Friday, December 5, 2014

Jim Webb is still pining for "normal"

Jim Webb this week:
Former senator and potential presidential candidate Jim Webb told an audience in Richmond on Tuesday that the Democratic Party has lost white working-class voters by becoming "a party of interest groups."

"The Democratic Party has lost the message that made it such a great party for so many years, and that message was: Take care of working people, take care of the people who have no voice in the corridors of power, no matter their race, ethnicity or any other reason," Webb said. "The Democratic Party has basically turned into a party of interest groups."
At that same link, Paul Waldman does a pretty good job of deconstructing what Webb is saying.
The clientele of conservatism looks to voters like anyone who isn't in the groups making up the Democratic coalition, which is basically white people, and white men in particular. And despite the fact that Republicans represent a lot of actual interest groups (the oil industry, Wall Street, etc.) for some mysterious reason, middle-aged white men are just, well, Americans, while women or blacks or Hispanics are an "interest group."

And so I am reminded of what David Simon wrote about "the death of normal" shortly after the 2012 election.
America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions...

We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests. And now, normal isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal. That word, too, means less with every moment. And those who continue to argue for such retrograde notions as a political reality will become less germane and more ridiculous with every passing year.
"Normal" in politics used to mean straight white christian male, i.e., Jim Webb. Everyone else was an "interest group." That's how Webb still defines the world. But what Simon is saying is that the whole paradigm is in the process of shifting. The sooner we all wake up to that reality, the better off we'll all be.

1 comment:

  1. I do no know much about Webb or his motivations, but I tend to agree with him about our segmentation of people. Progressives do it daily with sneering dismissal of people in 'flyover' country, white working class people, people of faith. Then, going on, dismissing people of color, immigrants, whoever because, well, they aren't in our 'segment'. This president is one who speaks to ALL people who are struggling to get out of poverty and have a solid, sustainable middle class position, and Webb gives that effort a dismissal. But I see this dismissal among Dems all the time, hear it endlessly, that this group, that group, whoever, is beneath their notice. I don't think (don't know him)he is speaking of something racially biased but IS calling on the party to stop this segmentation. The horrid dismissal of feminist women of color by white feminists is a result of exactly this mindset he's decrying. We are engaging far too much in the politics of the personal - "whatever I am is good and deserves attention. Whatever YOU are - meh." I hope that's what Webb is saying. Maybe not. But it is what I am seeing, and it has led far too many liberals to dismiss the concerns of people of color and working class white people equally. When we narrow our focus that much, we are in grave danger of doing no good at all for anyone because we don't even seem them as worthy of our care.