Sunday, June 10, 2018


Last week, The New York Times published a gut-wrenching story about a five-year-old Honduran boy who was forcibly separated from his father at the U.S. border and deprived of even phone contact with him for weeks.
An American government escort handed over the 5-year-old child, identified on his travel documents as José, to the American woman whose family was entrusted with caring for him. He refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride “home.” The first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into “just moaning and moaning,” said Janice, his foster mother. He recently slept through the night for the first time, though he still insists on tucking the family pictures [he had drawn] under his pillow.
In response, Charlie Pierce wrote:
The United States government is now committing human rights atrocities within its own borders and against the most vulnerable people it can find. I don’t need to “understand,” much less take seriously, anyone who still supports this president* and his administration* because, if you do, you’ve taken the idea of America and run battery acid through its veins.
While the president's behavior over the weekend wasn't as appalling on the level of simple human cruelty, I had a similar reaction to it: I don't need to "understand" the people who are cheering the ill-informed, petulant, traitorous behavior of the president in the past two days. Paul Krugman wrote:
... there has never been a disaster like the G7 meeting that just took place. It could herald the beginning of a trade war, maybe even the collapse of the Western alliance. At the very least it will damage America’s reputation as a reliable ally for decades to come....

[Trump] didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing....

Trump started with a call for readmitting Russia to the group, which makes no sense at all.... It was brought in for strategic reasons, and kicked out when it invaded Ukraine. There is no possible justification for bringing it back, other than whatever hold Putin has on Trump personally.

Then Trump demanded that the other G7 members remove their “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on U.S. goods – which would be hard for them to do, because their actual tariff rates are very low. The European Union, for example, levies an average tariff of only three percent on US goods....

True, there are some particular sectors where each country imposes special barriers to trade. Yes, Canada imposes high tariffs on certain dairy products. But it’s hard to make the case that these special cases are any worse than, say, the 25 percent tariff the U.S. still imposes on light trucks. The overall picture is that all of the G7 members have very open markets.

So what on earth was Trump even talking about?
I don't need to "get out of my liberal bubble" and "understand" people who'd cheer this on. This threatens their economic well-being. This is a danger to global security, which ought to concern them. But they think he's bullying fancy-pants foreigners, and they love it. And they'll also love it when he doesn't bully our adversaries. David Frum writes:
Trump is locked into a cycle in his top-level diplomacy: bully-cringe-bully-cringe. He bullies traditional friends and allies; he cringes to adversaries, dictators, and potential funding sources for Trump enterprises. Bullying the G7 was the weekend’s story; cringing to North Korea—and behind it, China—will be the story of the week ahead.
And with all this, what do we see on the op-ed pages of The New York Times? Yet another piece attacking suburban liberals as history's greatest monsters.
The political culture of upscale suburbs revolves around resource hoarding of children’s educational advantages, pervasive opposition to economic integration and affordable housing, and the consistent defense of homeowner privileges and taxpayer rights.
The piece, by Lily Geismer and Matthew D. Lassiter, is titled "Turning Affluent Suburbs Blue Isn’t Worth the Cost."

I'll acknowledge that there's some validity to Geismer and Lassiter's main argument: The Democratic Party has been less progressive than it could be, and the shift away from issues such as labor rights has coincided with a focus on appealing to voters in the suburbs. But Republicans began winning over white working-class voters when labor still had some clout, by appealing to those voters on culture-war grounds. That continues to this day, and it's worse than ever, because the culture war is now the war for Trumpism, with everything that entails.

At this point, if upscale suburbanites understand what's wrong with Trump and the white working class doesn't, I don't see the point in continuing to beg for the white working class's votes. Many white Democrats support the policies Geismer and Lassiter endorse -- increased labor advocacy, progressive tax reform, expansion of access to health care, anti-racism.

But none of this will win over the white voters who think Trump kicked "globalist," "elitist" ass over the weekend. They're lost to us. With five months to go till the midterms, we have to go to war with the un-bamboozled volunteer army we have, not with the army Geismer and Lassiter think we could have.

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