I went into “hold the presses” mode after learning about the remarks made by Secretary Clinton at a recent fundraiser in New York City. The remarks came during a speech in which she lumped her rival’s supporters into a “basket of deplorables.” Poor word usage aside (deplorable is an adjective and not a noun), condemnation from across the board led to her issuing a statement in which she regretted a least a portion of what she had said. According to USA Today, Sec. Clinton stated, “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea, I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong.”
In her own words, she was only 50% wrong in her views of Trump supporters. Personally, it is hard for me to view either Trump or Clinton with more than morbid curiosity. But in my humble opinion, I believe it is more like Sec. Clinton was 75 to 80% wrong as a closer examination of her speech will illuminate just why:
“. . . I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”
“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well. . . “
Sec. Clinton seems to see two types of Trump supporter; Those who are anti-immigrant racists (or simply don’t have much use for her), and those who, to quote the late George Carlin, are getting screwed by “a system that threw them overboard 30 years ago” and support Trump our of a sense of frustration. The former she has obviously written off altogether and with the latter she may see a glimmer of hope that with the right catch phrase, she can swing to vote for her.
What Sec. Clinton either fails to understand or simply won’t consider, is that it is all one basket and not two. Author and blogger John Michael Greer recently stated that non-working class folk are quick to use terms like “racist” because they don’t want to admit that a large swath of Americans are being devastated by what can best be termed “class warfare.”
Treaties like NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, (let’s not fail to mention the soon to come TPP) have effectively outsourced millions of good wage earning jobs. And for those jobs that cannot be readily outsourced, the solution is the application of unbridled immigration to erode wages and benefits of working folk employed in areas such as construction, janitorial, food and other services.
It is the wage earner who has borne the brunt of the negative impacts neoliberal policies in which the global pursuit of price and profit has taken priority over the preservation the US citizen’s standard of living. To paraphrase Dermot O’Connor, working class folk don’t reap the benefits of neoliberalism. They are not the ones having their lawns mowed, nails done and houses cleaned for cheap. They have experienced only downward pressure on their ability to get by.
All of this has led to anger and outrage on the part of many working class Americans. It might appear on the surface like xenophobia, but peel back a layer and you will find it is a reaction to the economic policies of the last four presidential administrations. It is the reason Trump (a billionaire) can fill a stadium and Sec. Clinton can’t fill a high school auditorium. He has placed a spotlight on some of their greatest grievances.
I think the days of the elites dividing America on race is coming to an end. Members of the working class, whether they are Black, Hispanic, White, Native American or Asian Pacific Islander are beginning to recognize the status quo for what it is, a war on them, their families and their communities. And as imperfect a candidate as Donald Trump is, with Bernie Sanders having departed the field, he is the only candidate speaking to the issue of class warfare.
From the movie Bulworth starring Warren Beatty:
“All this information makes America phat/ But if the company’s outta the country/ How American is that? But we got Americans with families that can’t even buy a meal/ Ask a brother who’s been downsized if he’s getting any deal/ Or a white boy bustin ass til they put him in his grave/ He ain’t gotta be a black boy to be livin like a slave/ Rich people have always stayed on top by dividing white people from colored people/ but white people got more in common with colored people then they do with rich people . . .”