Monday, May 1, 2017

A brittle state of affairs indeed

Having one of those mornings in which a number of things I've read so far suggest an merging theme.

Let's start with Joel Kotkin's piece at The Daily Beast. Entitled "The Arrogance of Blue America," it is chock-full of important insights and statistics. His basic point is that Blue America has gone beyond looking down its nose at Red America, and indeed now seeks a sequestering of the latter - or perhaps letting trends that could spell its extinction run their course:

The rage against red America is so strong that The New York Time’s predictably progressive Nick Kristoff says his calls to understand red voters were “my most unpopular idea.” The essential logic—as laid out in a particularly acerbic piece in The New Republic—is that Trump’s America is not only socially deplorable, but economically moronic as well. The kind-hearted blue staters have sent their industries to the abodes of the unwashed, and taken in their poor, only to see them end up “more bitter, white, and alt-right than ever.”
The red states, by electing Trump, seem to have lost any claim on usually wide-ranging progressive empathy. Frank Rich, theater critic turned pundit, turns up his nose at what he calls “hillbilly chic.” Another leftist authorsuggests that working-class support for Brexit and Trump means it is time “to dissolve” the “more than 150-year-old alliance between the industrial working class and what one might call the intellectual-cultural Left.”
The fondest hope among the blue bourgeoise lies with the demographic eclipse of their red-state foes. Some clearly hope that the less-educated “dying white America,“ already suffering shorter lifespans, in part due to alcoholism and opioid abuse, is destined to fade from the scene. Then the blue lords can take over a country with which they can identify without embarrassment.

The Left's notion that all the cool people live in urban enclaves brings with it one huge overlooked factor: They need what the rubes in Red America are turning out:

The blue bourgeoisie tend to see the activities that take place largely in the red states - for example, energy and manufacturing - as backward sectors. Yet manufacturers employ most of the nation's scientists and engineers . . . 
Besides supplying the bulk of the food, energy, and manufactured goods consumed in blue America, these industries are among the country’s most productive, and still offer better paying options for blue-collar workers. Unlike a monopoly like Microsoft or Google, which can mint money by commanding market share, these sectors face strong domestic and foreign competition. From 1997-2012, labor productivity growth in manufacturing—3.3 percent per year—was a third higher than productivity growth in the private economy overall.
For its part, the innovative American energy sector has essentially changed the balance of power globally, overcoming decades of dependence on such countries as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela. Agriculture—almost all food, including in California, is grown in red-oriented areas—continues to outperform competitors around the world.
He makes the point that media activity - not just print outlets or even radio and television, but Internet news, commentary and entertainment  - is getting concentrated in the largest, bluest and most generally coastal metropolitan areas. But those areas aren't growing, generally speaking. Populations are increasing in their suburbs, as well as in inland metropolitan areas such as Phoenix, Atlanta and Charlotte.

Blues may see Reds as utterly alien and in need of quarantine, but the converse is that it has become plain to Reds that Blues are utterly irrelevant to their lives. Does a supply-chain specialist for a fasteners-and-fittings maker in central Ohio have any use for the attitude of, say, Samantha Bee?

Canadian Comedian Samantha Bee is just the latest in a long line of political comedy hosts produced by the “The Daily Show” empire. Despite being unable to vote here for most of her life and having no knowledge of American history, the Constitution or the framework of American freedom, Samantha Bee nevertheless has had plenty to say about our electoral system and our new President.
She also has the privilege of being protected from criticism under the “Hey, I’m just a silly comedian” banner.
Bee appeared on Jake Tapper’s Sunday show on CNN to talk about the convergence of comedy and politics in the Trump era.
Editorial side-note: Every election cycle that yields a Republican president also produces a segment of the left that truly believes this is the first time comedy has ever been so closely related to politics. The largest hubris of the modern left at this point in history is their sincere belief that they are the first generation to ever discover the intersection of politics and culture, when the rest of us have been living in reality for…well, forever.
“But is there a smug liberal problem?” asked Tapper.
“I don’t think there is,” replied Bee.
“I do the show for me and for people like me, and I don’t care how the rest of the world sees it quite frankly. That’s great. We make a show for ourselves. We put it out to the world. We birth it and then the world receives it however they want to receive it. “
Observations about demographic and geographic trends are immensely useful, but we do well to avoid the broad brush. One can zoom in and out, Google Map style, and see that little yet significant flecks of blue dot the nation's red landscapes. It's not just the liberal-arts campuses found throughout the country (Oberlin, for instance, is in the aforementioned central Ohio), but community colleges ostensibly focused on the vocational preparation of their students as well (and obviously big universities). No campus of any kind - save Hillsdale and perhaps one or two others - is free of diversity councils, sustainability programs and gender-studies offerings. And, speaking of manufacturing supply chains, the OEM firms at the tops of those chains are well known as hotbeds of such blue-ness. (A letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star by the CEO of Cummins in the wake of Indiana's RFRA dustup is a prime exhibit.) Every community above hamlet classification sports a Unitarian fellowship and a Presbyterian Church USA congregation.

The foreman at the fabricating-and-stamping shop is a smart fellow, the assessment of the smug Blues notwithstanding. He understands the filter through which the news to which he's exposed comes out. He keeps a lot of thoughts to himself, strives to instill character in his children, enjoy a hobby or two. He may even go to church and pray about it all.

My point is that Blues and Reds are still inevitably going to bump into each other throughout the expanse of America. The civic fabric, then, is surely more brittle than we may be considering.

Conversations free of mutual suspicion and withholding of relevant information are at a premium. It's the quiet civil war that serves as the backdrop to the attempt of each of us to live out fulfilling, meaningful days.

The little secret is that one side really needs what the other side is contributing to what is left of this thing called American society. The latter will grudgingly continue to provide it, because there is money to be made in doing so. The side to whom it's being provided? It is left to scream, "We're the only relevant people in this scenario!"

And thus does post-American life proceed in all its cold absurdity.

No comments:

Post a Comment