Bobologie: On a trouvé pourquoi les riches ne votent plus à droite ! (Party of the people: What happened to the Hamptons ?)

Three Figures and Portrait (Francis Bacon, 1975)

 Nous qui vivons dans les régions côtières des villes bleues, nous lisons plus de livres et nous allons plus souvent au théâtre que ceux qui vivent au fin fond du pays. Nous sommes à la fois plus sophistiqués et plus cosmopolites – parlez-nous de nos voyages scolaires en Chine et en Provence ou, par exemple, de notre intérêt pour le bouddhisme. Mais par pitié, ne nous demandez pas à quoi ressemble la vie dans l’Amérique rouge. Nous n’en savons rien. Nous ne savons pas qui sont Tim LaHaye et Jerry B. Jenkins. […] Nous ne savons pas ce que peut bien dire James Dobson dans son émission de radio écoutée par des millions d’auditeurs. Nous ne savons rien de Reba et Travis. […] Nous sommes très peu nombreux à savoir ce qu’il se passe à Branson dans le Missouri, même si cette ville reçoit quelque sept millions de touristes par an; pas plus que nous ne pouvons nommer ne serait-ce que cinq pilotes de stock-car. […] Nous ne savons pas tirer au fusil ni même en nettoyer un, ni reconnaître le grade d’un officier rien qu’à son insigne. Quant à savoir à quoi ressemble une graine de soja poussée dans un champ… David Brooks
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme dans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent amers et qu’ils s’accrochent à leurs fusils ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton
Ces idées ont un nom : nationalisme, identitarisme, protectionnisme, souverainisme de repli. Ces idées qui, tant de fois, ont allumé les brasiers où l’Europe aurait pu périr, les revoici sous des habits neufs encore ces derniers jours. Elles se disent légitimes parce qu’elles exploitent avec cynisme la peur des peuples. (…) Je ne laisserai rien, rien à toutes celles et ceux qui promettent la haine, la division ou le repli national. Je ne leur laisserai aucune proposition. C’est à l’Europe de les faire, c’est à nous de les porter, aujourd’hui et maintenant (…) Et nous n’avons qu’un choix, qu’une alternative : le repli sur nous frontières, qui serait à la fois illusoire et inefficace, ou la construction d’un espace commun des frontières, de l’asile et de (…) faire une place aux réfugiés qui ont risqué leur vie, chez eux et sur leur chemin, c’est notre devoir commun d’Européen et nous ne devons pas le perdre de vue. (…) C’est pourquoi j’ai engagé en France un vaste travail de réforme pour mieux accueillir les réfugiés, augmenter les relocalisations dans notre pays, accélérer les procédures d’asile en nous inspirant du modèle allemand, être plus efficaces dans les reconduites indispensables. Ce que je souhaite pour l’Europe, la France commence dès à présent à le faire elle-même. Emmanuel Macron
J’entends les voix apeurées qui nous appellent à construire des murs. Plutôt que des murs, nous voulons aider les gens à construire des ponts. Mark Zuckerberg
Mes arrière-grands-parents sont venus d’Allemagne, d’Autriche et de Pologne. Les parents de [mon épouse] Priscilla étaient des réfugiés venant de Chine et du Vietnam. Les Etats-Unis sont une nation d’immigrants, et nous devrions en être fiers. Comme beaucoup d’entre vous, je suis inquiet de l’impact des récents décrets signés par le président Trump. Nous devons faire en sorte que ce pays reste en sécurité, mais pour y parvenir, nous devrions nous concentrer sur les personnes qui représentent vraiment une menace. Etendre l’attention des forces de l’ordre au-delà des personnes qui représentent de vraies menaces va nuire à la sécurité des Américains, en dispersant les ressources, tandis que des millions de sans-papiers qui ne représentent aucune menace vivront dans la peur d’être expulsés. Mark Zuckerberg
We can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like. A near-term future in which you don’t forget anything, because the computer remembers. You’re never lost. Eric Schmidt (Google)
I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time. (…) Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Because of the info Google has collected about you, we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are. (…) I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next. Eric Schmidt
The average American doesn’t realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists (…) Washington is an incumbent protection machine. Technology is fundamentally disruptive. (…) Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line. (…) With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less now what you’re thinking about. Eric Schmidt
There’s such an overwhelming amount of information now, we can search where you are, see what you’re looking at if you take a picture with your camera. One way to think about this is, we’re trying to make people better people, literally give them better ideas—augmenting their experience. Think of it as augmented humanity. Eric Schmidt
J’appelle stratégies de condescendance ces transgressions symboliques de la limite qui permettent d’avoir à la fois les profits de la conformité à la définition et les profits de la transgression : c’est le cas de l’aristocrate qui tape sur la croupe du palefrenier et dont on dira «II est simple», sous-entendu, pour un aristocrate, c’est-à-dire un homme d’essence supérieure, dont l’essence ne comporte pas en principe une telle conduite. En fait ce n’est pas si simple et il faudrait introduire une distinction : Schopenhauer parle quelque part du «comique pédant», c’est-à-dire du rire que provoque un personnage lorsqu’il produit une action qui n’est pas inscrite dans les limites de son concept, à la façon, dit-il, d’un cheval de théâtre qui se mettrait à faire du crottin, et il pense aux professeurs, aux professeurs allemands, du style du Professor Unrat de V Ange bleu, dont le concept est si fortement et si étroitement défini, que la transgression des limites se voit clairement. A la différence du professeur Unrat qui, emporté par la passion, perd tout sens du ridicule ou, ce qui revient au même, de la dignité, le consacré condescendant choisit délibérément de passer la ligne ; il a le privilège des privilèges, celui qui consiste à prendre des libertés avec son privilège. C’est ainsi qu’en matière d’usage de la langue, les bourgeois et surtout les intellectuels peuvent se permettre des formes d’hypocorrection, de relâchement, qui sont interdites aux petits-bourgeois, condamnés à l’hypercorrection. Bref, un des privilèges de la consécration réside dans le fait qu’en conférant aux consacrés une essence indiscutable et indélébile, elle autorise des transgressions autrement interdites : celui qui est sûr de son identité culturelle peut jouer avec la règle du jeu culturel, il peut jouer avec le feu, il peut dire qu’il aime Tchaikovsky ou Gershwin, ou même, question de «culot», Aznavour ou les films de série B. Pierre Bourdieu
Bourdieu chose to make it his life’s work to debunk the powerful classes’ pretensions that they were more deserving of authority or wealth than those below. He aimed his critiques first at his own class of elites — professors and intellectuals — then at the media, the political class and the propertied class. “Distinction,” published in 1979, was an undisputed masterwork. In it, Bourdieu set out to show the social logic of taste: how admiration for art, appreciation of music, even taste in food, came about for different groups, and how “superior” taste was not the result of an enchanted superiority in scattered individuals. This may seem a long way from Wellington-booted and trucker-hatted American youth in gentrifying neighborhoods. But Bourdieu’s innovation, applicable here, was to look beyond the traditional trappings of rich or poor to see battles of symbols (like those boots and hats) traversing all society, reinforcing the class structure just as money did. (…) The power of Bourdieu’s statistics was to show how rigid and arbitrary the local conformities were. In American terms, he was like an updater of Thorstein Veblen, who gave us the idea of “conspicuous consumption.” College teachers and artists, unusual in believing that a beautiful photo could be made from a car crash, began to look conditioned to that taste, rather than sophisticated or deep. White-collar workers who defined themselves by their proclivity to eat only light foods — as opposed to farmworkers, who weren’t ashamed to treat themselves to “both cheese and a dessert” — seemed not more refined, but merely more conventional. Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit. Groups closer in social class who yet draw their status from different sources use taste and its attainments to disdain one another and get a leg up. These conflicts for social dominance through culture are exactly what drive the dynamics within communities whose members are regarded as hipsters. Once you take the Bourdieuian view, you can see how hipster neighborhoods are crossroads where young people from different origins, all crammed together, jockey for social gain. One hipster subgroup’s strategy is to disparage others as “liberal arts college grads with too much time on their hands”; the attack is leveled at the children of the upper middle class who move to cities after college with hopes of working in the “creative professions.” These hipsters are instantly declassed, reservoired in abject internships and ignored in the urban hierarchy — but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural “cool.” They, in turn, may malign the “trust fund hipsters.” This challenges the philistine wealthy who, possessed of money but not the nose for culture, convert real capital into “cultural capital” (Bourdieu’s most famous coinage), acquiring subculture as if it were ready-to-wear. (Think of Paris Hilton in her trucker hat.) Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-­surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility. All hipsters play at being the inventors or first adopters of novelties: pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world. Yet the habits of hatred and accusation are endemic to hipsters because they feel the weakness of everyone’s position — including their own. Proving that someone is trying desperately to boost himself instantly undoes him as an opponent. He’s a fake, while you are a natural aristocrat of taste. That’s why “He’s not for real, he’s just a hipster” is a potent insult among all the people identifiable as hipsters themselves. The attempt to analyze the hipster provokes such universal anxiety because it calls everyone’s bluff. And hipsters aren’t the only ones unnerved. Many of us try to justify our privileges by pretending that our superb tastes and intellect prove we deserve them, reflecting our inner superiority. Those below us economically, the reasoning goes, don’t appreciate what we do; similarly, they couldn’t fill our jobs, handle our wealth or survive our difficulties. Of course this is a terrible lie. And Bourdieu devoted his life to exposing it. Those who read him in effect become responsible to him — forced to admit a failure to examine our own lives, down to the seeming trivialities of clothes and distinction that, as Bourdieu revealed, also structure our world. Mark Greifntrepreneurs do not just create bigger fortunes. They also cast longer shadows. The Economist
Many of the more privileged Americans who frequent fancy restaurants, stay in hotels and depend on hired help for lawn and pool maintenance, home repair and childcare don’t think illegal immigration is that big of a deal. Those in the higher-paid professions do not fear low-wage competition for their jobs in law, medicine, academia, the media, government or the arts. And many who have no problem with the present influx live in affluent communities with good schools insulated from the immediate budgetary consequences of meeting the needs of the offspring of the 11 million here illegally. These wealthier people aren’t so much liberal in their tolerance of illegal immigration as they are self-interested and cynical. In contrast, the far more numerous poor and lower middle classes of America, especially in the Southwest, are sincerely worried — and angry. (…) For the broad middle class, the poor and minorities — people who dine mostly at home, travel infrequently, mow their own lawns and change their children’s diapers — inexpensive service labor is not seen as much of a boon to them. Plus, lower- and middle-class Americans live in communities where schools are more impacted by an influx of Spanish-only speakers. And as janitors, maids, groundskeepers, carpenters, factory workers and truckers, they fear competition from lower-wage illegal alien laborers. Legal immigrants who wait years in line to enter the United States legally can be particularly unsympathetic to others who cut in front — in violation of the law. Victor Davis Hanson (October 6, 2006)
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations, and more redistributive taxes. But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business. The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity. On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism, and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania. Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform. In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract. The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers, and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social-justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention. Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim, and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights. No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays. (…) In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection. Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun. In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed, and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant. The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh. Victor Davis Hanson
Illegal and illiberal immigration exists and will continue to expand because too many special interests are invested in it. It is one of those rare anomalies — the farm bill is another — that crosses political party lines and instead unites disparate elites through their diverse but shared self-interests: live-and-let-live profits for some and raw political power for others. For corporate employers, millions of poor foreign nationals ensure cheap labor, with the state picking up the eventual social costs. For Democratic politicos, illegal immigration translates into continued expansion of favorable political demography in the American Southwest. For ethnic activists, huge annual influxes of unassimilated minorities subvert the odious melting pot and mean continuance of their own self-appointed guardianship of salad-bowl multiculturalism. Meanwhile, the upper middle classes in coastal cocoons enjoy the aristocratic privileges of having plenty of cheap household help, while having enough wealth not to worry about the social costs of illegal immigration in terms of higher taxes or the problems in public education, law enforcement, and entitlements. No wonder our elites wink and nod at the supposed realities in the current immigration bill, while selling fantasies to the majority of skeptical Americans. Victor Davis Hanson
Who are the bigots — the rude and unruly protestors who scream and swarm drop-off points and angrily block immigration authority buses to prevent the release of children into their communities, or the shrill counter-protestors who chant back “Viva La Raza” (“Long Live the Race”)? For that matter, how does the racialist term “La Raza” survive as an acceptable title of a national lobby group in this politically correct age of anger at the Washington Redskins football brand? How can American immigration authorities simply send immigrant kids all over the United States and drop them into communities without firm guarantees of waiting sponsors or family? If private charities did that, would the operators be jailed? Would American parents be arrested for putting their unescorted kids on buses headed out of state? Liberal elites talk down to the cash-strapped middle class about their illiberal anger over the current immigration crisis. But most sermonizers are hypocritical. Take Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House. She lectures about the need for near-instant amnesty for thousands streaming across the border. But Pelosi is a multimillionaire, and thus rich enough not to worry about the increased costs and higher taxes needed to offer instant social services to the new arrivals. Progressives and ethnic activists see in open borders extralegal ways to gain future constituents dependent on an ever-growing government, with instilled grudges against any who might not welcome their flouting of U.S. laws. How moral is that? Likewise, the CEOs of Silicon Valley and Wall Street who want cheap labor from south of the border assume that their own offspring’s private academies will not be affected by thousands of undocumented immigrants, that their own neighborhoods will remain non-integrated, and that their own medical services and specialists’ waiting rooms will not be made available to the poor arrivals. … What a strange, selfish, and callous alliance of rich corporate grandees, cynical left-wing politicians, and ethnic chauvinists who have conspired to erode U.S. law for their own narrow interests, all the while smearing those who object as xenophobes, racists, and nativists. Victor Davis Hanson
For the last two decades, Apple, Google, Amazon and other West Coast tech corporations have been untouchable icons. They piled up astronomical profits while hypnotizing both left-wing and right-wing politicians. (…) If the left feared that the tech billionaires were becoming robber barons, they also delighted in the fact that they were at least left-wing robber barons. Unlike the steel, oil and coal monopolies of the 19th century that out of grime and smoke created the sinews of a growing America, Silicon Valley gave us shiny, clean, green and fun pods, pads and phones. As a result, social media, internet searches, texts, email and other computer communications were exempt from interstate regulatory oversight. Big Tech certainly was not subject to the rules that governed railroads, power companies, trucking industries, Wall Street, and television and radio. But attitudes about hip high-tech corporations have now changed on both the left and right. Liberals are under pressure from their progressive base to make Silicon Valley hire more minorities and women. Progressives wonder why West Coast techies cannot unionize and sit down for tough bargaining with their progressive billionaire bosses. Local community groups resent the tech giants driving up housing prices and zoning out the poor from cities such as Seattle and San Francisco. Behind the veneer of a cool Apple logo or multicolored Google trademark are scores of multimillionaires who live one-percenter lifestyles quite at odds with the soft socialism espoused by their corporate megaphones. (…) Instead of acting like laissez-faire capitalists, the entrenched captains of high-tech industry seem more like government colluders and manipulators. Regarding the high-tech leaders’ efforts to rig their industries and strangle dissent, think of conniving Jay Gould or Jim Fisk rather than the wizard Thomas Edison. (…) The public so far has welcomed the unregulated freedom of Silicon Valley — as long as it was truly free. But now computer users are discovering that social media and web searches seem highly controlled and manipulated — by the whims of billionaires rather than federal regulators. (…) For years, high-tech grandees dressed all in hip black while prancing around the stage, enthralling stockholders as if they were rock stars performing with wireless mics. Some wore jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts, making it seem like being worth $50 billion was hipster cool. But the billionaire-as-everyman shtick has lost his groove, especially when such zillionaires lavish their pet political candidates with huge donations, seed lobbying groups and demand regulatory loopholes. Ten years ago, a carefree Mark Zuckerberg seemed cool. Now, his T-shirt get-up seems phony and incongruous with his walled estates and unregulated profiteering. (…) Why are high-tech profits hidden in offshore accounts? Why is production outsourced to impoverished countries, sometimes in workplaces that are deplorable and cruel? Why does texting while driving not earn a product liability suit? Victor Davis Hanson
Tout ce que demande aujourd’hui le Kansas, c’est qu’on lui donne un petit coup de main pour se clouer à sa croix d’or.(…) Votez pour interdire l’avortement et vous aurez une bonne réduction de l’impôt sur le capital (…). Votez pour faire la nique à ces universitaires politiquement corrects et vous aurez la déréglementation de l’électricité (…). Votez pour résister au terrorisme et vous aurez la privatisation de la sécurité sociale. Thomas Frank
One of the reasons that inequality has probably gone up in our society is that people are being treated closer to the way that they’re supposed to be treated. Larry Summers
Purity of thought — mental cleansing of all possible bias — is demanded of the populace. (…) We were living in a form of dictatorship without knowing it . . . a dictatorship of elite moral narcissists who decided between right and wrong . . . before we could even begin to evaluate the facts for ourselves. Roger L. Simon
Nothing is more characteristic of the liberal class than its members’ sense of their own elevated goodness.” The liberals’ need to repeatedly signal their virtue has become ever more tortured, as with the “civil rights” struggle for gender-neutral bathrooms. Thomas Frank
In his new book, the social critic Thomas Frank ­poses another possibility: that liberals in general — and the Democratic Party in particular — should look inward to understand the sorry state of American politics. Too busy attending TED talks and ­vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Frank argues, the Democratic elite has abandoned the party’s traditional commitments to the working class. In the process, they have helped to create the political despair and anger at the heart of today’s right-wing insurgencies. They may also have sown the seeds of their own demise. (…) Frank has been delivering some version of this message for the past two decades as a political essayist and a founding editor of The Baffler magazine. “Listen, Liberal” is the thoroughly entertaining if rather gloomy work of a man who feels that nobody has been paying attention. Frank’s most famous book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” (2004), argued that Republicans had duped the white working class by pounding the table on social issues while delivering tax cuts for the rich. He focused on Kansas as the reddest of red states (and, not incidentally, the place of his birth). This time Frank is coming for the Ivy League blue-state liberals, that “tight little network of enlightened strivers” who have allegedly been running the country into the ground. Think of it as “What’s the Matter With Massachusetts?” Frank’s book is an unabashed polemic, not a studious examination of policy or polling trends. In Frank’s view, liberal policy wonks are part of the problem, members of a well-educated elite that massages its own technocratic vanities while utterly missing the big question of the day.  (…) As Frank notes, today some people are living much better than others — and many of those people are not Republicans. Frank delights in skewering the sacred cows of coastal liberalism, including private universities, bike paths, microfinance, the Clinton Foundation, “well-meaning billionaires” and any public policy offering “innovation” or “education” as a solution to inequality. He spends almost an entire chapter mocking the true-blue city of Boston, with its “lab-coat and starched-shirt” economy and its “well-graduated” population of overconfident collegians. Behind all of this nasty fun is a serious political critique. Echoing the historian Lily Geismer, Frank argues that the Democratic Party — once “the Party of the People” — now caters to the interests of a “professional-managerial class” consisting of lawyers, doctors, professors, scientists, programmers, even investment bankers. These affluent city dwellers and suburbanites believe firmly in meritocracy and individual opportunity, but shun the kind of social policies that once gave a real leg up to the working class. In the book, Frank points to the Democrats’ neglect of organized labor and support for Nafta as examples of this sensibility, in which “you get what you deserve, and what you deserve is defined by how you did in school.”  (…) The problem, in Frank’s view, is not simply that mainstream Democrats have failed to address growing inequality. Instead, he suggests something more sinister: Today’s leading Democrats actually don’t want to reduce inequality because they believe that inequality is the normal and righteous order of things. As proof, he points to the famously impolitic Larry Summers, whose background as a former president of Harvard, former Treasury secretary and former chief economist of the World Bank embodies all that Frank abhors about modern Democrats. (…) No surprise, under the circumstances, that the working class might look elsewhere for satisfying political options. (…) Frank gives Obama a middling-to-poor grade — something in the D range, let’s say — for what he deems to be the president’s vague and rambling answer to the “social question.” Frank compares Obama unfavorably with Franklin Roose­velt, another Democratic president who inherited an economic crisis from his Republican predecessor. Roosevelt took advantage of the Great Depression to reshape American society in fundamental ways, introducing social welfare and labor protections that shifted real power into the hands of the middle and working classes. (Frank largely gives Roosevelt a pass on the New Deal’s own structural inequalities, including its exclusions of women and nonwhite workers.) Obama, by contrast, let the crisis go “to waste,” according to Frank, tweaking around the regulatory edges without doing anything significant to change the economic balance of power. (…) Frank sees this uneven recovery as a tragedy rather than a triumph, in which Obama “saved a bankrupt system that by all rights should have met its end.” He says little, however, about what sort of system might have replaced it, or about what working-class voters themselves might say that they want or need. In a book urging Democrats to pay attention to working-class concerns, there are decidedly few interviews with working people, and a lot of time spent on tech conferences and think tanks and fancy universities. Beverly Gage
Thomas Frank, who wrote the bestselling What’s the Matter with Kansas? (2004), admonishes the Democratic party for its residual moderation, and Roger L. Simon, a playwright and novelist and one of the founders of PJ Media, writes from a conservative perspective. They come at the issue from different angles but reach surprisingly congruent conclusions. “Today,” notes Frank, “liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil” but of the winners in the “knowledge economy”: “Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.” Similarly, Simon shows how “moral narcissism has allowed the Democratic party to become a hidden party of the rich, thus wounding the middle class.” Frank traces the origins of today’s liberal elitism back to the McGovern years and the influential arguments of Washington lobbyist Fred Dutton. Dutton’s book The Changing Sources of Power (1971) showed that the professional upper middle class, once a mainstay of the GOP, had in the Nixon years migrated to the anti-war wing of the Democratic party. Contemptuous of blue-collar America, the upper-end professionals wanted to become the party of the “aristocrats — en masse.” Likewise, Simon reflects on the ways in which liberal “compassion” became a “masquerade for selfishness, a way for elites to feel good about themselves” while insulating themselves from accountability. Simon describes this masquerade as a form of narcissism in which “what you believe, or claim to believe or say you believe — not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be — [determine] how your life will be judged.” Kim Holmes of the Heritage Foundation, in his new book, describes the same disconnect, in which words are judged independently of actions, but he calls it “postmodernism.” “The postmodernist Left,” he writes, “is radically subjective, arguing that all truth is merely a matter of interpretation.” And liberals, because they hold largely uncontested power in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and most of the media, generally get to decide which interpretation shall prevail. Liberalism’s dreams of an American aristocracy, as I explained in my 2014 book The Revolt against the Masses, were integral to the modern ideology from its very inception in the aftermath of World War I. High-toned New Deal liberals looked down on Harry Truman, the Kansas City haberdasher, but liberal social snobbery emerged with full force in the Kennedyites’ open disdain for Lyndon Johnson. LBJ biographer Robert Caro described the denizens of Camelot as people who were “in love with their own sophistication”: They were “such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not.” “Think of the snotty arrogance displayed,” Caro continued, “as these people laughed at LBJ’s accent, his mispronunciations, his clothes, his wife.” In the years since Kennedy, liberal politics has been driven by an alliance of the top and the bottom, the over-credentialed and the under-credentialed, against the middle. Liberals, notes the American-born British journalist Janet Daley, have taken on the pseudo-aristocratic tone of disdain for the aspiring, struggling middle class that is such a familiar part of the British scene. Rather than face up to the failures of the Great Society to fully incorporate African Americans into the general American prosperity, liberals have lost interest in social mobility: The aim now is to make the marginal more comfortable. (The problem is not solely with liberals: Social snobbery blinded most politicians to the rumblings that emerged as Trumpism.) Bill Clinton, explains Kim Holmes, was strongly influenced by the political philosophy of John Rawls. When President Clinton criticized the welfare system as “trapping” people in poverty, he was, says Holmes, “trying to find a balance,” as Rawls did, “between liberty and the welfare state.” Thomas Frank will have none of it: Against those Democratic-party moderates who found Clinton preferable to the Republicans, he thunders: “Bill Clinton was not the lesser of two evils. . . . He was the greater of the two.” Frank denounces both the 1994 crime bill and welfare reform as perfidious acts, without providing empirical evidence to support his assertions. Holmes points out that, in recent years, liberals have jettisoned any affection for the evidence-based arguments of the Clinton years and adopted instead an “epistemic relativism” that assumes that “all knowledge is expedient and politicized.” Holmes describes postmodern liberalism as “schizophrenic”: In the name of an identity politics advancing the interest of putative victims, it marries epistemological skepticism and the absolute certainties of politically correct posturing. Obama exemplifies this double game. Obama the cultural relativist, who is not a Muslim but has a strong affinity for Islam, insists that the Islam he encountered as a young boy in Indonesia was a religion of peace (even as he asserts that Western civilization should still be doing penance for the Crusades). At the same time, notes Roger Simon, Obama can say with great confidence that ISIS — the Islamic State — is not Islamic. Frank has a point when he notes that the incestuous relationships among Hollywood, Washington, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley that define the Obama years had already blossomed in the Clinton era. But with Obama, the ties have grown even tighter. Ninety percent of the first Obama administration’s staffers had a professional degree of some kind; some 25 percent had either graduated from Harvard or taught there. The situation Frank describes is a government of, by, and for the increasingly self-interested professionals. When the Russians recently invaded parts of Syria, the worst thing the Obama administration could think to say about them was that their actions were “unprofessional.” Fred Siegel
Ce film merveilleux montre le courage incroyable de BHL et la force de l’ancien président Nicolas Sarkozy, tout en mettant en lumière l’inestimable leadership du président Barack Obama et de la secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton. Il permet au public américain de plonger dans les coulisses où le gouvernement de notre pays et celui de la France ont œuvré ensemble pour faire cesser le massacre de civils innocents et ont brillamment réussi à renverser un régime. Harvey Weinstein
Il est évident que nous n’avons pas fait assez pour empêcher ces outils d’être utilisés de façon mal intentionnée. Et cela vaut pour les fausses informations, les ingérences étrangères dans les élections et les discours de haine … C’était une grosse erreur.  C’était mon erreur et j’en suis désolé. Mark Zuckerberg
I really do hate to denigrate strippers and porn stars by comparing any of them to Jim Comey. But there really is no other way to describe the political peep show going on in America right now. Charles Hurt
Une vague d’optimisme a balayé le monde des affaires américaines… De France on ne se rend pas compte a quel point la baisse du chômage dans ce pays est spectaculaire. De nouvelles usines, de nouveaux équipements et des mises à niveau d’usines qui stimulent la croissance économique, stimulent la création d’emplois et augmentent les salaires de manière significative. (…) Le taux de chômage nominal officiel est descendu à 4,1%. Il a diminué de 2% au cours de la seule dernière année. C’est le plus bas depuis 17 ans. (…) Le chômage a diminué pour les travailleurs dans tous les niveaux d’éducation. Parmi les diplômés du secondaire qui n’ont jamais fréquenté l’université et qui ont 25 ans et plus, il a atteint son plus bas niveau. Le Bureau of Labor Statistics indique que le taux de chômage des travailleurs noirs et hispaniques a chuté au plus bas depuis 1972. C’était il y a 45 ans ! Des générations complètes de défavorisés n’avaient jamais connu une telle demande d’embauche et le plein emploi. Les personnes dépendantes de « food stamps » ont diminué de plus de 2 millions en 2017. Les « food Stamp » sont des bons d’achat à échanger dans les commerces alimentaires pour les personnes et familles à faible ou aucun revenu, les migrants et les étudiants vivant dans le pays pour se nourrir. L’économie, revitalisée par l’enthousiasme des perspectives d’avenir, se développe à nouveau. L’indice de confiance des consommateurs du Conference Board est à son plus haut niveau depuis 17 ans et l’Indice des perspectives de l’Association nationale des manufacturiers est à sa moyenne annuelle la plus élevée de son histoire. La Federal Reserve Bank d’Atlanta a publié une estimation de la croissance du PIB 2018 d’un taux de 5,4%. Comme dans les années glorieuses. Même le journal expert en misérabilisme, de gauche, le New York Times a dû admettre : « Une vague d’optimisme a balayé les chefs d’entreprise américains et commence à se traduire par des investissements dans de nouvelles usines, équipements et mises à niveau d’usines qui stimulent la croissance économique, stimulent la création d’emplois. et peut enfin augmenter les salaires de manière significative. « (…) Selon les estimations les plus récentes du Département du Trésor, 90% des personnes verront, dès février 2018 une augmentation de leur salaire net. Une autre étude conclut que plus d’un million de travailleurs recevront des augmentations de salaire en 2018. Les entreprises ont commencé à anticiper la baisse de l’impôt sur les sociétés de 38 à 21%. 300 entreprises ont annoncé des augmentations de salaire et des primes. (…) Le PIB a atteint 3% au cours des deux derniers trimestres de 2017. (Au cours des 32 trimestres de la « reprise » d’Obama, il n’a enregistré que deux fois un PIB de plus de 3%). Les entreprises américaines ont créé plus de 1,7 million de nouveaux emplois, dont près de 160 000 emplois manufacturiers et 58 000 autres emplois dans l’exploitation minière et l’exploitation forestière. L’extraction de pétrole et de gaz dont la réglementation anti-libérale interdisait l’exportation a été ouverte. En décembre, 1,5 million de barils ont été exportés hors des États-Unis. La guerre des prix avec les pays producteurs de l’OPEP qui devait mettre l’industrie pétrolière des gaz de schiste américaine à genoux a fait l’inverse. Elle a stimulé l’innovation, les embauches et les seuils de rentabilité ont étés abaissés. Le tribulations à la baisse de l’OPEP, n’ont servi qu’a mettre les pays de l’OPEP dans la difficulté. Les salaires ont progressé en taux annualisé de 2,9%, soit le rythme le plus rapide en plus de huit ans. (…) Au 1er janvier, les accords patronaux devant l’embellie du marché ont augmenté le salaire minimum dans 18 états. Agoravox
Colin Powell, le plus grand génie militaire de notre temps, soutient le président Obama. Et les militaires l’adorent. J’ai fait ce film. Je connais les militaires. Ils respectent cet homme pour ce qu’il a fait. Il a tué plus de terroristes dans le bref exercice de ses fonctions que George W. Bush en huit ans. C’est lui, le vrai faucon. Harvey Weinstein
J’ai une profonde estime pour Harvey Weinstein. Au-delà de sa réussite cinématographique, il est d’abord pour moi l’homme qui a lancé Amnesty International aux États-Unis, lutté contre la peine de mort, et l’un des rares, côté américain, à avoir mené la bataille contre les lyncheurs de Polanski. Bernard-Henri Lévy
La vente aux enchères privée et le défilé de mode ont été suivis d’un dîner et d’une vente aux enchères publique dirigée par le patron de Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, qui, cette année, a non seulement mis en vente un massage par [la top-modèle] Heidi Klum, mais aussi persuadé [l’acteur Kenneth] Branagh et [l’acteur James] Caan d’ôter leurs chemises et de servir de cobayes pour une démonstration de ses talents. Le massage est parti pour 33 000 dollars. “Karl Marx est mort”, a observé le réalisateur James Gray. Roger Ebert
Harvey Weinstein (…) était aussi, et surtout, un partisan inconditionnel de M. Barack Obama et de Mme Hillary Clinton. Nul n’incarnait mieux que lui les ambiguïtés de ce gratin démocrate représenté par la Fondation Clinton. Les soirées caritatives qu’elle organisait assuraient la même fonction que les bonnes œuvres passées de M. Weinstein : celle d’une chambre de compensation sociale où les nouveaux entrants dans le beau monde reçoivent leurs lettres de noblesse — en France, autrefois, on appelait cela une « savonnette à vilain ». Participer à un événement de la Fondation Clinton revient à faire un plein de bonté à gros indice d’octane. Vous y rencontrez une ribambelle de célébrités, un éventail de personnages glorifiés pour leur altruisme et leur infaillible valeur morale et qui, bien souvent, portent un nom simple, comme le chanteur Bono ou la jeune Pakistanaise Malala, Prix Nobel de la paix. Des personnages sanctifiés, béatifiés, au contact desquels s’opère un échange de bons procédés qui permet aux gros poissons du monde des affaires de se procurer à coups de contributions financières un brevet de bon Samaritain. Au centre de ce jeu de passe-passe, les Clinton jouent les maîtres de cérémonie. Ils ont un pied dans chaque camp, celui des grandes âmes vertueuses et celui, moins reluisant, de l’affairisme entrepreneurial. M. Weinstein personnifiait mieux que quiconque cette Bourse des valeurs morales. (…) Le progressisme de M. Weinstein se mesurait en lauriers au moins autant qu’en dollars. Le prodige de Hollywood siégeait au conseil d’administration de divers organismes à but non lucratif ; les films de sa société, Miramax, récoltaient Oscars et Golden Globes à foison ; en France, il a même reçu la Légion d’honneur. En juin 2017, quatre mois avant qu’éclate le scandale de ses agressions et de ses manœuvres pour réduire au silence les victimes de sa tyrannie sexuelle, le club de la presse de Los Angeles lui décernait encore le Truthteller Award, le prix du « diseur de vérité ». (…) Dans le monde de M. Weinstein, l’engagement politique se place sous le patronage de l’industrie du luxe, à Martha’s Vineyard comme dans les Hamptons — deux hauts lieux de la jet-set américaine —, au gala de soutien d’un candidat comme à une soirée de bienfaisance. (…) Dans le monde des grandes fortunes, le progressisme fait office de machine à laver pour rendre sa rapacité plus présentable. (…) Bien des gens de gauche se perçoivent comme des résistants à l’autorité. Mais, aux yeux de certains de ses dirigeants, la gauche moderne est un moyen de justifier et d’asseoir un pouvoir de classe — celui notamment de la « classe créative », comme certains aiment à désigner la crème de Wall Street, de la Silicon Valley et de Hollywood. L’idolâtrie dont font l’objet ces icônes du capitalisme découle d’une doctrine politique qui a permis aux démocrates de récolter presque autant d’argent que leurs rivaux républicains et de s’imposer comme les représentants naturels des quartiers résidentiels aisés. Que cette gauche néolibérale mondaine attire des personnages comme M. Weinstein, avec leur capacité prodigieuse à lever des fonds et leur révérence pour les « grands artistes », n’a rien pour nous surprendre. Dans ces cercles qui mêlent bonne conscience et sentiment de supériorité sociale, où se cultive la fiction d’un rapport intime entre classes populaires et célébrités du showbiz, le cofondateur de Miramax était comme un poisson dans l’eau. Ils sont légion, les habitués de ce milieu qui, sachant parfaitement à quoi s’en tenir, prennent à présent de grands airs scandalisés devant les turpitudes d’un des leurs. Leur aveuglement est à la mesure de leur puissance. Ces temps-ci, les voici qui errent dans un labyrinthe de miroirs moraux déformants en versant des larmes d’attendrissement sur leurs vertus et sur leur bon goût. Thomas Frank

On a trouvé pourquoi les riches ne votent plus à droite !

A l’heure où le valeureux défenseur des ponts et pourfendeur des murs nous jure la main sur le coeur qu’il n’a pas eu de relations sexuelles avec nos données personnelles …

Et où, à l’instar d’une certaine ancienne strip-teaseuse, l’ancien patron du FBI s’embarque dans un financièrement prometteur peep show politique

Pendant qu’entre chute du chômage et de la distribution de bons alimentaires et création d’emplois et hausse des salaires …

L’amélioration de la situation des minorités et des plus démunis sous l’Administration de l’honni Trump devient – même pour le NYT – de plus en plus difficile à dissimuler …

Retour à l’occasion de la sortie française du dernier livre de l’auteur Pourquoi les pauvres votent à droite

Via un article décapant de Thomas Frank dans le Monde diplomatique concernant l’affaire Weinstein …

Sur ces riches qui désormais votent à gauche …

La gauche selon Harvey Weinstein

Le Monde diplomatique
Février 2018

C’était aussi, et surtout, un partisan inconditionnel de M. Barack Obama et de Mme Hillary Clinton. Nul n’incarnait mieux que lui les ambiguïtés de ce gratin démocrate représenté par la Fondation Clinton. Les soirées caritatives qu’elle organisait assuraient la même fonction que les bonnes œuvres passées de M. Weinstein : celle d’une chambre de compensation sociale où les nouveaux entrants dans le beau monde reçoivent leurs lettres de noblesse — en France, autrefois, on appelait cela une « savonnette à vilain ».

Participer à un événement de la Fondation Clinton revient à faire un plein de bonté à gros indice d’octane. Vous y rencontrez une ribambelle de célébrités, un éventail de personnages glorifiés pour leur altruisme et leur infaillible valeur morale et qui, bien souvent, portent un nom simple, comme le chanteur Bono ou la jeune Pakistanaise Malala, Prix Nobel de la paix. Des personnages sanctifiés, béatifiés, au contact desquels s’opère un échange de bons procédés qui permet aux gros poissons du monde des affaires de se procurer à coups de contributions financières un brevet de bon Samaritain. Au centre de ce jeu de passe-passe, les Clinton jouent les maîtres de cérémonie. Ils ont un pied dans chaque camp, celui des grandes âmes vertueuses et celui, moins reluisant, de l’affairisme entrepreneurial. M. Weinstein personnifiait mieux que quiconque cette Bourse des valeurs morales.

Voilà ce champion d’humanité accusé de violences sexuelles d’une fréquence et d’une gravité invraisemblables. Voilà que cet infatigable défenseur de la liberté de la presse se dévoile comme un virtuose dans l’art de manipuler les journalistes, quitte à les molester lorsqu’ils s’entêtent à poser des questions gênantes (2). Mais le producteur-vedette de Hollywood savait aussi présenter un visage avenant, se tisser un réseau d’obligés, recevoir et renvoyer l’ascenseur.

En 2012, il achète les droits d’exploitation sur le territoire américain du Serment de Tobrouk, un documentaire réalisé par un essayiste français élégamment vêtu, Bernard-Henri Lévy, et destiné à promouvoir sur la scène internationale la destruction en 2011 du régime de Mouammar Kadhafi — destruction mieux connue aux États-Unis sous le nom de « guerre de Hillary » et dont la Libye, sept ans plus tard, ne s’est pas remise. La description qu’en donne M. Weinstein illustre le niveau d’emphase et de pédantisme qu’il est possible d’atteindre en un seul paragraphe : « Ce film merveilleux montre le courage incroyable de BHL et la force de l’ancien président Nicolas Sarkozy, tout en mettant en lumière l’inestimable leadership du président Barack Obama et de la secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton. Il permet au public américain de plonger dans les coulisses où le gouvernement de notre pays et celui de la France ont œuvré ensemble pour faire cesser le massacre de civils innocents et ont brillamment réussi à renverser un régime. » Ce qui lui vaudra ce retour d’affection de Bernard-Henri Lévy : « J’ai une profonde estime pour Harvey Weinstein. Au-delà de sa réussite cinématographique, il est d’abord pour moi l’homme qui a lancé Amnesty International aux États-Unis, lutté contre la peine de mort, et l’un des rares, côté américain, à avoir mené la bataille contre les lyncheurs de [Roman] Polanski » — le réalisateur de Chinatown et de Rosemary’s Baby, poursuivi pour le viol d’une mineure âgée de 13 ans.

Le progressisme de M. Weinstein se mesurait en lauriers au moins autant qu’en dollars. Le prodige de Hollywood siégeait au conseil d’administration de divers organismes à but non lucratif ; les films de sa société, Miramax, récoltaient Oscars et Golden Globes à foison ; en France, il a même reçu la Légion d’honneur. En juin 2017, quatre mois avant qu’éclate le scandale de ses agressions et de ses manœuvres pour réduire au silence les victimes de sa tyrannie sexuelle, le club de la presse de Los Angeles lui décernait encore le Truthteller Award, le prix du « diseur de vérité ».

Une imposture grossière ? Il est certain que sa conscience politique ne brille ni par sa consistance ni par sa profondeur. Il a par exemple vigoureusement désapprouvé la candidature de M. Bernie Sanders aux primaires démocrates de 2016. Le soir de l’élection présidentielle de novembre 2008, il acclamait la victoire de M. Obama au motif que les « cours en Bourse [allaient] grimper partout dans le monde ». Et son humanisme se teinte parfois de vert-de-gris. Le 5 novembre 2012, à l’occasion de la diffusion de Code Name Geronimo (SEAL Team Six en version originale), un film à la gloire du commando américain qui a tué Oussama Ben Laden, coproduit par sa société, il se fendait d’un hommage enflammé à l’un des artisans les plus discrédités de la guerre d’Irak : « Colin Powell, le plus grand génie militaire de notre temps, soutient le président Obama. Et les militaires l’adorent. J’ai fait ce film. Je connais les militaires. Ils respectent cet homme pour ce qu’il a fait. Il a tué plus de terroristes dans le bref exercice de ses fonctions que George W. Bush en huit ans. C’est lui, le vrai faucon. »

Dans le monde de M. Weinstein, l’engagement politique se place sous le patronage de l’industrie du luxe, à Martha’s Vineyard comme dans les Hamptons — deux hauts lieux de la jet-set américaine —, au gala de soutien d’un candidat comme à une soirée de bienfaisance. Roger Ebert, un influent critique de cinéma, racontait ainsi une réception qu’il avait donnée en 2000 à Cannes en faveur de la recherche contre le sida : « La vente aux enchères privée et le défilé de mode ont été suivis d’un dîner et d’une vente aux enchères publique dirigée par le patron de Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, qui, cette année, a non seulement mis en vente un massage par [la top-modèle] Heidi Klum, mais aussi persuadé [l’acteur Kenneth] Branagh et [l’acteur James] Caan d’ôter leurs chemises et de servir de cobayes pour une démonstration de ses talents. Le massage est parti pour 33 000 dollars. “Karl Marx est mort”, a observé le réalisateur James Gray (3).  »

Chaque parti a ses vicelards ; M. Donald Trump est là pour nous le rappeler chaque semaine. Même à l’aune de cette règle, pourtant, M. Weinstein émerge du lot. Rarement un homme qui défendait si fastueusement les bonnes causes s’était autant appliqué à les piétiner. Comment comprendre qu’il ait pu s’identifier à des idées de gauche ? Par goût du pouvoir, peut-être, pour jouir du frisson de compter parmi les amis d’un William Clinton. Ou alors par désir d’absolution morale, celui-là même qui incite Walmart, Goldman Sachs ou ExxonMobil à parrainer des œuvres de charité. Dans le monde des grandes fortunes, le progressisme fait office de machine à laver pour rendre sa rapacité plus présentable. Ce n’est pas un hasard si, en guise de première réplique désespérée aux accusations accumulées contre lui, M. Weinstein a promis de croiser le fer avec la National Rifle Association (NRA, le puissant lobby américain des amateurs d’armes à feu) et de financer des bourses d’études réservées aux femmes (The New York Times, 5 octobre 2017).

Avec cette affaire, sans doute s’agit-il aussi de quelque chose de plus profond. Bien des gens de gauche se perçoivent comme des résistants à l’autorité. Mais, aux yeux de certains de ses dirigeants, la gauche moderne est un moyen de justifier et d’asseoir un pouvoir de classe — celui notamment de la « classe créative », comme certains aiment à désigner la crème de Wall Street, de la Silicon Valley et de Hollywood. L’idolâtrie dont font l’objet ces icônes du capitalisme découle d’une doctrine politique qui a permis aux démocrates de récolter presque autant d’argent que leurs rivaux républicains et de s’imposer comme les représentants naturels des quartiers résidentiels aisés.

Que cette gauche néolibérale mondaine attire des personnages comme M. Weinstein, avec leur capacité prodigieuse à lever des fonds et leur révérence pour les « grands artistes », n’a rien pour nous surprendre. Dans ces cercles qui mêlent bonne conscience et sentiment de supériorité sociale, où se cultive la fiction d’un rapport intime entre classes populaires et célébrités du showbiz, le cofondateur de Miramax était comme un poisson dans l’eau.

Ils sont légion, les habitués de ce milieu qui, sachant parfaitement à quoi s’en tenir, prennent à présent de grands airs scandalisés devant les turpitudes d’un des leurs. Leur aveuglement est à la mesure de leur puissance. Ces temps-ci, les voici qui errent dans un labyrinthe de miroirs moraux déformants en versant des larmes d’attendrissement sur leurs vertus et sur leur bon goût.

Thomas Frank

Journaliste et écrivain, auteur de Pourquoi les riches votent à gauche, Agone, Marseille, à paraître le 12 avril. Ce texte reprend et complète un article paru dans The Guardian le 21 octobre 2017.

(1Le groupe Mothers Opposing Bush s’est constitué pour empêcher la réélection d’un président censé nuire aux « valeurs d’honnêteté, de compassion, de communauté et de patriotisme » qui caractériseraient l’Amérique.

(2C’est ce qui serait arrivé en novembre 2000 au journaliste du New York Observer Andrew Goldman. Cf. Rebecca Traister, « Why the Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment allegations didn’t come out until now », The Cut, 5 octobre 2017.

Liberals may be experiencing mixed emotions these days. The prospect of a Trump presidency has raised urgent fears: of the nation’s fascist tendencies, of the potential for riots in the streets. At the same time, many liberals have expressed a grim satisfaction in watching the Republican Party tear itself apart. Whatever terrible fate might soon befall the nation, the thinking goes, it’s their fault, not ours. They are the ones stirring up the base prejudices and epic resentments of America’s disaffected white working class, and they must now reap the whirlwind.

In his new book, the social critic Thomas Frank ­poses another possibility: that liberals in general — and the Democratic Party in particular — should look inward to understand the sorry state of American politics. Too busy attending TED talks and ­vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Frank argues, the Democratic elite has abandoned the party’s traditional commitments to the working class. In the process, they have helped to create the political despair and anger at the heart of today’s right-wing insurgencies. They may also have sown the seeds of their own demise. Frank’s recent columns argue that the Bernie Sanders campaign offers not merely a challenge to Hillary Clinton, but a last-ditch chance to save the corrupted soul of the Democratic Party.

Frank has been delivering some version of this message for the past two decades as a political essayist and a founding editor of The Baffler magazine. “Listen, Liberal” is the thoroughly entertaining if rather gloomy work of a man who feels that nobody has been paying attention. Frank’s most famous book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” (2004), argued that Republicans had duped the white working class by pounding the table on social issues while delivering tax cuts for the rich. He focused on Kansas as the reddest of red states (and, not incidentally, the place of his birth). This time Frank is coming for the Ivy League blue-state liberals, that “tight little network of enlightened strivers” who have allegedly been running the country into the ground. Think of it as “What’s the Matter With Massachusetts?”

Frank’s book is an unabashed polemic, not a studious examination of policy or polling trends. In Frank’s view, liberal policy wonks are part of the problem, members of a well-educated elite that massages its own technocratic vanities while utterly missing the big question of the day. To Frank, that question hasn’t changed much over the last few centuries. “It is the eternal conflict of management and labor, owner and worker, rich and poor — only with one side pinned to the ground and the other leisurely pounding away at its adversary’s face,” he writes. Today, polite circles tend to describe this as the issue of “inequality.” Frank prefers an older formulation. “The 19th century understood it better: They called it ‘the social question,’ ” he writes, defined as “nothing less than the whole vast mystery of how we are going to live together.”

As Frank notes, today some people are living much better than others — and many of those people are not Republicans. Frank delights in skewering the sacred cows of coastal liberalism, including private universities, bike paths, microfinance, the Clinton Foundation, “well-meaning billionaires” and any public policy offering “innovation” or “education” as a solution to inequality. He spends almost an entire chapter mocking the true-blue city of Boston, with its “lab-coat and starched-shirt” economy and its “well-graduated” population of overconfident collegians.

Behind all of this nasty fun is a serious political critique. Echoing the historian Lily Geismer, Frank argues that the Democratic Party — once “the Party of the People” — now caters to the interests of a “professional-managerial class” consisting of lawyers, doctors, professors, scientists, programmers, even investment bankers. These affluent city dwellers and suburbanites believe firmly in meritocracy and individual opportunity, but shun the kind of social policies that once gave a real leg up to the working class. In the book, Frank points to the Democrats’ neglect of organized labor and support for Nafta as examples of this sensibility, in which “you get what you deserve, and what you deserve is defined by how you did in school.” In more recent columns, he has linked this neglect to the rise of a figure like Sanders, who says forthrightly what the party leadership might prefer to obscure: Current approaches aren’t working — and unless something dramatic happens, Americans are heading for a society in which a tiny elite controls most of the wealth, ­resources and decision-making power.

The problem, in Frank’s view, is not simply that mainstream Democrats have failed to address growing inequality. Instead, he suggests something more sinister: Today’s leading Democrats actually don’t want to reduce inequality because they believe that inequality is the normal and righteous order of things. As proof, he points to the famously impolitic Larry Summers, whose background as a former president of Harvard, former Treasury secretary and former chief economist of the World Bank embodies all that Frank abhors about modern Democrats. “One of the reasons that inequality has probably gone up in our society is that people are being treated closer to the way that they’re supposed to be treated,” Summers commented early in the Obama administration.

“Remember, as you let that last sentence slide slowly down your throat, that this was a Democrat saying this,” Frank writes. From this mind-set stems everything that the Democrats have done to betray the masses, from Bill Clinton’s crime bill and welfare reform policies to Obama’s failure to rein in Wall Street, according to Frank. No surprise, under the circumstances, that the working class might look elsewhere for satisfying political options.

Frank is hardly the first critic to remark upon a disconnect between the lives of wealthy liberals and the grittier constituencies they supposedly serve. As the historian Steve Fraser demonstrates in his wide-ranging new book, the idea of the “limousine liberal” has a long and messy history all its own. The term originated during the 1969 New York mayoral campaign, when the Democratic candidate Mario Procaccino charged the highborn Liberal Party incumbent John Lindsay, formerly a Republican, with acts unbecoming to his social class. Procaccino’s accusation differed slightly from Frank’s: Procaccino believed that Lindsay genuinely sought ambitious programs to empower the poor and the black and the disenfranchised. The problem was that Lindsay did it all from the “silk-stocking district” of the Upper East Side, where his wealth insulated him from the dire consequences of his actions.

Though Procaccino lost the mayoral election, his biting phrase went on to have an illustrious political career of its own. “Nowadays,” Fraser writes wryly, “Hillary Clinton serves as ‘Exhibit A’ of this menace,” “the quintessential limousine liberal hypocrite.” Despite its title, however, Fraser’s book is not really about liberals and their supposed foibles. Instead, he seeks to describe how “right-wing populists” have insulted, vilified, mocked and analyzed those liberals in both the present and the past.

According to Fraser, suspicion of highborn reformers extends back at least to the Progressive Era, when the idea of an activist government administered by well-educated experts began to take hold. Since then, these villains of American consciousness have labored under a variety of epithets: “parlor pinks,” “Mercedes Marxists,” “men in striped pants.” In each iteration, what seems to drive the attacks is not only the tincture of hypocrisy but the unrestrained confidence with which such liberals express their expert views. In that sense, Frank’s fuming at the smug knowledge workers of Boston might have come straight from the pages of National Review, circa either 1955 or 2015.

Fraser does not deny a certain reality behind the “limousine liberal” image. “Limousine liberalism was never a myth,” he writes, however “absurd and scurrilous” the political rhetoric may have been. Something did change beginning in the early 20th century, as the complexities of modern society began to demand new forms of expertise and new institutions to coordinate them. Resentment of “limousine liberals” is nothing less than a reaction to the modern condition, Fraser argues, though some politicians have more effectively navigated its challenges than others. Franklin Roosevelt managed to transcend his patrician upbringing to emerge as a genuine champion of the “little man” — and to become enormously popular while doing it.

Fraser agrees with Frank that the Democratic Party can no longer reasonably claim to be the party of the working class or the “little man.” Instead, he argues, the Republican and Democratic parties now represent two different elite constituencies, each with its own culture and interests and modes of thought. Fraser describes today’s Republicans as the party of “family capitalism,” encompassing everyone from the mom-and-pop business owner on up to “entrepreneurial maestros” such as the Koch brothers, Linda McMahon and Donald Trump. The Democrats, by contrast, represent the managerial world spawned by modernity, including the big universities and government bureaucracies as well as “techno frontiersmen” like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. These are two different ways of relating to the world — one cosmopolitan and interconnected, the other patriarchal and hierarchical. Neither one, however, offers much to working-class voters.

One liberal whose reputation still seems to be up for grabs is Barack Obama, now on his way out of office and into the history books. Frank gives Obama a middling-to-poor grade — something in the D range, let’s say — for what he deems to be the president’s vague and rambling answer to the “social question.” Frank compares Obama unfavorably with Franklin Roose­velt, another Democratic president who inherited an economic crisis from his Republican predecessor. Roosevelt took advantage of the Great Depression to reshape American society in fundamental ways, introducing social welfare and labor protections that shifted real power into the hands of the middle and working classes. (Frank largely gives Roosevelt a pass on the New Deal’s own structural inequalities, including its exclusions of women and nonwhite workers.) Obama, by contrast, let the crisis go “to waste,” according to Frank, tweaking around the regulatory edges without doing anything significant to change the economic balance of power. “Our economy has been reliving the 1930s,” Frank mourns. “Why hasn’t our politics?”

Part of the answer may be that our economy did not, in fact, relive the 1930s. By the time Roosevelt won his first presidential election, the economy had been in free-fall for more than three years and the stock market had lost nearly 90 percent of its value. Three years into the Great Recession, the stock market had begun its climb toward record highs, though that prosperity failed to trickle down to the middle and working classes. Frank sees this uneven recovery as a tragedy rather than a triumph, in which Obama “saved a bankrupt system that by all rights should have met its end.” He says little, however, about what sort of system might have replaced it, or about what working-class voters themselves might say that they want or need. In a book urging Democrats to pay attention to working-class concerns, there are decidedly few interviews with working people, and a lot of time spent on tech conferences and think tanks and fancy universities.

Perhaps as a result, Frank’s book ends on a pessimistic note. After two decades of pleading with liberals to think seriously about inequality, to honor what was best about the New Deal, Frank has concluded that things will probably continue to get worse. “The Democrats have no interest in reforming themselves in a more egalitarian way,” he writes. “There is little the rest of us can do, given the current legal arrangements of this country, to build a vital third-party movement or to revive organized labor.”

But this conclusion, too, may rest on a faulty analogy with the 1930s. Franklin Roosevelt did not suddenly decide on his own to enact Social Security or grant union rights. Those ideas came up from below, through decades of frustration and struggle and conflict. If Americans want something different from their politicians, there is no alternative to this kind of exhausting and uncertain hard work. In the end, it is the only way that liberals — or conservatives — will listen.

LISTEN, LIBERAL

Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

By Thomas Frank

305 pp. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company. $27.

THE LIMOUSINE LIBERAL

How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America

By Steve Fraser

291 pp. Basic Books. $27.50.

2 Responses to Bobologie: On a trouvé pourquoi les riches ne votent plus à droite ! (Party of the people: What happened to the Hamptons ?)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    THE DEMS’ WORST NIGHTMARE (What if Puerto Ricans started voting like Episcopalians ?

    Some polls have indicated that Trump’s approval rating among black voters is close to 20 percent. That is far higher than the 8 percent of the African-American vote that Trump received on Election Day 2016. A recent, admittedly controversial Rasmussen Reports poll showed African-American approval of Trump at 36 percent. Even 20 percent African-American support for Trump would all but dismantle Democratic-party presidential hopes for 2020. Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election with 88 percent of the black vote. That was about a six-point falloff from Barack Obama’s share of the black vote in 2012. But far more importantly, an estimated 2 million of the African-American voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2012 simply did not show up at the polls in 2016 to vote for the off-putting Clinton. Even a small drop in African-American turnout or anything less than the usual 85 percent to 90 percent supermajority for a Democratic presidential candidate on Election Day can prove fatal.

    Republican presidential candidates now routinely win 55 percent to 60 percent of the so-called white vote, and about 70 percent of voters are white. That lopsided margin may widen further, given that progressive Democrats are not making any effort to recapture turned-off white working-class voters. With continually diminishing white support, Democrats must increasingly count on massive minority turnout and bloc voting — especially among African-American voters, who make up about 12 percent of electorate. Roughly a third of Asians and Latinos vote Republican, and voter turnout among these groups generally isn’t as strong as it is among whites and African Americans.

    But why is the supposedly odious Trump having any success in undermining the traditional marriage between African Americans and Democrats? The most recent jobs report revealed that the unemployment rate for African-American teenagers fell to 19.3 percent, the lowest figure on record. That number stands in marked contrast to the 2010 rate of 48.9 percent under the Obama administration. Overall black unemployment is currently at 5.9 percent, which is close to a record low. Under Trump, the economy is growing at nearly 4 percent per year. The robust growth coincides with Trump’s effort to curb illegal immigration and imported labor. The net result has been to empower minority job applicants in ways not seen in nearly half a century. Trump’s implicit message is that every American worker is now crucial in maintaining the red-hot economy. In a job-short economy, laborers suddenly have a lot of leverage over their employers. And wages are rising. Trump’s nationalist message adds to this sense of empowerment, especially when he campaigns on putting Americans first in his economic decision-making. A former entertainer, Trump is courting African-American celebrities such as rapper Kayne West and football legend Jim Brown. Activist Candace Owens and her Turning Point USA organization are trying to convince black voters that being politically independent forces both parties to compete for the African-American vote. Ironically, Trump is reaching out to the African-American community to a much greater degree than progressives are reaching out to the estranged white working class…

    Victor Davis Hanson

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/10/trump-support-black-voters-2020-election/

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    DEPLORABLES, ON VOUS DIT (Moins on est instruit, plus on vote FN – il y a sept ans déjà)

    « C’est un peu le vote des « oubliés ». (…) les enquêtes de terrain montrent que les jeunes sur le point de voter FN sont ceux sur le point de travailler, ou du moins d’entrer dans la vie active. Ils sont dans l’ensemble très pessimistes par rapport à leur avenir. (…) De nombreuses études le montrent, ce sont les jeunes ayant le moins d’instruction qui se tournent vers le Front national. Moins on est instruit, plus on vote FN. On observe que ce sont également ceux qui s’intéressent le moins à la campagne. Leurs préoccupations sont, par exemple, plus portées sur la sécurité et moins sur l’éducation. Ils sont souvent très peu intégrés socialement, avec une certaine précarité professionnelle. C’est ce qui différencie cet électorat de celui de Mélenchon, par exemple. (…) Déjà, dans les années 90, le FN était le premier parti chez les jeunes. Là, ce n’est que le deuxième, mais cette tendance est la conséquence d’un même facteur. En fait, à chaque fois que le pays traverse une crise, cela favorise le vote des jeunes à l’extrême-droite, un vote protestataire. En revanche, même s’il vote FN aujourd’hui, une partie de ces jeunes se tournera vers les autres partis à mesure qu’ils s’intégreront socialement, fonderont une famille, etc. »

    Sylvain Crépon

    Un sondage Ifop montre que 23% des 18-22 ans comptent voter pour Marine Le Pen. Un vote protestataire, mais pas seulement, explique le sociologue Sylvain Crépon. Alors que Marine Le Pen ne décolle pas dans les intentions de vote, voilà une étude qui devrait réjouir la candidate frontiste. Un sondage Ifop pour Libération montre que 23% des jeunes de 18 à 22 ans la choisissent, derrière François Hollande (31%) mais devant Nicolas Sarkozy (21%). Sylvain Crépon, chercheur à l’université de Nanterre et spécialiste de l’extrême-droite, livre son analyse sur une tendance qui n’est finalement pas si récente…

    https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/politique/moins-on-est-eduque-plus-on-vote-fn_1100733.html

    J'aime

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