Stuck In The Middle With You

In the aftermath of the election, Democratic Party stalwarts began the Five Stages of Grief.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

The good news is that they’ve already hit the bargaining stage, so they’re almost halfway through, though they haven’t completed the anger stage* as yet. What’s the deal?

Fine, but anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-queerphobia are nonnegotiable.

Despite the tempting desire to explain the mechanics of negotiation, bear in mind this is just the vagary of a view that has nothing with which to negotiate. In an op-ed, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown tries to thread the needle.

Cleveland — Start with this: When you call us the Rust Belt, you demean our work and diminish who we are.

To create wealth in America, we make it, we grow it or we mine it. In the industrial Midwest, we do all three. Ohio has the largest manufacturing work force in the country aside from California (which has three times our population) and Texas (more than twice our size). And we make things with dignity.

Yes, he said “diminish.” It’s hard to let go of the jargon you spent the past few years mouthing. And he said “dignity” too, when what he meant to say is “we make things for money.” Nobody is satisfied with a heaping helping of dignity at the end of the week. It’s not that they want to be treated like dirt, but tummy rubs don’t pay the bills.

But over the past 40 years, as people have worked harder for less pay and fewer benefits, the value of their work has eroded. When we devalue work, we threaten the pride and dignity that come from it.

See what he did there? And don’t think it wasn’t noticed.

Their goal — to achieve the American dream and send their children up the economic ladder — was more difficult for them to reach than it was for my parents. More things could go wrong for them: a layoff, a strike, a work injury, an illness in the family, each coming with more devastating consequences than those life deals out to more affluent white families.

Brown is right about their goal. Brown is right about the fact that it’s a tenuous goal, though that was always the case. But then he tosses in the “privilege” piece, oblivious that its denigrating to workers whose issue is that they don’t have good paying jobs, not rich white sugar daddies.

Brown goes on to challenge the Republican solution:

American workers understood then and understand now that you build a society and an economy from the middle class out. Trickle-down economics was discredited decades ago.


If President Trump takes the likely path that almost all Washington Republicans hope — tax cuts for the rich, an easing up on Wall Street, more voter suppression — Ohio workers will feel betrayed.

Sit down, Senator. I have something to tell you and it’s going to make you sad. Trump said, over and over, that his plan was trickle-down economics. And he was elected. And Ohio voters went red. Whether it will work this time is a damn good question, but what alternative did they have?

Today’s Democrats come to power often committed to racial and gender inclusion, but not to economic transformation, at least not on progressive terms.

[T]he left needs to rethink the divide that started in the seventies between the causes of racial and gender justice and policies that advance greater economic equality.   With the help of the press, Trump will end up owning every sixteen year old boy’s racist and misogynist utterances.  Yet, an emphasis on economic justice for all communities must be seen as a necessary complement to racial justice.  After all, the policies that hurt the white working class have been a disaster for African-Americans and Latinos.

This gibberish comes from lawprof June Carbone, where sticking in the word “justice” after another word is supposed to make the glaring hole in reasoning disappear. Protip: whenever someone tries to float a notion that relies on “justice,” their argument fails the rigors of logical thought. Carbone leaps over the reality that empty flowery rhetoric doesn’t make it so. Blacks and Latinos want good paychecks too. They’re no more inclined to take steaming pile of empathy home on Friday than anybody else.

The alternative to a decent life, a promise that your children will enjoy a better life than you, isn’t social justice. The people in Ohio realized this, and voted for a failed economic plan rather than a plan that demanded they sacrifice even more for the sake of ending microaggressions that made snowflakes alternately sad, angry and, potentially, violent.

There is no winning coalition comprised of academics and students, effete intellectuals and limousine progressives. There is no bullshitting your way past the numbers on a paycheck by emphatically stating that “but anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-queerphobia are nonnegotiable.” Nobody need negotiate a surrender when the war has already been lost.

Lest the intellectually challenged resort to the usual retort, that if you aren’t for ’em, you’re agin’ ’em, that the alternative isn’t necessarily to be pro-racism, -sexism or “-queerphobia,” whatever that means. There remains a huge gap between the extremes where most people live, where the detriments of racism, sexism and “queerphobia” will be organically alleviated, but will neither be the center of the universe nor come at the expense of the rights and interests of a nation.

The next stage of grief is depression. It won’t be pretty, but we can’t get to acceptance without going through it. And until we get to acceptance, there will no hope of fixing the disease that metastasized in this election.

*In a twit by Kevin Allred, the Beyoncé Lecturer of Women’s Studies at Rutgers, following his untrue threats, he expressed his belief that this was an exercise of free speech. Indeed it was, which should serve as a reminder that free speech benefits everyone. So too is his blog, which, if you’ve never experienced the joys of social justice thinking, provides an exceptional opportunity to explore the inside of the rabbit hole.

31 thoughts on “Stuck In The Middle With You

  1. Norahc

    There you go….applying logic to what according to the SJWs should be all about the feelz. I’m sure you hurt their feelings about it too, so they will probably have to go through another grief cycle to get past it.

  2. Charles

    “Protip: whenever someone tries to float a notion that relies on ‘justice,’ their argument fails the rigors of logical thought.”

    Unless preceded by the word “simple”?

          1. Charles

            Just for the record, I meant to reply to SHG, not Hal. I recognize that his comment is not directed to me.


  3. Wilbur

    Whew. I read that Allred blog piece you posted, wherein he compared the “mainstream gay media” to the KKK. Rabbit hole, indeed. You need a scorecard to keep straight all of the victimized groups and categories he comes up with.

    That dude needs to get another job. He’s working way too hard at the one he has now.

  4. JAV

    As I understand it, the stages of grief are not a continuum, and someone can skip, or return to specific states.
    If this is the best the left can write, my magic 8-ball predicts a return to an extended, perhaps even terminal period of denial. It sounds like too many Progressives just can’t let it go.

  5. Dragoness Eclectic

    Which stage is “Mindless Terror”? In the moderate-left blogs I sometimes follow, I’m seeing the fallout of all this emphasis on “feelz” to the detriment of facts: people sincerely believe that the election of Trump means that they will lose medical insurance, all social safety nets, and be tossed out in the streets to starve if not taken into concentration camps for being the wrong religion or sexual orientation. These people are honestly terrified; they believe Trump’s election is the second coming of Nazi Germany.

    What do you say to people who believed all the campaign rhetoric on both sides? There are no facts to present about the future, as it hasn’t gotten here yet. They are too terrified to listen to “Wait and see, we don’t know what will happen”; the reply is always some variant of “That’s what they said about Hitler!” The leftish media isn’t helping; they take every damn utterance of Trump’s team out of context and present it as more “proof” that Holocaust 2.0 is on the way.

    People are very, very scared, and scared people can easily do stupid and violent things. The polarization from the left is insane–if a person voted for Trump or a 3rd party candidate, said person is held to be morally responsible for the upcoming dictatorship (that they expect). What can you say to people who believe that? Mocking people over “feelz” seems ineffectual and petty compared to their bone-deep, unreasoning panic.

    Acknowledged, some people aren’t panicking. They’re planning how to protect the people they think will be hurt by the upcoming administration, and I applaud them for keeping their heads. But how do you comfort people so terrified of the future that some of them have or are contemplating suicide? (Yes, at least one of those incidents was not a hoax). It just breaks my heart to see people so terrified.

    1. SHG Post author

      Beyond disputing hysteria, every person is responsible for their own reaction. You can’t fix other people’s irrationality, and it’s not your job to do so.

      1. Nick Lidakis

        So removing suicide prevention signs from major bridges and active railroad crossings wouldn’t necessarily make me a worse person. Got it. Thanks.

    2. PVanderwaart

      “…people sincerely believe that the election of Trump means that they will lose medical insurance…”

      Perhaps if you were covered by health insurance purchased through an Obamacare website, or by Medicaid, the belief, and accompanying fear, would be more tangible. Or maybe you think taking Trump and Ryan at their word is unreasonable.

      1. SHG Post author

        I am. It’s not. In fact, Obamacare is awful, as is your attempt to justify future hysteria based on theoretical and rhetorical fear. Now my turn for a question: if someone did commit suicide because of irrational fear, would that make you feel vindicated? How much would you love to see another person die to prove you are not alone in your anticipation of the apocalypse? Do you realize how sick that is?

        1. PVanderwaart

          1. I am not Dragoness. 2. Because I read the articles and not just the headlines, I’m aware that the current incarnation of Obamacare probably has two years to run before any major changes. However, to have Medicaid is to have worries. Aside from the problem of finding a doctor willing to treat you for paltry compensation, there is the ever-present chance that you will lose coverage. We know people who have gotten letters to the effect of “due to a shortage of funds for Medicaid, the income limits have been lowered, and your coverage will be terminated at the end of the month.” Being poor sucks, as you have often written with respect to bail and other issues. 3. If, by saying Obamacare is awful, you mean that the typical high deductible plan is awful, I agree. But let me give you the comfort of knowing that a lot of company-paid plans are moving in the same direction, so your insurance is more nearly average than perhaps you imagine.

          1. SHG Post author

            A few non-sequiturs in there, but since this post wasn’t about the merits of health care, and you don’t get to hijack the post to go down your rabbit hole, and I’ve done you the courtesy of posting your comment nonetheless, that’s as far as it goes.

  6. maz

    The ‘Rust Belt’ whine brought me tothe brink of the reveal I keep expecting in each of your post-election wrap-ups: That for the past five? six? elections, at least, both sides have been all about the feelz. Boo-hoo, Obama is going to take our guns away! Waaahh! Fundamentalist Christians are the most-discriminated-against American ethnic group! Criticizing investment bankers is the moral equivalent of Nazism! Those evil SJWs bullied me for saying ‘kike’ and ‘nig-nog,’ so we’re picking up all our media buys and going to someone else’s house to play! Special laws to protect the cops, because they’re an oppressed minority; my son is a veteran and it traumatized him to see a burning flag; wah, wah, wah.

    The rhetoric on both sides of the aisle is entirely parsed from the victimology movement (were there ever two bigger self-anointed victims than the Brothers Koch?), and whatever causes bad feelz is bad and whatever results in good feels is good — no matter if the alleged cause-and-effect exists anywhere on this astral plane and regardless whether or not the proposed solution will lead to the greater good [feelz].

    As you’ve well documented elsewhere, feelz-based politics is highly desired because it can be entirely truth-free: The problem described need not be an actual problem; the solution prescribed equally may have great, some, no, or the opposite effect on achieving the purported need; there’s no requirement that the response be reasonable and proportionate to the alleged stimulus; and as it’s all based upon perceived slights, barriers, and disempowerment, it frees both politicians and journalists from the messy jobs of fact-based governing or reporting. Everything is the truth because nothing is! (Cue Firesign Theater’s ‘Fighting Clowns…’)

    As with most evils of the late 20th Century, I blame Reagan. True, partly just because it feelz right — but there’s little arguing the anecdotalizing of American government represented a paradign shift in political strategy: No longer would government, business, social pressure groups, you name it have to burn cycles on creating and defending official lies; instead of decoupling cherished arguments and positions from the truth, now they could be decoupled in bulk from reality itself.

    The result — alas, quite possibly not yet its nadir — can be seen in the recent election, during which a woman who might very well be the best-qualified presidential candidate ever became wrapped around the axle of her seeming compulsion to find the best-feeling explanation rather than the most-truthful one ran against a Reagan of pure ID (kind of as if Reagan had been replicated by some cheezily faulty cloning machine from a ’70s sci-fi title), a man for whom the truth held no more moral significance than did choosing the proper necktie, and whose campaign [sic] was essentially a litany of slights, insults, and microaggressions suffered by his tribe. I’d simply say “a pox on both their houses,” if only that left us with something other than a double-wide lot and construction debris …

  7. Allen

    The day before the election a neighbor came over and wanted to tell me all about how bad it was going to be if Hillary won the election. I was trying to split firewood, so I finally told him that if he was going to yak at me all day the least he could do is start stacking the split wood over by the fence. It floored me, I got 2 hours of work out of him. I’ve got some hay to put up in the barn so now I’m looking for a Hillary supporter.

    Free work to the left of me,
    Free work to the right of me,
    Here I am, slacking in the middle with you.

    Love that song BTW.

    1. SHG Post author

      There are many evil in the world, but the firewood still has to get split and stacked. Then again, firewood doesn’t need someone to empathize over its pain. That’s politics for you.

      1. Marc Whipple

        You may question his sensibility, but you absolutely cannot question the sincerity of a man who will stack wood for two hours in exchange for nothing but an indifferent audience.

        That, or he’s a pathological narcissist, but let’s all be kind when we can.

          1. Nemo

            Linkz are almost as bad as feelz, so I’m splitting the difference. Those interested in stacking may Google it themselves. “Monty Python: Royal Society For Putting Things on Top of Other Things”.

            Sorry, it was a moral imperative.

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