I sense I’m in the minority here, but I find erstwhile BJ front-pager Freddie deBoer consistently interesting to read. Douthat of the NYT references a recent deBoer piece in yesterday’s column:
I like how the left¬wing gadfly Fredrik deBoer framed this issue: “What do you owe to people who are guilty of being wrong?” It’s a question for liberals all across the Western world to ponder, given the widening gulf between their increasingly cosmopolitan parties and an increasingly right-¬leaning native working class.
deBoer, pondering the view of “our liberal intelligentsia,” puts these words in that group’s mouth: “Trump’s rise has nothing to do with the collapsing economic fortunes of the white working class and everything to do with racism.” There are people who oversimplify the issue to that degree, but I think most folks realize there are multiple factors at play. But even if you grant deBoer’s premise, his conclusion doesn’t follow:
…in a deeper sense I think conservatives have won a major victory, one not understood by them or their antagonists: they have written the notion that dignity, respect, and material security must be earned into the progressive imagination. They have made the notion of a moral meritocracy inescapable in American civic life. The terms by which one comes to deserve the good life are different, but the basic logic of meritocracy has been preserved.
Is anyone seriously arguing that even the most vile bigots among the white working class shouldn’t have material security? I don’t think so. The liberal premise I buy into is that everyone should have healthcare, a living wage and a secure retirement. Respect has to be earned, yes. It’s not an entitlement.