The Faux Concerns of the Right

This is rich. Paul Krugman:

“If you live in the Midwest, where else do you want to live besides Chicago? You don’t want to live in Cincinnati or Cleveland or, you know, these armpits of America.” So declared Stephen Moore, the man Donald Trump wants to install on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, during a 2014 event held at a think tank called, yes, the Heartland Institute.

The crowd laughed.

I have written before about the phenomenon of well-known conservates — usually people from monied families who have Ivy League degrees and plum jobs in media and politics — who snear at liberals for being elites. See, for example,”Elitism for Elites” (April 2008), “Elitism for Dummies” (June 2008), and “Those Sneaky Elitists” (February 2012). If such people aren’t elites themselves, I’m Princess Charlotte.

Every now and then, though, the mask slips, as it did in the Heartland Institude. Krugman says such anecdotes illustrate something he’s noticed for awhile — “The thinly veiled contempt conservative elites feel for the middle-American voters they depend on.”

This is not the story you usually hear. On the contrary, we’re inundated with claims that liberals feel disdain for the heartland. Even liberals themselves often buy into these claims, berate themselves for having been condescending and pledge to do better.

But what’s the source of that narrative? Look at where the belief that liberals don’t respect the heartland comes from, and it turns out that it has little to do with things Democrats actually say, let alone their policies. It is, instead, a story line pushed relentlessly by Fox News and other propaganda organizations, relying on out-of-context quotes and sheer fabrication.

That said, I’ve also argued in the past that coastal urban liberals tend to reduce people in flyover country into cartoon stereotypes — see “Dear Sister and Brother Progressives” (November 2016). But it’s also the case, as Krugman explains, that only Democrats are proposing anything that would actually improve the quality of life of small town and rural folks. Republicans do just the opposite. See Krugman for details.

The Democrats have been complicit in this, however. For bleeping decades they failed to put forward comprehensive policy ideas and programs to challenge the Republican deregulate-cut taxes-trickle down nonsense. Instead, they’d offer cautious little tweaks. And what economic proposals they did have were never heard about in most of the country. I’ve been griping about this for years, too.