV were not “overwhelmingly upper class women”. I did not march but was in the central business district as it broke up and got a sense of the crowd. Most were under 40, probably in the ‘some college’ to college grad category of education, and left of what passes for liberal among educated women of our age Yves. They wore cute hats that ‘liberal’ 50-something’s wouldn’t be caught dead in.

        The age factor is grossly under regognized in this ‘divide’, which is part of why I worry less about it. Most of the snotty, sneering coastal elite are middle aged graspers who fear losing their comfortable perch; most of the beat down ‘working class’ chip-on-the-shoulderists in flyover are likewise, middle-aged, and convinced the world owes them more respect than they receive. I’m sure it does, too. But, that won’t turn around the clock.

        Our problem as a nation isn’t this divided collection of peevish boomers and older millennials, it’s the $1 trillion the next generation can’t pay back to our overlords in New York and Greenwich.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Older Gen-Xers, not Millenials.

          Can’t keep these marketing/focus-group divisions straight in my head.

      8. JEHR

        Yves, I am amazed that you are describing the women’s march as “overwhelmingly upper class women.” By so doing, you are contributing to the divide and conquer bit. Every class has a right to march and this one was on behalf of all women and rightfully so when women are treated as second-class by the leader of a large country with a large military, a Billionaire leader who should know better.

        1. Skorn

          Re: The Women’s March and class diversity, or lack thereof.

          It’s possible the representation by class varied by geographic region. Attendance in cities higher in class aparthied, which includes most coastal blue cities and Boston (where I attended) most likely represented the cities main demographic. The March was overrun mostly with upper class liberal Dems of the kind bemoaned by Thomas Frank. These people unfortunately support and run the Democratic party and see politics through a neoliberal lens.

          I attended with my 7 year old daughter to protest Trump’s sexism “he’s a bad man to girls” which she’d heard all about at school (I kid not). I couldn’t help wondering about the appropriate age for Clinton Dynasty truth telling given my daughter’s affection for HRC, age 7 being a wee bit young for political enlightenment. It occurred to me the elite grad school credentialed high earners in attendance had the same critical thinking skills of the k-2 demographic. Sad.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          The biggest crowds were in DC and NYC, and from what I could see of the crowds and how others saw them, the participants looked well attired on average.

          Perhaps more important, if you look at the statement of principles for the march, it was disconcertingly vague, a lot about solidarity and to the extent it had specific agenda items, it was silent on issue that are of big concern to low income women. Access to abortions isn’t much of a right if you can’t pay for one, and the non-coastal states have made sure they are hard to get to and costly.

    2. hreik

      I agree. Why the indignation? Makes no sense to me. Weakens the argument. Why object to protesters (no matter how upper class, tho that wasn’t the case here in Hartford)? It was superfluous and unnecessary to the main thrust of the piece.

      Can’t I not want another war (with Russia or any other place) and not want reproductive rights turned back? or SS decimated? There is so much to dislike about this administration. It’s not either or. IT’s this and that and more

      1. Praedor

        The reason has been delineated repeatedly here. A bunch of rich women running the show, a lot of astroturfing with Soros backing many of the groups behind it, and also…pointless. Carrying signs, chanting slogans, etc, is USELESS. It changes NOTHING, fixes NOTHING. Action involving voting, running for office, OR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE (massive and disruptive) can change things.

        Occupy Wall St failed because, in the end, it was all slogans and chanting. Not a single member of Congress, particularly on the GOP side, changed one position as a result of Occupy. Same goes for the Women’s March. Think that protest changed ANYTHING that the GOP are going to do? Think Paul Ryan felt afraid or had a change of heart? The March is a failure and pointless UNLESS it actually translates into actions that change the electoral map, who gets elected, and/or DISRUPTS day-to-day living for the comfortable.

        1. hreik

          Like typing on a computer screen? Did the march hurt anyone? Why all the anger? I don’t get it.
          I’m not going to change the GOP mind on one single issue. I don’t think I can influence the democrats either. Paul Ryan isn’t afraid, neither are my neolib senators. So wtf am I supposed to do? Just type in fury? What? Shoot someone?

          1. Praedor

            You don’t want me at a marchy protest with placards and chants. I don’t go because my sensibilities and sympathies are more in line with the black bloc. Plus, if I don’t work I don’t eat. Rich people or young, fairly well off and comfies (today’s version of yesterday’s hippies) can take off and spend all kinds of time chanting and marching. I’m neither.

            Julia Roberts, et al, were rich when they arrived, remained rich while they marched and chanted, and would remain rich if they took a month or two to continue the same. Finally, if Soros is funding something, I’m against it. ANY group he backed in this is corrupted. Same as anything funded by Koch, Blankfein, etc, is corrupted and co-opted. All fronts.

            1. Moneta

              From what I have read the early suffragettes, in Canada anyway, came from the comfie class…

              Not many revolutions come from the bottom 50%.

                1. Moneta

                  I don’t think she was a suffragette or a first wave suffragette which were typically women from the upper and upper middle class.

                  Of course there were some poor in the movement but the movement definitely needed upper class involvement to get traction.

                  IMO, we won’t get traction until the top 20% starts losing something precious… something like pensions.

                  1. Eowyn

                    Poor women by and large did not have the time to be suffragettes. They were too busy trying to survive.

                    As for pensions, the only people I know who still have those are public employees. Many if not all of them probably are in the top 20%. The truly rich live off their investments.

                    1. jrs

                      “poor women by and large did not have the time to be suffragettes. They were too busy trying to survive.”

                      I don’ know about suffragettes but it is not true that poor women (and men) were struggling too much to survive to be political. Most of the early 20th century radical union movement was poor people working 10+ hour days, but their communities were often deeply politicized, radicalized really, immigrant communities.

                      So beyond work and of course sometimes at work with unions, their ENTIRE social life was deeply political. Socializing and entertainment and politics were one (lots of local radical drama groups for instance – that’s a hobby group of course but in those days it was politicized), and that is how poor people without much time joined radical movements.

              1. DH

                The revolutions that do come from the bottom 50% are ugly ones with machetes, pitchforks, and flames instead of placards and chanted slogans. it is generally scorched earth after they are done, not a democratic government.

                1. PhilM

                  Right. And those are properly named rebellions or revolts or uprisings. Revolutions imply a great turning to a new order, not merely demolition, and they really do started from the comfie class, if not higher.

                  I hope someone posts a long list of named revolutions that were started from below, to teach us all the error of our notions. South Africa, maybe?

                2. Praedor

                  THAT is precisely the revolution we need and that I want. You will NOT pull the ill-gotten gains from the rich overlords and self-worshippers without putting a pitchfork tine under their chin and MAKING them give it up.

                3. RabidGandhi

                  What a disgusting fact-free trope. The brute mob. The churlish rabble.

                  A look at history shows the exact opposite: in almost every social uprising, it is the monied class with the power and the army that deploys force. The examples are overwhelming: Egypt 2011, Venezuela 2002, Argentina 2000 & 1946, Bolivia 1999/2000, South Africa cited above, South Koea 1987, Catalonia 1936, Russia 1905…

                  Contrast these to the more violent revolutions, most of which begin peacefully from the grass roots and then get co-opted by bourgeois partisans who turn them into violent armed conflicts (Iran 1979, Russia 1917, France 1789, England 1642…)

                  Then lastly there are the American revoultions which entailed the rich class revolting against the richer class, but forcing the poor, slaves and foreigners to do the fighting.

                  Thus the historical record shows it is the ones with the power and the weapons who resort to violence in practically every case, not the bottom 50% as you claim, and the non-democratic systems that are ultimately imposed (eg, theocracy in Iran, Stalinism in USSR…) are imposed by the elite, not by the masses.

                  Fact is, the Hollywood image of ugly mobs with pitchforks needing the educated nobles to step in to preserve the peace is fiction purposely designed to drive fear into the population.

                  1. DH

                    I shouldn’t have used the word “revolution”. Revolutions are once the revolts get organized and often the Lenins, Hitlers, etc. have taken over.

                    Revolts or uprisings would be more appropriate. In 1917, the Russian Army mutinied (twice) and simply shot their upper class officers when they kept trying to get them to fight the Germans. The simple thing about highly unequal societies is the lower class doesn’t have to kill many people to change the power dynamic. This should concern the 0.1%.

                    Storming the Bastille and the Great Fear in the French Revolution were the initial disruption by the lower classes. This wasn’t a large loss of life but was very targeted on manor houses and tax collectors. This destroyed the French feudal system and started to topple the nobility. Once the French Revolution got more organized later, Robespierre and Napolean were able to take over and the big losses of life occurred.

                    If you are lucky, you get a Gandhi or MLK. Even Gandhi ended up assassinated and prior to that had to do hunger strikes to convince his followers not to kill each other (eventually leading to the India-Pakistan partition). In the absence of MLK figures, we end up with the Watts, Rodney King, and Ferguson riots.

              2. River

                But it was the comfy class of the Commonwealth that wanted jobs like their husbands’ as they felt left out and put upon. All while stating how unfair life was for them in front of their maids and other female servants.

            2. Waldenpond

              It wasn’t a protest. I was a billionaire funded, top down, state sanctioned gathering.

              I’m uncomfortable with what looked like and exercise in volunteerism. Children are indoctrinated to give away their labor, mandatory to get a diploma to prep them for the fact that they are going to be coerced into giving away their labor through work etc. Employed ‘volunteer’ more than the unemployed. First, because employment is an obvious medium for coercion and second, ‘volunteer’ ing costs (resource, transportation etc) and is a status display.

              They really, really wouldn’t want me there with my signs.

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          Nixon used to claim that he was watching football when hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against the Vietnam War in DC and elsewhere. After the release of the White House tapes, we learned that he and his people were beside themselves during them. I imagine it’s much the same with DonniePrez, probably more so, and that’s not a bad thing.

          That said, I marched in NYC on Saturday, and am glad to have done so (stupid pink pussy hats notwithstanding), but was troubled by so few placards addressing workers’ rights. It was yet another needless reminder about why we’ve come to this point, and how far the resistance has to go before it can contest for power.

          Most women are workers. Most Blacks are workers. Most Latinos are workers. Most LBGT people are workers. Oh, and most white people are workers, too.

          Maybe that’s a place to start.

          1. Spring Texan

            Agree completely. People can unite over sucky jobs and low wages, and the inability to get a job too.

          2. Arizona Slim

            It wasn’t just Nixon.

            LBJ and his family were beside themselves during the Vietnam War protests that happened outside the White House. Those “Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?” chants. The Johnsons *hated* those.

          3. JEHR

            Michael, the women’s march wasn’t about workers’ rights; it was about the denigration of women. This denigration is around us all the time and when it is expressed, it needs pushback.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I hate to tell you but as a woman, I would put “denigration of women” awfully low on a list of things to be concerned about with a Trump presidency. You have crystalized why I’m disturbed about the protests. If the women had protested concrete things Trump has said he would do, like deport immigrants, or cut the ACA or Medicare, or beef up the military, in ADDITION to their concerns about his statements, I’d see this differently. But to get millions of people out because he talks crudely (in what was supposed to be private conversation with another man, his “pussy” remark was never intended for public consumption)? This is such a wild distortion of what their priorities ought to be it isn’t funny.

              As Roose Bolton said in Game of Thrones, “Words are wind”. And the Dems have got women fighting that rather than actual Trump policy positions.

              1. bob

                That tape was so odd. It started with a bang, and then kept going. Not a lot of people listened to the whole thing. There was a very strange dynamic.

                Bush (yes, that Bush family, look it up, how did THAT NAME disappear form this?) was trying to get trump out on a limb. Bush was much more patronizing, and Trump seemed to be playing the part he was expected to. I thought it made bush look a lot worse than it made trump look bad. He got fired, from a cushy job. Now he has to retire back to the family compound.

                Take into account the other crew that were party to this “tape”. There was at least 1 other camera person (male?), probably more listening. It was Bush’s house, he set the tone. Trump, like the special kid in gym class, tires to keep up, but can’t quite get there, despite all his determination.

                I know locker room talk and it wasn’t even funny. It was sort of pathetic. It was trump playing Bevis-

                “pussy, pussy, pussy, he hen he”

                Another open question-

                Where the fuck are the hats coming from? I doubt there were a few hundred thousand of those sitting around walmart– pardon, the demographic — target. They wouldn’t sell them and they’d probably ban them as vulgar. Chase that trail- there may be answers there.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  I recall reading that many of the pink pussy hats were knitted by the protesters themselves* and that as a result there was an actual shortage of pink yarn. Given the state of the press, I have no idea whether that comforting story is true, so FWIW.

                  * Between Walmart shifts, no doubt

                  NOTE And adding, no, you’re no going there.

                  1. katiebird

                    The knitting community really supported the marches (from the knitting tweets and blogs this is world wide interest) here’s a mosaic put together by one of Ravelry’s site owners

                    Here’s a link to the gazillion patterns for Pussy Hats made available on the Ravelry site.

                    Here is a little more from The front page of Ravelry:

                    This weekend, millions of women and friends marched all over the world, many of them wearing “those pink hats.” The PussyHat Project was an amazing display of what can happen when knitters, crocheters and other crafters unite behind something that is important to them. The project, started by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, had a group on Ravelry & resulted in over 8000 projects in Ravelry under the pattern designed by Kat Coyle (but many more than that since some project entries are for multiple hats and some folks used other patterns, as well). Here are just a few images from the marches featuring the PussyHats.

                  2. bob

                    I did see a lot of knitted hats, but equally common were the fleece variety, which looked straight off a sweatshop floor in southeast asia.

                    I’d also think this is sidestepping a very important, age old question, by adding “hats” at the end. What is the plural of the subject?

                    Backing off? Weak.

                    1. bob

                      It also undermined my claim to authority on locker room talk, which you then edited, and presumably(?) bolstered.

                      It may have been silly. What is the plural of silly?

                    2. Katharine

                      I did see a lot of knitted hats, but equally common were the fleece variety, which looked straight off a sweatshop floor in southeast asia.

                      And could equally well have been run up by misguided volunteers with sewing machines.

                      I don’t mean to address you personally with this observation, but the number of bigoted assumptions appearing in these comments bodes ill for any peacemaking or coalition building. Like Hreik, I really don’t see where all this is coming from, and I don’t think it’s going to do anybody any good.

                      In my experience, the number of motivations and political stances of attendees at marches has usually been approximately equal to the number of attendees, and no good purpose was ever served by assuming you knew all about the participants because you knew something about the organizers.

                    3. bob

                      I didn’t respond to you, I responded to lambert, who then edited my comment.

                      I don’t agree with the people who have a “problem” with the march, but at the same time, I would still like to trace its origins, and beneficiaries.

                      I tried some mis-guided humor. It failed.

                      “bigoted assumptions appearing in these comments bodes ill for any peacemaking or coalition building”

                      is that a bigoted assumption in itself? That “they’re beyond hope”?

            2. Michael Fiorillo

              That may be true, but it’s not relevant to my point.

              My comment was based on observations of personally-made placards at the NYC march, which presumably represent their makers’ political priorities. They were hardly limited to women’s issues, and ranged widely. In that anecdotal sampling, I saw disproportionately fewer expressions of support or solidarity with workers or working class issues, women-focused or otherwise.

              1. JTFaraday

                I think you all are missing the way that women have been defined by their sex/gender and correspondingly the way that “women’s issues” have been similarly narrowly defined.

                It’s true this march did not transcend the world historical defeat of the female sex, and with it the denial of the fullness of their humanity in all its complexity. Whoever released that Trump tape dangled the bait and they took it.

                But what I also think is that many here are looking for these women to rescue YOU. They’ll only be okay with you if they’re delivering service with a smile, serving you and your interests as you define them and only as you define them, as per usual.

                And I’m not sure why you’re entitled to that.

                1. JTFaraday

                  Yes, I should add that most of the signs I saw indicating other issues, were related to the OTHER people you think are not important, which you have in common with the Trumpertantrums and the supreme leader.

        3. CitizenSissy

          Last I checked, Freedom of Assembly was still a thing. And Republicans understand two things: Money and losing. I suspect a significant chunk of a previously dormant electorate gets that.

        4. 5 Dog Life

          Occupy planted seeds. Once it was seen those seeds were germinating, Occupy was seen as a threat and forcibly dispersed. Without the groundwork of Occupy, there would have been no Bernie movement.

          1. Lord Koos

            I agree, at least some of collapse of the occupy movement had more to do with the infiltration by, and brutality of, American security forces, the cops & FBI. The swift and violent suppression was coordinated on a national level. I don’t think it was a failure if you look at the big picture, rather it was a start.

            1. Praedor

              It wasn’t going to go anywhere with the anarchist bent in its core of “NO LEADERS!” and that “people’s microphone” thing and no demands, just gripes.

              There was no list of workable demands, just general angst and anger. There was no organization, just a collection of patchouli-quaffing drum circlers.

              It was chaotic and amorphous and for that reason, it fizzled. Sure, it primed up the Bernie movement but Bernie lost and the people you actually need to fight, to delete, to erase from power foisted Hillary at everyone because she was “inevitable” and it was “her turn” and she was the girl toy of Wall St and the War State.

              1. Susan C

                Yes but it succeeded in calling attention to the banks and the financial crisis. If little else it succeeded in leaving an indelible mark in people’s consciousness, good or bad.

            1. PhilM

              Sad and true. But what a commentary that is. If labor, the people who work together everyday and share not only the exact same relation to the means of production, but also share social bonds, churches, playgrounds–if those people cannot “be organized”–what does that say about the engagement of the common man in the political process at all?

              The lord helps those as helps themselves.

              Time to get over these foolish bouts of concern for my fellow man, and go help myself to whatever I can grab–is that the correct conclusion? It certainly is the one Hillary came to; so maybe not.

              Off to read Charles Hugh Smith, I guess. Only he is a real optimist; he forgets that at the cold stone core of every village is engraved, “What have you done for me lately?”

            2. witters

              And striking is hard and often dangerous. Not fun, like a march of the sensible.

              I’m in a union. What now happens is that most in my area don’t join it – they free-ride on our gains, and on our industrial action (and subsequent pay loss). They proudly assert their free thinking independence as they cower before management and their desire to be in it.

              But a fun run? A march of the sensible? They love it!

            3. Steve

              union membership used to be around 33% in the 1950s

              now it is down to around 8%

              Both percents are for private industry.

              1. Fact check

                Private union membership stands at 6.4%. And lets remember that Trump is anti-union (right to work) and anti-labor rights as are many of his supporters.

        5. jonboinAR

          Occupy set a tone going forward, though, I think. It increased and broadened the level of discontent toward, our overlords, I think.

      2. tegnost

        the irony of course being that hillary (via victoria nuland and robert kagan) wanted war with russia, look at the dems rattling over russia now, you don’t think monsanto and the globalists see russia as a fruit to be plucked? I don’t see hillary fighting for reproductive rights except in a class warfare manner and she would absolutely have given SS to goldman sachs just as the elite dems gave goldman the SS payments of people with defaulted student loans and now a fair portion of what wages they manage to get for the medical complex. The protesters were by and large disgruntled hillarites, and now they are fighting for things that hillary was against so that’s a win, at least, no? Now trump wants to wall them off from their cheap labor! The indignity of it all :-l Did I mention merrick garland?

        1. Altandmain

          If Clinton had won and started WW3, there would be no protest from these Clinton bots. They would have rationalized it.

          It’s just that their kids would not be the ones doing the fighting. Their lives would go on. By contrast, the less well off might find themselves facing the war.

          Only time they would be in danger is if Clinton made it nuclear and their cult of personality in Clinton makes them incapable of seeing her flaws.

      3. OIFVet

        I have stood up for women’s reproductive and other rights here on NC, and I have the comments to prove it. I posted them over the years, long before Trump ran for office. That said, I did not see a single sign in support of SS among the hundreds of photos from the march. I do not recall the comfortable women who marched displaying the same outrage when 0bama tried to ram through his Grand Bargain, which would have been the beginning of the end of SS. I interact with a lot of very comfortable liberals, and their cluelessness about the lot of the “deplorables” is striking. Indeed, since the election they have began to sound more and more like the republicans of yesteryear, blaming the poor for their lot in life, conveniently neglecting the large role of the neoliberal Democrat party in bringing about the present state of affairs. So while I do not object to protesters, I am nonetheless deeply skeptical that they are in any way my allies on issues beyond the women’s rights and gay rights.

        1. Marco

          Excellent point. Obama’s Chained-CPI would have devastated older women as hey live longer and collect smaller SS benefits. Meryl Streep had nothing to say about that

        2. Susan C

          I think the Women’s March was more of a primer. And when it comes to SS, you will see millions of white hairs come to life all over the place with their own marches and demands. It will be huuuuuge.

          1. OIFVet

            But where were they when 0bama tried to destroy SS?! I know he speaks so well and acts so classy and all (/sarc), but is that really why there was hardly a peep from the “left” when 0bama tried to pass the Grand Bargain? At the end, what saved SS for tue time being was the Republicans, and then only because they were too dumb to take ‘yes’ for an answer.

        3. Waking Up

          “I do not recall the comfortable women who marched displaying the same outrage when 0bama tried to ram through his Grand Bargain, which would have been the beginning of the end of SS.”

          And if women’s reproductive rights were of primary concern, I also do not recall the comfortable women who marched displaying outrage when Obama signed the Executive Order stating that the Affordable Care Act would maintain the current Hyde Amendment restrictions (ie. no Federal Funding of Abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or endangerment to the life of the mother.) That executive order primarily once again hurt poor women. If they were concerned about ALL women and their reproductive rights, that would have been a time to be very vocal.

      4. James F.

        Thanks for your response hreik. I wrote a comment in a passion inspired by people bashing each other in another thread. I think we’re slipping into an abyss and that scares me personally because people I love are on both sides of an argument that while it has been ugly for a long time is getting perilously close to becoming kinetic. If my comment was a stand alone piece, it would have been better written – so sorry for that. I was (and I guess still am) angry about upper class protesters using the language and symbolism of civil insurrection to make rights based arguments that depend on the rule of law. If one overthrows the government, one overthrows the constitutional order that establishes and guarantees those rights. Revolutions scrap the existing structures and build things up from scratch. They can (and do) take elements from previous orders but they combine them in new ways to create a new thing. I am not indignant about people objecting to any specific policy of the Trump administration, or making their objections known, or taking concrete political actions. But I want those objections to provide answers to the severe economic problems that are being experienced very unequally in this country. The problems experienced by flyover people and the urban poor have not been addressed for decades and they can’t be ignored any longer. Any attempt to form a mass resistance without addressing those concerns is not just doomed to fail, it’s making things worse. Worse means worse as in social collapse. I am indignant about that. Again this was a comment not a post so I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear.

        1. hreik

          Very lovely reply, ty. I am just finishing JD Vance’s book. An interesting read.

          The problems experienced by flyover people and the urban poor have not been addressed for decades and they can’t be ignored any longer.

          This absolutely. But TPTB continue to ignore them. D’s and R’s both. So what do we do? Really what do we do? Question is serious!

          The problem is THEY DON’T CARE!! They don’t. you cannot make someone care. It is a deep and abiding thing and comes with action, pathos and boots on the ground.

          1. Lambert Strether

            I think Chris Arnade is much better than JD Vance. AFAIK, Vance in essence buys into the “they should pull themselves up their own bootstraps” theme also beloved by liberals. Daniel Patrick Moyniahan all over again.

      5. different clue

        If you voted for Clinton, you voted for a war with Russia.
        If you voted for Clinton, you voted for a regime change war in Syria.
        If you voted for Clinton, you voted for neo-nazism in Ukraine and you voted for civil war in Ukraine.

        If any of the marchers in their Pink KittyKaps are still for Clinton “in their hearts”, that means they
        are still for war with Russia, neo-nazism in Ukraine, and the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis in Syria.
        ” In their hearts”

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      My personal reasons is the marchers were by and large the same people who would stomp on children for a chance to see a celebrity such as Obama but would be too busy to register voters then whine about people not turning out for their wonderful candidate.

      Marching on a Saturday is easy. Canvassing in August is hard. If canvassing in August is hard, imagine doing something really important.

        1. Eureka Springs

          I believe lambert posted a snippet of a post penned by a woman who was involved with the DC march. I’ve searched quite a bit but cannot find it again. Anyway she made it clear a lot of participants were not interested in much more than celebrities like Madona and M. Moore.

  13. cnchal

    Someone get’s to eat the fruits of globalization, someone else ends up with the pits.

    Even so, my Democrat and Republican friends and family from the coasts couldn’t care less about my neighbors. They couldn’t care less about fifteen years of war or the kids we send to fight it or the kids our kids kill.

    Ironic that globalization narrowed opportunity for those kids in flyover to such an extent that military service is seen as a way out. Even more ironic is that the point of the military is to protect the economic interests of the elite, so that Madonna and Julia, and Hollywood and silicon valley get their intellectual property protected, and a triple irony is that silicon valley has trillions of dollars of profits held aloft never to touch a peasant again.

    In the interim of the last decades, as President Trump said in his inauguration speech, the tombstones representing the destruction of flyover country are embedded in the landscape, but they are invisible at 30,000 feet.

    1. Altandmain

      A lot of people joined the military because they have no real alternative. Basically their choices were to end up in a dead end minimum wage job, prison (likely from drugs), or the military.

  14. RenoDino

    James offers up a beautiful soliloquy on our current internal state of affairs, but then leaves us hanging.
    His tells us why his state voted for Trump, but did he? James, it’s OK if you did, but you need to own it. On the other hand, if you voted for Hillary, this piece is, dare I say it, hypocritical.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      What is with this “you need to own it”?

      It is the politician’s obligation to win voters. Trump said repeatedly that he wanted to help people who had lost out to globalization. Hillary called them deplorables and made it abundantly clear she was not only going to do nothing for them but she hated them and might even work against them.

      It was entirely rational for them to vote for Trump. As much as he is wildly erratic, he at least understood their problems and expressed an interest in helping. Hillary promised either more of the destructive same (did you miss Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton saying that life expectancy in some parts of the Appalachias and Deep South are lower than in Bangladesh?) or worse. Propensity to vote for Trump correlated very strongly with indicators of economic distress.

      1. Praedor

        Correction: Trump CLAIMED/PRETENDED to understand their problems… He didn’t really, he’s had a silver spoon up his ass since birth but he does know how to play people. Tigers don’t change their spots. Trump has been horrible to his own laborers. Has ripped off his own contractors without batting an eye. Narcissists, true pathological narcissists can be more dangerous than sociopaths or psychopaths https://afternarcissisticabuse.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/why-are-narcissists-are-so-dangerous/

        I have no doubt that Trump is a malignant narcissist and, as such, cannot REALLY be counted on to actually do any good for anyone UNLESS it aggrandizes himself first in some way.

        Hillary was just a garden variety sociopath.

        1. Vatch

          Great article about narcissism — thanks. I’m unsure about one thing, though. The author says that narcissists are unable to experience empathy. I’m not convinced that’s true. The worst narcissists lack empathy, but I don’t think that’s true about all of them. If a narcissist is completely lacking in empathy, it could be that person has a blend of narcissism and sociopathy.

          1. Moneta

            Two elements that keep on getting mixed up is caring about the well being of another person vs. being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand what they are going through and what makes them tick.

            Sociopaths and narcissists might not care (compassion) about others but they can often read them like a book (empathy) and use it to their advantage.

          2. PhilM

            Agree. Narcissists can be great builders. CEO types. Great legacies can result. Caesar, Napoleon, Bezos?, Trump. Sociopaths cannot build; not only are they are too unstable, they are socially crippled by their complete lack of empathy; and people perceive their menace early on, which marks their resumes. They grift, they shift, they seem to achieve, but they don’t build anything that lasts for long, and their “building” is generally aimed at destruction. All of that is almost tautological, because great builders are not commonly perceived as sociopaths.

            These labels are not Newtonian, they are quantum-mechanistic; not causal, but more like probability clouds. Still, we have to go on something.

            To me, Trump shows all-fours narcissism, while Hillary manifests sociopathy. Whatever else the Benghazi events, the email servers, the DNC hack, and the Comey reports did, they had one crucial effect: they were accusations that required a public response. The cumulative pattern of the responses, not the deeds, were the “tells” of sociopathy. And that is why people say “It’s the cover-up, not the crime, that matters.” No one who has observed, in the wild, the classic pattern of excuses and blame-shifting that brands a sociopath on the hot seat, will ever mistake it for healthy behavior.

            1. DarkMatters

              You articulate very well the reason I voted as I did. Few of my acquaintances recognized this.

        2. John k

          I would say pretty much a wash.
          The difference in flyover is that he said he felt their pain, and if he wants their votes in the future he will have to do something for them, a conflict with Ryan who also thinks they’re deplorable.
          But he didn’t win so much as she lost. He got no more votes than Romney, millions that voted for Obomber’s in 04-08 stayed home this time. So clintonites don’t hate those that voted for trump nearly as much as they hate dems that couldn’t bring themselves to vote for her even with trump the opponent… no doubt the top of that list are Bernie voters she said she neither needed or wanted.

          My fond hope is Brexit and trump signal the pendulum is swinging back from the extreme neolib neocon position reached under bush/Obama as voters realize how badly they’ve been screwed by trade deals and immigration artfully designed to push down wages and push up profits.

        3. DH

          He spoke to their issues. Hillary largely pretended they didn’t exist.

          I will be surprised if Trump actually ends up helping them, as his proposed policies don’t appear to be likely to have the intended effect. But he followed the Obama election lead of “Hope and Change” which the voters keep voting for, regardless of who the messenger is. The day a politician can actually deliver the change to go with the hope, they will be elevated to sainthood instead of discarded to the side of the road.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          I never said Trump would deliver. Trump made it clear that he saw that there was a lot of distress outside the blue cities and said he would do something. Hillary made it clear she hated those people. Why would you ever vote for someone who spat on you?

          And Trump did nix the TPP, which was a promise to his base, and is in a fight with Mexico. This will all probably turn out badly but he certainly is making a show of Doing Something about trade.

        5. Lambert Strether

          Sorry, I just don’t buy the “malignant narcissist” talking point being propagated right now (I think there’s even a hashtag).

          For one thing, it’s armchair diagnosis. Can’t be done.

          More importantly, the same tactic was tried with Bush starting around 2003, and I was present at the creation, the invention of snark. And I did a good deal of it! Bush was crazy, Bush was stupid, Bush was a narcissist… And Bush was, shall we say, not a nice person.

          And that tactic was so successful that Bush won two terms! And that tactic is now absolutely endemic in the “progressive” part of the political class. It’s the go-to tactic (partly because it’s very easy and very lazy, and it also generates clicks, and lots of me-too comments). And that tactic has worked so well that the Democrats have lost the House, the Senate, the Presidency, are about to completely lose the Supreme Court, and have lost most governorships and state legislators.

          But they keep doubling down on it… .

      2. RenoDino

        You and I are in total agreement. Trump’s win was totally justified given the facts on the ground. I just want to know if all the reasons James sincerely expressed for Trump’s win resulted him pulling the leveler for Trump. If he voted for Hillary instead, his piece is incongruous given what he said about her followers.

        Coming out as a Trump voter is a very big deal in some circles. I voted for Trump for the reasons you described above. I am owning it. Depending on one’s situation, coming out for Trump can be very costly. It can end friendships, relationships, and employment. I have personally experienced all three.

        I’m just asking people who make the case for Trump if they stood behind or is it just a case of “I feel their pain.” That’s all.

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          James F responded to your question below, but in my opinion he would have been perfectly within his rights not to if he had so preferred.

        2. Marco

          What in the post makes James come across as a Trump Voter. And who cares if he was? I didn’t get that at all. Personally he came across as a total Bernie supporter.

      3. lawabidingcitizen

        You make an excellent point Yves.

        I can tell you from experience that there are many in the supposedly “progressive” party who are still in denial. Since I happen to be married to one of those Hillary/Obama apologists I recently attended a local meeting for Democratic party organizers. More than anything, I was curious to hear what the people had do say. Knowing that the Republican party is so vile in their service to the monied interests, I was curious to see if the supposedly liberal class has learned anything from recent events.
        I was appalled when the local party chair mentioned that they were going to be canvassing some local districts which were normally Democratic strongholds to see why their turnout was so low in the last election. I was tempted to raise my hand with the obvious answers, but I refrained to see what the group had to offer. It was obvious that in their contempt for the new occupant of the oval office, they were perfectly willing to ignore the damage that has been inflicted upon the majority of the population by the party they purportedly support. The guest speaker for this event even mentioned the irrationality of the Trump voter, apparently ignorant of the economic wasteland that his party helped to create, and what Hillary was offering to perpetuate.

        1. DH

          The Democratic House re-elected Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader. They appear to be determined to stay in the minority. It is going to take another ballot box crushing in mid-term elections to get the message to sink in. I think they are hoping that Trump will blow everything up and they will be able to sail in as saviors in the mid-term election, but they still aren’t offering anything that flyover country is looking for.

      4. Mike G

        Trump said repeatedly that he wanted to help people who had lost out to globalization.

        So did Bernie. And Bernie has much more of a track record of advocating policies that help such people than Trump.

        So the neolib DC consensus was not working for the flyover population, why did they turn to the party that has been pounding full-throttle globalism, militarism and raw capitalism for decades?

        The difference was Trump served up tasty dollops of blatant racism and scapegoats, and his audience ate it up. Their hate was more important to them than help.

        1. John k

          They didn’t turn to trump. He got no more votes than Romney. She lost because some voters that voted for a black man in 2012 saw the two candidates as equally bad and stayed home.
          Those that stayed home are not obviously racist.

        2. DH

          It is not accidental that Bernie Sanders (previously registered as Independent) almost took out Hillary and Donald Trump (a total political outsider) crushed enough Republicans to field a football team.

          This should be the real message to the two political parties – you are not winning – you are just ending up with people running under your banner instead of a third-party.

        3. todde

          why did they turn to the party that has been pounding full-throttle globalism, militarism and raw capitalism for decades?

          GUNS. You’re going to realize that soon.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t buy your reading. The district-by-district analysis shows that the propensity to vote for Trump correlated strongly with indicators of insecurity and economic distress. While no doubt some Trump voters were racist, his dog whistles, like his refusal to denounce David Duke, cost him among more orthodox Republicans (I doubt any would have crossed over for Hillary but I bet a some stayed home or left the top of the ticket empty or wrote in a candidate). I don’t see this a a big explanation for the Trump victory. There’s no actual data to support that view.

          The Dems are using that argument since they are refusing to give up on identity politics. So they keep hammering it, which means it must be true, right?

          Several readers reported that they knew young blue collar workers who voted for Sanders in the primary and Trump in the general.

          All 1:1 polls showed Sanders would have beaten Trump by huge margins. Did you forget that Sanders cleaned Hillary’s clock in Michigan?

          And had they faced off against each other, the fact that Sanders had actual policy ideas while Trump has mainly bluster would have become more evident.

          1. Anonymous

            Yves, I disagree with your assessment of how a Trump/Sanders race would have played out. There are lots of reasons to be skeptical of the polling, not the least is that Hillary led in the polls against Trump right up to the election, and look what happened. Ironically, Democrats pushed for ease of registration and voting state by state, thinking it would only help them, and it ended up helping Trump in crucial states like Wisconsin, where many voters registered on election day.


            Hillary never saw Sanders as a serious threat to her nomination (thanks to Superdelegates), and thus never attacked him vigorously, since she didn’t want to alienate Sanders’ primary voters. Trump would have had no such compunction, and, as we’ve seen, attack is his strength (along with being remarkably resistent to criticism). My personal problem with Bernie was his tax policy, which was radical and dangerous. Incentives matter, and Bernie’s policies were written as if they don’t.

            The biggest reason Bernie could not defeat Trump, however, is that African Americans wouldn’t come out for him. He had a palpable lack of rapport with them. You can’t win the Presidency as a Democrat if you can’t get African American voters coming out for you in strength.

        5. aab

          As per everyone else here, that’s just nonsense. Fake news. Propaganda. Whatever term you want to choose.

          And you know it, because you tiptoe right up to the truth before walking away. The neoliberal DC consensus was not working for them. So they voted for the only change available. When you’re desperate, you roll the dice.

          Moreover, the big tipping point — again, as has already been pointed out in this thread — is people who had given up on the Democrats and just stayed home.

          I personally know black leftists who backed Sanders and then voted for Trump. Given the Clintons’ long history of active, exploitative, murderous, global racism, do you really want to say they voted for the worse racist?

          I’d love to get to the point that we can talk openly about how Barack Obama governed as a white racist from Kansas rather than as a black community organizer from Chicago.

          Our governing elite is racist. Both parties — if you’re willing to grant the limp, shrunken Democratic organization party status. Given that our governing elite is racist, it follows that a racist was elected. But was the worst racist elected, or just the more impolite?

        6. RabidGandhi

          They didn’t. Most people in Flyover didn’t vote for Trump– but they didn’t vote for HRC either. There is therefore no reason to roll out the stoopid Democrat tactic of firing the blame cannons at the dumb rubes for voting against their own interests by voting for Trump. Less than 19% of the population even voted for Trump! It was the non-voting population that determined this election, and the non-voting population rightly determined that HRC did not merit a vote. They rightly determined not that Trump was in their interest, but that voting for HRC would most likely be just as detrimental to them: as evidenced by the brutal war HRC and the ruling class in Washington have waged against them for the last 30+ years (Case Deaton op cit.).

          Bottom line: Flyover was given a Sophie’s choice and you are now blaming Sophie for losing her daughter.

    2. diptherio

      How would know who he voted for (or if he voted at all) change anything. He’s making observations about the world around him. Know how or if he voted couldn’t change those observations…but maybe it would change the way you respond to those observations…just sayin’.

    3. James F.

      I didn’t vote for Trump. I have a distaste for the man that is mostly visceral. Still, I thought he was better than any of the Republicans running with the possible exception of Rand Paul. The worst thing about Trump is Pence. I didn’t vote for Hilary either. I could never even vote for Bill after his support for NAFTA. I voted for Stein. It was a protest vote and I had the luxury to make one. I don’t know how I would have voted if my vote counted (really I don’t know) but I hope I would have had the integrity to stick with a protest Stein. I loved Obama in ’08. I donated and volunteered. In 2012, I held my nose and voted for him again. I voted for Bernie in the primaries. I might have even considered voting for Hillary had she chosen Sherrod Brown for VP. Tim Kaine was just insulting and considering the loss of the Rust Belt choosing him was an act of pure stupidity. I’d vote (with reservations) for Warren in 2020 but she was a real disappointment in the primaries. If Tulsi Gabbard or Nina Turner runs I’d volunteer but I think Gabbard could win- big time. The woman is an old school patriot, whip smart, a compelling speaker, and the camera loves her. Still, Turner has guts and integrity, although she’d be a long shot. Nobody else moves me at all.

    1. James F.

      You are quite right. I was writing a comment in a passion and would have written better had I taken time to compose a well thought out piece. Sorry, my bad.

      1. Eclair

        James, thank you for sharing your reflections with us. And, to all the commenters who ‘nitpick;’ for heaven’s sake, these are ‘comments.’ By their very nature they are written quickly, because if you wait 24 hours to edit and tighten up your comment, we have gone onto some other topic.

        So, no need to apologize, James. I cried when I read your essay. I too love people on both coasts who voted for HRC and are in a twist over Trump, as well as people in the ‘heartland’ or ‘flyover’ country (depending on your ideology), who voted for Trump.

        And, as for the Women’s March, I did not attend, having walked in too many marches in my life and wanting to use my diminishing energy in, to me, more productive, ways. But so many of my family and friends went … and were energized and proud. I love them all. As Gandhi said, we all have a piece of the truth.

      2. ChrisPacific

        No apology needed. I’m glad to see it featured, whatever flaws it may have had. I read it four or five times over when it was originally posted and checked the replies.

  15. Bob

    The author states ‘Everything including food and medicine is taxed.’ Why? One can be socially conservative and economically radical at the same time. It’s tough but it is possible. I am dumbfounded that folks allow this to happen to them. They could elect legislatures that are in line with them on social issues while enacting tax and labor policies that protect them. I have always considered myself a New Deal Democrat which allows me to be socially conservative and economically progressive. Flyovers can do this too.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You need to wake up and smell the coffee. Read Thomas Ferguson’s Golden Rule. Political victories have since the Great Depression been determined by spending by monied interests. Sanders and Trump are notable departures, and Trump still was funded largely by big money, although he managed to win with way less money than she spent (badly).

      Alabama (for a host of reasons over my pay grade) was the most favorable jurisdiction for class action suits. Basically, instead of having regulation of any sort, the legislature set up a regime that made the court system the enforcer of consumer protection.

      So what happened? All judges in Alabama are elected.

      The Alabama Supreme Court race is the most expensive in the US, bar none. Over 4x more is spent than in any other state. Way way more costly than running for Governor. Last I checked, the Chief Justice race cost $13 million and that was a few years back.

      As a result, any class action win, which would often come in at hundreds of millions of dollars, will be cut down by the Supreme Court (if the appeals court doesn’t do it first) to no more than $1 million. Guaranteed.

    2. DH

      The way you get low income and property taxes is to increase sales taxes and fees. The people buying at the register pay the taxes. It is quite regressive, but that is how they balance the books.

    3. bob

      “I have always considered myself a New Deal Democrat which allows me to be socially conservative and economically progressive”

      So, you’re another confused indentiarian?

      Unless you have a few hundred million dollars, and are having your help write your comments here, you have absolutely nothing in common with your betters. Talk about cognitive dissonance. But, it’s the tone of the comment that’s the most insidious- “it allows ME”

      It doesn’t allow shit. They do, and you are no threat to anything they do. More like you, please.

      1. Altandmain

        The person is socially right wing and economically left wing.

        Economically they are perfectly within their interests.

  16. Clearpoint

    Some writers write with infallible logic, but without an ounce of human compassion. Some writers write with bleeding heart compassion, but without a logical foundation for their work to stand on. You did what was rare — you gave us a piece that was both logical and compassionate. Nice work.

  17. Chris

    Love the essay, but contrasting Manhattan with Harlem should have been edited out, as quite obviously Harlem is in Manhattan.

    1. James F.

      Sorry Chris. I wrote a comment in a passion and I would have written better had this been a stand alone piece. My bad.

  18. voteforno6

    I can sympathize with this article, but I don’t think we’re primed for a civil war – yet. As bad as things are now, they were a lot worse in the Great Depression. We haven’t really seen mass resistance movements to the extent that they happened in the ’30s. Dissatisfaction has not yet even begun to coalesce into anything that could pose a serious challenge to authority in this country.

    However, if we experience another financial crisis, then all bets are off.

    1. Jagger

      I just reread Wigan Road by George Orwell describing 1930’s England. I probably should reread Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. Definitely worse then materially but maybe not spiritually. Perhaps less hope, social cohesion, kindness and optimism today than in the 30s.

    2. Art Eclectic

      We will be primed for a civil war once the Republicans are done passing tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy, then destroying the safety net because dependence on the government is a such a terrible thing and those poor people just need a boot to the backside to take responsibility for themselves.

      Meanwhile, they’ll take 2 years (at least) to do anything about a infrastructure program that could change that equation.

      So, what you get two years from now is still no jobs, cuts to the safety net, and tax cuts for the wealthy. That’s a recipe for rebellion.

  19. craazyman

    things have almost always been bad in flyover country.

    No way. Civil war? I mean really. No disrespect at all towards the post author’s evident humanistic and laudable sensibilities.

    But there’s no way. No way. Things can go on like this for decades. And they probably will. The one change will probably be increasingly local governments taking over from a failed national govermint. People can be resourceful. States and localities will step in and solve problems. There will be creativity and innovation in approaches to social organization. They’ll flip the bird at Washington, the way the Reptilians flipped the bird at Neil Armstrong when he landed on the moon. They were there right off camera, just standing there a few hundred yards away from the lunar lander and when Neil got out and took his first few steps, they flipped him the bird.

    It’ll be like that. But it would be, now, like Neil Armstrong flipping the bird back at them. “Here’s to you, snake head!” before he went about his business there on the moon. That’s what he’d say. That’s what they’ll say, as they figure it out for themselves.

    1. jgordon

      It can’t happen here.
      It can’t happen here.
      Oh darling it’s important you believe me!
      Because it Can’t. Happen. Here.

      1. craazyman

        There’s no doubt the anger in some areas is hot enough to be catalyzed into an organized rebellion.

        But there isn’t the clean division along geographic boundaries and there aren’t standing state militias or local militias that can organize, or strong enough regional governments that can stand in as nation states. It’s very different than the 1770s or 1860s, very very different. In 40 or 50 years, it may be closer.

        Many of us can remember first hand the violence and tumult of the 1960s. We’re nowhere near that. Nowhere close to it. If one is going to analyze, they need to be a bit level headed. I’m not being critical at all of the anger people feel, which I totally empathize with. But it’s so diffuse and scattered across a range of grievances and supposed solutions that people who share anger about things a, b and c, can be completely on opposite sides of d, e and f. It’s like a kaliedescope of conflicts, even sometimes inside the same body.

        Rebellion and civil war? Not a chance, given the circumstances. Too scattered, too diffuse, to conflicted, too anarchic, too many things on TV and too many beers in the fridge.

        1. Praedor

          I see scattered civil disobedience, including involving violence, as more likely than all-out civil war. Thus far. They were WRONG and IDIOTS but I can see more things along the line of the the Bundy Standoff and the shitstains that damaged the Malheur Wildlife Refuge happening but focused on other issues/concerns (I hope. It’s MY -and your- public land and MY -and your- Wildlife Refuge, not their private property).

          I could see more anger and violent resistance happening here and there against Federal types, or against certain corporations. I know I wouldn’t take it lying down if some oil companies wanted to run a pipeline over MY property or frack around MY land. Poison my well water or my air and, to me, that is attempted murder. That was an attempt to poison me and my family AND a means to totally destroy the value of my home and property, to make my home unlivable. A placard or chant wont do for that. Something more direct is called for.

          1. craazyman

            that’s the thing. the other half of flyover country is gonna die unless they get those fracking and pipeline jobs — which move energy so people can use their cars & produce relatively clean burning natural gas that’s cleaner and cheaper than coal. People can’t financially survive and they’re being killed and they look on TV and see Madonna screaming at a camera. Then some bozo actor is flaming Donald Trump from Times Square.

            The pipelines are pretty safe overall. Safer than trains and safer than burning coal. There’s a lot of hype about pipeline safety.

            If you’re a Sioux Indian tribe, your pissed as hell from living in poverty and you haven’t forgotten the 1870s. The pipeline itself isn’t the real problem.

            That’s the kaleidoscope of mutually contradictory and tangled grievances. There’s no organizing force to resolve that.

            1. Praedor

              No doubt (as to safety vs trains and trucks) BUT methane leaks are a massive problem with nat gas fracking and pipes. That’s a simple fact. Methane is vastly worse than CO2 for climate change. I’ll sacrifice their jobs for the sake of a livable planet any day. I’d sacrifice MY job if it meant the North Pole would remain iced over, polar bears wont go extinct, that the vast breadbasket of North America wont become a hot, dry super desert.

              If your job means destroying my home and the life I live there, then I stand against your job. Sorry. Just the way it’s gotta be. Better you get a job installing solar panels and wind generators, or modernizing the electrical grid. Better pay and longer lived job too.

              Eliminate methane leakage from nat gas development and a big issue disappears (except your pipeline will NOT go through my land). With a leak-less nat gas system we can 100% eliminate coal…but nat gas is a very limited resource and entirely short-term.

              1. jrs

                “If your job means destroying my home and the life I live there, then I stand against your job. Sorry. Just the way it’s gotta be.”


                But really if jawbs were the be all and end all we don’t have to create ones that are so destructive! Meanwhile people are going to LOSE THEIR jobs due to Trump, those working at the EPA for instance, plus there is a federal hiring freeze. Or are only jobs that actively destroy the planet going to be counted in this jawbs accounting? The new Trump math?

            2. Moneta

              I agree. I noticed that every time I meet someone I agree with on an important issue, this person is at the other end of the spectrum on another one of my important issues.

              It’s makes it very hard to create a movement with a clear goal. In fact, over the last few years I have been increasingly avoiding hot topics in groups as the level of self-righteousness and the lack of empathy and compassion seems to be soaring… no cohesive view on how things should be and how to achieve them.

            3. Susan C

              I think to the Indians this area is their land and the river and their land is sacred to them. If there was ever an organizing principle it should be this – to fight for their rights.

              1. SumiDreamer

                Does no one understand the concept of environmental racism? Bismarck wanted to keep their CLEAN water. Does that mean due to historical resentment the Dakota tribes should put up with it?

                It is true: #WaterIsLife.

              1. craazyman

                If you had to choose between dying and fracking, you’d pick fracking.

                If you had to choose between letting your kids die or fracking. You’d be working a well yourself.

                1. Praedor

                  Except it isn’t between dying and fracking. Fracking is NOT the answer. Solar, wind, modernizing the grid, rail, etc, are BETTER jobs that last longer and are future-proof. Fracking is fly-by-night. The wells die quickly and pollute the shit out of the local area.

                  You cannot drink flammable water. Your home will be damaged by earthquakes. Your life will be cut short by toxic chemicals and gases involved with fracking.

                  It’s like demanding coal mines continue so miners don’t die from lack of job. Damn the damage done (mountain topping, stream/river destruction, etc). Damn the FACT that the miners are going to die young from Black Lung. There are BETTER energy jobs to go with (again, solar, wind, geothermal) that have a much longer future to them.

                  1. craazyman

                    Your talking about what should be (which I mostly agree with)..

                    I’m talking about what is, now, facing these people every day.

                    There’s a big difference.

                    1. Susan C

                      There was a really good documentary on fracking a couple of years ago – Gasland. I can’t help but think you bought into “their” argument that fracking etc. is good and puts people to work and that the people in the Midwest are starving. They are not starving, they are not interested in having their countrysides and farmland filled with fracking stuff – being despoiled actually. And for what – a short term job and lots of poisonous water. And earthquakes – see Oklahoma. Aren’t you tired of the overlords doing whatever they want to make all the money they want by raping this country? I feel strongly about this actually.

                    2. craazyman

                      What aboout the Neil Armstrong situation. Nobody would dare take that one on. Not one individual has challenged that! They go for the easy stuff, not the hard stuff. Anybody can morally grandstand and handwaive, but if you want to see things as they really are, if you want to turn your head from the shadows to the forms themselves, you reallly have to be on top of your game. No Faking it! You can see the fake a mile away.

                      i jusst happened to be laying around and checked this one last time — after seeing on the internet an artist rendering of a moon temple for a moon base. It was 150 feeet high and it look like the Roman Pantheon but it had a big opening and you could see earth.. That woould be amazing. I would have thought, as a kid watching Neil Armsttrong land on the moon (and I did see that myself in real time, live) I would have thought we’d have bases all ove rthe solara system by now. It seems, now, like it’s all been a massive failure. Weve gotta be able to do better than this.

                  2. Moneta

                    Solar, wind and whatever are just as bad as fracking. They are all part of increasing energy use instead of downsizing our consumption.

                    You see… craazyman said it best… we all see a cause or a solution but it’s a kaleidoscope of world views ou there.

            4. pretzelattack

              pipelines aren’t going to create many jobs. i read the keystone pipeline would create something like 40 or 50 iirc.
              i also read about pipeline leaks and spills fairly often. the biggest danger associated with pipelines are the fossil fuels they transport. the climate is changing faster than the scientists initially expected, which is very bad news indeed.

            5. d

              safe is a relative term. if pipelines arent managed right, and most arent, and if they arent lucky, they can be a disaster. just ask the folks in SF where a pipeline blew up, and killed a few people, or in Wisconsin or Michigan where a pipeline leaked, and made drinking water undrinkable, or unusable for agriculture. so it really depends on just how good the management is of the company, do they really do a good job of managing this risk, or not. and most of them do, but there are many that dont

        2. craazyboy

          We’re past the point of simple civil war in the 21st century. The Forever Kaleidoscope War is the only thing technically and politically feasible.

          For instance, consumer choice abounds in war tech. We’ve seen in Syria that the rooskies had a breakthrough in Molotov Cocktail Technology that led to the Barrel Bomb. That’s 1000 times more powerful than the conventional Molotov Cocktail. This is watershed event like Manhattan Project serving up Fat Boy.*

          More so, the Rooskies may leak Top Secret Trebuchet designs over internet to operatives in flyover – Trebuchet launched Fat Boyz flyover – almost too terrifying to contemplate.

          Many other Kaleidoscope things will make war and go on forever. I could list more example, but don’t have time right now. I’m going to go fly my flying machines and have some fun instead. Later!

          *Note to self: Remember to enter this in Thomas L. Friedman Metaphor contest.

          1. craazyman

            The nation is divided in every direction and if it can’t rise to the occasion it’s likely to fall. The next six months will be crucial. If it can’t find a path forward by then, digging out from the hole will be almost impossible. The earth may be flat but the nation appears to be round. People standing on it can’t see each other — because they seem to be on opposite sides of everything. People who are red are blue, and people who are blue see red. It may be too late to wake up and smell the coffee, but there’s something in the air and it might be revolution. The revolutiuon won’t be televised, but it will start at Starbucks and it will be online all the time. It may be the first virtual revolution in history where nobody moves off their chair. Get a coffee and sit back, because the action is about to begin.

            1. craazyboy

              If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em and try, try again.

              The sky is green, the earth is blue, keep your ear to the ground, metaphors are colorful too. Anything goes, you may be redneck stew. The next 6 months will be critical, too

            2. JTMcPhee

              Maybe we should sit on each others’ laps and in dramatic grandfather(mother) read-to-the-children voice-impression form, read and re-read Dr. Seuss’s wonderful tale of “how stupid can a species be,” The Butter Battle Book.” For those who missed it or don’t remember, here’s the video version:


          2. Praedor

            Ugh. Barrel bomb. I HATE that name and the use of that name. As if a barrel bomb is magically different or worse than a normal gravity bomb. Why is it PARTICULARLY horrendous and unacceptable? A 500lb or 750lb finned bomb does WAY more damage and is just as likely to kill civilians (MOST people killed in such bombings are not the “bad guys”). Just because the big boom is shaped like a 50 gal drum makes it magically and intrinsically evil. If they just put a pointy nose on one end and makeshift fins on the other it would be hunky dory! Because MAGIC.

            1. craazyboy

              “is shaped like a 50 gal drum”

              which makes it 1000 times as powerful as the Molotov Cocktail.

              The first time Siege Trebuchet launched these barrel bombs at enemy castles, the enemy very much thought this was bad magic.

        3. Norm

          You’re correct, I believe, that there won’t be a replay of 1861 or Shay’s Rebellion. But a break up of the beloved empire is still a possibility. Secessionist sentiments are alive and well in many parts of the country for many different reasons, not all of them salubrious. In places like Texas, there are kernels that could seize on any number of irritations to grow into decisive power at the state legislature level. In places like California and New York, situations could conceivably deteriorate to the point where states and localities cannot pay for their essentials, like schools and infrastructure, because the federal government is too dysfunctional and unresponsive to stop wasting the nation’s wealth on war. Or because DC and Wall Street are too wedded to austerity to allow the states to deal with their critical needs.

          Just one state legislature would be needed to start the process. South Carolina pulled it off in 1861. None of this is preordained and nothing will happen soon; but then again, good luck finding any “serious” analysts who in 1987 predicted that the Soviet Union would be gone by 1989.

        4. Lambert Strether

          I agree with your point on a lack of clean boundaries, so unlike slave states and free states. The Big Sort is below the county level.

          On being nowhere near the violence and tumult of the 60s, I disagree. I keep returning to the metaphor of a rising flood moving downstream — nothing to be done but pile sandbags (or get into your plane and fly away). In my radically simplified view, the 60s radicals didn’t gain any victories except cultural ones (which eventually mutated, and then metastasized, into IdPol™) was that the 90%, the working class, wasn’t been flattened by neoliberalism. Now it has been. Their reaction, in all its forms (not all pretty) is the rising flood moving downstream. Not being symbol manipulators — as were the 60s radicals — there’s very little expression of the anger. The volume of the anger as sound is not matched by the volume of anger as experienced.

          > people who share anger about things a, b and c, can be completely on opposite sides of d, e and f.

          Which, as I keep saying, why a simple platform of concrete material benefits for working people is so very important. Forget the IdPol silos;

    2. LT

      The “heartland” controlling their resources would put them at odds with coastal elites who need those resources for globalization. Remember, they call anybody who doesn’t believe in doing trade their way “anti-trade”. It’s really quite amazing how the same types all over the world adopt that kind if TINA (“there is no alternative language”).
      That is why there was the first American Civil War.
      The central government can not be a world power without control of the resources from the heartland.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Michigan and Ohio were once prosperous states.

      One of my contacts told me a story of a friend of his parents. They lived near Boston. The friend got a job in Cleveland in the 1970s. He said it was made clear to him, as a kid, that this friend was leaving a dead-end area of the US for the Promised Land.

      1. Anonymous

        Promised land, huh? Very interesting.

        And who can forget that New York City was bankrupt in the ’70s.

  20. jgordon

    I endorse this post! Lately I’ve been sensing a rising aura of violence and chaos in the air. I was wondering why seeing these foolish people marching around in their silly hats was infuriating me so much, but poster above articulated it perfectly: here we have a group of extraordinarly priveleged and comfortable people parading around and whining about how bad they have it because the new president has a potty mouth, and meanwhile in flyover land people are dying left and right from ODs, starvation, disease etc.

    Frick it. Just like I was looking forward to the Trump presidency so I’d get to see the tears of the pathetic social justice warrior cry babies, I’m now looking even more forward to the imminent collapse/civil war so that these pathetic entitled urban enclave dwelling snivelers can find out what having it hard really means. Then everyone can be equally miserable!

      1. jgordon

        They’re going to be the first to get knocked off. The well-armed people guarding them will string the elites up like dogs and take their stuff when society breaks down–the inherent flaw in every elite escape plan.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Oh, my gosh! The new POTUS has a potty mouth!

      As if that has never happened before.

      Take some time to read the transcripts of Nixon’s White House tapes. Expletives were deleted like there was no tomorrow.

      And then there was LBJ. One of the foulest mouthed people ever to be president. Heck, the guy could have given Bill Clinton a run for his #@%$ money.

  21. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    As someone from foreign shores, living in a country that has experienced a similar attempt by the largely ignored & forgotten masses, in what appears to have been to a certain extent, an ‘ Any port in a storm ‘ protest vote – the above heartfelt & beautifully written description of despair, rings a small bell. I say small, as due to many factors, but mainly the fact that the populations suffering a similar fate in the UK, are to some extent still being protected by that increasingly flimsy welfare state safety net.

    I suppose that the talk of a civil war is also reinforced by the Stanford article & that in turn led my thoughts toward a recent documentary I watched, which focused on Shakespeare’s Jacobean plays.

    Two quotes from the above stuck in my head :

    ” When discords & quarrells & factions are carried openly & audaciously, it is a sign that reverence of government are lost “.

    ” The rebellions of the belly are the worst “.

    Francis Bacon.

    These were written as a reaction to the events in Northamptonshire & adjoining counties, to the ‘ Enclosure Movement ‘, which was the seizing of the common lands by the local elites, which were previously used by one & all as a means of sustenance. Large bands of men had rioted & marched to protest, only to be firmly put down by order of the king James the first. In the county mentioned above, around forty were hacked to death, with three of the ringleaders being publicly hung, drawn & quartered.

    The plays, such as ” Timon of Athens ” & the others of that time, reflect the story of what was the dawn of capitalism. Shakespeare as an insider within court, very skilfully managed to highlight the concerns of the time, while keeping his head, until he stopped writing at around 1612.

    Order was restored for a time, but eventually the effect of the events described led in 1642 after his death to the ” English Revolution ” or ” English Civil War “, as revisionists prefer. I imagine that things tended to smoulder at a slower pace in those days & the above was no Left / Right contest over power, although the roots of a Leftist struggle can perhaps be seen in the struggle of the ” Levellers ” & Gerard Winstanley’s ” Diggers”. Cromwell in a small way reminds me of Trump, in the way that he found himself in uncharted waters, which is perhaps where the Donald might find himself.

    I do think the important thing to learn from history is how people react to events, because at the root of us, in desperate situations, I believe that we are very much the same as our ancestors who faced similar challenges – whether it be the above, ” Let them eat cake ” or austerity ridden Weimar Germany prior to Hitler.

    Perhaps the ” Enclosure movement “, was the first rough & ready version of a modern so called trade deal & according to the late Marxist historian Brian Manning – the revolution only got off the ground because the radicals, through the medium of woodcut printing etc, won the media battle.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Steve H.

        You are correct & for those for whom it is available, it is still on BBC i-player. You can also type in the title ” The king & the playwright: A Jacobean history & under videos it is available on Ru-tube, or a lesser quality version on youtube – assuming that they are available in your country.

    1. flora

      ” are to some extent still being protected by that increasingly flimsy welfare state safety net.”

      History books about the Great Depression mostly do not have references to the ad hoc violence and threat of violence that economic disaster created. Farm sales, wherein a farmer who got behind in his mortgage because crop prices had collapsed had his farm sold off to pay the bank and the farmer and his family were put out on the street with nothing, became common. At the same time, as more farmers were being put off the land, growing numbers of local farmers would band together to attend these farm sales of a neighbor’s farm with the understanding that no one should bid and if anyone did bid they wouldn’t enjoy their new property. In some locals judges and court officers were threatened with violence if they tried to enforce a eviction notice. Just one example of growing vigilantism that sprung up in different ways and in different areas.
      In Europe the great rack of the Great Depression gave rise to, well, we all know that story.

      so… to the point I’m making from the quote at the top of this comment. The social safety net in the US and what is called the welfare state in Britain and Europe are a means of buying social peace. The safety nets – decent and humane and civilized – are in the first place buying peace, imo. Peace is good for countries. Peace is good for business (unless you’re an armaments manufacturer I guess). Peace is good for capitalism.

      The neoliberals in govt should consider the safety nets a cost of doing business instead of a pot of money to be looted.

      Thanks for your comment.

      1. River

        The neoliberals in govt should consider the safety nets a cost of doing business instead of a pot of money to be looted.

        They’ve decided that New Zealand and converted missile silos are a better option than throwing people a bone.

      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre


        Shakespeare himself although coming from a relatively lowly background, only became the man he was because he received in part a very good education, within a small community which largely took care of it’s own.

        The enclosure movement as described by Shapiro, often led to thirty men being replaced by a single shepherd, & in those days one could literally starve to death – the NAFTA from hell perhaps.

        Your point about a safety net being considered as a necessary cost of business, would never have occurred to James the first, but it might have saved his son’s head & maintained the divine right of kings for quite some time, as was the case for the French until their revolution. A consideration that the equivalent elites today, really have no excuse for ignoring, but hubris is never out of fashion, particularly if one’s head is always immersed in a trough.

      3. todde

        My father grew up as a farmer in Illinois during the depression.

        He’d tell stories of good christian men gathering at night and burning the barges full of grain on the Mississippi River.

  22. DJG

    Daniel Barenboim, as quoted in 30 Jan issue of The New Yorker:

    The musicians of the German orchestra understood democracy because they practiced it in their daily life, even under the communist regime. They chose the musicians themselves; they appointed their conductor—they were far more independent than American orchestras. In Chicago, I had the feeling that everything that was achieved in America was achieved through legal means, not through human means. It was always the contract. Never human contact.

    [I’ll point out that Barenboim for good reason shows the value of the arts. Also, this statement is polite damnation. Now, the question is how does the U S of A get out of this state?]

    1. Carolinian

      Not sure of the relevance of your comment but I love Daniel Barenboim so thanks anyway. He is a great musician and a great humanist.

      1. DJG

        Carolinian: I think that James F’s post argues for more human contact–we all have to keep talking to lessen the tensions and to understand our collective and individual situations. Also, I keep trying to argue against American exceptionalism. Further, I found that Obama made various feints toward the arts but didn’t understand the power of art and artistic organizations. Upthread, I am seeing many literary references.

        And I have made comments about how we cannot rely on the Supreme Court to protect rights. The whole “appointments to the Supreme Court” thing is an excuse for lack of action. The U.S. is too legalistic to begin with, as Barenboim points out. The law is now degraded by corporate power. The law is no longer a neutral space where we can negotiate well collectively.

        More grist for James F’s mill.

  23. Jeff Undavis

    In thinking about realistic self-determination movements it’s over the top to game out blockades and Stuxnet attacks. It’s not a civil war. It would work as it is working in Scotland, gradually and inexorably, as the people of a state diverge from the USA by adherence to peremptory norms that the US has breached. The process is state execution of the legal requisites of sovereignty: non-participation in use or threat of force; insistence on disarmament; fulfillment of all human rights; denial of impunity for serious crimes. The state responds to federal pressure by going over the USA’s head to treaty bodies, charter bodies, special procedures and civil-society tribunals. The state heightens divergence until the USA pukes it out with relief.

  24. jhallc

    Thanks for putting it so eloquently. Yesterday I almost commented on the level of anger I’ve noticed in the outside world, as well as here in the NC community. I can be as angry as the next person. These days if you are engaged in what’s going on in the world it’s hard not to be. On innauguration day I almost stuck my Bernie sign back out in front of my house, not to p**s off the Trump supporters (not many in my neighborhood) but, the folks who voted for HRC. Got to let it go… although I still haven’t tossed out the sign.

    1. MrNoItAll

      I live in Chapel Hill and display a Bernie magnet on my car. When I travel outside the Triangle I remove it.

      1. EricT

        I still wear my campaign t-shirts in public. Someone always notices, usually with a thumbs up, or I voted for him. I always respond with, “You mean the real president of the United States.”

  25. ScottW

    I lived in Chapel Hill, NC, between 2000-2012. I remember during the Iraq War, being honked at and cut off while driving outside Orange County with my “End the War” sticker. Chapel Hill was referred to as “Crapel Hill” by native North Carolinians who re-elected the racist Sen. Helms term after term. Sens. Hagan (D) & Burr (R) were both pro-war, anti-single payer, socially and economically conservative.

    Natives hated the relatively progressive social agenda in Chapel Hill more than they did its affluence. I witnessed the Koch infestation of State Government and the nearly unanimous (by County) anti-gay constitutional amendment. If single payer, debt-free higher education, an increased minimum wage, and an end to the Middle East Wars were State ballot initiatives, they would have all been defeated by large margins. The UNC system, one of the State’s crown jewels, was under constant assault by Republicans, and a majority of the citizens supported that assault. Outside of the Triangle, Asheville and parts of Charlotte, North Carolina was socially and economically conservative. A deep distrust for “Northerners” permeated race and economic status.

    I am sympathetic to the “dying” towns that are littered with abandoned brick factories that cannot be converted into brew pubs and upscale loft condos. They are constant reminders of a “better” time gone by that will never return. Everyone deserves, as a human right, affordable healthcare, a living wage with decent benefits and affordable housing. Sadly, as demonstrated by Sanders’ inability to gain traction in NC over Hillary, even the Democrats were not ready to embrace his progressive issues. And my belief is even if Sanders had spent the prior year campaigning in NC, Clinton would have won the primary.

    As with this column, there is more journalistic attention being paid to the plight of “flyover Country.” But nothing I read provides any tangible path of how we get from “here” to “there.” Awareness is essential, but without solutions that are fully embraced by those in need, the power elite will be let off the hook as they have been for decades, if not our entire existence.
    Division and hatred are the formulae for maintaining a status quo of expanding income/wealth inequality, expensive healthcare, debt-fueled higher education and endless war/security expansion.

    Until a vast majority of the poor and lower middle-class embrace single payer, debt-free higher education, an end to endless war, an increasing minimum wage, and an end to authoritarian policing, nothing will change for the better.

    1. pictboy3

      Being from Kentucky, I can empathize with your experience. My mom’s family is from Eastern Kentucky, in the mountains, so I recognize a lot of the attitudes, but these are my people, so I can’t just leave them behind.

      I think the way forward is to try and reach out to people in these areas by speaking their language. As has been mentioned elsewhere, these areas are super religious, so we should be making arguments that rely on biblical verses to support things like welfare, single payer (there are many that could be used).

      If I was running for office, I would promise to do nothing to change the status quo on abortion, and focus all my attention on those issues. If you can sidestep all the culture war BS, I am convinced you could get through to these people. I talk with conservatives frequently, and they know that things are bad, they know we’re getting our lunch eaten by foreign countries, most can even agree on the efficacy of social programs. But the constant refrain I hear from them is that people game the system of these programs, and that SJW on college campuses want to impose political correctness on everyone. It’s an issue of credibility. Right wingers know the neolibs have no credibility, but they haven’t started questioning the credibility of their own worldviews, mostly because no one will go and thoughtfully engage with them on issues that matter.

      Bernie started to do this, and I heard a lot of positive things about him from conservatives I know. I also heard people say he wants to give away free stuff, but that’s a misconception that can be cured through communication. I see the problem as no one being willing to communicate and having an agenda that’s just too broad. With some narrow focus, I firmly believe you could push stuff like single payer in these areas if you engaged with them. The south was a fierce battleground that bred some of the most progressive movements (at least in terms of labor) that we’ve seen in this country. I still believe it could happen again.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I’ve had excellent conversations on single payer with the guys with beards who live in the woods. I frame it as “There are some things that even small government should do.”

  26. Anonymous

    thank you to James F – similar experience in central Midwest – relatives/friends in urban coastal areas clueless or “unemployed made bad choices” etc. So far Wal-Mart shelves not empty, but other markers the same (heroin use/low income dependency on govt benefits/local elite “blaming the victim” with ideology like ‘multigenerational poverty’ – which is true but doesn’t capture whole causation/resentment of Hispanics by working class for doing crappy jobs no one else wants). And while Trump was big in this area, it’s more for hard core conservatism than rejection of neoliberalism/”free” market. Won’t be civil war here exactly (great respect for police/military), but yes, people open carry guns. One state legislator floating idea of no regulation of guns. Just before 2008, in rural/suburban Ohio saw signs for “Patriot Gatherings” – wonder how they’re doing post-2016.

  27. Ted

    This was indeed a passionate post and an authentic reading of the growing divergence in life chances in the US that are not just based on economic position, but also geographic location (something folks call sociospatial disparities). And there was certainly a tone of condescension in the marches on the weekend, with lots of chatter in my well heeled credentialed household about “stinky Donald and his gold digging wife” — not very elevated rhetoric considering the elevated sounding slogans on the sweatshirts (Soros?) funded organizations were doling out.

    But I think precarity is much more widespread than fly-over vs coastal cities depicts. Consider the hapless state of the precariate in Higher Education, folks who work hard (yes even the credentialed have to work for a living) but are paid peanuts and offered few benefits and no professional respect. At the moment they hold on to the crappy work on the off chance that they might find themselves elevated to the rarified air of the tenured ranks. But this is a pipe dream … the nature of their work will preclude them from writing and publishing on topics that the elite academics use to block entry into their club.

    This sense of precarity can be found right through the “credentialed classes”. There is, then, an opportunity for class consciousness that transcends the spatialized divisions spoken of in this post. An opportunity that requires more than marches of the well-heeled set, but patient, street level organizing (yes Virginia, this ain’t gonna happen on the internet!). So, while the distopic image given in this post is certainly one tale to tell, there are other, more optimistic narratives. But the realization of these alternatives requires hard work, a focus beyond the antics of one D. Trump, and a vision for the long game that marshalls the pracariate as a unified voice for economic justice.

    1. flora

      I agree. The term ‘flyover zipcodes’ could be applied to a lot of boroughs and subdivisions in Dem cities. For me, the term ‘flyover’ simply means ‘ignored and dismissed’ by the Dem/GOP establishment.

      1. DH

        To me, flyover is largely the areas that are not focused on the finance industry, state and federal government, import ports, and international business management. They are the areas where manufacturing used to occur and farming still happens.

  28. Gaylord

    We had better wake up to learn that a far bigger “war” is coming: the fight for survival of our species on this degraded planet. Even that existential threat has not unified us nationally or internationally. All of this political self interest and bickering soon will fade into insignificance when the onslaught of nature’s wrath intensifies. I don’t expect the climate change deniers (including the current administration and most of the Congress) to change their tune, and even if they were to come to their senses and recognize the undeniable truth, it would be too late. I now have no doubt civilization will descend into chaos and mass death. It’s quite simple: we won’t be able to grow enough food. Nature’s revolution against the human invasive species will dwarf all others in history. Finally, as the untended nuclear power plants go gamma, all of our skeletons and the artifacts of our culture will be entombed in a thin layer of the earth’s crust.

  29. Whitey Fisk

    I’m a lifelong Pennsylvania resident. I grew up in the Alabama portion (as Carville put it) and now reside in the suburbs of one of the large cities. Along the way I earned engineering degrees finishing with a PhD from a highly rated university – so I don’t think I fall into the category of the gun totin’ (don’t own any), corn-fed, overall wearin’ “Pennsyltuckian” (as it has been called in comments sections – guess you’ll have that being the state whose call pushed Trump over the top).
    When I visit my parents, or on basically any trip reasonably distant from the city, there were more political signs in yards this year than I can ever remember – and all for Trump. When he talked of the tombstone factories that dot the landscape, these are the areas he talked to. The places I worked summer jobs during my college years were long ago abandoned, repurposed for stints as business incubators or job retraining facilities. Eventually those go away too, when the gov funds dry up and nothing comes out of the incubators.
    I’ve read the linked articles that dissect the voting patterns with their discussion of how the metric of quality of life correlated/inverse correlated with the voting patterns. People in these areas have seen the effects of “quality of life improvements” on their lives. Even with life expectancy, what does a longer life (or ‘better’ by any metric) mean when your life feels like it has no purpose, or meaning. Which the tone deaf Clinton campaign only fueled, first with the ‘basement dwellers’ reference to Sanders’ supporters and the ‘deplorables’ statement.
    My parents had a small farm, 10-20 miles from ‘cities’ that are barely dots on the map. There used to be gas station/mom & pop stores at many crossroads. When the government came in and said the gas stations had to replace their underground tanks because they were prone to leakage, these stores went away. Sure, it cut the odds there would be gasoline in your well, but you still needed gas and had to drive 20 miles to get it or any other incidental. So, your quality of life got better, I suppose, but there were people who supplemented their livelihood running those stores.
    A decade or two ago, the number of dairy farms in the area took a hit when the EPA came in and said they couldn’t spread manure on their fields – it was raising nitrate levels downstream. So, if you could afford it you had to put in settling tanks, etc to handle it – which further cut already thin margins in farming. OK, again the quality of life got better, but your job just got harder to make a living at. If I were a farmer, I’d look at the research into cutting the methane from cow flatulence with more than a little worry.
    Pennsylvania has a checkered history wrt the petroleum/gas industry. Where I grew up is not far from the first oil well. The resurgence due to the shale boom really had a positive impact in those rural areas. I’m sure it even helped when the picketers came to protest (Sarandon, etc.), but like all booms (and the picketers), it went away. I realize it was more due to the low price of gas, but not sure everyone sees it that way. I’m not in the oil/gas business, but my office is in a local hotspot for that industry, except it isn’t so hot anymore – I refer to the office park as “New Pithole”. Trump’s comments on energy independence were viewed as helping this industry and having a positive impact on jobs in these rural areas. Frankly, I don’t foresee coal coming back no matter how much regulations would be eased – gas is too cheap and many of the coal fired power plants in PA are being shut down. (Yet more jobs going away.)
    I see the calls for ‘guaranteed jobs’, but people will understand it for what it is: the government is providing for you/your family because they would have to. Not a resounding endorsement for your societal worth.
    Lastly, I see the logic behind claiming Sanders would have been a better candidate. Much like all Monday Morning Quarterbacking, it’s hard to say how it would have played out – so I can’t totally dismiss it out of hand. But my gut tells me that it’s clutching at straws. The theme I saw most from his campaign was free college tuition, which would have played well in the areas where Clinton’s campaign did best – so he wasn’t going to improve the cities/college campuses numbers. The rural voters might not have been that impressed, being wary of the ultimate cost of ‘free’ stuff. Sure, they have children they’d like to send to college, but few of the college educated are coming back (personal experience) because the post graduation jobs are not there. It wasn’t one particular thing that sunk Clinton, it was the weight of straws against a backdrop of lost hope.
    I’ll save my diatribe about immigration and H1B’s (also interns on student visa’s) for another post.

    1. Spring Texan

      Actually I think Sanders might have won one-on-one with Trump, but had he actually had a strong chance of being the nominee, Bloomberg would have thrown his hat in the ring and that would have diverted enough votes from Sanders Trump would have won anyhow. So, no, it was not to be.

      1. Skip Intro

        You really think Bloomberg would take more Sanders voters than Trump voters? I don’t find it plausible. Bloomberg, as a real republican, would have had much better luck wooing the GOP voters that the long-loathed Clinton went after. Bernie was polling much better than either Trump or Clinton, and would have been well positioned to capture the rural and populist resentment against economic elites. This is not all hindsight either, as many made this argument throughout the rigged primary.

          1. pretzelattack

            also not overspending millions in a state he would win (california) to concentrate on states that were close, that’s what would have won it for bernie. bernie, unlike clinton, was aware of the electoral college. (but she won california by 3 million votes!)

      2. aab

        Based on what? Who on EARTH would have voted for Bloomberg in the kinds of numbers that would have thrown a state to Trump that wasn’t already going red? I think Bernie would have won New York in that three way, and there was polling at the time done privately for Bloomberg (so if anything, putting the most positive spin on Bloomberg’s chances) that backs my position up. Maybe Bloomberg could have taken Connecticut? Bernie would have taken California, Washington, Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota and the ENTIRE Rust Belt. He might have taken Georgia — it was looking like he’d take Georgia in a one-on-one with Trump, and I don’t see Bloomberg preventing that. Please tell me ONE significant state that would have broken for Trump instead of Bernie because of Bloomberg. If there were that many hedge fund managers in America, Hillary would have won — and she got a whole lot of voters who would never, EVER have voted for Bloomberg. Bloomberg is a wealthy New York oligarch whose mission in life is taking away pleasure from those beneath him. So his base is Republican, plus those weird Hillary fan girls whose racism and greed is polite and sanctimonious. Bernie could have spotted Bloomberg ALL the Hillary fan girls (they make a lot of noise, but the ones so nasty they’d have voted for Bloomberg instead of Bernie as the Democratic standard bearer would be a small group) and taken a lot of rural voters from the Republican base in most of those states.

        Bernie would have won. That’s why the Democratic Party and its allies and client entities did so much, including breaking laws, to stop him.

  30. ex-PFC Chuck

    This is a snap shot of the status of things in one corner of the provinces here in the upper Midwest. Last week I attended a book event at a medium-sized private college about a 45 minute drive from the Twin Cities. The author, Justin Gest, is an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University and his book is entitled, The New Minority: White Working Class Politics In An Age Of Immigration And Inequality. There were at least a hundred people in attendance; we were a mix of students, some faculty and quite a few private citizens most of whom were older, like myself. The author used a format I’d never encountered before. After he spoke for about half an hour we separated into groups of about eight people each, with the charge to discuss our personal experiences of inequality and interactions with recent immigrants. After an hour during which Gest circulated, listening each group and occasionally contributing their discussions, he took the floor again as the Emcee while someone from each group summarized its conversation.

    One of the people in my group was a non-tenured instructor at the college in the dance department. She had grown up in a one-industry town – paper – in central Wisconsin, where her father was a physician. According to Wikipedia the company had been owned and headquartered locally; I don’t know if it owned other mills elsewhere. It was acquired by a Finnish company around the turn of the millennium, and less than a decade later it changed hands again. Although the Wikipedia entry on the town implies it’s still in operation, she says it’s totally shut down. She said the town had over 30,000 residents during her youth (she’s in her early 40s, but she looks much younger. I know her age only because she mentioned her birth year in passing during the discussion.), but is now down to 13,000 something. What I found most shocking, however, was that since her father retired late in the naughts there have been no physicians located in the town. There had once been a hospital but that had closed before that. So now the nearest medical services available require a 25 mile drive to a town of about 25,000. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the difficulty of getting medical people to settle in small towns and rural areas, but I had no idea that it applied to towns this large in the upper Midwest.

    1. ambrit

      I see an increase in ads for LPNs and RNs for “assisted living,” (irreverently known as assisted dying,) centres. The smaller towns around here are suffering a shortage of medical personnel. The mismatch in skill sets and jobs is often suspiciously linked to “bottom line” issues. Credentialism is an expensive disease. There has been a small controversy about the state’s attempt to stop an elderly physician treating poor patients from out of his car and house in the Delta. Charity has become a crime. If someone tells me that the doctor in question isn’t properly credentialled, I ask them what to do with the people that he treats. No one else is trying to help. Powerful money interests are actively opposing any iteration of an American “Barefoot Doctors” program.
      If Rule #2 of the Neoloberalism Playbook is: “Go die,” then Rule #2 of the anti-Neoliberalism Playbook will be: “No prisoners.”

      1. River

        Charity has become a crime

        Which is bizarre, I mean look at the people arrested for giving the homeless a meal in Florida.

        I don’t even get the reason behind it. The people who want to help, are using their time and income to help out, but it’s a crime?!?!?

        1. ambrit

          As we discovered after Katrina, charity is often subsumed under the set of “official,” “credentialed,” or “approved” groups and organizations. We had a good unofficial people’s clinic in Pearlington that helped a lot of people. It was made to go away through the meddling of the “official” medical groups because it wasn’t credentialed enough. After it was made to disappear, we had to travel a half an hour or more for any medical help at all.
          The lesson I learned then was that there are people who will allow others to suffer and die to protect their exalted status. Power is a raw and naked drug that corrupts effectively and universally.

        2. aab

          Comfortable people would rather other people starve and die than be made uncomfortable by being aware of that suffering.

          It’s really that simple.

  31. RUKidding

    Thanks, James F, for a very insightful post. Some here may know of James Michael Greer, also known as teh Arch Druid, and he speaks of similar issues. I have found his blog helpful for me to gain insights into what has motivated many voters to vote for Trump. I am someone who did vote very very reluctantly for Clinton and now have NO regrets that she lost. I just wish I could trust Trump more to actually do some of things he promised. Time will tell.

    I would like to add, though, that this heartfelt post leaves out a lot of things (which is ok). One thing that hits me is the lack of discussion of rightwing Hate Radio, Fox and so-called “Christian” broadcasting outlets and the harm that they’ve wreaked on our populace. IMO, a huge part of this ever widening divide is due in large measure to the outright harm created by the divide & conquer methodology of these media outlets. They sewed the winds of hatred, and now we are reaping some of the whirlwind.

    I think, also, that the so-called “left” or whatever you want to call it/us/them have become increasingly fed up with so-called “conservatives” (I use quotes bc, imo, they’re not conservative at all) who appear to mindlessly follow what their favorite Hate jock, Fox stenographer, or Doug Coe “Family” trained preacher tells them to do. I grew up in a fundamentalist rightwing family, and I’ve witnessed at ground level their very obvious and intense transformation from people who, yes, had conservative political ideologies and who practiced what I see as a prior form of Christianity that was,.indeed, more loving and inclusive – they’ve been transformed into fear-filled hate mongers who often display very very ugly nasty hate-filled attitudes resembling the diametric opposite of how they used to live/think/feel/behave.

    Take one tiny example of the idiotic, but very successful, brainwashing about the so-called “War on Christmas.” We grew up in the North East where there happens to be a large Jewish population. Way back in the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s we mostly always said “Happy Holidays” in order to be polite and inclusive. Yes, the stores probably mostly all said “Merry Christmas” in their displays, but the notion of saying “Happy Holidays” to our friends and neighbors was a big fat nothingburger. Now if you talked to my family members, it’s as if this never happened, and they froth at the mouth about how “Satan” has taken over “forcing” them to acknowledge that not everyone is a “Christian” who believes like them. I bring this up bc I heard a Trump voter on the radio who claimed she was a missionary in Guatemala who flew in for Trump’s inauguration, and she very specifically spoke at length about how FINALLY!! the War on Christmas was over because “Godly” (I quote) Trump was in charge. NUTS. And so needlessly divisive, but that’s the goal. It has nothing to do with any real “Christian values,” imo.

    On the “left,” I witnessed many, including myself, who started out attempting to be sanguine about Rush and Fox, often being snarky and making jokes, and sometimes attempting to softly point out some other points of view to those becoming increasingly entranced by this particular form of brainwashing by propaganda. What I witnessed happening, though, was effective divide & conquer, as the left got increasingly fed up with the crap nonsense of it all, but also with “our side” being constantly portrayed in a completely (and often very unfairly and inaccurately) negative light. Indeed, we are often portrayed as THE enemy, which goes hand in hand with the notion that US Christians are somehow constantly under attack, etc.

    So the left ends up have very little sympathy and time for the so-called right because we’ve been effectively segregated by the media into our tribes with our various loyalties, beliefs, etc.

    Unfortunate. But this is, in part I think, why there is so little sympathy from the left for Trump voters. The left has been – mostly unfairly & without any real evidence – dissed and ridiculed and called THE enemy for so long by rightwing propaganda, that one loses sympathy for whatever plights exist for rightwing people. Of course, that’s goal, isn’t it, of the Oligarchs??

    The irony is that, while the left may not be knowledgeable enough and sympathetic to the very real life issues facing rural/exurban America, the fact is the wealthier Republicans – who voted for Trump for very different reasons than poor Republicans – could give a stuff about the Rust Belt/FlyOver country citizens as well. They certainly do not want them to get any social welfare programs, and I doubt that they care whether these Republican voters have jobs or access to good health care, either.

    And so here we are in a very precarious place, and the bigger question is: How Do We Fix IT??

    1. flora

      re: “How do we fix it?”

      My own take on this: The Conservative Right (Limbaugh, Fox, Cruz, etc) and the Liberal Right (MSNBC, Maddow, Obama, etc) never ever talk economics ( unless it’s to push austerity) in the media or politics. Both sides talk their preferred form of Identity Politics. That stirs up people but doesn’t solve Main Street’s problems. Talking economics would find a lot of common ground. imo.

      1. RUKidding

        I tossed out my tv many years ago and only listen to radio very sparingly and selectively. Therein lies part of the answer.

        While I totally disagree with the meme of the “liberal media” – it never has been liberal, not even NPR in the olden days – the M$M these days sucks. MSNBC had a very brief period at the end of the W Bush years where it had a couple of shows that were decent (not great but ok). Since then, however, those shows have either declined into fairly rightwing shows or been closed down entirely.

        It’s quite true that almost no one discusses economics or class in the M$M or our politicians, and its clear why – they certainly don’t want the proles to cotton onto the fact that our governments (local, state, federal) are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Oligarchs, who are sucking the life blood out of our country. The very poor and what remains of the working class in “flyover” country (or the rust belt or the so-called “heartland”) are the canaries in the coal mine and have suffered the worst.

        But the poor and working class across the country are truly suffering overall. I was really pissed off that during the Primary the M$M kept focusing on the so-called “White Working Class Male” vote. Gimme a break. The issues/problems/concerns ascribed to WWM really applied across the board to everyone who was poor/working class – women, minorities, etc, and it didn’t matter where they lived, how they typically voted, or what their political tribal identity was. THAT was another big divide and conquer tactic by the PTB. Segregate out White Males and pit them against everyone else.

        I keep pointing out how Divide & Conquer works whenever I can, but a lot of citizens are either unable, unwilling or uninterested in really thinking about that. And so… it keeps happening.

        Unless or until most citizens can give up their addiction to watching/listening to the mind-numbing crap/lies/bs/hype/spin/fairy tales that eminates from their tvs and radios, I think we’re kind of screwed. It’s insidious, and I think it’s every bit as deleterious for our populace as the opiod addiction. Not kidding. It’s what really keeps us divided from each other as citizens of this once-great, now third world, nation.

      2. 5 Dog Life

        Several years ago, a niece who is a Republican activist in Minnesota was visiting me after I had moved to California to get my husband out of the Minnesota cold winters. I told her it was time for both sides to put aside social issues dividing us and concentrate instead on overcoming the power of Wall Street to bring the rest of us down to serfdom. Since I had in past years been an activist in Minnesota on the other side of the fence, she knew full well what I was talking about when I told her the divisive social issues were being used to keep our focus diverted while they stole the contents of the cookie jar. She actually agreed with me but to this day has never changed her focus. Maybe now she would reconsider????

      3. DarkMatters

        Struck on the head. The left, and liberals, used to concern themselves with economic welfare of the working class. How that movement devolved to the point where their greatest concern was toilet gender is something I’m trying yet to understand. Something happened, almost as if a parasitic zombie entered the Democratic Party and consumed it from the inside, making a horribly different creature with only the shell of its host intact. I see no signs of intellectually-sound, well-conceived doctrine anywhere on the political scene, but only signs of irrational knee-jerking tapped by the hammer of propaganda, for the benefit of elites.

        There. I feel better now.

        1. schmoe

          Great comment re: bathroom politics, but the Republican party successfully framed Democrats as “takers,” so most attempts to help the middle class are framed as helping “those” (you know what I mean) people. It’s a tough message to compete with. For example, if you point out that ACA exchange subsidized policies (not counting Medicaid) largely track the population re: demographics, you are grouping lower class whites with “those people”. Read the article on CNN set in NE about people who get Obamacare but voted for Trump, any attempt to point out that they benefit from government subsidies just like “those people” would get you shot.

  32. JamesG

    “His own party hates him. Impeaching or (God forbid) assassinating Trump would throw the entire government into the hands of Pence and Ryan. That would re-gear the war on Russia, reinstate the trade deals and guarantee the end of the New Deal and the Civil Rights era.”

    I read many non-Republican commentators who claimed Hillary was a likely US/Russia war-risker but this is the first I’ve read claiming that Pence-Ryan would not only do that but would also “end the Civil Rights era.”

    1. d

      possible i suppose, but it would be framed they are sorry they have to do this, but we just must to protect you

  33. Duende

    “and overthrowing the government in Guatemala, Ukraine, and Libya were the real disasters.”

    Think you meant Honduras.

  34. PKMKII

    As someone who’s lived in both flyover country and urban coastal cities, I certainly get that the neoliberal elites can be clueless to the destruction their economic policies have brought upon much of the nation. But let’s not put flyover country people on a pedestal either. They suffer from their own narcissistic bubble, one born out of religious fanaticism and the belief that they are the “real” Americans and thus have a birthright to tell the rest of us what to do, demographic reality be damned. They can be just as stubborn as the coastal elites in denial that neoliberal capitalism has caused this problem, instead blaming “illegals” and insisting that this stupid wall is going to fix all their woes. I know a lot of coastal folk here like to imagine there’s a great, untapped horde of post-Keynesian social democrats out there, but truth is there’s a lot more that think Ayn Rand and Von Mises hold the answer.

    The solution here to avoid civil war (which would most likely be an economic, not physical, war) is both sides admitting their faults and sins. The coastal elites need to recognize the damage their ideology has done, and flyover country folks need to admit that they’re not the moral or demographic center of the universe.

  35. freedomny

    What I have noticed is the huge anger that Hilary voters have for the people who didn’t vote for her. And this was mentioned by speakers at the march I attended. These people IMHO are folks that did not want the status quo shaken. They are part of the “I’ve got mine” group….and they could care less about others who are not as fortunate.

    1. 5 Dog Life

      “These people IMHO are folks that did not want the status quo shaken.” “These people” don’t know Hilary’s past so can’t see that if Hilary had been elected, the next 8 years would be a drip, drip, drip of loss of everything that past battles have obtained for the betterment of those of us not in the 10%. And during those 8 years all the women who marched against Trump would have been quietly desperately hoping “the real Hilary” could be seen just like everyone sat quietly by waiting for the “real Obama” to be seen. “the status quo” would have been shaken under Hilary but not so obviously as under Trump so no opposition would have materialized and no marches would result. In other words, we would be back to everyone sitting on their hands listening to the words and not seeing the actions.

  36. Waldenpond

    Thank you for your compassion.

    Urban areas are bluer. Still, though call to arms is insufficient, some are gaining compassion as they are affected. Urban areas have the same grifting liars and it’s being noticed as cities are overpaying for pharmaceuticals, the credentialed class is losing jobs, and if there are doctors their insurance doesn’t allow them access. They too, have to fill out forms to report crime and the state purveyors of violence merely shrug their shoulders and use it for statistical gathering.

    [Failure to push for card check, Medicare for all, voter registration, prosecuting Wall Street fraud and war crimes, new trade deals, authorizing the extra-judicial murder of US citizens] Resolving these issues will make lives better. But to get these steps, the argument needs to far more aggressive. I would also argue that these solutions are not nearly enough. Card check is an insufficient solution to corrupt union leadership and corporatism. MCR is insufficient a solution to private hospitals, medical manufacturing and pharma. Prosecutions are insufficient to end fraud…. Etc.

    I don’t see a war coming. USians can’t successfully boycott let alone take down one corporation. When a people are incapable of (what is socially and capacity wise) the small task of taking down a corporation, I certainly don’t expect a general strike.

    The description of empty shelves, long lines, basic medicines, housing, a system that taxes even those with the least….. doesn’t seem to indicate a coming war, but a passive descent. When it gets worse, there will be chaos and state violence (women in pink hats demanding priority for children in the food lines with national guard slamming them to the concrete), I’m just not seeing a war. What would I fight for?

  37. Art Eclectic

    The question is, how do you avoid a civil war when the entire government apparatus has been captured by business interests and the country is being run for maximum resource extraction?

    It’s a rentier world and they’re bleeding everyone dry while buying property with airstrips in other countries as an escape hatch. How do you fix that?

    1. Dpfaef

      The first big step is you vote out anyone that has held office for more than one term. It really is that simple. You vote for the guy not in office and you continue to do that. We do this for the president, but we need to start doing for very elected official, we don’t need term limits. We just need to vote and we don’t so we have this dysfunctional government.

      1. d

        how does that work? you could end up voting in some one who is more in the .001% pocket than the one you have now (if they are of course)

  38. Goyo Marquez

    – Civil War. Been reading, For Whom The Bell Tolls, the novel not the poem, though public readings of the poem would probably be a good thing right now. It’s the Marine son’s favorite novel, he loves Hemingway. The Spanish civil war might be a little more instructive than the Balkan. My impression, yielding to the lust for violence produces horrors we’d rather not even imagine. Horrors perpetrated by all.

    – Free trade. The refusal of the elites to even acknowledge that free trade did not produce the promised results but their opposite is extremely frustrating. I was in favor of it at the time, as all us good junior economists were, but even then I couldn’t grok where the new jobs were going to come from. You can’t change the law so that entire factories can be shipped to countries with cheaper labor, their produce sold back to us at the same price, owners pocketing the difference, and then just avert your eyes from the economic destruction that results. The elites want the benefits of the American marketplace but not the costs.

    – Wars of Religion. It seems to me that the Spanish civil war was, to a large extent, a war of religion, but between an avowedly religious side, The Catholic Church, and a side which refused to acknowledge that they were fighting to convert Spaniards to a new religious worldview. It is that which makes it similar to the situation in the U.S.. On the one side we have the avowedly religious, Evangelicals, Christian right, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Moslems. On the other we have people who deny any religious motivation, but, as always with the most fanatically religious, believe themselves to be motivated only by truth, motivated only by a true view of the world, with which truth they desire only to free those bound by false worldviews. You’d think the west would’ve had its fill of religious wars by this point.

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.
    (John Donne, 1624)

  39. Ron in WISCO

    I’m somewhat surprised to read a thread like this on Naked Capitalism. The plight of the “working class” in flyover country has become a tired, almost melodramatic cliche. Hey, I know what’s happened to the industrial base and manufacturing employment. Flyover country is my home. I was born, grew up in, and currently live in Wisconsin. Moreover, for 37 years, I worked as nonpartisan budget staff for the Wisconsin Legislature, with responsibility for economic and workforce development issues, including economic development incentives (i.e. taxes, grants, loans), unemployment and workers compensation, workforce training and retraining programs, apprenticeship, the state corporate income and insurance premium taxes, and community development programs. I frequently worked with legislators, their constituents, interest groups, and other people and entities from all parts of Wisconsin. I’d like to make a few comments:
    We are all Americans. Just becuase you live in LA a are upper middle class, doesn’t make you less of an American. You don’t have to drive a pick-up, or work in a factory. Why the vitriol toward Modonna, Ashley Judd, et. al. You don’t have to agree, but they used some talent and breaks along the way to become famous, just like the Donald. Because someone earns a graduate and/or postgraduate degree, works in a well-paying job, and has opinions makes him or her an elitist? But someone in lower paying job who has opinions is not? Democracy at work.
    The forgotten ones. The working class in Flyover land are not forgotten or ignored. Since 2004, almost half of presidential campaign appearances have been in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Pennsylvania (article by Leonard Steinhorn-read the whole thing).
    Perception or reality. Economic conditions may be less than ideal, but maybe not as bad as perceived. Many of the working class communities have median incomes around the state and national medians (see Steinhorn, Rick Perlstein’s in Mother Jones, Census Data). This is not to say it’s acceptable, real wages are as big an issue as jobs.
    Be careful what you wish for. This was basically my experience. On just about every issue at the state level the left supports workers, the right does not: minimum wage, right-to-work, unemployment insurance benefits and extensions, workers compensation benefits, right-to-work, trade adjustment training, employee benefits (including health care), state economic development incentives to anti-labor employers like Walmart, tax cuts that disproportionally benefit upper income groups, labor laws including labor organizing, funding for public education (k-12, college and university, tech-colleges), and even tax law enforcement (focus on programs like the EITC).
    Politics of Resentment. Kathy Cramer’s study of rural Wisconsin residents reflects my experience. Part of that resentment is anger at “others” benefiting from government programs. “Put collars on them” shouted a member of a assembly caucus to widespread laughter. As long as this is part of the resentment it’ll be difficult to support social and economic justice policies and appeal to the white working class.
    What’s a person to think? So when a group consistently votes against their own economic interest, categorizes and resents fellow citizens because of where they live, their income, and their support of economic and social justice policies, believes they’re un-American and elites, yet demands respect for their own authenticity and , to some extent, self-selected economic duress, what response would you expect.
    Straight Outta Compton. Both sides have generally abandoned the underclass. However, only one side has punishing them as a policy objective.
    True equivalency. Both Democratic and Republican economic policies have been dominated by neoliberals and big- money donors. Trade is one area where Trump has had some potentially beneficial influence. I’m partial to the thoughts of Baker, Bersnstien and Faux.
    There’s more I’d like to add. I’m just real tired of this authentic Americans vs coastal elite BS.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t see how you can depict it as a “tired, melodramatic cliche” and present yourself as data driven when we have AIDS levels of opioid deaths and a a fall in life expectancy among less educated whites. Angus Deaton said life expectancy in some parts of the Rust Belt states and the Appalachias is lower than in Bangladesh. And no one is doing anything about it. Instead, the coastal elites openly despise them, and the only out offered them is for their young to become cannon fodder. And they prattle on about “let them eat training” when they don’t even provide that!

      I’m also not sure you are as qualified to speak for Flyover as you state. You are a professional who had a steady job and lived in the state capitol dealing mainly with politicians and other experts. I assume you also have a pension, which puts you in a small minority these days. How often did you go out and visit towns that lost the mill that had been their main employer? My impression is that Wisconsin was also less hard hit than some other states due to its dairy industry, which benefits from considerable subsidies.

      I was born in West Virginia and lived before I was six in the Maryland panhandle in manufacturing towns, and then in many other states. My middle brother lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in a town that once had two manufacturing plants as the anchor for two towns. The place he lives seen its population fall by 30%, a big rise in crime (he has to have his mail delivered to a PO Box, anything in a mailbox will be stolen), and the surviving mill, despite having a union (which it keeps threatening to break and may do this year) puts workers on punishing shifts (far worse than the old schedules) no doubt in part to make it so exhausting as to force older workers who have seniority to retire sooner. My brother is 56 and he is going to retire soon because he can’t take physically it any more even though he doesn’t have enough money to. This pretty much guarantees he’ll be dead in ten-twelve years, since he won’t be able to afford medical care (he already has a sick wife who will drain their savings once he is no longer on an employer health plan, despite having managed to accumulate an impressive nest egg) when his life expectancy is 23 years. And he’s tried reinventing himself (he’s published a book, been invited to speak at conferences, and written two screenplays).

      I can’t speak for what you describe as rural Wisconsin (are these farmers?), but I didn’t see those attitudes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the mill towns. Like a lot of the Upper Midwest, the UP has Swedes as its biggest ethnic group and carried over the Scandinavian belief in egalitarianism. You see this in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Washington State. The second biggest ethnic group in the UP was French Canadian, and their beliefs are similar.

    2. bob

      Even the way you write oozes entitlement and neocon-

      “with responsibility for economic and workforce development issues, including economic development incentives (i.e. taxes, grants, loans)”

      So you’re going to take credit for the past decade or two? Taxes, as in cutting them, for the rich? Grants and loans to “business”? Your built in PMC ordering speaks volumes. Then, we’ll move onto “unemployment”….yanno, one of those second order things, after we try to help business…

      At what point do all of the people who’ve been on the front lines die? It’s a battle of attrition, in case you haven’t noticed, and you seem to be alive and doing well. That’s not good for your credibility.

      It is that simple.

    3. bob

      “The forgotten ones. The working class in Flyover land are not forgotten or ignored. Since 2004, almost half of presidential campaign appearances have been in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Pennsylvania (article by Leonard Steinhorn-read the whole thing).”

      Look at how much prosperity is raining down on them!

      Fuck your homework, I’ve heard that all before, from the source- The right. It had a bit more obvious racism, but it’s the same recipe. Lets move onto victim blaming…

      “What’s a person to think? So when a group consistently votes against their own economic interest”

      and it’s accomplished. Lecture over. You continue to not learn anything, not listen to anyone and then deny what’s unfolding, in passive aggressive bullshit.

      “you see what you made us do now? We tried to help…” It’s not even patronization, it’s straight abuse, with some humiliation — for fun?

    4. flora

      “True equivalency. Both Democratic and Republican economic policies have been dominated by neoliberals and big- money donors. ”

      Yep. So how, exactly does a democrat in the 95-99% vote for their economic interests?
      Vote for B. Clinton, who ran a populist campaign, and get NAFTA, deregulation of Wall St and the Banks. Vote for Obama, who said he’d renegotiate NAFTA and reregulate the banks and Wall St, and get even worse trade deals on offer and bank/Wall St. coddling and turning a blind eye to fraudulent foreclosures and an attempt to cut SS.

      So just how is voting for a neolib Dem a vote for the 95-99%’s economic interest?

      1. flora

        adding: to be clear – how can anyone, outside of the top 1-5 (or10) % economic strata, vote for their own economic interest when the candidates on offer are neolibs?

  40. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for a beautiful post, James F. That of which you wrote breaks my heart.

    The election is over. I hope the new president and his cabinet can come from the best places within themselves to address these issues in a creative and constructive manner. Ditto Congress. In an interview I read after the election, Trump himself noted the irony, but recognized the needs and level of desperation.

  41. Matthew G. Saroff

    A note on why, “Obama failed to ram through his agenda because he refused to rally the people who put him into office.”

    There is a saying about the political parties, that Republicans fear their base, and Democrats hate their base.

    I think that Obama REALLY hates the party base.

    All of his successes, starting with his becoming President of the Harvard Law Review, have been achieved by making nice with the right wing, and all of his failures, like his drubbing in his race against Bobby Rush, have come from liberals. (Obama won the white vote and lost the black vote in the primary)

  42. tagio

    In not unrelated news, today’s Links section includes a link to the findings of a Stanford University history professor who has made a substantial case that, based on the historical record, only war or plague has ever worked to eliminate massive inequality.

    You can see the problem from the elites’ viewpoint: if you have no concept or sense of “enough” (for yourself, it’s easy to know when others have enough), how do you know you’ve gone too far and there isn’t more that you can get unless and until the plebes have set up a guillotine in the town square and heads actually start rolling in the street?

  43. Portia

    class warfare on all parts of the spectrum. I was fed the myth while growing up in the 50s and 60s that it did not exist in the great America, land of the free, but it affected every aspect of my life from how I was treated by teachers, potential boyfriends, employers, etc. The fact that I was always a Progressive Tree Hugger and lover of the Earth did not help at all. I respect the you are still in there talking to people. I had to bail in my senior years. thanks for your heartfelt thoughts.

  44. Toni Gilpin

    I’m a labor historian in my 50s, writing now about radical American unionism; I’m a Midwesterner raised in Chicago; my father was a UAW organizer and so a good portion of my childhood was spent in union halls and on picket lines surrounded by working people, black and white. Just that bit of background before I say: I was blown away by this piece. It really hit me in my gut and it still hurts. I’m going to be mulling it over for a long time, and thinking about it as I do my own labor history and union support work. (And it’s also beautifully written.) Thanks for this, James F. and NC.

  45. different clue

    I am about to have to clock in and get to work. So thank you reader James F.

    I have only one small quibble or maybe even just a nit to pick regarding the interpretation of Obama’s record. And someone above may have already said it, in which case pardon my redundant comment.

    Obama did not fail to advance his agenda. The agenda Obama really advanced was the agenda Obama really always had. And he advanced it very successfully. He immunised and impunified the Cheney/bush war criminals against humanity very successfully and very on purpose. He immunised and impunified the FIRE sector perpetrators and engineers of the recent crash very successfully and very on purpose. He conspired to prevent Medicare For All and conspired to pass Heritage Care, most of all including the Forced Individual Mandate, very successfully and very on purpose. He conspired with the Republicans to make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent . . . very successfully and very on purpose.

    So I see no failure on Obama’s part. I see success after success after success. You can see it too, if you try. All you have to do is admit that what happened under Obama is exactly what Obama wanted to have happen, and was a perfect expression of everything Obama always stood for all along.

  46. different clue

    Oh, and . . . here’s my conditional if-this/ then-that prediction for the future. IFF!! ( very big iff) the mainstream Republicans start an impeachment effort against Trump, the Clintonite Shitobamacrats will join it and support it and the Clintonite Shitobamacrat Senators will all vote to convict and remove.

    Because the Clintonite Shitobamacrats also prefer Pence and/ or Ryan as President instead of Trump.

  47. Ed Miller

    Here are two links that may not have been seen by most readers (from conservatives – not neocons) which are tightly correlated to the public unrest, with appropriate quotes. Both articles are tells on how the non-connected public are being destroyed.

    From Chris Martenson: https://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/106107/mad-hell

    “Fair warning, my family just received a 61.5% increase in our healthcare insurance premium of 2017, on top of last year’s 24.8% increase, so I am quite annoyed at the moment. For my non-US readers, perhaps what follows will interest you as a means of understanding how and why Donald Trump came to be elected President. I am going to be channeling some of my inner crank today.”

    From Jeremy Grantham: The Road to Trumpsville: The Long, Long Mistreatment of the American Working Class


    In his summary he says in his Post Script why people really voted for Trump – desperation.

    “The Republican Administration seems to feel it received a broad mandate and perhaps it did. But my guess is that this poll provides the real mandate that waits to be addressed. And it is a narrow, focused one. Save me, oh leaders, from the rich and powerful…”

    1. flora

      Thanks for these links. The first link really hit home. A few quotes:

      “…we’re at a stage where the pie is no longer expanding — it’s now a zero-sum game where those with power are using their advantage to continue to increase the size of their slice at the expense of the rest of us. The US now routinely subjects its citizens to racketeering, charging excessive prices that are increasingly cumbersome to avoid.

      “But the “little people” (hereby defined as those occupying the bottom 95% of the socioeconomic ladder) have long known they’ve been getting screwed. Sadly, it’s just getting worse.

      “All of this is deeply unfair. And — surprise! — people really get annoyed when they’re constantly lied to. Eventually their trust goes right out the window. Is it any wonder that a profoundly status quo candidate (HRC) could not sway the voters in rural America, where these trends and insults are even more acutely felt than in urban areas? The status quo is figuratively and literally killing these people. ” – Chris Martenson

  48. dbk

    Thank you so much, James F.

    As a native of the small flyover city whose very name causes members of the East West credentialed classes to burst into snarky giggles, I can heartily second everything you say “they” think of “us.”

    True anecdote:
    When Offspring #1 graduated from law school a few years ago (he grew up abroad and had gone to school at an Easter-than-thou university), I thought he needed to get to know the U.S. outside the narrow geographical region and ideological framework he’d been absorbing for a decade and more. I caught an article in the NYT about a small town in Iowa whose only lawyer was retiring and sent it to him, suggesting in very, very strong terms that he needed to live in the heartland for some years to really understand his country. He didn’t take me up, unfortunately.

    The top 10-20%, now concentrated heavily on the two coasts and in scattered high-tech urban areas (I think this is the real “double” divide – coasts/inland + urban/non-urban), don’t understand the bottom 80-90%. And tbh, no amount of reading or talking about “them” with colleagues and friends is helpful – conversations like this are echo-chambers.

    You really have to be there.

    I don’t know how the divide is to be bridged, nor do I know what can be done to address the poverty that has flooded so much of the heartland. What’s the solution?

    1. Dirk77

      Framing the struggle as rich vs poor is the most important one. I’m sure when the data is in, labeling the police problems “Black Lives Matter”, was a serious error. I’m sure their was racism, but overall it was just local governments using the poor as a cash machine. Like the “Women’s March” the label just distracts from the real issue. Which if you are an elite, is what you want.

      1. Altandmain

        I’m not sure many of the people in the women’s march are against the status quo. They profited handsomely from the years of globalization. They are the 10%ers.

        McMansions or a luxury apartment. Private schools. Luxury vehicles. A well regarded public or private university. Perhaps a nanny for their kids when they work. That defines their lives. Sure, they may at times work long hours in professional services firms (law, management consulting, government particularly in DC, accounting, banking, insurance, some highly paid NGO, or some Fortune 500 company, etc), but compared to the rest of us, they have it golden.

        They are the beneficiaries, as professional class women. They are surely in better shape as professional class women than the people the lecture for their “White privilege” whose jobs have been displaced. For the record too, I’m a minority myself and feeling downwardly mobile (which I am).

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          This is not a realistic depiction of who was in that march in my small western city. Where did you participate in it?

          1. JTFaraday

            Anonymous white women = elite white women. Basically, you’ll get used to it or you’ll stop speaking in public.

  49. shinola

    Wow – as I type this, the comment tally is 280!

    James F I think you hit a nerve among NC readers with your commentary. I know I can certainly identify with everything you wrote.

    A heartfelt & thought provoking piece – Thanks!

  50. Tom Stone

    I’m in Western Sonoma County and as a Real Estate agent I often travel the back country.
    There are plenty of the forgotten poor here as well and the “Good People” in town simply do not see them. And yes, I know quite a few people who style themselves as liberals who are calling for Trump’s impeachment or assassination.
    When I ask why they want Pence and Ryan running things I get a blank look, sometimes followed by a raised fist and a “Bring on the revolution”.
    They plan to lead the masses to a glorious victory over the forces of evil and bring about a golden age for all right thinking people.
    It scares the crap out of me when I encounter this kind of delusional self righteousness on a regular basis.
    Support Trump when he proposes something good, oppose him when you disagree but for the sake of all of us do not turn the USA into a wasteland due to your egotism.
    More died in our Civil War than in all the wars since, combined.
    And a Civil War in the 21st century would be bloodier.

    1. d

      i suspect you would be correct about how bloody the 2nd civil war will be. i just dont see any reason that it wont happen. when O was president, we heard nothing but how conservatives wanted to secede, so not that MR T is in charge, now we have all but conservatives wanting to do so. so what would keep us together? MR T doesnt care to bring the country back together (he hasnt shown any interest to do so), O tried but the GOP wasnt interested at any time, other than trying to force every one to do what they wanted. so they really should have no expectations of any support from D’s any time in the next 4 – 8 years.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > O tried but the GOP wasnt interested at any time

        Exculpatory bullshit. See, e.g.:

        The genuine fear and disgust of Trump has contributed to intense revisionism and mythology when it comes to the record of Barack Obama, and while we can all recognize the power of symbolism, and even subscribe to the notion that there was value in the election of an African American to the highest office of a nation born and built on the backs of enslaved black labor, we should not let that acknowledgment cloud our ability to think clearly and tell the truth….

        Eight years later, black unemployment remains twice the rate of whites. Eight years later, 38 percent of black children continue to live below the official poverty line. Eight years later, a shocking 55 percent workers, mostly black women, make under $15 an hour.

        It was precisely the inability of the Obama administration to improve the conditions of ordinary black people’s lives that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement in the first place. ….

        Eight years ago, Obama ran on the promise of hope and change. But with big expectations and big hope come even bigger disappointment when you fail to deliver. It is absolutely true that the Republicans have been obstinate, recalcitrant, and opposed to giving Obama anything. It speaks to the complete dysfunction of our political system. But it is not just the obstinacy of the GOP that has been the problem. It was also the conservative priorities of Obama’s political agenda.

        If you embrace the market, privatization, and the norms of neoliberalism, then there is only so much change that can be expected from your administration. Obama raised everyone’s hopes, but could not deliver — not just because of the Republicans, but also because of this constrained political agenda of the Democratic Party.

    2. Robj

      Is this kind like how the TParty were supposed to “cooperate” with the Obama Kenyan?

      The Marchers in Reno were not calling for Trump blood. I’m sorry to disturb the meme here, which is waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too self-licking and self-comfortable.
      Maybe in Sonoma they are all Trump blood vampires.
      Could it be they don’t like Trump, Ryan, or Pence and their “policies,” including the health care replacement than Ryan has been thinking about for six years and still remains to be hatched? Or is that Civil War?
      Good Lord, peeps; just admit you don’t like pink hats. The apocalypse/Civil War meme is a little rich.
      (Hi, Tom!)

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Good Lord, peeps; just admit you don’t like pink hats.

        Smearing the NC commentariat is not looked on with favor.

        It’s also, tactically, stupid and self-indulgent. It’s hard for me to imagine you will add much value here.

  51. Malcolm MacLeod, MD

    What a marvelous article, and one that brought tears to my old eyes
    remembering how good it used to be. This is no country for the now

    1. Robj

      Unless, you were, say, a black in the South in the 1890s-1970s and wanted to vote.
      Other than that, one cannot say how good it used to be.

  52. VietnamVet

    This is a great comment. One who has served in a war knows that it can happen here. I thought that things would work out; the USA didn’t fall apart after Vietnam or the crazy Iraq Invasion. But, the restart of the Cold War with Russia documents that the world is spinning out of control. Economic despair and the possible world war tipped the election to Donald Trump. The Democrats blaming Russia for their loss is insane. The Republicans’ unfettered release of methane and carbon dioxide will accelerate climate change. Basically, the top 10% cannot stop looting and deny any evil on their part. The free movement of capital, people, goods and services decimates little people. Brexit and Trump’s election are portents of an inevitable revolt in the West. But, first, mankind has to survive the war between globalist and nationalist oligarchs over what they haven’t already horded. Thanks to this conflict corporate media has lost all credibility. To glimpse reality, we have to come here to read these posts.

  53. Bernard

    Read Joe Bageant’s “Deer Hunting with Jesus”. This book explained to me, very simply the motivations of why people would vote Republican/ aka voting to commit suicide. It is so frightening to know how easily people can be led. the Divide and Conquer thing works.

    This website is awesome. thanks to Yves and Lambert for the “stuff” they “provide” and the people it attracts. i have learned much and see how little i understand, even as I learn more.

    today’s essay was incredible and wonderfully written. thanks again James F.

    so much more i could say, but keep the conversation going is perhaps the best thing i could hope for.

    1. PrairieRose

      Yes. Read Joe Bageant. Unbelievably eloquent writing from this man, may he rest in peace. James F and Joe Bageant write from the same place in the heart. James, keep writing. Please. We need another Joe.

  54. marym

    Thank you James F for your thoughtful commentary, Yves for elevating it, and all who shared their impressions of the marches they attended.

    I didn’t march, nor follow on Twitter in any systematic way, but remain hopeful and respectful of the hundreds of marches that were held beyond DC and other high-profile cities; and about those who attended any march who were first-timers, non-elites, and people with existing activist commitments on other issues.

    Oxford MS

    Nashville TN

    Mentone Alabama. About 50 people in a town of 360,

    Longville, MN

    Williamsport PA

    Forty-two people were riding with her, adding to the tens of thousands of people pouring into the city on 1,800 buses to join the Women’s March on Washington and protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. They have come, for the most part, from Hillary Clinton’s America: large metropolitan communities like Chicago or Atlanta, or smaller college towns like Ann Arbor, Mich., or Madison, Wisc. But there were some women, though far fewer in number, who departed the America that fueled the rise of Donald Trump, and this is the America of Williamsport.



    Zebulon GA

    Lubbock TX
    You know something’s up when there’s even a #WomensMarch in Lubbock TX, the 2nd most conservative city in the US. During a dust storm.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Thanks very much for these links, which also give me the opportunity to consolidate my current thoughts and concerns about the Women’s March:

      1) It’s very clear from the sheer scale and distribution that it’s hard to generalize, in toto, about the class composition of all marchers. That said, to march, you had to be not working Saturday, there were no “scholarships” for lodging (or transport), many Washington marchers flew in (airfare; lodging expense). All of these factors skew toward the 10% and away from the working class.

      2) I think the leadership is quite another matter; for example, as I say upthread, I don’t see the (immigrant, working class) Emma Goldman on the list of exemplary female revolutionary workers. When I’m trying to understand an organization, I look to its funding. So, I see SEIU (I well remember how SEIU funded single payer censorship in 2009), AFT (Clintonites), and MoveOn (mainstream liberal). I do not see the woman-led National Nurses United. Not encouraging. I look at the “Unity Principles,” and I do not see a program of concrete material benefits aimed at working people. On health care, I see blather about “access.” I do not see “Medicare for All.” On immigration, I see “We believe migration is a human right and that no human being is illegal.” Admirable, but I don’t see anything about redistribution to compensate those impacted.

      In short, though I think at ground level there a lot of concrete policy I support — policies that, I need hardly add, that are good for women — I don’t see that in the “Unity Principles” at all. And so I worry about the “energy” of the movement being exploited by the Democratic nomenklatura who control the “Women’s March.” Surely that’s not an irrational concern?

      3) In a crisis things correlate. What we saw in the 2016 primaries was that most of the press (certainly in the Acela corridor) merged with the Clinton campaign; that’s why coverage of Sanders was suppressed, or Sanders was smeared. We see the same thing happening now, with the much of the press being, in essence, an outpost of an irredentist Clinton campaign and a larger, liberal faction of the 10% both desperate and outraged at losing power, and willing to do what it takes to regain it (to the extent of hopping into bed with the torturers at the CIA). So, when I see pink pussy hats instantly make the cover of Time, I think… Hmmm. And then I think that I can’t trust any of the mainstream coverage.

      Which is why (circling back) I’m so grateful for trip reports from the ground. More like this, please.

      4) Finally, in general, I support action. When depressed, it’s important to get moving, regardless of the direction. And so with political work. Get moving! So in that sense, I think the march was terrific. I hope I’ve conveyed that my concerns are the uses to which people’s “energy” will be put, for what purpose, and by whom.

      NOTE Adding: My concern about the fluffiness of the principles goes all the way back to Occupy and Tahrir Square. When the Tahrir Square people won, when power was lying in the street, they didn’t know what to do. Principles didn’t cut it. Programs do.

      1. burlesque

        @Lambert Strether January 28, 2017 at 5:17 am
        A couple of comments on your comments:

        All of these factors skew toward the 10% and away from the working class.

        [Which on the face of it (involvement of the 10%) is not a bad thing but does lead me to believe the marches were still of the flavor “identity politics”: “I hate Trump so I am going to march”. Where were you when he beat all the other Rep runners? Where was the anger and solidarity when he got the nomination? Wouldn’t a powerful message to the country have been to organize marches of protest then? I think it was because the alternative was who it was and deep down people knew that was NOT an alternative.]

        And so I worry about the “energy” of the movement being exploited by the Democratic nomenklatura who control the “Women’s March.” Surely that’s not an irrational concern?

        [Not an irrational concern at all. It may be that for the Dems, this is a perfect way to vent their anger at not getting their way. The missing “program of concrete material benefits aimed at working people” should be of most concern to us 90%.]

        When the Tahrir Square people won, when power was lying in the street, they didn’t know what to do. Principles didn’t cut it. Programs do.

        [Policy (proposals, plans, programs) is one thing, action is another (as has been stated here by you and by others in some way or other throughout discussion of the marches). Whether a management team in a corporation or a cabinet level entity, meetings and words are not enough. (How many times have you attended a meeting and then when you left, you said to yourself “What just happened?” And the answer is, because meetings, “nothing.”)]

        Thanks to James F for starting the discussion, to other commenters and to Lambert for contributing here.

      2. Robj

        I’m sorry, Lambert, there were not many “elitist” in view in Reno at the march–I suppose I was one at least relativistically.
        Washington, I don’t know.
        I agree that “action” is the real issue. I think 98% at the march would have supported Medicare for all.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > not many “elitist” in view in Reno

          And that is why I used precise language: “skew toward the 10% and away from the working class” (with reasons given).

          The comment verges on strawmanning, so be sorry for that. And I’d need data on Medicare for All. As I point out, the March leadership explicitly does not support it.

      3. Anonymous

        I think you didn’t see anti-Trump marches in the primary season because the Hillary camp thought Trump would be the easiest Republican to beat.

  55. Edward

    I think the point where Obama doomed his presidency was when he selected Biden as VP. Obama wasn’t doing well against McCain and this choice was an attempt to reverse his fortunes. It indicated that Obama had decided to embrace the right wing politics of the New Democrats as opposed to pursuing a left wing reform program,

    1. Lambert Strether

      I think it was when Obama voted to retroactively legalize Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance under FISA reform. July, 2008.

      In January, he had promised to filibuster it. Bush’s program shredded the Fourth Amendment, and that was an important talking about about Bush’s tyranny (or fascism, as some said at the time; it was an important talking point).

  56. Winston Smith

    Thank you, that was powerful and I couldn’t have said it better. For the record, I’m living in a comfortable suburb of Los Angeles and work in Hollywood, but I’m from a hollowed out industrial suburb of Milwaukee and have not forgotten my roots or lose my capacity to sympathize and have empathy with those who are not as fortunate or comfortable as myself.

    I’m very worried.

  57. Scott

    I live in that fly over fly down over, avoid, boycott state North Carolina, or what I call Not Conscious plenty. My aim is to prevent the apocalyptic riot.
    Nikki Haley started off her tenure at the UN as the US ambassador telling all that she would be like Santa Claus making a list. Nations better support the US or they’d be sorry.
    Antonio Guterres said he was dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons. I heard Carter say that as well.
    How you going to do that without an army and covert force that really hurts people that don’t want to give them up?
    John C. Mearsheimer says without a Government of Governments to call every nation needs nukes.
    War by threat is impossible to keep up without them.
    Competition between Corporations is eliminated and Labor has not even thought about how to unite.
    Peace is way behind the power curve.
    & Peace isn’t just having what you need like food clothing & shelter.
    We will be ready for the apocalyptic riot just to have the peace of the dead.
    We are ready for the end of Western Civilization same as Rome’s far flung citizens were fine with the barbaric neighbors after Emperors taxed them into serfdom to support 121 days of holidays in the City of Rome.
    This is the state of the world, at least the one we live in and discuss.
    I can not give up, but I know no rich or poor that will really support my solutions.
    I agree with Lambert, collapsing in place is all I can do.

  58. bob

    It’s even more depressing when they’re in the middle of it, and somehow see themselves as above it.

    I saw a guy that’s the head of his local teachers union. “how’s that new sec ed looking?”

    “she’s horrible. If they take my pension…”


    He’s right is some respect, DeVos and her billionaires might take your pension, but it wouldn’t be via federal powers in DC. He knew nothing about her, or her background. Just some off the cuff “horrible” stuff. It sounded very serious, he’s probably a VSP.

    This is the head of the teachers union, already playing defense in a game that doesn’t matter, bypassing the one that does.

    It’s also not going to get you much support, or sympathy.

  59. notlurking

    Excellent on all counts…..hits right in the gut……did you mean Honduras instead of Guatemala…

  60. T. M. Hawley

    Why do the Democratic party and its allies, who hound us relentlessly for money, not use that money to organize the uncomfortable to vote in local, state, and national elections?

  61. Timothy Barnes

    Just a small point, but something which has been bothering me for a long time: in all of these discussions of rural America, no one ever mentions Joe Bageant, who died in 2011. His books cover all of this territory and with incredible eloquence, sagacity, foresight, etc. At some point he acquired the most incredible nickname I have yet encountered, the ‘Hillbilly Heidegger’. What he mainly did was describe exactly why people in his community, and others like it, stopped trusting the Democratic party. He was talking about all of this stuff ten years ago, and should be part of this discussion today.

    1. nobody

      He is. See the comments upthread by Bernard (January 27, 2017 at 10:21 pm) and PrairieRose (January 28, 2017 at 12:26 pm). He has also been mentioned in previous discussions here on a number of occasions.

  62. Robj

    This is filled with self-congratulatory assumptions about who protested in pink hats and why they protested that are just as obnoxious as apparently their supposed assumptions are to this writer.

    Basically, protest is not an incitement to Civil War–despite Madonna and despite this writer’s assumptions-and those I saw protesting in Reno last weekend were protesting for women’s reproductive rights, health care (including for flyover), and against racism.
    And pro foolish snarky anti-protest protestors, apparently like this writer.

    A piece like this, yes, leads me to question whether “this country can be saved”–since protestors are obviously leading to “Civil War.” I recognize that ploy straight from the Wallace and Nixon campaigns back in ’68 and before. Big fail.

    And, while you will all accuse me of being from New York, I grew up in flyover. Their pain is real. Failing to protest does not “honor” them, although I suppose supporting yanking health care from them would be “patriotic.” According to this rather idiotic piece.

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