Frank Rich, the Trump Voter, and Liberal Eliminationist Rhetoric

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.” —Phil Ochs

I hesitate to deploy “spittle-flecked” — who among us, and so forth — but with quondam theatre critic and now wealthy TV producer Frank Rich’s latest “feature” in New York Magazine, “No Sympathy for the Hillbilly,” I’m left with, well, no place to go. Rich’s piece is so ragey, so slipshod, and so politically impotent that even after reading it several more times than I wanted to, I found it hard to know where to begin. So let’s begin with the rhetoric.

Liberal Eliminationist Rhetoric

Trump’s victory in November 2016 caused an upwelling of liberal hate directed toward Trump supporters; here’s a compendium of online commentary from Matt Stoller (“On Mocking Dying Working Class White People”). Not unexpectedly, this from liberal leading light Markos Moulitsas was a classic of the genre:

Be happy for coal miners losing their health insurance. They’re getting exactly what they voted for

Don’t weep for these coal miners, now abandoned by their GOP patrons. They are getting exactly the government that they voted for. Democrats can no longer offer unrequited love and cover for them. And isn’t this what democracy is all about? They won the election! This is what they wanted!

I’ve certainly done my fair share of calling on the power of imprecatory prayer against my political opponents. But I can’t ever recall having hoped that large numbers of working class voters with lung cancer and black lung disease would suffer and die because of their political choices. Markos seems to have normalized this gleefully punitive level of hatred, and Frank Rich, kicking down furiously, piles on:

Let Trump’s white working-class base take responsibility for its own votes — or in some cases failure to vote — and live with the election’s consequences… [I]f Trump’s administration crashes into an iceberg, leaving his base trapped in America’s steerage with no lifeboats, those who survive may at last be ready to burst out of their own bubble and listen to an alternative.

Death is just one of those life lessons, right, Frank?[1] At any rate, one would think that Rich, after having stated that the death of thousands or even millions of Trump supporters would be a salutary event for the body politic, would have taken a moment to figure out who the targets of his rage really were. Not a chance.

Rich and the Trump Voter

Let’s look at those hillbillies, starting with the stock photo that accompanies Frank’s article. Here it is:

As you can see, the image is from Arkansas; that is, the Trump voters for whose death Rich is calling must also have been subjects of the Clinton Dynasty, their Casterly Rock having been located in the Ozarks, at least before Chappaqua. (“Hillbilly” was, in fact, used as a term of abuse by Obama supporters for Clinton supporters in 2008.) Of course, the Obama voters who flipped to Trump and cost Clinton this election weren’t from rural Arkansas or even Appalachia, but Rich seems curiously unwilling to use precise language to identify the targets of his ire:

The dug-in Trump base
Trump voters
Trump’s electorate
genuine swing voters who voted for Trump
tea-party members who would all end up voting for Trump
the Rust Belt
the Trump base
the white-identity politics of the hard-core, often self-sabotaging Trump voters
these white voters
unreachable voters in the base of Trump’s electorate
white blue-collar Trump voters
white voters without a college degree
white working-class voters
working-class whites

There aren’t links behind any of these examples, naturally, so it’s hard to know whether all Trump voters are self-sabotaging, or in the Rust Belt — the rural tractor seems to vanish after the title page — or are blue collar, or whether blue collar means the same thing as “without a college degree” (adjuncts might disagree). It’s also difficult to know how Frank proposes to distinguish “genuine” swing voters from “dug-in” voters.

The one common factor seems to be that Frank’s Other — oddly, like Frank himself — is white. So — remembering again that voters in the counties that lost the election for Clinton voted for the black guy twice — let’s deal with that. From Matt Bruenig, “Women and people of color make up the majority of the Trump coalition,”[2] we can construct the following table, based on the Edison exit poll that all the major media outlets use:

Bruenig explains:

If you multiply each group’s share by their percent support for Trump, you can determine how many of Trump’s points came from that group. So, for white men, you would multiply 34% by 62% to get 21.08 points, meaning that 21.08 points of Trump’s 46.21 points came from white men. The rest, 25.13 points, came from women and people of color (you can check this yourself [as I did] by doing the exact same math as I detailed for white men on every other group in that graphic and adding the points together).

Put more clearly, according to the Edison exit poll, 45.6% of Trump voters were white men, while 54.4% were women and people of color.

Oopsie. Presumably, these women and PoC wheren’t all motivated by white identity politics, or a desire for self-sabotage. Bruenig concludes:

At their best, [pieces like Frank’s] say we should not care about Trump voters and, at their worst, they say we should actively wish them harm.

But do these authors actually mean this for all Trump voters, most of whom are women and people of color? Should we not care if a black Trump supporter (and there were some) gets harassed by a nationwide stop-and-frisk policy like the one Trump has said he supports? Should we not care if a woman Trump supporter (and there were lots) loses access to maternity care or contraception as seemed to be a definite possibility before the collapse of the AHCA? Is that really the position of these authors?.

The answer of course is “no.” The liberal bent of these authors ensures that they would not wish (or be indifferent towards) gender-based oppression on the women who supported Trump. They also would not wish (or be indifferent towards) race-based oppression on the people of color who supported Trump. The only thing they feel comfortable doing is wishing (or being indifferent towards) class-based oppression on rednecks. I wonder why that is.

Let’s try to humanize those Trump voters for just one moment. Curiously, Frank gives attention to J.D. Vance of Hillbilly Elegy fame, as well as Nancy Isenberg (White Trash), but none to Chris Arnade, who’s been on the road for at least two years photographing and documenting the collapse in the flyover states. (His method is to hang out at McDonalds and — follow me closely, here, Frank — talk to people.) Arnade sums up the election, and the liberal reaction to it, in a tweet storm that starts here. It’s all worth reading, but I think this is the heart of it, as far as election 2016 goes:

“This,” being the Democrat version of neoliberalism.

Not to mention the excess deaths.

Which is what Rich does. To put it kindly.

Rich’s Political Incoherence and Impotence

Frank holds two contradictory views on politics. First, he states the obvious:

The party is a wreck. Post-Obama-Clinton, its most admired national leaders (Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) are of Social Security age. It rules no branch of federal government, holds only 16 governorships, and controls only 14 state legislatures. The Democrats must set priorities.

Second, this is Frank’s solution for Trump voters:

Perhaps it’s a smarter idea to just let the GOP own these intractable voters. Liberals looking for a way to empathize with conservatives should endorse the core conservative belief in the importance of personal responsibility. Let Trump’s white working-class base take responsibility for its own votes — or in some cases failure to vote — and live with the election’s consequences.

It’s not clear to me how it’s going to be possible for Democrats to broadcast a conservative message — “the importance of personal responsibility” — to some voters without broadcasting the same message to all voters. In fact, that message is an assault on the very notion of universal benefits, which liberals used to stand for:

In other words, contra Rich, the idea that benefits should be earned through personal merit must die. Such framing enables those in power to be selective about social programs, which ends up hurting workers and poor people of all races.

When it comes to the necessities of life, the Left should insist that virtue has nothing to do with it.

Trump voters deserve health care because everyone deserves health care; Medicare for All is the only way forward.

Exactly. Presumably, Frank would argue against Medicare for All because Trump voters are unworthy of it. After all, why throw those people in steerage a life-jacket when you’re trying to teach them a life lesson about dying? But is the destruction of universal benefits really the best party-rebuilding strategy for Democrats?


Frank dishes some typically ugly snark about Lake Charles, Louisiana. That gives me an opportunity to link to “Lake Charles,” by Lucinda Williams, from Car Wheels on a Dusty Road. One of my all-time favorite songs:

“Lake Charles” is a song about excess mortality, if you think about it. Frank should listen to it.


Since “liberal,” beyond Democrat tribalism, is a vexed term, let me give my (evolving) rule of thumb. Both liberals and conservatives are neoliberals, in that they put markets first. In implementing the simple rules of neoliberalism, conservatives minimize indirection. Liberals maximize it (hence means-testing, gate-keeping, the roles of professionals, nudge theory, etc.). Conservatives kick you in the ribs. Liberals put a tweedy arm round your shoulder while sticking the shiv in so expertly you don’t realize you’re bleeding out ’til later. The left puts the working class first, not markets, because they are not neoliberals.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. marku52

    “Get Sick, Die Quick!” Used to be the way Dems characterized the Pub’s health care plan, as if it was a bad thing, which it certainly was.

    Now they’ve decided it’s OK after all, as long is it’s happening to “those people”.

    As you say, very clarifying.

  2. sleepy

    At least as bad as what Rich wrote is the fact that he inhabits a world in which he felt comfortable stating those views publicly.

  3. steelhead23

    In the final analysis, labels suck. My liberal friends of good heart are generally in the thrall of “there is no alternative” to capitalism and seek to soften the edges. The “let the Trump voters suffer” view is not a liberal view. It is downright vengeful tribalism. Rich is to liberalism what the Salem witch trial judges were to religious freedom.

  4. Jason Boxman

    That’s a fantastic definition of liberals, more coherent than the one I’ve been kicking around internally.


    Indeed, it’s why I despise Democrats and liberals more than Republicans. At least the latter offer policies that are socially destructive and punitive on their face. Liberals are disingenuous, too.

    1. The Cleaner

      Agreed, it’s an elegant formulation. :-) But I feel that framing the “left” as looking out for workers’ interests alone does not state the full picture. This faction should be about people / citizens over markets and against authoritarian institutions. It’s not quite anarchist in the sense that institutions are not rejected per se, but are subservient to the interests of the public rather than that of the powerful few. I don’t know what the right word for this would be — “proletariat+” perhaps?

    2. Brian Dalton

      “it’s why I despise Democrats and liberals more than Republicans.” what have Republicans/Conservatives done for a net positive way? thru legislation, socially or economically speaking? What positive contributions have they made to “make America great”? The above critique has some truth to it for sure but its not apples and oranges. One party has lost its way the other is lost forever


    Presumably, these women and PoC wheren’t all motivated by white identity politics, or a desire for self-sabotage.

    With some of the male PoC, an identity politics of a different kind was in play against Clinton. It’s anecdotal, but I’ve heard from PoC that there was an attitude among some of the male members of their community that they were voting for Trump because they didn’t trust a woman in the White House. Which is another flaw in the identity politics game that Dems are either ignorant of or ideologically unwilling to admit, that solidarity among women/racial minorities/LGBT is not a given, and in many cases there are ingrained cultural biases and histories working against it.

    Conservatives kick you in the ribs. Liberals put a tweedy arm round your shoulder while sticking the shiv in so expertly you don’t realize you’re bleeding out ’til later. The left puts the working class first, not markets.

    As the old saying goes, Republicans FAMILY BLOG on you, Democrats give you an umbrella first and then FAMILY BLOG on you.

    1. watermelonpunch

      the umbrella has some pretty significant holes

      Also, in my area I saw a lot of “Democrats for Trump” signs. Not sure who they feel solidarity with.

      1. PKMKII

        What, pay for a new umbrella with no holes? Don’t you know we need to trim the fat out of the budget!? Times are tough, government needs to tighten its, uh, belt just like Americans are. Something something household metaphor for the economy.

  6. Mel


    Liberals looking for a way to empathize with conservatives should …

    This is a fine example of what I meant yesterday by weaponized dialog.

  7. Mark Gisleson

    ” “This,” being the Democrat version of neoliberalism. ”

    I would appreciate it if you would edit this to “Democrat’s version” as you are using ‘Democrat’ like Republicans do.

    Otherwise a great article, almost good enough to sate my need for Water Cooler links (soon I hope?)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t accept the binary choice. If I’m to write anything that even remotely implies that the Democrat Party is small-d democratic, they’re going to have to earn it.

      1. Susan

        thank you Lambert. well said. with ya all the way. let ’em earn it – the small-d. uh huh… still waiting.

        per Frank Rich… as my son often said so succinctly in response to me having a verbal tantrum, “awwww, momma, why ya gotta hate?” that query was always delivered with an embrace. maybe Frank needs a hug. ;)

  8. TarheelDem

    Increasingly “Trump people” and “Democrats” mean the Trump donors and Democratic establishment and ordinary people get tarred with a horns effect of halo effect from establishment Trump and Democrat pronouncements.

    The Beltway crowd are having their own internal fight while out in the areas where most people live, a strange reconciliation is beginning and political team trash-talking seems to be beginning to recede. Slowly those who mindlessly repeat the party line and talking points are beginning to talk back to their parties. That’s why Trump has to go campaign to whip up the old crowd and why the chaos in town hall meetings is occurring with both parties in lots of geographically diverse locations. There are the whomped up Resisters ™ but there are also those who are just fed up with the kabuki.

    Frank Rich is likely a soon-to-be has-been as are others. Markos’s site increasingly seems pay-to-play except for a few long-time and very good bloggers.

      1. TarheelDem

        I find it difficult to think that anyone can be so consistently aligned with the talking points of the part of the party that Markos used to rail against without there being a financial reason. No more “crashing the gates” rhetoric relative to the establishment of the Democratic Party. He must have crashed and closed the gates behind him.

      2. Marina Bart

        The theory is that Democratic party allied entities (Correct The Record and Shareblue being the most obvious possibilities) paid Markos to issue the edict and silence the Berners on the site, and then paid for the many Hillbots that poured into the comments section to further silence and drive off Berners from the highest profile “left” online community. The collapse of his clicks after the election (I haven’t looked in a while, but his numbers cratered in November) supports that theory. Where did all those Hillbots go?

        I was never a big Kos person, and haven’t been there at all since shortly after the edict, so that’s over a year. I do know (in an online sense) a lot of the refugees who settled elsewhere after the edict. Way of the Bern, Kossacks for Sanders, Caucus 99*, Jackpine Radicals*, Progressive Wing — there are lot of refugee communities. They know more about this than I do. But the only way to “prove” this theory would probably be access to Kos’ bank records.

        * These sites pre-existed the Kos edict, but substantially increased in membership afterwards, I believe; I know C99 did.

  9. Dead Dog

    Thanks Lambert for keeping the blowtorch on this –

    “Conservatives kick you in the ribs. Liberals put a tweedy arm round your shoulder while sticking the shiv in so expertly you don’t realize you’re bleeding out ’til later.”

    Nailed it. Both Liberals and Conservatives have no empathy and greed overwhelms their instinct to progress the lives of the working class

    1. HopeLB

      It looks less like greed than a true visceral aversion, a sickening revulsion, to the entire segment of the population that has been most impacted by their 30+ years of trickle down/darwinian neoliberalism.

      The Republicans and Dems both do indeed seem to be practicing a sort of slow motion eugenics program. Just look at the timeline of oxycodone, from recognition of its deadly effects to Obama’s FDA upping permissible concentrations/lowering the age for prescriptions to the corrective legislation that has been passed.

      (Is it possible, given that even Tillerson/Exxon mobile knew of anthropogenic climate change in the 70’s, that neoliberalism is nothing more than an environmentally forward looking depopulation scheme in order that the 10% Worthies do not have to fight off the rest when climate change/food/water and resources are scarce?)

      1. Hana M

        That’s my sense as well. The loathing and (as you put it so well) the visceral aversion that comes out in the comments on @ChrisArnade’s tweets has shocked me to the core.

      2. Marina Bart

        It wouldn’t shock me if some insiders rationalize what they’re doing as finding the most “worthy” and compliant to survive and serve them after the environmental apocalypse.

        Of course, all these brown-nosing jibber-jabbers are actually the worst possible personalities and training regimes to select for if you want to survive. They’ll continue to be compliant to get their Scooby snacks, I suppose. But what else will they be good for? They’re selected for their selfishness, among other traits, and their idea of cooperation is sitting in Team Meetings and regurgitating whatever they believe will further their status ascent and wealth acquisition.

        People of real intelligence don’t do well in the current educational forced march to the Ivies, which requires a willingness to think, behave and live in extremely restricted ways, and repeat “answers” that are demonstrably untrue. People of physical, moral or intellectual courage likewise are filtered out of the upper echelons of this system. Some get through, of course — but that’s not what the system is selecting for, and they are certainly not the majority. Not by a wide, wide margin.

        Moreover, whatever lies they tell themselves to feel good as people with Ph.Ds serve them coffee which they sip as they step over homeless veterans on their way to the office, there’s a simpler explanation for their hatred. The ruling class always demonizes and otherizes the group they are killing to benefit themselves. Whether it’s the “enemy” in a war, or the slaves or near-slaves exploited to death, the way you get all those “nice” comfortable people to do such terrible things peacefully and compliantly is to give them the excuse that those “others” are not their equals. They are either vicious animals attacking the village, or lesser animals that can be used as livestock. As someone of Jewish and Irish descent, my ancestors survived both types of exploitation and attempted annihilation.

        I used to respect Frank Rich.

      3. different clue

        Well . . . imagine you were the OverClass . If you wanted to kill 6 or 7 billion people over the next hundred years, how could you make it look like an accident?

      4. clarky90

        Stalin labeled the “Kulaks” (wealthy peasants) as enemies of the people and less than human. However, an interesting thing then happened. Any peasant, no matter how dirt poor, who resisted Stalin’s regime, was suddenly labeled a “kulak” and arrested and killed, or deported to Siberia, or incarcerated in the Gulags. Once the population was used to the idea of killing “useless eaters”, it was an easy matter to find endless numbers of people who are “unworthy of life” for one “good reason” or another.

        I expect that as robot-ization, the “sharing economy” and outsourcing proceed, the position of the working classes (all races and genders) will become increasingly precarious. THEN, we will see the definition of “Working class and Hill-Billy” broaden to encompass all of the, now, redundant workers. IMO, this will include many, presently secure, middle-class people.

        Stalin’s Red Terror
        engulfed millions of “The Party Faithful”.

        See Eugenia Ginzburg’s, “Journey into the Whirlwind”

        The only people who were safe were the youngest generation, who knew the least and had seen the least; They accepted the Red Terror as the new normal.

        My thoughts; just because you are NOT an unemployed coal miner from West Virginia- or a destitute farmer from Arkansas, YOU/WE (middle-class today) could still be classified as “HillBilly, Working Class, redundant, no longer required” in a dystopian future .

      5. Oregoncharles

        So far, it’s dangerously ineffective. Merely making contraception universally accessible, which could be done with relatively little money, would have a far larger effect. The uptick in certain death rates doesn’t even approach what would be needed to bring the population in balance with the carrying capacity.

        My very seat-of-the-pants calculation is that we’ve overshot by about 4-fold. Neoliberalism causes a lot of misery, but hardly even slows down the rate of population growth. Readily available birth control does, though. Turns out women aren’t big on having children they can’t take care of properly, and a lot of them aren’t into having children, period.

        1. Marina Bart

          The actual best contraception is empowering women and giving them pathways to education and economic independence. But it has to be real pathways, not performative pretend pathways. (Yes, you also need to give them access to condoms, pills and ideally, IUDs; but for the purposes you’re discussing, you need the more robust uptake only broad cultural and economic advances, working together, deliver.)

          But that’s not going to happen in a patriarchal system, such as modern global financialized capitalism. One of the ways it keeps lower status men in line as they’re exploited is to give them the opportunity to exploit and control women. A truly egalitarian society with low inequality could do it. But that, of course, is not what the Davos Men (and they are, for the most part, men) want.

          And so we add ever more unhappy, often unwanted bodies to the planet, to be mined and colonized by their “betters.”

          1. Oregoncharles

            Worldwide, the biggest problem is certain patriarchal religions. That was a can of worms I just didn’t want to open in that brief comment, though I have in the past.

            I think we agree. We (both sexes) need GENUINE access to birth control, that we can actually use. Men have responsibility here, too.

            1. Marina Bart

              Patriarchal culture is more than just religions, though. One of the scams of neoliberal politics is pretending patriarchy is only enforced via religion and because of religion. Yes, religion was a very effective tool for controlling women and enforcing patriarchy for centuries. But my point was that the economic system requires that men be allowed to control women. Religion is just a tool to achieve that goal. It’s not the driver.

              That is why, for example, Wall Street culture is also profoundly patriarchal. I realize that more women rise higher in Wall Street culture now than they used to (see: our host). But it’s still the case that at the very top are men with trophy wives who are shunted off to another room while the men talk business. That why the first woman to get a major party nomination for President in the United States was the wife of a former president, who had facilitated and supported his rape and harassment of other women.

              You really can’t get a better example of the power of patriarchy at the top than the Bill and Hill show. Yes, Bill allowed Hill more agency and equality in the marriage and in their profession than most elite men would have. But they had a very particular arrangement, which included both her willingness to help him hurt other women, and the fact that even if elevated to the presidency, she couldn’t be above him, or even truly his equal. She’d still be the caboose on the Bill and Hill train, not the engine.

              Christianity did not start out as patriarchal and misogynist. That came later. It got more patriarchal and more misogynist as it penetrated Hellenic society and spread up the social ladder to royalty and became used as a tool for control and power. Christianity did not make the Western world patriarchal and misogynist. Power dynamics made Christianity patriarchal and misogynist. Competing religions that were matriarchal or less able to be transformed into tools of patriarchal oppression were crushed. That’s part of how and why the Abrahamic religions are so dominant worldwide. Men already in power wanted it that way. Look at all those evangelicals who call them Christians while explicitly advocating values Jesus just as explicitly repudiates in the New Testament. They’re a product of the revision of religious teaching to better fit the needs of a profoundly unequal and exploitative patriarchal society. Evangelicals being opposed to abortion, for example, is very, very recent. Oddly, it became important just as women were entering the work force again in great numbers under conditions that might offer them the economic opportunities to free them from the burden of marriage. Can’t have that. So suddenly, there’s an intense, supposedly biblically-based opposition to abortion invented out of the air that totally coincidentally acts as a break on women living on their own or succeeding professionally.

            2. Foppe

              The fundamental issue is hierarchical thinking, plus the belief that force may be used to silence others, when they ase you to reconsider your behavior. These types of relations are found in religions, to be sure, but they are found everywhere else, too. And if we want to address it, why not start with ourselves, rather than with ‘patriarchal religions’ that we have little to no influence over? Because capitalist relations are just as bad, and politically much more powerful, and much more invisible, because we are all raised to accept them.
              Worthwhile two-fer (that talks about — neoliberal — new atheism):

    2. M.

      Has anyone written about the political economy of bullying? Scott Aaronson has touched on it a bit, albeit indirectly and only in a couple of posts.

      It seems like that’s what’s really going on here. The backrow kits mercilessly torture the frontrow kids from 5 to 18. This lays down the root of the “I’m not like them”-ism — on both sides of the front/back divide. When the front row kids go into law/politics/medicine/whathaveyou, they naturally align their interests with the wealthy because they’re “not like” the people they grew up with in Iowa/Ohio/etc. And the oligarchs are more than happy to oblige.

  10. Tom

    I suppose women and minorities make up Trump’s coalition if you only consider white males vs. everyone else, but when I look at those numbers I would say that white people make up Trump’s coalition (40.32 > 3.89) or even that men make up Trump’s coalition (23.33 > 22.88 and I even counted all the “other” voters as women).

    This seems like a very odd way to slice that pie. I suspect Rich is mostly thinking of white male “hillbillies” and presenting the numbers this way makes it clear the election wasn’t carried on their backs alone, but I wouldn’t say it was a rainbow coalition that propelled Trump to office either.

    1. Pat

      I suspect that Rich thought, like many other delusional Democrats I am acquainted with, that Trump wouldn’t get many if any votes from Women or POC. Because…well…Trump.

      It may not be a rainbow coalition as defined in our age of identity politics, but I would put forth it is the rainbow coalition that our current corrupt political system has wrought. Both because they have been so willing to jettison the concerns and desperation of so much of America regardless of race, sex and age, AND because they have actively pushed blame “X” for your problems. “X” being women, blacks, gays, muslims, latinos, etc, usually with some descriptor attached like lazy, greedy, immoral, etc. I mean eventually some of the people jettisoned from the gains of our capitalist society has to figure out that politicians are blaming them for the failure they are living either outright or in code.

      Rich just isn’t bothering to code his bigotry any longer. Not that I think he gets he has outed himself.

  11. JohnnyGL

    2016 election provided a real test of character for a variety of people for a variety of reasons. It’s safe to say that many ‘serious’ people have failed this test, dismally.

  12. Vatch

    I don’t blame people for voting for Trump, even though I’m horrified by what he has done in less then ten weeks as President. Clearly, Hillary Clinton was an odious alternative to Trump. I am disappointed that so few of the rural / small town white people voted for Sanders in the primaries, though. They had a chance to vote for an actual opponent of the oligarchy, and they let that slip away.

    1. watermelonpunch

      Just an FYI. Wayne County Pennsylvania, Bernie beat Hillary in the Democratic Primary.
      You can look at a map to see what Wayne County is like. The major town in Wayne County is Honesdale. It also includes a little piece of the Pocono Mountains, northwest of Lake Wallenpaupack.
      I don’t recall the specifics, and I don’t have the time to look at the moment, but I do believe several rural PA counties in this area that went to Trump in the general, also went to Bernie in the primary.

    2. sleepy

      Though Hillary won the Iowa caucuses by a coin flip, Sanders carried small towns and rural counties all over the state, including my own.

      1. Marina Bart

        Let’s not forget, there were several let us say “questionable” coin flips in Iowa to get Hillary her “win.”

    3. JerseyJeffersonian

      Vatch, you can do better than this.

      Don’t you recall – even slightly – how little coverage of the policies of Bernie Sanders there was in the Lame Stream Media, even in the Coastal Metropoli? And reflect for a moment it you will, that in many of those less urban areas the penetration of high-speed internet and even cable TV is distinctly limited (thanks perhaps to another triumph of NeoLiberalism?); the former potentially provided access to alternative coverage to that found in the LSM, while the other, despite its known limitations (i.e., MSNBC, CNN, FOX) might have provided some coverage of issues, if only peripherally (and by mistake…). Instead, these folks were left with limited internet access, and over-the-air TV, likely belching out only centrally-directed network TV news via the limited channel selection.

      This is blaming the victims for being pervasively propagandized and shut out from policy-oriented discussions.

      You seem to be, in general, a gradualist, but in respect to the Democrat primaries, you suddenly expect miracles given the unpropitious circumstances I have laid out above. This seems unfair, and opens the door to only further hating on “those people”, just like Mr. Rich. Were they afflicted with “false consciousness”, and therefore worthy of scorn? Yes, to the first part of that sentence, no to the second part. They knew Hillary was surely not on their side (vide calling them Deplorables) by the time it came to the General Election, but they had been pervasively kept in the dark about Senator Sanders and his policy formulations in the Democrat primaries when the genuine alternative might have been selected. Was that, then, their fault? I think not.

        1. Vatch

          Yup, I was wrong. See these articles about rural voters choosing Sanders over Clinton:

          New York, a big margin for Sanders in small towns and rural areas:

          Pennsylvania, not so much, but still there’s a difference between the cities and the other areas. In Maryland, although Clinton won cities, towns, and rural areas, her margin was smaller in the rural areas:

    4. Vatch

      Okay, thanks, sleepy and watermelonpunch. Maybe I’m wrong about their failure to vote for Sanders in the Damocratic primary. We do know that some other groups made the mistake of preferring Clinton, so maybe the rural / small town whites mostly did the right thing in the primaries.

    5. different clue

      How much Sanders-exposure broke through the the MSM cone of silence against Sanders to even reach the rural and deep-rural people? And how many Sander-wanna voters might have been stopped from voting, one way or another?

    1. HopeLB

      Thanks! And Thanks Fluffy! Great analysis of the MSM’s just a tiny bit below tantrum levels of derision and distain.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      Thanks. I think it’s still accurate. I see it even now in the few haunts of the ‘liberal’ blogosphere I still hang out in. They’re full of intense, stagey braggadocio in lieu of action. And in lieu of humanity. Humane reactions to the world are restricted to the trending and the edgy. But, especially the trending.

      If anything good gets built out of the Sanders phenomenon it won’t be via our existing ‘left’ blogosphere. It served its purpose well in the Bush years, atrophied during the Obama interregnum, and is paralyzed with apoplexy now…… in the face of our rude Orange Overlord. The Democratic Party establishment is of course, on a glide path to comfortable regional security. They will hold the coasts for decades. The party apparatus + consultant ecosystem in the coastal states will provide employment and prestige for a reduced – but still significant – number of them.

      It would all make for a good laugh if it weren’t so damned sad.

      1. different clue

        Some kind of Populeftist social culture and political movement will have to emerge itself in the non bicoastal areas, then. And will have to grow a Populeftist Party of some sort out of those Populeftist cultural and social roots . . . if it can get them emerged and entrenched.

  13. David

    “Trump voters deserve health care because everyone deserves health care”
    In essence, this is what the Left (i.e. Socialists) have always said. There are certain common goods (including health, not just health care and certainly not just health insurance) that everyone is entitled to just by being members of society. That’s the fundamental difference from liberalism where nothing in life is yours unless you take it, and the strongest take the most, whether it’s money or legal rights.

  14. XXYY

    I don’t disagree with your overall point, but including Matt Bruenig’s curious analysis does not strengthen it. Bruenig tries to make the tortured case that “women and people of color” were the majority of El Trumpo’s voters, but this claim relies on the odd premise that “women” are a race-less entity, but “men” aren’t. Lumping “white women” in with “black women” and “latino women” gives no insight, since white women form virtually the entirety of Trump’s female votes. This seems like a vulgar identity politics construction, where “women” comprise a homogenous lump with no other distinguishing characteristics.

    A far more straightforward an honest reading of the data you reproduce is that the overwhelming share of Trump’s votes (about 40% of his 46%) came from white people of both genders, and that he got very little PoC vote. Nothing wrong with saying this, I don’t think, and it’s not surprising.

      1. XXYY

        Why bother citing this wierdness at length when there is such a large attack surface on the article?

        I think Rich’s most damaging notion, not unique to him, is that the party should just petulantly write off the people who didn’t support the party’s (deeply flawed and unpopular) candidate. Even in the horrifying case that you don’t care about the people (!), in what universe is this a winning political strategy? The goal in politics is to find ways to expand your appeal and win *more* votes, not to become embittered and crabbed and rationalize or even applaud winning *less* votes, as if you’re going to just take your ball and go home after losing. (Sanders, e.g. after winning 2% of the vote for Burlington mayor his first time out, obviously took away a different lesson.)

        I realize the Dems have lost most of their political skill but this seems like a dangerous new low.

        1. MirandaC

          Right? The Dems have been stomping around screeching “we don’t need you” to everyone in shouting distance all year. They might not need ME, but it sure seems like they need some of the people they are shoving away.

        2. LifelongLib

          Dunno. I canvassed for a Democratic senate candidate a few years ago, and the canvassers were told that we were targeting people who were likely to be Democratic voters. Didn’t seem like we were trying to change anybody’s mind, just get out people who’d vote for the Democrat anyway…

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            And this is how they won in 2006 and 2008. There are more potential Democratic voters than Republicans. Persuasion is difficult. Merely caring enough to bother to ask sometimes voters to vote is sufficient or reminds people especially the transient (the Democratic base) to re-register is the difference between winning and losing. Across a state,

            The story to every election is “non voters.”

            The problem is the bourgeois Hillary supporters won’t get caught dead registering in poor or minority neighborhoods. Hillary saw a widespread decline in black voting. Why? How many Hillary voters in Manhattan canvassed in Detroit? Chester, PA? High Point, NC?

            In 2006 and 2008, field organizers threw every willing body to poor areas because these were the neighborhoods with the best rate of return.

            If you have to hold your nose to vote for Hillary, you won’t canvass for Hillary or any Democrats. What do you know, Democrats saw declines in areas they organized in 2008. In practical terms, Hillary did worse than Kerry who left votes on the table all over.

            The Democratic brand might be so tarnished that basic organizing is no longer possible, but Hillary had 500,000 less votes than Obama in 200 in Michigan. She did worse than Kerry, and still only lost by 11,000 votes. Those votes were out there and likely easy to find.

            1. XXYY

              I think we have to differentiate between get-out-the-vote operations immediately before an election, and the larger project of getting more and more people to support your party. The former are usually conducted under tremendous pressure of time, and it’s appropriate to try to make the best use of your volunteers and not let them get endlessly bogged down in arguments which may or may not yield any result just a week or a day before the vote. Fair enough.

              However, there are oceans of time between elections where a longer-term approach can be deployed. These are the intervals where thoughtful policy can be developed, worthwhile candidates nurtured, and volunteer programs and voter registration put in place that will leave you in a strong position when the next election comes up.

              The Dems have pretty much given up on the latter set of activities, focusing instead on lurching from one election season to another, trying to get by with short term 90 day election winning strategies. In between, they seem to focus on sleeping, or drinking martinis with Kissinger, or perhaps both.

              1. Marina Bart

                Even there, you need to distinguish between turning out your base, which is more than just the end stage GOTV work, but apparently requires initiating contact much earlier in the election cycle, and focusing on your base.

                Publicly, at least, the battle used to be over swing voters, persuading non-tribal independents to vote for you. I think that was a DLC thing, but don’t hold me to that; it may have predated them. Then Bush and Rove (IIRC) figured out that the better play is to focus on turning out your base. What was already well-known is that the hardest thing to do is flip party identifying partisans from the other side. This, of course, is precisely the foolish tactic Hillary Clinton and her team committed to, when reams of political science evidence already existed to prove that was unlikely to succeed.

                So, first we have to differentiate between the strategic options of attracting swing votes vs. turning out your base, and then deal with tactical issue of how to effectively turn out your base.

                Clinton’s campaign first chose the worst possible strategy, then chose the worst possible turn-out tactics.

              2. Code Name D

                Well said. And the two activities work hand in hand. The non-election publicity team can take on controversial issues and bills that a politician running for office would otherwise have to run away from. The non-election team can build a meaningful party platform that a candidate can run on. Instead, they have to craft their issues in near isolation, often without meaningful input from the constituency.

                And I can see this happening in real time, here in Wichita, Kansas where James Tompson is running in a special election for the Senate. So far, every thing I have seen from him just screams establishment.

  15. Rich VanHorn

    Okay, I will take a crack at defending Frank Rich. While he talks about the Trump voter, I think he really means the realible Republican voter who will vote his/her party regardless of what the issue is. Trump is just the most recent example. Trump actually pulled support from both parties but now he is talking like a real Republican. Yes, the Democratic party should be able to win back the Obama Voters who voted for Trump, but they can never win the true Republican base voter because that voter is stuck in the Republican meme: government is bad, free market is good, liberals/Democrats are the source of our problems. And as long as they only trust Fox News to tell them the truth, nothing ever changes. While Democrats need to understand why the voters turned away from them in 2016, they will never connect with the Republican base because those voters are closed to seeing a different picture. It is not worth even trying. Rich is saying that Democrats have a right to be frustrated and not to hide their anger at people who refuse to see that their own party has continually sold them out and then blamed it on the Democrats. And their base keeps drinking the cool aid.

    1. jrs

      yes that’s what I’m thinking, these Trump voters we are talking about, what actually IS their ideology? Or do they have one? It’s ok if they aren’t overly political of course. A non-overly political person may change their mind, next time vote for Bernie or whatever. But if it’s right/Republican, than that’s an uphill battle. It’s kind of nonsensicle to be rightwingers in ideology IF they are also poor, but can you convince them of that? Especially as no change seems immanent anyway, maybe it’s easier to just believe whatever the boss does, if nothing else is possible anyway.

      Or is the assumption that every white working class Trump voter is really a disgruntled liberal/leftist. That seems a real stretch.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        It’s not that every white working class Trump voter is a liberal/leftist…it’s that enough of them had previously voted for Obama/Democrats.

        It’s all about the counties that flipped.

  16. shinola

    I’m getting tired of these condescending, “elite” snobs pontificating about these poor, “uneducated” hillbillies voting “against their own interests”. In just what way would voting for neolib. Clinton be any different? The 2016 election came down to not just the Lesser Evil but the Lesser Effective Evil & the Lesser Effective won. Perhaps these hillbillies are a bit smarter than they are given credit for (something many a city slicker has learned the hard way).

    Oh, and thanks for the tune Lambert – you gots good taste in music.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      They are trying to blame an unseen menace that requires no changes on the part of Democratic elites. How many elites see or interact with poor, rural whites? Poor, rural whites are unseen, could walk among their betters, and are easy to kick. Duck Dynasty, Palin, hunting shows, and a lack of New Yorker subscriptions. Since Trump was dependent on college educated whites or the “moderate suburban republicans,” who is going to speak up? Then of course, if Democrats point out their vaunted “suburban Republican” strategy was as awful as predicted, how will donors react?

      Poor, urban blacks are both black and urban. Washington has plenty of poor, urban blacks. Democrats did blame blacks for not voting back in the day when Bill saw the lowest black turnout since the 1950’s.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I haven’t read Hillbilly Elegy. It gets a lot of press. But I’m starting to think at least part of its popularity in liberal circles is due to the fact that it gives them permission to call people hillbillies and not feel bad about it.

  17. Waking Up

    Many years ago I began asking the question, “what is the definition of a liberal”? It had become obvious on my part that so called “liberals” could not be defined anywhere near what a “liberal” of say the 1960’s or 1970’s was. Lambert, your definition of “liberal” is spot on, thanks. Now it’s time to find a word/words for people who actually care about their fellow man regardless of political affiliation… who care about the working class… who regard the 1% as just that, a small group of people who shouldn’t have any advantage over the rest of society.

    1. a different chris

      Oddly enough, I think Lambert blew it:

      >Both liberals and conservatives are neoliberals, in that they put markets first.

      Unless you are talking about a very few people with less representation than even I, self-labeled “conservatives” do NOT put markets first. Liberals do, but conservatives? They put rich people first. Not the same thing at all.

      1. Outis Philalithopoulos

        You call out Lambert for imprecise use of political terminology, and propose instead the following distinction: liberals put markets first, but conservatives put rich people first.

        I have tried to see this distinction as potentially rigorous, but I think at best it’s a talking point, not an attempt to understand the real psychology of real people.

        In their public rhetoric, both liberals and conservatives support markets, not rich people. Rhetorical support for “free markets” generally correlates with support for policies favoring rich people. Both Democrats and Republicans are willing to idolize individual rich people, provided that the individuals in question are culturally acceptable.

        There are tons of not particularly well off evangelicals (and other demographics) who identify with the GOP because they see it as less culturally hostile to them, not because they have any deep commitment to its economic platform. The voters of this sort that I’ve spoken with see the solidarity of Republican leaders with economic elites as a plague, not a virtue.

        The Republican base is full of gaping fissures right now, temporarily papered over in the desperate hope that Republican support of the Trump administration will make something positive possible. Rhetoric that fuses all of these factions helps out GOP strategists, but I’m not sure whom else it helps.

        1. Marina Bart

          I’d like to add a thought that might be a hypotenuse connecting your line and adChris’s line:

          Democrats back markets, using as their rationale that markets will appropriately and accurately reward individual merit, their moral compass and cudgel. Republicans back markets, using as their rationale that markets honor and nurture hierarchy, which is their moral compass and cudgel.

          In both cases, the true apex predators that benefit from the markets obsession of neoliberalism back markets because they personally benefit economically. The rest is propaganda to drive compliance. You could argue, though, that the hierarchy rationale is at least based in fact — neoliberalism does actually support and nurture hierarchy. It has nothing to do with real merit. So who’s dumber, the Democrats who think markets prove they’re meritorious? Or Republicans who believe in social hierarchy?

      2. Code Name D

        Sorry, but I beg to differ. The only real difference here is in the degree of their fanaticism. Both are believers in “free markets.” But Democrats and most Republicans have a measured faith in free markets and will use the government to shore up the market process, such as by creating “market exchanges” using tax cuts to promote certain behavior, government subsidies for the poor so they can afford necessities sold through the market, encouraging competition, and so forth.

        However, at the extreme end you have the “anarko-capitalists” which has an absolute vision of markets. Absolutely no government sponsored markets, no safety net, absolutely no regulations of any kind, what so ever. They would even eliminate public fire departments, courts, and police departments. This would be your Freedom Caucus, the “just say no” boys when it came to “repeal and replace.” For them, they are only prepared to vote for absolute repeal of the ACA, no replacement. No government involvement what so ever. These guys are certifiably insane.

        However, the full spectrum still qualifies as neo-liberal, who’s only requirement is the belief in the self-regulating power of free markets.

  18. J Bookly

    Lambert, thank you so much for the Lake Charles song. Kinda weepy now. That was a great album. Another sad thing is it’s always been hard to talk with conservative friends and neighbors, but now I can’t talk to the liberal ones either. I can’t talk to anybody, including my daughter, about social and political issues. There’s a weird layer of falsehood draped over everything; it belongs in a country song, I think.

    1. different clue

      I will try out the following on Bitter Clinters who condemn me for voting for Trump.

      You wouldn’t let me have my Sanders. So I wouldn’t let you have your Clinton.

      or . . . You thought you could cram your Clinton down my throat. So I shoved some Trump right up in your face.

  19. RUKidding

    File under FWIW:

    This past Saturday in Sacramento there was a small pro-Trump rally. Why? Not sure. A friend caught most of it on video. There was a heavy-duty PD presence that, frankly wasn’t warranted.

    Approx 350 – 400 people (rough guess). The numbers were pretty evenly split between men and women. All ages from very early 20s to 70s (I’d guess). No one age group had more people; pretty evenly divided across the age range.

    Three younger black males (probably in their 20s). I didn’t see anyone who was obviously Asian, Latino or ME.

    There signs said stuff like “Let Trump Do His Job,” “Make America Great Again,” “I’m a Trump Supporter,” “Patriotic American.”

    My friend who video’d the march said everyone was uniformly polite and many said “God bless you” to her. They seemed cheerful and not angry. Most looked middle class, but that’s hard to say for sure. No one in obvious poverty. Sacramento is a govt town. It’s pretty working class, although we do have a large homeless population, which most people strive to ignore.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Miz Carzy,

      You done good. Thanks. I remember your voice here on NC a little while back. Glad to hear it yet again.

      1. MirandaC

        I appreciate it. I lurk here a lot even when I’m not posting, so I recognize all y’all. :) You guys are a voice in the wilderness.

      1. MirandaC


        My name is Miranda and I… I learned to drive on a tractor.

        I’m DQed, though, from full membership in any one group. :) Or, alternately, I’m the weirdo in all of them. Probably the latter.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Great rant.

          I chose a college for weirdos. They make the best company. Not much hillbilly representation, though. My southern Indiana accent might have qualified, but not my class background. The next towns over were and are called “Beanblossom,” “Gnawbone,” and of course “Nashville.” (Serious – look at a map of Brown County, IN, on Rte 46.)

          Years ago, when the “Bell Curve” theory first came out (in the Atlantic), they got a letter from another eloquent hillbilly (female, again), saying that she and others like her suffered exactly the same discrimination: an assumption that they’re stupid. Evidently not.

  20. barefoot charley

    Let’s say the good news is, the Lesser Evils are ever eviler, which makes choosing evils more difficult and honest. I’m dismayed at what’s happened to Frank Rich, such a dependable voice of sanity before Putin made good Democrats glug their Kool-Aid (like good Republicans used to). Paul Krugman too was an essential antidote to Bushism, and is now a horrid child demanding that you buy his Kool-Aid or he’ll pee on your leg too.

    I’d like to understand how the Dem base became as stupid and clueless as their leaders–I wonder if it’s the dark side of identity politics, a narrow identification with the BSer-in-Chief whose BS Blanket (er, Big Tent?) uniting entitled identities also implicitly dehumanizes the unlabeled, the uncalled-out deplorables, those unhyphenated ones without even alphabet soup of their own (not just looking at you, LGBTQU2). I miss my once-intelligent friends.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      How they became stupid and brain dead, you ask? Perhaps, they always were or simply shallow despite a cool “coexist” bumper sticker.

      Mocking Shrub or Palin isn’t the same as being informed. When Democrats were better, the problem was less noticeable.

      You should look for clips of Jon Stewart on Crossfire. Stewart’s criticism of the political environment was dead on. The election of Trump is the inevitable result of the sham collapsing and ignoring actual voters, and now the fans are reacting. Their team just lost the Super Bowl after mortgaging all their draft picks, and now they have to deal with the reality of both concussions and not winning the Super bowl for four more years. They aren’t completely unaware of how they treated people in the run up to the election. They are also dealing with the fallout of having loss the people who use to do the actual ground work. Winning “moderate suburban republicans” was supposed to be their answer, and now they still have to face the reality that Republicans hate them. This time they won’t have the activists they had in 2006.

  21. clarky90

    The very people who go on and on about “hate speak” are instigating an ongoing genocide before my eyes. Not pits/ravines full of bodies (the Baltic States, early 1940s), but millions upon millions of bodies ravaged by by junk/sugar-food-induced diabetes (the walking dead). I am not hidden, peering out from the dense woods or long grass. The dying are walking, all around me, everyday.

    Maybe it was decided that the “diabetes epidemic” was too slow and “disturbing to view”? Perhaps a faster and more “humane” technique of mass murder was required? Oxy-codeine.

    Joseph Stalin, Speech on Agrarian Policy, Dec. 27, 1929

    “Now, as you see, we have the material base which enables us to replace the kulak output by the output of the collective farms and state farms.(today, robots and outsourcing to China) It is for this very reason that our determined offensive against the kulaks is now meeting with undeniable success.

    {12} That is how an offensive against the kulaks must be carried on, if we mean a genuine and determined offensive and not mere futile declamations against the kulaks.

    {13} That is why we have recently passed from the policy of restricting the exploiting tendencies of the kulaks to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class.

    {14} Well, and what about the policy of dekulakization? Can we permit dekulakization in the areas of complete collectivization? This question is asked in various quarters. A ridiculous question! We could not permit dekulakization as long as we were pursuing the policy of restricting the exploiting tendencies of the kulaks, as long as we were unable to go over to a determined offensive against the kulaks, as long as we were unable to replace the kulak output by the output of the collective farms and state farms. At that time the policy of not permitting dekulakization was necessary and correct. But now? Now things are different. Now we are able to carry on a determined offensive against the kulaks, break their resistance, eliminate them as a class and replace their output by the output of the collective farms and state farms. Now, dekulakization is being carried out by the masses of poor and middle peasants themselves, who are putting complete collectivization into practice. Now, dekulakization in the areas of complete collectivization is no longer just an administrative measure. Now, it is an integral part of the formation and development of the collective farms. Consequently it is now ridiculous and foolish to discourse at length on dekulakization. When the head is off, one does not mourn for the hair.

    {15} There is another question which seems no less ridiculous: whether the kulaks should be permitted to join the collective farms. Of course not, for they are sworn enemies of the collective-farm movement.”

    1. clarky90

      In 2017, we are witnessing the methodical, “scientific”, destruction of the American Working Classes (of every race and gender). It is happening here in NZ as well.

      Evening Post Foreign Service New York 1933

      Famine grips Russia Millions Dying. Idle on Rise, Says Briton
      Gareth Jones, Lloyd George Aid, Reports Devastation

      Gareth Jones told the EVENING POST: “The arrest of the British engineers in Moscow is a symbol of panic in consequence of conditions worse than in 1921. Millions are dying of hunger. The trial, beginning Saturday, of the British engineers is merely a pendant to the recent shooting of thirty-five prominent workers in agriculture, including the Vice-Commissar of the Ministry of Agriculture, and is an attempt to check the popular wrath at the famine which haunts every district of the Soviet Union.

      “Everywhere was the cry, ‘There is no bread. We are dying. This cry came from every part of Russia, from the Volga,. Siberia, White Russia, the North Caucasus, Central Asia. I tramped through the black earth region because that was once the richest farm land in Russia and because the correspondents have been forbidden to go there to see for themselves what is happening.

      “In the train a Communist denied ‘to me that there was a famine. I flung a crust of bread which I had been eating from my own supply into a spittoon. A peasant fellow-passenger fished it out and ravenously ate it. I threw an orange peel into the spittoon and the peasant again grabbed it and devoured it. The Communist subsided. I stayed overnight in a village where there used to be 200 oxen and where there now are six. The peasants were eating the cattle fodder and had only a month’s supply left. They told me that many had already died of hunger. Two soldiers came to arrest a thief. They warned me against travel by night as there were too many ‘starving’ desperate men.

      “‘We are waiting for death’ was my welcome, but See, we still, have our cattle fodder. Go farther south. There they have nothing. Many houses are empty of people already dead,’ they cried.

      “A foreign expert returning from Kazakstan told me that 1,000,000 out of 5,000,000 there have died of hunger. I can believe it. After Stalin, the most hated man in Russia is Bernard Shaw among those who read his glowing descriptions of plentiful food in their starving land. “The future is blacker than the present. There is insufficient seed. Many peasants are too weak physically to work on the land. The new taxation policy, promising to take only a fixed amount of grain from the peasants, will fail to encourage production because the peasants refuse to trust the Government.” In short, Mr. Jones concluded, the collectivization policy of the Government and the resistance of the peasants to it have brought Russia to the worst catastrophe since the famine of 1921 and have swept away the population of whole districts…….”

  22. Sluggeaux

    Lambert, I don’t much care for Frank Rich’s opinions either, but I read the piece and you are misrepresenting them here. The awful headline and stock photo used by NYMag’s editors don’t fairly represent what Rich actually says either. For example, the full quotation of the “lifeboat” passage is:

    If Trump delivers on his promises to the “poorly educated” despite all indications to the contrary, then good for them. Once again, all the Trump naysayers will be proved wrong. But if his administration crashes into an iceberg, leaving his base trapped in America’s steerage with no lifeboats, those who survive may at last be ready to burst out of their own bubble and listen to an alternative. Or not: Maybe, like Hochschild’s new friends in Louisiana’s oil country, they’ll keep voting against their own interests until the industrial poisons left unregulated by their favored politicians finish them off altogether. Either way, the best course for Democrats may be to respect their right to choose.

    Lets be fair here. No straw-manning. Frank Rich is actually making arguments in favor of Bernie Sanders’ positions in this piece, and calling-out Clinton for being a corrupt, back-stabbing hack who turned-off the electorate that had twice voted for Obama.

    1. Katharine

      I don’t think it straw-manning to say he expressed caddish views of Trump voters. His use of that stock photo alone was inexcusably contemptuous and inaccurate stereotyping. According to at least one analysis, it was the suburbs that went for Trump, by a five percentage-point margin, but it’s hard to get a good sneer out of pictures of a housing development with lawn signs.

      1. FTFY

        reporters/writers for newspapers and magazines do not pick the illustrations accompanying their articles and they don’t write the headlines. The editors do that.

    2. cm

      Most popular comment from that article is currently this:

      yanzhitui 8 days ago
      Donald Trump is the worst human being on the planet. He is the worst human being I have ever heard of, read of, or been able to imagine.

      If you support Trump you have the moral standing of a Nazi. Take your pathetic little right-wing resentments and jam them up your flabby _sshole.

      Read the top comments. Most are in this vein. I have yet to see a rebuttal of the article in the top comments.

    3. feox

      In full agreement with you, I’m sad that your point is not being actually responded to by people who might disagree. People are voting against their own self-interest, and if they don’t realize that one way or another, they will ultimately create a self-extinction situation.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Could we stop with the criticism about people voting against their own self-interest, please? It’s an insulting phrase that implies that people are being stupid. I don’t think they are. Would a vote for Clinton have actually been a vote in their self-interest? I’m not sure it would have been.

        After all, she promised to be “Obama’s third term”, and he oversaw declining real wages, declining life expectancies, declining home ownership rates, skyrocketing student loan debt burdens, and accelerating income inequality. And if you dared to complain about your suffering under Obama’s glory, all you got from Democrats was ridicule, accusations of racism, and lectures about “white privilege”.

        In my opinion, it’s completely obviously why many former Obama voters took a pass on Clinton. Obama failed to improve the lot of most Americans and insulted many more with the identify-politics divisiveness, and people were ready for a change. The galactic tragedy in this, of course, is that we somehow ended up with Donald Trump on the ticket as the alternate to four more years of an Obama clone. Woe to us all.

        Vote for your own self interest… Hah!! How could you even do so, with Clinton and Trump heading up the ballot?

  23. flora

    Would Rich write this mean-spirited crap if he had the courage of his convictions? If he remembered what he wrote last year he’d shut up. His hillbilly column sounds meant to deflect from his own TINA surrender. He preferred “almost everything about [Sanders] views and record to Clinton’s.” He wouldn’t support Sanders. I think Rich got played by TINA groupthink and is furious. He still can’t point his finger at the real culprits. So he blames voters who didn’t like Clinton’s record and views (like him) and didn’t buy the TINA bubble wrap (not like him).

    Jan 2016.
    “As Bernie Sanders increases his lead over Hillary Clinton to 27 points in one New Hampshire poll (and appears to be closing the gap nationally), some in the media have begun to wonder why they didn’t see this pre-caucus surge coming. Is it time for the Democratic elite to more broadly reconsider Sanders’s candidacy?
    “Let’s face it: This is going to be remembered as the election where almost no one in either party’s Establishment or the political news media saw anything coming. So why should the Bernie Sanders surge be any different….
    “I certainly have been no seer in the case of Sanders. I have never believed — and still don’t — that he can be elected president even though I prefer almost everything about his views and record to Clinton’s….”

    1. Sluggeaux

      Why am I stuck defending Frank Rich? However much spittle the NYMag “No Sympathy for the Hillbilly” headline makes me spew, here is what Rich actually says in the piece:

      After the debacle of 2016, might the time have at last come for Democrats to weaponize their anger instead of swallowing it? Instead of studying how to talk to “real people,” might they start talking like real people? No more reading from wimpy scripts concocted by consultants and focus groups. (Clinton couldn’t even bring herself to name a favorite ice-cream flavor at one campaign stop.) Say in public what you say in private, even at the risk of pissing people off, including those in your own party. Better late than never to learn the lessons of Trump’s triumphant primary campaign that the Clinton campaign foolishly ignored.

      This is a separate matter from the substantive question of whether the party is overdue in addressing the needs of the 21st-century middle class, or what remains of it. The answer to that is yes, as a matter of morality, policy, and politics. Americans below the top of the heap, with or without college degrees and regardless of race, have been ill served by the axis of Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, and the Davos-class donor base that during Bill Clinton’s presidency helped grease the skids for the 2008 economic collapse and allowed the culprits to escape from the wreckage unscathed during Barack Obama’s. That Hillary Clinton pocketed $21.6 million by speaking to banks and other corporate groups after leaving the State Department is just one hideous illustration of how the Democrats opened the door for Trump to posture as an anti-Establishment champion of “the forgotten men and women.” In the bargain, she gave unenthused Democrats a reason to turn to a third-party candidate or stay home.

      1. flora

        I get your point. My take is that while Rich makes the correct assessments of Demo groupthink, he carefully fences out a large portion of the electorate he declares beyond the pale, with little proof of that assertion.

        “The outbreak of Hillbilly Chic among liberals is an inverted bookend to Radical Chic, the indelible rubric attached by Tom Wolfe in 1970 (in this magazine) to white elites in Manhattan then fawning over black militants. In both cases, the spectacle of liberals doting on a hostile Other can come off like self-righteous slumming. But for those of us who want to bring down the curtain on the Trump era as quickly as possible, this pandering to his voters raises a more immediate and practical concern: Is it a worthwhile political tactic that will actually help reverse Republican rule? Or is it another counterproductive detour into liberal guilt, self-flagellation, and political correctness of the sort that helped blind Democrats to the gravity of the Trump threat in the first place? ”

        How is listening to the voters who elected Obama twice then either didn’t vote at all or voted not for Clinton, maybe even for Trump, “pandering” ?

        “That makes it all the more a fool’s errand for Democrats to fudge or abandon their own values to cater to the white-identity politics of the hard-core, often self-sabotaging Trump voters who helped drive the country into a ditch on Election Day. ”

        “White-identity politics”? really? Not economic realities? And he knows this how? Is his received wisdom from what other columnists and party estab claims? Here Rich retreats into Id-Pol as the be-all – the current Dem estab groupthink, the very organizing principle that this election should have put paid to. Instead, Rich retreats into same old. Yes, he tut-tut’s at the top of the establishment. He then spends the second half of his essay explaining why white working class voters who might have voted for Trump should be written off entirely. Hillary tried to win moderate suburban GOP votes and failed. Why isn’t Rich writing them off, too? No, his response is to people who think the Dems have forgotten the working class – specifically here the white working class. Rich is telling them to forget the white working class. Rich thinks those “forgotten men and women” deserve to stay forgotten because they are supposedly guilty of some moral turpitude.

        Are the working class better off now than they were 8 years ago? no.

      2. Oregoncharles

        He said that, then supported Hillary? Even though all the polls said Sanders had far better chances?

        No wonder Lambert is treating him with contempt. That isn’t so much immoral as just stupid.

    2. hunkerdown

      Understanding is merely a plot device in the Narrative, whereby truths discovered in the previous chapter can be rewritten as settled. Of course the Narrator is unreliable. That’s the point of having a Narrator.

      Perhaps Rich, and no doubt other Party luminaires, knew from the beginning that Sanders was only the teaser tom and would not be allowed to win. That seems to explain the sharp edges of Sanders support among the mainstream of the political class in the time domain, and the new Narrative Understanding that he was, indeed, never a candidate.

  24. Dr Duh

    Pieces like Rich’s enrage me. Luckily I’m not on twitter so it’s easy to resist the urge to hate tweet threats at him. The downside is I miss people like Arnade. I went through his tweet stream and came across this from Peggy Noonan!

    “What politicians, those hardy folk, don’t understand about health care is how anxious it makes their constituents. Not suspicious, not obstinate, but anxious. Because unlike such policy questions as tax reform, health care can be an immediate life-or-death issue for you. It has to do with whether, when, and where you can get the chemo if you’re sick, and how long they’ll let you stay in the hospital when you have nobody, or nobody reliable and nearby, to care for you. To make it worse, the issue is all hopelessly complicated and complex and pits you as an individual against huge institutions—the insurance company that doesn’t answer the phone, the hospital that says “I’m afraid that’s not covered”—and you have to make the right decisions.

    It’s all on you.”

    Which promptly broke my heart.

    I just want to say that you’re not alone. Or at least you shouldn’t be.

    I give my patients my cell phone, I do it so they can call me if they have post op problems but also so they know that I mean it when I tell them, “I’m your doctor”; so that they know that this is a partnership no less sacred or intimate than a marriage.

    I remember during residency when I amputated the leg of a man because he lost his IT job, lost his insurance, lost access to insulin and then treated a wound on his foot at home for months. By the time he came in his foot was black, the bones and tendons were exposed and the gangrene had spread past his ankle. Completely unnecessary. If he’d called we would have found him a way to get insulin; we would have treated the wound; he would still have his foot.

    I may not be representative, but I’m not an anomaly either. Most physicians, especially surgeons, feel deeply responsible for their patients. They may become distant while they’re running to keep up on the hamster wheel, but if you reach out to them they will try to help you.

    As I tell people, “I swore an oath…”

  25. Cujo359

    There was a time when I thought along the lines that Frank Rich does – people deserve the pain that is brought on by the political choices they make. Having lived through the Vietnam era, it was easy to blame those who seemingly went along with the status quo by voting for the leaders who kept that war going on long after it was clear we should have stopped it.

    Then I grew up.

    Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that even those of us who don’t follow the binary choice system of Democrat or Republican choose from among the imperfect choices we’re given. None of the candidates for President in 2016 perfectly reflect my views on how the country should be run. But those were the choices, and at least they had platforms I could look at and decide which one worked best for me. Whether you choose one of those declared candidates, or a write-in vote that might not even count, or not voting at all, you make a choice from the limited ones available. Why you make that choice is for all sorts of reasons, and I bet even the most rabid Trump fans will eventually find something they don’t like about he’s running the country.

    People who think like Rich do never seem to realize this. They certainly don’t think that they deserve to experience the consequences of their choice – the results of the misjudgments or outright fecklessness of the people they chose to run things. They don’t think they deserve that their kids can’t find jobs, or are being sent to countries we don’t have a real beef with killing, or being killed by, those peoples’ kids. They don’t think it’s their fault that their friends or relatives die because they couldn’t get medical care in time, or couldn’t afford it. They don’t feel that the long economic decline of the 80% of the country who have been losing ground because the people they voted for let it happen is their fault.

    That’s why I have come to view this sort of view as cowardly as well as foolish. It blames others for the country’s problems, while absolving themselves of the very same thing for no good reason. I lost a lot of respect for Frank Rich after reading this article, as well as a lot of other folks who sound just like him right now.

    1. jrs

      What about direct democracy, such as when people vote for an initiative at the state level? Granted those can get pretty complex. But is it fair to hold the voters accountable for those? Seems a lot more clear cut at any rate.

      1. Cujo359

        Perhaps. As you say, some are complicated, and even the results of the relatively simple ones can be hard to predict. Many in my state have to do with taxes and how they are collected. While that can clearly have an effect on government, it’s not always clear what programs or projects will be affected. Making the cuts necessary, if any, is something that’s usually left up to the politicians.

        In any event, the 2016 presidential elections were almost the antithesis of direct democracy. What we were voting for, at best, was an idea of how the country ought to be run, assuming we could vote for something we believed in.

  26. a different chris

    >When it comes to the necessities of life, the Left should insist that virtue has nothing to do with it.

    Hell, somebody should point out to them that the prisons are full of people that get free food and medical care. Try to square that circle…

    1. Marina Bart

      Since many of the people in prison are functionally enslaved, their imprisonment serving to enrich private entities while their non-consensual labor (compensated at lower rates than the immiserated sweatshop workers in Haiti) enriches multinational corporations even more, I don’t think you can refer to the minimal food and medical care prisoners receive as being “free”.

      1. bob

        I’ve heard Parole Officers referring to their charges as “clients”.

        I almost choked, I was eating at the time. Not very polite conversation.

  27. KYrocky

    I did unleash on Markos for his Daily Kos post exposing what a soulless MF he was being. Among my beefs with Markos is one I have with Lambert’s piece above. When you live in a red, red state and spend most of your time with these voters you understand that there is racism, there is homophobia, xenophobia and hosts of other things worthy of condemnation.

    But in terms of politics, more than anything else, it is a matter of who they believe. Speaking generally, what they believe is not a result of careful consideration of an issue, it is based on who they heard say what.

    Further, once they believe something discussions of those topics cannot follow rational lines. To question their views is to question their beliefs, beliefs that are held as strong as a religious belief. Beliefs so strong they will flat out dismiss any evidence that would prove their belief wrong.

    What Lambert, Rich, Markos and just about every one who denigrates the rural Trump voter never bothers to understand is that for many, many in this population the sources of information they trust are talk radio, Fox, and other people like them listening to and watching the same programs.

    What Lambert and Rich fail to recognize is that these folks believe they are well informed. That they understand the facts. And they are, from the sources that are pretty much right-wing, coordinated propaganda. Sources they trust to be telling them the truth. In this regard they are no different from Trump voters pretty much anywhere. And they do not deserve to die for having believed a generation’s worth of broadcasts targeted, with scientific and Frank Luntz tested precision, at them.

    I consider myself to be smart, yet I have been suckered and lie to and cheated a couple times. But what happens when the propaganda has been so pervasive that the beliefs of neighbors, friends, family and community all reinforce these lies. Wrap your head around that, and understand that is the reality you are stepping into when dealing with the actual base of the Republican Party.

    Democrats need to speak to the fact that the Republican Party lies to people. That it is not just Trump, although he is an excellent face for the extensiveness of the lying. They have to lie in order to win. They have to make people believe that they are trying to help them when in fact, as with their health care proposal, they exist to make the rich richer and have no concern for the rest of us, other than manipulating enough votes from their base.

    The reality is that for the last 8 years Democrats did not do much for these voters. Today, the only message from Democrats to Trump voters that has a chance to overcome who they trust and what they believe is for Democrats to ask these folks to judge our Party based on what we do, not what Republicans tell you we do, and then live up to it.

    Lambert and Rich and Markos need to understand that this is how you reach out to these Trump voters. Not by selling them on a Republican-lite agenda, but by doing the right thing for every American trapped in this shitty economy, in our shitty health care system, and in our shitty politics.

    1. jrs

      I don’t think Lambert is judging them, but where I think the analysis goes wrong is that if the propaganda really is that thick I don’t think you can necessarily defeat it just by offering a good program. But it would be nice if we had more people trying of course.

      1. Marina Bart

        What’s your explanation for how Bernie was on track to win states like Georgia in the general election? Or all those coal miners — from states like Kentucky and West Virginia — thanking Bernie in person for standing up for them?

        Yes, there is racism, in the south, in the midwest, even in Manhattan. Voters want help. They’ll take help where they can get it. If neither party will materially help them, they’ll side with the party that at least doesn’t scorn and insult them.

        This isn’t hard, unless your income depends on it being hard.

        1. Marina Bart

          Sorry, I should have made clearer that my heavy sarcasm is not directed at you, but at those pushing the propaganda that voters are too stupid to vote in their self-interest now.

          I do think that a solid program of universal benefits, pushed by a candidate with a track record that indicates they’ll do as they promise, would win easily in a free and fair election, and even in a moderately tainted one. Bernie would have won the general election if the Clintonites had just a bit less capacity to steal in the primary. That’s with all the electoral problems we have. The numbers say so, and we’re supposed to worship at the alter of mathematics, aren’t we?

    2. John Zelnicker

      @KYrocky – I’m not sure about Rich and Marcos because I don’t read their drivel. However, it appears that you didn’t understand this post at all, if you actually read it. I’m not going to try to explain Lambert’s positions to you, he can do that if he so chooses, or you can read more of his posts on this subject. But, to put Lambert in the same category as Rich and Markos is a serious error on your part, and it weakens your credibility.

    3. Kokuanani

      But what happens when the propaganda has been so pervasive that the beliefs of neighbors, friends, family and community all reinforce these lies.

      As others have pointed out here, this phenomenon is not limited to Republicans. How many of us have tried to discuss with “neighbors, friends [or] family” the limitations and downright Bad Points of Clinton [both of them], Obama and the Dems? How many of us shake our heads at tweets or Facebook comments by those same folks that show they believe the lies of the Dems and their minions? [MSNBC, I’m looking at you] Seriously, has anyone here EVER been able to get someone to listen to a litany of St. Obama’s sins?

      It’s not just the “hillbillies” that are “ignorant” or “uninformed”. And in particular, a Harvard degree does not cure stupid.

      1. Sanctimonious

        Thank you! My thoughts exactly. Substitute “Democrat” for “Republican”, “Clinton” for “Trump” and “mainstream media” for “Fox News” and it’s the same story on the Democratic side. My personal experience is with being completely shut down when I try to present differing news sources and viewpoints from the standard Democratic talking points and propaganda outlets (e.g., MSNBC) to Clinton supporters. My sister literally plugs her ears and shouts over me so she doesn’t have to listen to anything remotely critical of Hillary. It was impossible to get a Democrat to hear anything critical of Obama’s ACA (flaws due to “Republican obsruction”).

        But in terms of politics, more than anything else, it is a matter of who they believe. Speaking generally, what they believe is not a result of careful consideration of an issue, it is based on who they heard say what.

        Further, once they believe something discussions of those topics cannot follow rational lines. To question their views is to question their beliefs, beliefs that are held as strong as a religious belief. Beliefs so strong they will flat out dismiss any evidence that would prove their belief wrong.

        What Lambert, Rich, Markos and just about every one who denigrates the rural Trump voter never bothers to understand is that for many, many in this population the sources of information they trust are talk radio, Fox, and other people like them listening to and watching the same programs.

        What Lambert and Rich fail to recognize is that these folks believe they are well informed. That they understand the facts. And they are, from the sources that are pretty much right-wing, coordinated propaganda. Sources they trust to be telling them the truth. In this regard they are no different from Trump voters pretty much anywhere. And they do not deserve to die for having believed a generation’s worth of broadcasts targeted, with scientific and Frank Luntz tested precision, at them.

        I consider myself to be smart, yet I have been suckered and lie to and cheated a couple times. But what happens when the propaganda has been so pervasive that the beliefs of neighbors, friends, family and community all reinforce these lies. Wrap your head around that, and understand that is the reality you are stepping into when dealing with the actual base of the Republican Party.

        Democrats need to speak to the fact that the Republican Party lies to people. That it is not just Trump, although he is an excellent face for the extensiveness of the lying. They have to lie in order to win. They have to make people believe that they are trying to help them when in fact, as with their health care proposal, they exist to make the rich richer and have no concern for the rest of us, other than manipulating enough votes from their base.

        1. flora

          yep. And no where in the Dem estab is there any talk of Main Street or rural economics.

          Trump ran on “job, jobs, jobs.” That’s economic talk, at least. The Dems won’t go near Main Street or rural economic talk. Well, what could the Dem estab say to them after 8 years of worsening economic conditions for Main Street and increased monopoly power for Wall St.? Better to dismiss rural and working class voters’ economic concerns and replace that with a focus on some supposed identity failing, I guess.

  28. Winham

    This is the best response I’ve come across to Frank Rich’s screed.

    “Yes, there are racists in them thar hills, but let’s be clear: the ruling class grinds black and brown and poor people under the boot from sea to shining sea and most Americans acquiesce. Spend a day with the 21% of New Yorkers living below the federal poverty line. Take a trip to Rikers Island. See the damage white moderates can do.

    There may be moral high ground there, but none of us are anywhere near the mountaintop.

    I don’t know how to cure racism. I don’t know how to end poverty. But I’m pretty sure the solutions have to start with respecting and supporting each other’s humanity, deeply flawed though we may all be. We don’t have to accept the unacceptable. We can be hard on issues. But we have to be soft on people.”

    1. Cujo359

      Great link. The author’s right, there are a lot of pundits who seriously need to get over themselves.

    2. MirandaC

      Psst! That’s me. Thanks for the shout out. I’m mostly a lurker, but I got pissed enough to get dragged out of my hole.

  29. Duke De Guise

    The class contempt goes beyond urban/rural antagonisms and stereotypes.

    I teach in a NYC public high school, and you can find a strong local variant of Rich’s snootiness in my setting, wherein newer teachers from out of the city, often from comparatively affluent families (and vectors of gentrification despite their social justice trappings, wouldn’t cha know), can barely disguise their contempt for the white working class Outer Borough lifelong New Yorkers who came up through the CUNY or SUNY systems. Many of these people hear that Outer Borough accent and automatically assume every liberal/left stereotype of the Racist White Ethnic from Brooklyn or Queens. I see it even among those who consider themselves Leftists and radicals.

    Teach For America and kindred so-called reform groups are notorious for disparaging seasoned teachers in the public school system, instructing their young cult initiates to have nothing to do with them, but what I’m describing is different. It’s flashing a thick wad of liberal currency for all to see, heedlessly certain that you have an unlimited moral cash balance, and having a haughty, unmindful disregard for people who often have a much more nuanced view of things, whatever their politics.

    As other writers have said, whatever’s going around now is endemic, and I hardly feel like I can speak to anyone without a blanket of dogma stifling the conversation.

    1. flora

      Thanks for this comment. I wondered if Rich’s real nightmare is that he might have to share the Dem party with “those people” – the deplorables™. quelle horreur!

  30. bob k

    I have been puzzling over the question of who is trump’s base ever since he won. I have the answer: it’s not rural America (only 17% of the electorate and reliably Repub voters), and it’s not white workers in the rust belt, tho in four states they did push him over. No, his true base is college educated whites, young and old, in the suburbs and some cities (outside of east/west coast and those w/out major universities), they are predominantly well off – make 70K and over. They vote reliably Republican and did so again. the numbers back this up.

    This article from the New Republic,, points out that of the above 62% of white men (the category is not broken down by education) and the 52% of white women who voted Trump, among college-educated whites, only 39 percent of men and 51 percent of women voted for Clinton. I’m guessing they voted Trump because they ALWAYS vote Republican and would never vote Clinton.

    So the question becomes: why the rage among neoliberal pundits and the Dem party toward the white working class? Is it because Clinton tried hard to pull the college educated whites to the Dems, and failed, and they don’t want to alienate them for the future? Or do they truly think the working class – of all colors since they took blacks and latinos for granted – are truly deplorable? Or is it both? I’m going with both.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If you gave money to the Democratic Party after September 2008 (money in October is meaningless), what kind of return on your investment did you get assuming you weren’t cynical?

      It’s not anymore complicated then a kid who was given a $20 to buy certain items at a grocery store and came home with a bag of candy. The courtiers are blaming everyone they can. If Jill Stein hadn’t don’t that recount stuff, she would be public enemy number one today just like Nader.

      Russia, white trash, Trump’s celebrity, Hillary not being a politician, the left, people who didn’t clap loud enough is all meant to distract from the same effect Clinton goons who destroyed the Democratic Party in the 90’s did the same thing again when Obama gave them power after a citizen’s revolt in 2005.

      If Robbie Mook’s resume came across your desk, would you ever hire him to run something important? He lost to Donald Trump. Donna Braille? DWS? David Brock?

      Then look at the media. Does Krugman provide more value to the NYT than his contract is worth or does the NYT bestow value on the columnist? Could I get the same results with a rotating selection of economists for less money?

      Since Hillary lost, was she a bad candidate and who swore she was wonderful? If Hillary was a great candidate, who made decisions about her campaign?

      There is nothing redeeming about the efforts of Team Blue this last cycle. There are no silver linings. There needs to be a purge, and to maintain their lifestyles, they have to convince the donors something else went wrong.

        1. bob k

          not disagreeing but I think you’re missing something and that’s just how much the Third Way Dems – and that’s what the party is since it was captured by the neoliberal Clintons and Obama – has NO USE for the working class and actually despises them. this is well laid out in “Listen, Liberal” in the chapter “It takes a Democrat” where Frank discusses how WJC wanted to rip out the New Deal with his compromise w Gingrich that was aborted by his affair with Lewinsky.

          They don’t need the working class any more because they thought the credentialed class would be enough to win. that and the old reliable black and minority voters who otherwise turned out well when they were a captured vote (where else they gonna go?). Women were worked hard too. and it is well known that HRC was desperate working the suburbs to get the college educated Repubs to turn away from the grotesque Trump. But it didn’t happen. It couldn’t happen. those Repubs vote Repub in their sleep. Not desperate because they are unemployed or can’t afford health care, etc. they are white and secure and like neoliberalism and its perks. they just happen to align with the Repubs because they have voted that way for decades.

          The point remains the same: the Dems are the enemy of the working class, of all colors. and now they are attacking a straw man enemy to keep it in the minds of the party faithful that it was not them, but those moronic workers that they too should hate.

          1. Marina Bart

            The more I think about it, the more I consider that the suburban affluent Republicans are more honest than affluent Democrats. They’re both voting for racists and misogynists who oppress and exploit those lower on the class and economic hierarchy. The Republicans admit this. The Democrats do not.

            It’s not much, but it’s something. And it’s something that may be more dispositive now than the elites realize. The assumption is that the poor are stupid. That has never been my experience, and I have actually traveled in both elite circles and among the truly poor by any definition. If you make the mistake of thinking the poor are dumb, it’s easy to misjudge them and misunderstand why they vote against you. The Democrats want the poor to vote for the more polite liar, who tells the more pleasing lies. But that generally works better on the affluent, who swim in and drink from a sea of dishonesty that works to their benefit. When you’re truly vulnerable, you’re more incentivized to recognize when someone is lying to you, because it could mean life or death for you or those you love.

            It may be a real problem now that the Democrats have completely repudiated the New Deal in action, while lying about who they are and what they do in their speech. The lying itself may be making things worse for them.

            I’m not saying that voters can’t be conned. They certainly can be, and are all the time. I personally know people that have fallen for the Russia nonsense. I helped a very poor Latino day worker vote in the primary for the very first time, for Hillary Clinton. (That was heartbreaking. Everybody working the precinct table was a Berner, and we all helped this man vote against his interest without saying a word about it, even as we knew that all over the state, Clinton supporters in the same position were doing everything they could to block Bernie voters.)

            But I’m wondering if it’s yet one more thing slicing off another piece of the supposed Democrat coalition. (Yes, like Lambert, I’m refusing to endow them with an implied adjective they don’t deserve.) If the affluent want to understand why the poor won’t swallow their sewage, that may also be a factor. I can tell you it’s not that the poor are more stupid. Some of the stupidest people on earth are upper class. That’s the point of the class system: to enable one to breed however one chooses, and their offspring can produce offspring (thus being an evolutionary success) regardless of their own personal qualities and circumstances. Despite how enjoyable it is to giggle at Bertie Wooster, his astounding idiocy is a celebration of the British class system, from the point of view of the aristocracy.

            1. Norb

              Like the abuse of all language, I think the use of the word, “love”, needs to be restored to its proper place in order to have any hope improving society. Love has been made frivolous in meaning and debased in action.

              Arguments can be made that this was intentional. The root of all power seems to have two sources, physical violence and physical love.

              The democrats have rejected the principles of the New Deal and have chosen to follow the path of physical violence. They don’t have the integrity to express this openly and resort to intellectual rationalizations to mask this deceit. Republicans just moderate the degree of violence they advocate. Violence always needs an other to complete its circuit of execution. Love needs to be practiced and expressed in order to survive. It needs to continually grow, or it becomes stifled and atrophied. It looses power.

              The other is always necessary to complete the circuit of violence or love. Authoritarians living by the code of violence always rationalize their actions by expressing their love of family, tribe, and nation. They can commit great atrocities, but still love their wives and pets. They are loyal to their tribe.

              Love on the other hand can only use violence as a means of defense. To kill and give ones life in defense of that greater whole, advocating solidarity and the notion that the future is destine for all to be one, and the we are all connected in this world. All living things connected in order to survive.

              Violence has been shown to be shorted lived. In the truest sense of the word, it is unsustainable. The proper path for humanity has always been to love ones neighbor.
              The message just keeps getting forgotten.

  31. Barba Harilaos

    Lucinda gets a mention in the article (it’s a gravel road BTW – one of my very favorite records as well), and the liquidation of the Kulaks in the comments. Where else are you gonna see that? Now if we could just get a good Gus Hall quote we’d have the trifecta.

    Speaking of which, if ol’ Gus were still around he would probably be saying something about the importance of class consciousness and working class unity. And he wouldn’t be wrong.

  32. Eureka Springs

    Rich is no better than the rest of us. He’s going to be lied to again and again. It’s how parties work and nobody is suggesting the kinds of structural changes needed in how parties work. When he votes against his own interests (he claimed Sanders, but backed Clinton), he should sit and say nothing in embarrassment and self-reflection. He’s his own Lucy and Charlie Brown, and that’s not even funny. His advice sure isn’t worth 5 cents.

    That photo/sat. dish is twenty miles from my house. I figure the fellow gets a stronger internet signal than I do. Arkansas was the last southern solid blue since FDR State…. went over 60 percent Trump this year.

  33. whiteylockmandoubled

    My favorite thing is watching the Kaiser Family Foundation, NYT, Vox, systematically set people up to be mocked.

    Employer-sponsored health insurance is imploding. Premiums grew at 325% of the CPI since Obamacare, faster than the six years before passage. Deductibles are up 89% (so, higher premiums AND higher out of pocket costs) six times faster than wages. Despite all-time low nominal uninsurance rate, 31% of Americans delayed or skipped needed health care last year.

    But who is KFF doing focus groups with? Who is NYT and Vox interviewing? ONLY Trump voters who get health insurance through the exchanges or expanded Medicaid, so they can mock them for their ignorance. That’s an infinitesimal slice of the electorate. And if they should stumble across someone whose insurance from their job has turned to high deductible health savings account shit in the past six years, well those people don’t understand that the ACA has nothing to do with them. As if the Cadillac Tax wasn’t designed to produce this exact result because the bipartisan vampires in the economics profession believe in “skin in the game.”

    Sure, the ACA helped a lot of people, and yes there are some people in America who hate the law because it was the Black Guy’s Plan. But a lot more hate it because their health insurance sucks, and they have to choose between the rent or mortgage and taking their kids to the doctor. But that doesn’t get titters at brunch on the Upper East Side.

    And btw, a lot of those set-up interviews are sane — yeah, I get obamacare, but my deductibles are so high I can’t really use it. He said it was going to get better, so I took a shot.

    Setting yourself the task of finding a Trump voter who is on Obamacare and interviewing them so your really smart readers can laugh at them is an execrable exercise in class warfare.

    the Democrats have had the White House for 16 of the past 24 years and the economic circumstances of the 90% of all races and genders haven’t gotten any better. But sure, Frank, keep on hating and keep on losing elections.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And btw, a lot of those set-up interviews are sane — yeah, I get obamacare, but my deductibles are so high I can’t really use it. He said it was going to get better, so I took a shot.


    2. skippy

      Lmmao…. “skin in the game” after the toxicity background is going parabolic…. mirth…

  34. Matt "Graphics Nazi" Platte

    I call bullshit on that so-called “photo from Arkansas”. Lookit the badge (“sign”), see where the light is coming from? Yes, the lower right. Whereas the rest of the image — quite possibly an Ark. tractor is an outdoor scene, with the sun in its customary location.

    Everybody, especially the Clintons, owes Arkansas an apology.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Nope. The dish is real. Never saw it mounted on the tractor though. It’s still along HWY 62 round about Garfield, AR.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        But I don’t think you two are disagreeing.

        The Graphics Nazi says the tractor is fake, Eureka Springs says the dish is real (though never seen on a tractor). Compatible claims!

  35. Oregoncharles

    I am very struck by the fact that “liberal” is being used in the same contemptuous way, and with almost exactly the same meaning (that is, a type of conservative), as it was in the 60s by the New Left and hippies.

    Plus ca change…

    In fact, the original meaning of “liberal” was exactly what we mean by “conservative,” that is, pro-business, laissez-faire economics, and it still means that in Europe. So “neo-liberal” isn’t really neo. But in our lifetimes, the term has meant the policies of the New Deal and Great Society, with some updates, especially environmentalism and the rights-based “identity politics” – which is really just social-justice or humanitarian stuff. The problem is when it’s set in OPPOSITION to more benign economic policy – which actually makes no sense, unless you’re working for a plutocrat.

  36. OG Steve

    Apropos of the “death as life lesson” thesis.

    And as the walls come down
    And as I look in your eyes
    My fear begins to fade
    Recalling all of the times
    I have died
    and will die.
    It’s all right.
    (I don’t mind)
    I don’t mind.
    I don’t mind.
    I don’t mind.

    I am too connected to you
    To slip away, fade away.
    Days away I still feel you
    Touching me, changing me,

    Considerately killing me.

  37. Musicismath

    It’s long been my belief that classical liberalism always morphs into a form of social Darwinism in times of economic and cultural stress. The logic of liberalism, which aims to allocate artificially scarce resources according to various merit- and virtue-based metrics, guarantees that people will go sick and hungry if they don’t meet the implied standards. The tougher times are, the more people die. This is as true now, globally throughout the First World under means-tested neoliberalism, as it was in, say, Southwark and Borough in the 1840s, where liberals imposed their moral discipline via the instruments of selective charity and the workhouse.

    Universal benefits now. No more workhouses and debtors’ prisons (or their modern equivalents).

  38. Andrew

    Where can the American electorate be expected to locate that working class first political left Lambert? Heck, even Sanders elected to join the neoliberal left and abandon his working class supporters as newly identified enemies of the state to Frank Rich’s shiv welding mercies in a most Trumpian way.

    Up next, weather with Debbie.

  39. Musicismath

    It’s long been my belief that classical liberalism always morphs into a form of social Darwinism in times of economic and cultural stress. The logic of liberalism, which aims to allocate artificially scarce resources according to various merit- and virtue-based metrics, guarantees that people will go sick and hungry if they don’t meet the implied standards. The tougher times are, the more people die. This is as true now, globally throughout the First World under means-tested neoliberalism, as it was in, say, Southwark and Borough in the 1840s, where early Victorian liberals imposed their moral discipline via the instruments of selective charity and the workhouse.

    Universal benefits now. No more workhouses and debtors’ prisons (or their modern equivalents).

  40. PhilipL

    It’s not quite accurate to highlight women/PoC from the above chart to demonstrate that the central thesis behind so-called “white working class” is broken because 25.21 points went to Trump according to this chart when 19 points of that number is represented by white women voters…obviously PoC of both genders did not support Trump and were not swayed by the faux economic populism he was peddling and has been used to explain away many of the race biases demonstrated by his supporters.

  41. casino implosion

    “Conservatives kick you in the ribs. Liberals put a tweedy arm round your shoulder while sticking the shiv in so expertly you don’t realize you’re bleeding out ’til later.”

    I’ve got to get my wife to read this, since for years I’ve been explaining that I’d rather be stabbed in the front than the back.

    As for Rich, I usually can’t make it for more than a paragraph of his pieces before yawning sets in, but I read this whole thing and once again this blue-collar, college-educated Bernie Bro was proud to have pulled the lever for Trump and confusion to the Frank Riches of the world forevermore.

    1. jrs

      I’m yet to wonder rationally what’s so great about being stabbed in the front. If that’s the metaphor we are used stabbed is stabbed, and what we are actually referring to policy is policy.

  42. ewmayer

    Shorter Rich:

    [1] There is no non-white working class, because IdPol decrees that such people’s skin color is all that matters. Conveniently this allows libruls like Richie Rich to fob all responsibility for working-class PoC’s victimhood off on evil racist Republicans rather than meritorious non-racist working-class-despising Dems, and despising the working class is OK in this tautological framing because they’re all white racists anyway. Ain’t it cool?

    [2] Unreachables and Intractables — they’re the new Deplorables!

  43. Walt Auvil

    I did not wade through all the comments, so I apologize if this was mentioned previously. I am from and live in WV. I agree with a good bit of this commentary. However, I find the adoption of the Newt Gingrich/Frank Luntz coined misnomer “Democrat” Party throughout annoying. Call people and political parties by their name.

  44. JTFaraday

    “The left puts the working class first, not markets, because they are not neoliberals.”

    The left, on this definition, also accepts the market by also (re)defining human beings and citizens as the working class identity created by the markets. But don’t let that stop you.

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