Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Liberals and smugness -- who is right?

Jamelle Bouie: Not Smug?
Emmett Rensin’s “Vox” inside-the-family essay on liberal smugness (covered here) seems to have struck a nerve. Liberal black commentator Jamelle Bouie is chief political correspondent for Slate and a CBS News political analyst.

Bouie seeks to defend liberalism from the “smug” charge by going after what he calls Resin's three “fatal flaws”: 1) the black-led civil rights revolution, not smugness, drove (bigoted) working class whites from the Democratic Party; 2) the smugness Resin sees in media and social media represent only “small portions—fractions—of the Democratic Party”; and 3) “Affluent, college-educated liberals are just part of the Democratic Party.”

Maybe. From my perspective, the academy and the media -- old and new -- represent the party’s brains.

But watch. Defending his position, Bouie offers a “Good Fact” -- the exact way Rensin says is how the smug knowing operate. Writes Bouie:
Rensin doesn’t seem aware, for instance, of the partnerships between black and white Democrats in the South that delivered a measure of investment in public goods through the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s—until racial resentment helped kill the white Southern Democrat as a political figure. [emphasis added]
Even if true, that's little progress for 25 years, mostly under Democratic presidents.

Bouie employs his “good fact” to refute Rensin’s assertion that blacks and others, “bereft of the material and social capital required to dominate elite decision making. . . were largely excluded from an agenda driven by the New Democratic core: the educated, the coastal, and the professional.”

Rensin is suggesting that minorities who have stuck with Democrats are losing out along with departed working class whites.  Bouie thinks otherwise, but "good facts" are on Rensin's side.

Conservatives are naturally delighted to witness the fuss stirred up by Rensin's reform-the-liberals effort. But as conservative Wall Street Journal commentator Peggy Noonan reminds us, Republicans have disorder in their own house:
Lately conservative thinkers and journalists had taken to making clear their disdain for the white working class. I had actually not known they looked down on them. I deeply resented it and it pained me. If you’re a writer lucky enough to have thoughts and be paid to express them and there are Americans on the ground struggling, suffering—some of them making mistakes, some unlucky—you don’t owe them your airy, well-put contempt, you owe them your loyalty. They too have given a portion of their love to this great project, and they are in trouble.

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