Guest post: If you want evidence of the contempt of Conservative punditry

Guest post by Lady Mondegreen.

If you want evidence of the contempt of Conservative punditry for the working-class whites who vote for them, look no further than the National Review:

Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America…

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.”

The Right needs little excuse to lecture poor people on how it’s all their own fault, but I’m pretty sure that David French and Kevin Williamson are going on about “Personal responsibility” here in order to disavow any personal moral responsibility on the part of movement Conservatism for the rise of Citizen Trump.

Where I apparently agree with Kevin Williamson (the original piece is behind a paywall, so I’m going by this “defense,”) is, we both think Trump’s supporters have a sense of aggrieved entitlement.

We disagree about the nature and causes of that imagined entitlement. Williamson seems to think the poor whites attracted to Trump are morally dysfunctional (and uppity re their betters at National Review) because that damned Welfare State has conditioned them to expect that the government won’t let them and their children starve. I think that they’re morally culpable for buying into the racism and xenophobia that the Right has been exploiting for decades, that lets them blame their economic problems on black and brown people, and foreigners.

But those economic problems are real. They cannot be handwaved aside with that handy conservative mantra “Personal Responsibility.”

6 Responses to “Guest post: If you want evidence of the contempt of Conservative punditry”