Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Small Town Support for Trump and “The Working Class”

Much has been written about voters, sometimes labeled the “white working class”, who live in small towns, have low incomes and supported Trump in 2016.  There are various hypotheses—not, despite the rhetoric, mutually exclusive—that have been proposed to explain this: never-ending latent racism galvanized by the experience of having a black president, a vote of despair in the face of economic decline, paranoia fueled by fictitious narratives of immigrant crowding and crime.  I just finished reading a post-mortem on the recent British election that, by analogy, suggests two more hypotheses about Trumpism:

1) With decades-long declines in deindustrializing areas, there has been a steady outflow of mostly younger residents.  This has a tendency to shift the politics of those who remain to the right based on age considerations alone, but the outflow is likely selective in other respects as well.  Those who light out to the cities are probably better educated and more tuned in to trends in metropolitan culture, taking their blue votes to jurisdictions that already pile up big majorities for Democrats.

2) What do people do when they lose their long-term jobs in manufacturing and the relatively well-paid services that cluster around manufacturing nodes?  If they don’t emigrate, what’s left?  Many look for bits of opportunity where they can find them, combinations of self-employment, gig work, off-the-books service work, etc.  Those who scrounge for income in these ways are the same people as the workers who were laid off during deindustrialization, but their class position has changed.  They no longer look to unions or government regulation to protect their interest against employers, quite the opposite.  Union work now competes with them, and regulation just makes it harder to cut the corners their livelihood depends on cutting.  In other words, their income has gone down but they are less “working class” than before.

Just to be clear, I’m not pushing these explanations.  They are just hypotheses, and it isn’t obvious to me what kind of evidence would adjudicate them.

19 comments:

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

In addition there is the whole "deaths of despair" that kick in especially in these areas, associated with broader social and community breakdown. All this just feeds into and exacerbates the trends listed here.

Anonymous said...

"I just finished reading a post-mortem on the recent British election..."

When a Jeremy Corbyn was ceaselessly attacked by the British media from 2015 on as anti-Semitic and Marxist, all that surprised me is that he lasted as Labour leader to 2019. The media was beyond scurrilous in attacks, from the Murdoch folks to the Guardian and then there were American and Australian attacks and attacks from an influential country in the Middle East. There were even German media attacks on Corbyn.

The anti-Semitism and Marxist attacks were impossible to survive. British analysts seem too ashamed to admit what happened.

Anonymous said...

When there are headlines through the media that British Jews will be leaving Britain should Corbyn become Prime Minister, when there are headlines that Corbyn is a security risk to Britain, when the BBC portrays Corbyn in a Russian hat framed against the Kremlin in stark red, when a "Chief Rabbi" condemns Corbyn as anti-Semitic, how was Corbyn going to survive?

British liberals usually appeared too frightened to defend Corbyn. Any day Corbyn would be Googled, there were a spate of articles calling Corbyn and anti-Semite. Heck, columnists for the New York Times pitched in.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

I think the case can be made that anti-Corbyn pieces in UK and US media have been overdone and overly frequent. OTOH, I know some very progressive and serious people in UK who left the Labour Party because of some of his actions and positions. At a minimum, he seems to have badly mishandled some of these issues.

Probably the most serious of these was indeed the matter of anti-Semitism. As I see it, he himself avoided anti-Semitic statements, although obviously his strongly pro-Palestinian positions had some right-wing Jews and others making that accusation against him. But the problem was that there were prominent figures in the Labour Party who went beyond that and did make genuinely anti-Semitic remarks that he failed to sufficiently combat and disavow.

Of course another problem Corbyn had was that he was pretty much completely incoherent on the question of Brexit, although that reflected the fact that the Labour Party itself was deeply split on the issue, with Johnson getting votes from many old Labour supporters in northern England who support Brexit, with this somewhat resembling the appeal Trump to many woekers in the deindustrialized parts of the US Midwest.

Calgacus said...

But the problem was that there were prominent figures in the Labour Party who went beyond that and did make genuinely anti-Semitic remarks that he failed to sufficiently combat and disavow.

No, the problem is that it was an utterly insane hate campaign, with no basis in reality. There were no such figures. The only prominent anti-semites were these insane witchhunters, as can be seen from the number of Jews expelled from Labour as anti-semites, as well as people who then tried to defend them being sent to the star chamber. Corbyn clearly should have vigorously fought the witchhunters and defended the persecuted, especially those who were Jewish, because that is so damn f--ing ridiculous - merited laughter and derision is a mighty weapon.

Britain and the rest of Europe is less pro-Palestinian than it once was - an effect of endless pressure and propaganda. Corbyn is a relic of older and saner days. This sort of thing is old hat in the USA - and I think we have gained something of an immunity to it. And so it never became as virulent, vicious and looney as it did in Britain.

Anonymous said...

"Probably the most serious of these was indeed the matter of anti-Semitism. As I see it, Corbyn himself avoided anti-Semitic statements, although obviously his strongly pro-Palestinian positions had some right-wing Jews and others making that accusation against him. But the problem was that there were prominent figures in the Labour Party who went beyond that and did make genuinely anti-Semitic remarks that he failed to sufficiently combat and disavow."

Where is the reference? Set down the precise reference? I never ever found any such references and given the absence of reference I find this bashing and trashing of Jeremy Corbyn deeply offensive. Destroying a political leader and party on the basis of ceaseless, false claims of anti-Semitism is horrid.

I am waiting for the precise reference to what I otherwise consider false and from the original purveyors entirely malicious.

Where is the reference?

Anonymous said...

Imagine failing to recognize and understand a Rupert Murdoch led campaign of prejudice against a thoroughly fine political leader whose entire career had been fighting against prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for the precise reference on anti-Semitism. The important question is whether there was a perversion of British democracy in the media rampage of anti-Semitism claims. This should not be allowed to stand undocumented and unanalyzed.

Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism from the time the Rupert Murdoch led media campaign began in 2015.

We need to get this bit of history right.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anonymous,

No, this is not because of Rupert Murdoch. How about the Guardian? theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/05/seventy-labour-staffers-give-statements-anti-semitism-inquiry

Calgacus,

Extended search finds one Jew expelled from the Labour Party over all this, Tony Greenstein, founder of Labour Against Withhunt, who is also a leading anti-Zionist campaigner. He was suspended in 2016 and expelled in Feb. 2018. This happened because of his use of "abusive language" (such as calling people "Zios").

Obviously this is a tangled up situation, but the hard fact is that Corbyn did not handle this well. 87 percent of Jews say they are afraid of Corbyn. Yes, there are a bunch of pro-Israelis pushing the campaign against Corbyn. But I suggest both of you read the Guardian article. The Labour Party of UK has a serious problem.

As it is, the party itself is deeply split on all this. A poll shows it dead even within the prty as to whether ot not it has a "problem with anti-Semitism." However only 5 percent say it is worse in the Labour Party than in the other British parties.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

BTW, I think that while Corbyn badly handled all this anti-Semitism issue, it was secondary in the defeat of Labour compared to the party's Brexit incoherence. And that is the issue that connects more directly to this thread.

As it is, I can imagine various people might get all worked up about this anti-Semitism issue in the LP, but I am not going to discuss it further. This is something that those with strong views will not change them, and this is very complicated.

Anonymous said...

"No, this is not because of Rupert Murdoch. How about the Guardian?"

As I carefully made clear, the British media in all echoed the anti-Semitism slanders that were begun by the Murdoch press. The anti-Semitism slanders began in the Murdoch press in 2015 and never stopped. Jeremy Corbyn spent an entire political career working against prejudice and repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism as the slanders flew from 2015 on.

That you fail to understand the way in which Jeremy Corbyn was slanderously attacked shocks and saddens me.

As for anti-Semitism, with a mix of Marxism, that was made the issue as a review of media after 2015 will show. Look also to the media of the Middle East country that ceaselessly attacked Corbyn as anti-Semitic, and understand what was done.

Anonymous said...

"I think that while Corbyn badly handled all this anti-Semitism issue..."

Jeremy Corbyn spent a political life working against prejudice and repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism. No matter, the slanderous attacks never ever stopped.

Anonymous said...

"87 percent of Jews say they are afraid of Corbyn."

Imagine being continually made to be afraid by a slanderous media. A political leader ceaselessly slandered by the media as prejudiced when his entire career had been working against prejudice....

Try figuring out why Australian political leaders deny climate change, after the continual denial of climate change by the dominant Murdoch media in Australia. (This in the NYTimes this week.)

Anonymous said...

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/05/seventy-labour-staffers-give-statements-to-antisemitism-inquiry

December 5, 2019

Seventy Labour staffers give statements to antisemitism inquiry
Jewish Labour Movement’s leaked EHRC submission says party is in ‘dangerous place’
By Rowena Mason, Matthew Weaver and Frances Perraudin


Thank you, I asked for a reference and here is a reference and assuming there is truth to this report then Labour had a severe anti-Semitism problem that was not dealt with by Jeremy Corbyn. Supposing this is true, then I am wrong in defending Corbyn or blaming the Murdoch media and pleased that Labour lost the election so badly and wish the loss was worse. This is shocking to me, I could not have imagined such anti-Semitism among Labour members.

Anonymous said...

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/05/seventy-labour-staffers-give-statements-to-antisemitism-inquiry

December 5, 2019

Seventy Labour staffers give statements to antisemitism inquiry
Jewish Labour Movement’s leaked EHRC submission says party is in ‘dangerous place’
By Rowena Mason, Matthew Weaver and Frances Perraudin


I am sorry to have ever defended Jeremy Corbyn.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for reading the Guardian article. While I said I would not comment on this sideshow to this thread that I started, clearly I need to respond to this. I think that you have gone from one side to its strong opposite. I wish to put forward a more nuanced view between these two. I note that not only have I spent a lot of time in UK and personally know various people involved in all this, but also really dug deeply into the stories before my last post.

1) There have been a few scattered accusations against Corbyn personallly, but not from anybody serious. Your previous defense of him personally pretty much stands. I know of nobody not a fanatic who has accused Corbyn of being personally an anti-Semite. As you previously pointed out accurately, he has a long credible record of opposing anti-Semitism and all other prejudices against minority groups, all of them.

2) What the Guardian article, and many other credible sources have shown, is that while Corbyn himself has been personally clean on all this, there have been elements in the Labour Party who have been seriously anti-Semitic, not merely critical of Israel (more on this later). This has included people not removed from the party declaring that "all Jews must be exterminated" and more stuff like that. It is the presence of this sort of thing coming out of the mouths of supposed Labour Party activists who have not been outed or ousted that lled to 87 percent of the UK Jewish population "being afraid" of Corbyn as PM of UK.

3) So the issue has been not Corbyn personally, but others in the LP. I here admit one statement I made that was inaccurate. I said that there were high LP people who were the source of anti-Semitic remarks. I was wrong, although this is a matter of dispute. The highest level suspects: Ne Shah, Ken Livingstone, and Chris Williamson, all were basically strongly pro-Palestinian critics of Israeli policy, while not clearly making any clearly specifically "anti-Semitic" or to be more accurate (Semites including Arabs).

4) Which brings us to where all this came from, which was not Murdoch newspapers in UK. It came from a fierce internal debate and power struggle within the UK Labour Party over views on the Israel/Palestine issue. Historically the LP tended to be pro-Israel and supported by a majority of British Jews. Corbyn and his closest associates have long had a position of supporting legitimate Palestinian rights while strongly and consistently opposing real anti-Semitism, which is why the LP under Corbyn has removed party members accused of anti-Semitism, inclusing Shah, Livingston, and Williamson, alhtought the latter has been readmitted, even as some have argued that they were innocent of anti-Semitism while supporting Palestinian rights.

5) On the matter of tony Greenstein, I note that he had not been in the LP. He entered it when Corbyn came to lead it on the hope of pushing it from its semi-pro-Israel position He got in trouble for coming on very aggressively. My own view is that probably the LP should have simply ignored him and left him alone, but he went after a female Jewish LP MP who has long been openly pro-Israeli, using very strong language that got used against him, even though some off it may have had a real basis (I am just not going to get into this further).

6) Anyway, Corbyn is personally clearly not an anti-Semite and generally a supporter of universal rights, including those of Palestinians. My original point on this was that he "mishandled" this issue, and I stick with that. He is personally clean, but even as his party may have removed people who did not deserve to be removed, there clearly is and has been a serious problem of anti-Semitism/Jewishness in the UK Labour Party, and Corbyn failed to convince the British Jewish population that they should not fear his party coming to power.

Barkley Rosser

Anonymous said...

"Corbyn failed to convince the British Jewish population that they should not fear his party coming to power."

Well explained; I am grateful. However, it was necessary for Corbyn to have been convincing and evidently he was not and that is terribly unfortunate for Labour and saddening.

Anonymous said...

Since Jeremy Corbyn always stood againt prejudice and repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism, I never gained a sense that the problem in Labour was serious and severe. Now I understand and presumably Corbyn understands, and Labour from here will need to be rid of prejudice to be a viable political party again.

Calgacus said...

JBR: Jackie Walker, Moshe Machover were two more expelled. There were others. People like Williamson who came to the defense of the Jewish anti-Semite Walker, were deemed anti-Semites. We've had such fake campaigns here forever, but I think they've actually inoculated us. E.g the attacks on Bernie Sanders as a Jewish anti-Semite are not going well. The British lack of such immunity is why they were able to run an unprecedentedly insane hate campaign and actually get people to believe the nonsense. You can fool all the people, some of the time.

The only thing I can agree with is that Corbyn could have handled it better. Take a principled position and attack. There is always some good thing or good person in a bad movement and vice versa, Corbyn can't babysit and spank everyone in a party of millions. The anti-Semitic Party in the UK is the Tories as studies have shown. This hate campaign is like attacking the pre-WWII German Social Democrats or Communists as anti-Semites - surely there were many in those parties - and not the Nazis. Oy vey.