Thursday, April 3, 2008

WORKING CLASS WHITES DON'T OWN PREJUDICE; THEIR BOSSES DO

PETER DREIER, THE AMERICAN PROSPECT. Wealthy whites are more likely than working-class whites to use the race card in the voting booth. Voting statistics reveal that most upper-income whites consistently vote in Republican, not Democratic, primaries, which means they don't have to vote for black or Latino candidates. And in partisan run-off elections, wealthy whites overwhelmingly vote for Republican over Democratic contenders. In the 2004 presidential contest, eight of the 10 wealthiest congressional districts voted for Bush. The two districts that went to Kerry were both in California's high-tech-oriented Silicon Valley. White voters earning incomes of more than $200,000 a year cast 66 percent of their ballots for Bush. (The Kerry voters among them tended to be professionals in human services, government, teaching, and creative sectors, not those in business and management.)

In contrast, among white voters with family incomes between $15,000 and $30,000, 51 percent voted for Bush, and among white voters in the $30,000 to $50,000 range, 58 percent went with Bush.

If Barack Obama winds up facing John McCain in November, Obama will certainly attract some upper-class white voters -- including some among the 1 percent of Americans with incomes over $364,657, who have 22 percent of all income and own 37 percent of all corporate stock. Because their numbers are so small, they won't make a big difference in the outcome of the election, except in terms of where they send their campaign contributions.

It is all but certain, though, that in an Obama-McCain face-off fewer wealthy whites will vote for Obama than working-class whites whom affluent pundits are so quick to label as racist. Indeed, we've already seen a significant number of blue-collar white voters show their support for Obama in Iowa, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states. Yes, white working-class Democrats in economically troubled Ohio favored Clinton over Obama. But in November, most of the blue-collar Democrats, working-class independents, and union members who voted for Clinton -- in Ohio and elsewhere -- are likely to switch to Obama, not McCain. . .

Of course, class and income aren't the only factors that determine white voting behavior. Age plays a role, too. So far, Obama has inspired a significant increase in turnout among young white voters, but he hasn't fared as well among middle-aged and elderly whites. Unfortunately for the Democrats, young voters are fleeing the older Rust Belt areas like Ohio and Pennsylvania, both key battleground states.

In the Democratic primaries, white Catholics have favored Clinton, while white Protestants preferred Obama. Neither Democrat is likely to win over many white evangelicals, but a significant number might stay home in November if McCain can't convince them that he's sufficiently conservative. National Rifle Association members aren't likely to give Obama or Clinton many of their votes either.

Unions play a critical role in shaping white workers' views and mobilizing them in elections. When voters' loyalties are divided between their economic interests and other concerns, union membership can be a crucial determinant. In 2004, for example, George Bush won by a 62 percent to 37 percent margin among white males. But John Kerry carried white males who were union members by a 59 percent to 38 percent difference. Bush won among white women by 55 percent to 44 percent, but Kerry won white women union members by 67 percent to 32 percent.

Similarly, gun owners favored Bush by a 63 percent to 36 percent margin, but union members who own guns supported Kerry 55 percent to 43 percent, according to an AFL-CIO survey. Bush carried all weekly church-goers by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin, but Kerry won among union members who attend church weekly by a 55 percent to 43 percent split. Despite Kerry's tepid campaign and upper-crust demeanor, union members gave him 61 percent of their votes over Bush. In the battleground states, where unions focused their turnout efforts, they did even better. In Ohio, for example, union members favored Kerry by a 67 percent to 31 percent margin. . .

Although working-class white Americans may harbor racist sentiments, they do not control the major institutions that are responsible for America's racial divide, including the economic forces that sometimes pit white, black, and Hispanic working families against each other for jobs, housing, and decent schools.

For example, it is upper-class whites who own and control the banks that persistently engage in abusive and predatory practices against black and Latino borrowers. . .

It is wealthy whites who also own and control the nation's largest corporations, few of whom have any African-Americans or Latinos on their boards of directors (certainly not in numbers reflective of the larger population). It is these major white-controlled corporations that continue to discriminate against blacks, Latinos, and, yes, women, in hiring and promotion

It is the major media, owned and controlled by wealthy whites and managed primarily by upper-middle class white publishers and editors, who perpetuate racial stereotypes in their news reporting. As political scientist Martin Gilens documented in his book, Why Americans Hate Welfare, the media systematically portray blacks in stereotypical ways. In photos and prose, the media over-represent blacks in stories about the poor and welfare. Gilens found, for example, that more than 60 percent of poor people portrayed in the media were black, when in reality blacks comprise only 27 percent of all poor people. . .

It is upper-class and upper-middle-class whites who live in and control the wealthy suburbs that keep blacks out of their communities and their local schools. . .

It is also wealthy whites who long resisted allowing blacks, even affluent blacks, to join their exclusive private country clubs, so that they could keep their distance while playing tennis and golf. . .

While upper-middle class pundits may get some smug pleasure out of pointing to racial prejudice among America's white working-class voters, they would be more accurate if they looked up, rather than down, the economic ladder to identify who really has the power to prop up, or fix, the institutions that turn bigotry into discrimination.

16 Comments:

At April 3, 2008 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sort of blows a hole in the theorizings of some of the little privileged-class Caucasian student hipsters who regularly post here, that Whitey Blue-Collar is the source of all the evils in this society, doesn't it?

No matter, I'm sure many of them are still smug and self-righteous enough to attempt some smarmy comeback to this.

 
At April 3, 2008 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being the internet and most comments here anonymous, it's impossible to tell the color or race of anyone posting them.

Sort of blows a hole in your troll.

 
At April 3, 2008 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that the best you can manage by way of comebak to my point is to drag out the hoary old epithet "troll"--suggests that you really have no better answer to a legitimate observation that obviously struck a nerve with you.

Also interesting is your surmise that because most of the posts are under 'anonymous', "it's impossible to tell the color or race of anyone posting them". Isn't it just a tad presumptious, not to say possibly racist, to think that one can determine the color or "race" of a person merely by his/her name?

I think you've validated the gist of my comments pretty neatly, 539. Tell me, are you by chance a white college student from a rather well-heeled background? Sorry I wasn't able to deduce that from your post. But then, I guess I'm just not as keen about that sort of thing as you must surely be.

 
At April 3, 2008 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can the troll above do any better than construct cliched strawmen?

 
At April 4, 2008 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it's just a game. Anything you say to this one will be transformed via the principles of propaganda into utter nonsense. He or she shows up regularly and apparently depends on this process for self-esteem.

 
At April 4, 2008 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tsk tsk...the two of you are letting your elitist class hatreds show, I'm afraid.

And as I noted above, the more you trot out the catcalls of 'troll', the more evident you make it that you have no substantive reply to make to my contentions.

But, then again, I didn't really think you did.

 
At April 4, 2008 10:04 PM, Anonymous laughing said...

Seems to me we have a guy here who feels he got beaten out of his grant or his ta job because of affirmative action. Maybe his middle class black neighbors look down on his white working class ass. Maybe he has a genuine beef . My advice is this: don't let other people's bullshit make you into a knuckleheaded racist. The trouble with racism is that it's just too easy. This is the fortieth anniversery of MLK's assassination, and the reason he was killed is that the guys who run this country are scared shitless of poor people, black and white, unifying. Don't make it so easy for them.

 
At April 5, 2008 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No I haven't been "beaten out of a grant by affirmative action policies". I'm a blue collar worker myself, in a service industry job, who's not likely to be applying for grants. Where you deduce that I'm a "knuckleheaded racist" from my posts is beyond me, since the only mention I've made of the term was to point out to another poster that there's something slightly 'racist' in his/her observation in regard to the idea that a person's 'race' could be adduced merely from their name. Of course, if one has the subject of racism on the brain, one will find it any and everywhere, as previous postings of yours make amply evident. But the old adage "Assume and you make an ass out of you and me" is one that I find holds very true, particularly applied to those who believe that they can determine every pertinent character trait of another human being from a several-line post. If you're concerned about hate, my suggestion is that you read a little more closely the comments of the two prior respondents to my post. They would seem to me to reek of the very obvious disdain that the young, privileged, collegiate White tends to not infrequently bestow on the working classes of this country, irrespective of their race. Which was my point from the get-go.

 
At April 6, 2008 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh great "Laughing"'s back. The guy who calls other posters assholes, pricks, and racists, and that's when he's AGREEING with them.

 
At April 6, 2008 4:00 PM, Anonymous laughing said...

11:02 If you're not the guy who recently asserted that the Katrina victims are so much flotsam jetsam and a waste of your "shekels" , I'm mistaken and I apologise , but not to the weakling assholes who are willing to give up the constitution because they're scared shitless of everyone who didn't grow up in their subdivision.

 
At April 7, 2008 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only 'apology' I'd want from you is that you pay other posters the courtesy of actually reading their comments, before sounding off, rather than just glancing through them in order to pick out whatever buzzwords might set you off on a rant.

As to the "Katrina" remarks, I can only say, WTF? Not acquainted with them; sorry if somebody said something genuinely offensive, but it has nothing to do with my above points, and I don't have any control over the content of other folk's posts. Bringing it up here smacks of some sort of go at obfuscating the point of what I've been saying, and if you're no better at discussion than to resort to rhetorical tricks to blunt the thrust of points that apparently cause you some discomfiture, there's not much more, really, to be said to you.

I do have to evince a mild chuckle though, at 5:54's remarks (above). Sounds as if somebody here has got you pretty dead to rights.

 
At April 8, 2008 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny to see the guy who claims every one else is making false assumptions assuming so much about his critics. I am an old, barely getting by, non-college grad, not a young, rich, collegiate. That doesn't stop me from having contempt for the pride with which some "blue-collar types" show off their ignorance.

Also, it's not possible to make substantive replies to posts that contain nothing substantive in the first place. Hence, the application of the very apt description, troll.

 
At April 8, 2008 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, because some "blue-collar types" (and I'd be rather curious to know precisely what you mean by that phrase, since you haven't bothered to elaborate) have (according to your lights) "shown off their ignorance", that makes it okay for you to hate on the working class as a group. Needless to say, no young, white collegian type has ever displayed wanton ignorance in your presence.

If you believe that your own post has contained anything of "substance", then it's not merely the "blue-collar-types" putting their ignorance on display, 6:58--nor yet myself.

And it amuses me no end to see you pull the 'troll" crack out of your ass yet again, as it makes for all the advert necessary on your part to demonstrate that you have nothing of any value to reply.

Take your class contempt, and shove it up your fundament, 6:58. I'd rather be a troll who speaks uncomfortable truths--that obviously, and happily, I'd say--piss your "type" off, then be a toad puffed up with self-righteous and thoroughly misplaced elitist sentiment such as yourself.

 
At April 8, 2008 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

320, it's sadly plain that 658 is the kind of quisling who hopes to curry favor with his socio-economic 'betters' by licking their boots, and turning on his own class, if the description he gives of himself is accurate. if he's old and hardly getting by, he's just the type the yuppies would like to see get mashed up into Soylent Green, so maybe it's fear that compels him to feel the need to stroke them up.
actually he did say something of substance by revealing just how quick the poor and underclasses of this country can be to stand up for their exploiters, and stab the people who are in the same boat as themselves. that's why there will never be any kind of successful uprising on the part of the exploited working class in this fucked up country, 320.

 
At April 9, 2008 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love following the comments on any post Sam makes on the subject of race. They always demonstrate how successful the elite have been at keeping the middle and lower classes fighting over race among themselves while the rich go on screwing them all regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or political inclination. You're all fools. Wake up before you find yourselves doing slave labor for the rich 80 hours a week while being spied on 24 hours a day. Oh, wait, it's too late. You're already there and still you waste your energy blaming those who have a different skin color for all your problems while ignoring the rich giants up above pissing on all your heads.

 
At April 9, 2008 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make some good points, 7:17, but you sidestep what I see as being the main thrust of 6:18 and 4:05's remarks, which are that the wealthy elite of this country have not only successfully kept the classes below it squabbling over race, but also in-fighting amongst themselves (the middle classes looking down on 'poor white blue-collar trash', etc, etc.), and keeping the lower classes so enthralled by media displays of wealth and privilege, that they will gladly defend the elites, and squander their cash and energies in trying to emulate them (or at least live with the vain hope that some windfall will make them wealthy and powerful one day, too). There is absolutely no reason why pointing out these facts should be mutually exclusive to making the points you bring up about the elite's manipulations of racial hatreds, 7:17. In fact, both have sprung from pretty much exactly the same poisoned well.

 

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