So Dave Weigel, at Slate, posted this youtube on Wednesday, under the heading “Democratic Consultant + Video Camera + South Carolina Tea Party Rally = Oy“:
Remember those interviews with racist Democratic voters in West Virginia back in 2008? Remember the interviews outside McCain-Palin rallies — that nice gentleman with the toy monkey who called it “little Hussein”? Yeah. Things are not better now. And there aren’t any Democratic primary rallies at which conservatives can record competing videos.
Thing is — possibly because I am a Democrat, and lacking in the single-minded savagery essential to modern political WINNING! — this video just makes me feel sad, and slightly creeped out. These people are, no argument, ignorant racist low-information serfs who in Plato’s ideal society would not be permitted to vote, or exist. If they were my personal relatives, I would lie about it to my friends. They’re old, and ugly, and mostly could not win an argument against a moderately well-prepared farm animal. But they are victims, and laughing at them… just ain’t right.
Joe Bageant died recently, and I have been dog-earring Deer Hunting with Jesus with the idea of writing an appreciation. Bageant’s people are the Permanent White Underclass, people like the poor souls in the video, smart enough to know they’ve been cheated but not smart enough not to be cheated again and again by the same rotating cast of thugs, grifters, sociopaths, and Republicans. People like Dottie:
Dot’s life has been every bit as hard as Patsy’s. Harder really, because Dot has lived twice as long as Patsy Cline managed to, and she looks it. By the time my people hit sixty, we look like a bunch of hypertensive red-faced toads in a phleghm-coughing contest. Doctors tell us that we have blood in our cholesterol, and the cops tell us there is alcohol in that blood. True to our class, Dottie is disabled by heart trouble, diabetes, and several other diseases. Her blood pressure is so high the doctor thought the pressure device was broken. And she is slowly going blind to boot.
Trouble is, insurance costs her as much as rent. Her old man makes $8 an hour washing cars at a dealership, and if everything goes just right they have about $55 a week left for groceries, gas and everything else. But if an extra expense as small as $30 comes in, they compensate by not filling one of Dot’s prescriptions — or two or three of them — in which case she gets sicker and sicker until they can afford the co-pay to refill the prescriptions again. At fifty-nine, these repeated lapses into vessel-popping high blood pressure and diabetic surges pretty much guarantee that she won’t collect Social Security for long after she reaches sixty-three, if she reaches sixty-three…
I grew up in a Northern city, not the rural South. But Dottie’s people were my people — we come from the same stock. I can say with conviction that the main difference between me and Dottie were an extra decade of social progress, Griswold v. Connecticut and a Pell Grant. It was not the result of good planning on my part, or my parents’, just luck. Luck, and good government, because access to birth control and college not only improved my own little life, it has enabled the government to collect many times in taxes & ‘productivity’ the cost of that seed grant.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t argue with these Tea Party folks. Or fail to point and laugh at the slick grifters standing on the podium misleading them further down the road to their own ruination — Nikki Haley, Michele Bachman, Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes and all their ilk. Extremely mock-worthy, all these candidates, and their puppeteers even more so!
But I don’t see mocking someone like the lady in the red cowboy hat, who’s so happy to be accepted — so grateful that people are willing to give her their discards, to eke out her Social Security — as a winning strategy. If you have an argument in opposition, I would be interested in reading it.