Why we are dopes

We have only ourselves to blame. All the signs were out there, but we chose to ignore them. We wanted the cheap laugh and the easy sneer, but we were also darned compassionate. Except not right then. Especially with people who, quite frankly, didn’t deserve it.

Not only were we bigoted dopes, we lost an opportunity to forge an abiding political alliance.


I say “we,” I mean the people who are likely to be reading this blog. I’ve met my readers; I know who you are. Politically liberal, culturally curious, physically attractive. Probably white; probably over 50; most living in or with ties to the San Francisco Bay Area; likes long walks on the beach and trips to Paris. If you’re not like that, please use the comments section and tell me different.

So anyway, we’re the ones who fucked up. Don’t blame the Clintons; don’t blame the DNC; don’t blame Obama. We saw it happening, and we sneered. We felt superior.

And the people who were experiencing the pain, experiencing the poverty, experiencing the ignorance — they think the liberal elites are mocking them,  and they’re right. They think they’ve been lied to by both political parties, and they’re right. They think their values are just talking points in someone else’s self-serving narratives, and they are right.

I am talking about the poor white people of this country, primarily in the South but also in many parts of rural America, including small-town California. We know they’re there, but we prefer not to get involved. They’re bigots. They’re racists. Their TV preachers are all con men; their family circumstances are squalid. It’s all country music and Jesus and belligerent cretins. So we stereotype; we move on.

But they are American human beings. Racism is a product of ignorance, and ignorance is a product of poverty. It’s easier to sell snake oil to people who don’t understand medicine. It’s easier to sell senseless political strategies to people who never had a civics class.

We’re all afraid, but poor whites more than most. Everything has turned to dust for them in the last 50 years; the causes are unclear, but the pain is real. They’re afraid, and they have a right to be — the culture has passed on and left them adrift. Fear makes people stupid. Have someone gin up the Muslim menace, and people will buy it. Illegal immigrants flooding in to take jobs away from Americans; sure, that’ll work.


It’s OK to hate the elites; they really don’t care about you. And from the echoing halls of the media and the internet, no word in refutation comes forth. How about a snake-handling joke? How about Mike Huckabee’s Christian crusade on behalf a useless diabetes medicine? And those people believed it! Fools.

No one said, gosh, these poor folks swimming in a pool of misinformation. Maybe we could figure out a way to do something about that. Poor people tend the watch a lot of television, so maybe a big TV push could be made. Not hectoring Ivy League commentators, but people who get it, who understand the fear.

Black people were in an even worse situation, of course. Poor rural blacks had all the popular problems — addiction, random violence, ignorance, poverty — plus the poisonous legacy of racism. But at least we understood that part. Perhaps we donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center  (which is good because the fear-mongering right wing groups hate it) and maybe we volunteered or marched or something in support of poor blacks.

Not that it helped much, but, hey, we’re liberals. We’re used to that.

I think, just now, that it’s black people who should be talking to black people. When they need help, they’ll call. But in the meantime, how about doing something else for oppressed and manipulated minorities? How about if white people talked to other white people? That’s not racist; that’s just sensible problem solving.

The people supporting Donald Trump feel they have no choice. The pieties of Cruz and Bush and Christie made them scoff. Scoffing is a sane reaction. And the GOP establishment has, some way, somehow, convinced them that Democrats don’t share their values. The word “values” has been used as a cudgel against liberals. What are the values? Home, church, family, loyalty, patience. We got it all but church; maybe we can reach an understanding. Although it’ll be tough; the GOP is the party that somehow convinced poor whites to vote for the people who want to empower the very large entities that made their lives so terrible.

West Oakland26-2

Why? Because they are intellectual victims of racism. They have been taught just one thing since childhood, and they have resisted calls to tolerance because the calls have been issued by the media, by the school district, by the politicians — the same people that bitter experience has proven, time and again, to be liars and frauds. So the bad information comes from  reliable sources: the guy who will always pull your car out of a ditch (no charge; God bless) also believes that climate change is a hoax cooked up by the Chinese.

But the obstacle of ignorance, as large and stubborn as it is, is not insurmountable. There are ways to counter the fear of gay marriage, but none of those ways involves the heaping of scorn. A lot of communities, even smaller ones, have out gay and lesbian citizens now. They are already redefining the issue just by being there, selling auto parts or buying them. Other residents know that the gay folks are not the devil; they just distrust government meddling. And they are right to distrust government, because it’s now set up as an elaborate con game.

There are ways to talk about women’s rights, too. There are dreadful patriarchal jerks out there, it’s true, but there are also men who are concerned about the women in their lives. They don’t  want their loved ones to be bullied into accepting inadequate information on STDs, on early cancer detection, on family planning. Start there; start with common ground. There’s fertile soil out there, but no one has thought to plant the seeds.

White rural voters have always been susceptible to populist messages; who’s more populist than Bernie Sanders? He wants to get rid of fat cats too. He wants free health care. What’s wrong with that? Because Obama!  Bernie and Hillary both swear allegiance to the idea of equality, and what’s the matter with that?

Because equality is what got poor whites into this mess in the first place. All those lofty democratic ideals, and nothing in it for them. You can trust the people you know, and that’s pretty much all you can trust. You want people who will tell the truth and get on with it.

Donald Trump doesn’t always tell the truth, but he pisses off the fat cats, and what’s better than that? Sure, it’s all theater, but is it any more theater than Obama in 2008? Yeah, it’s crass and base and ugly, but it does say the things that isolated people have long been thinking. Is it the Muslims? Is it the Mexicans? Is it the Jews? They just don’t recognize America any more, and they want to know who’s to blame.

We have villains a-plenty; let’s give them one or two. Let’s see if, somehow, the natural political alliance between poor blacks and poor whites can be nurtured. And maybe we could all promise just to be a little less snarky. Think of it as spiritual exercise.

And remember to love your neighbor. There’s considerable theological weight behind that injunction.


Photography by Tracy Johnston

Marketing, advice and general whatever by Michelle Mizera

70 thoughts on “Why we are dopes

    1. I’m a long time reader, female, over 50, conservative, conventional. just moved from suburbia to a wonderful small town in the great Northwest. I read your articles because I think you understand the problems pretty well,the solutions not so much. Your own elitism shines thru. Maybe get to know a few more well to do, generous, smart and successful people, whatever age or gender.


  1. Longtime reader/first time caller. Under 50, no longer in SF (thanks, economy!) but in another equitably unaffordable major West Coast city, and forever grateful that you’re still kicking up dust.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hey, Jon: of course you are right, but I’ve just noticed that you are yelling: large font. Why you yelln’ at me, huh? huh?
    But what does it say about me that I just noticed? You’ve been using large font all the time. Maybe you know that I’m a little slow & don’t get things if you don’t yell at me.

    John Henry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The large font was something of an accident; it didn’t look that big on the screen. On digital devices, it looks real good (altho the photos don’t). And now, I like it. Not yelling, though.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jon,

    Spot on!

    Mostly. It’s not just the rural poor.

    There’s also the working stiffs in Castro Valley who figured out the media despises them. And the old women in Berkeley who only see non-white Cal students passing there houses on the way to campus.

    Add in all the other “working stiffs” all over the Bay Area who have noticed that their Senators & Congressional Representatives are way too rich and fancy to want to have a conversation in a supermarket check out line.

    You’ve nailed it that all of us who aren’t riding around in limos need to start talking to each other. Peggy Noonan’s description of the Unprotected includes us now. http://www.peggynoonan.com/trump-and-the-rise-of-the-unprotected/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is blame aplenty to go around but we should not forget that whenever well-meaning Democrats try to put forth a plan or program which might benefit folks in some need, the Republicans block it or shoot it down.

    Republicans seem to want people dying in the streets for lack of affordable medical insurance…

    “Compromising” with Republicans spoiled the Affordable Care Act and then they didn’t vote for it anyway (did someone say Susan Collins?)

    They want extra babies born to mothers who have no way of caring for them…

    Hungry children getting “Food Stamps” are freeloading lots…

    It ain’t just Liberal White Folks at fault, though they could always have done more…

    So far we have had no say in the Primary Charade in California.

    It might be interesting to muse about what might happen if we cleared away the Republican road-blocks as well as spurring ourselves to do more.

    Blame aplenty but there is a difference in heinousness…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well and truly said, Jon, but unfortunately a bit short on detail as to how we can effectively change the situation.

    “ignorance is a product of poverty.”
    “the culture has passed on and left them adrift. Fear makes people stupid.”

    OK, all true, but how do we offset that?

    “maybe a big TV push could be made. Not hectoring Ivy League commentators, but people who get it, who understand the fear.”

    This sounds great in the abstract, but who is going to sponsor this? As in, how does this happen without creating a big administrative operation (As in KQED / Public Broadcasting. As in the American Red Cross.) that eats up most of the available cash resources and leaves very little for the actual work. Yet a major effort of this nature would require lots of hard work, for a very long time, by dedicated and very smart professional people who as a general rule do not work for minimum wage.

    As an aside, I’m sure that you have good insights to management at The Chronicle, but one of the main reasons that we support their “Season of Sharing” and St. Anthony’s here in SF is because most of the contributions go to the actual needs. We hope.

    Dan Banchero
    San Francisco

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are right. I am over 50 and smug. And I do like beaches and Paris. I really like Paris…. I am feeling the shame here, thanks Jon.

    But the republican party is a mystery to me. As best I can tell when I meet one they are either ignorant (sometimes willfully so) or venal. Or a really toxic blend of the two.

    And I just don’t know how to do anything with that. Because stupid is hard to fix and often ignorance is a byproduct of stupid. I know, not always, just sayin.

    And venal? there is no fix for venal that I know of. If your whole mode of living is ‘I got mine, fuck all ya’ all’ or ‘you might get mine, fuck all ya’ all’, well I don’t know how to do anything about that either.

    The Untied way maybe? I don’t know.

    On a brighter note I am looking forward to having my vote in a federal election mean something, for once.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is a community fix for venal. Just develop of mode of living that does not revolve around buying things and getting richer, but about trusting each other and working out other modes of being. And this kind of work is not remotely theoretical.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am sure you have noticed that the folks who most need to adopt your community fix are those who are least likely to.

        “I got mine”

        Rinse and Repeat

        It will perhaps take a revolution similar to the one that occurred in ’68. Things seem more likely to shift from the existing paradigm when the middle class actually sits up and roars. The rich won’t do it, why should they? And the poor can’t do it, unempowered, disenfranchised, too busy makin the rent.

        Good thought provoking stuff. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Took the words right out of mouth. Selfish Americans not caring about the poor and people who lost their jobs. Make my blood boil. Patricia Bruning Bruning + Associates 733 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94710 510.549.1227 http://www.bruningdesign.com


    1. I am as you describe, except I am an Asian female native San Franciscan. Enjoying your blogs!


  8. One hates to admit it, but – dayum, you’re right. I don’t know what to do, either, and at least half of my distant relatives are the people who are jumping up and down for Mr. Drumpf. (Or did you see the clip where John Oliver looked up The Donald’s family history? If not, go find it.)


  9. “it’s easier to sell senseless political strategies to people who never had a civics class”. So very true.
    I’m pretty much in your demographic except for the fact that I was raised dirt-poor and am still pretty darn poor.
    But, I went to good Catholic grammar and high schools back in the 60s and early 70s and so I had LOTS of civics classes. And my folks always had us talk about ‘issues of the day’ at the dinner table. There were three basic rules a person ALWAYS followed: You vote (assumed it would be for the Democrat), you never crossed a picket line, and you went to Mass on Sunday. Simple rules but combined with the civics classes they worked pretty well.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I assume you’ve been reading Charles Murray? And, yeah, THAT Charles Murray. Maybe, just maybe, it’s morning in smug America. I won’t stop believing if you don’t stop writing.


  11. Suggestion for a baby step: start noticing how much bullying– or smug patronizing– goes on, of people who are very much like us yet hold unpopular opinions. They have different ideas about health care, or the uses of technology, or horrific historical events. We have been witlessly shepherded into demographic niches and participate in maintaining them for fear of being derided by the momentary culture heroes. I’m thinking particularly of Bill Maher as the archetype. Some day the more honest among us are going to be scarlet with shame remembering how we joined in shouting down “anti-vaxxers,” or “conspiracy theorists,” or “luddite technophobes.” Particularly if it becomes obvious the ways in which such scorned voices raised valid concerns, based on information we hadn’t bothered to find.

    Popular amnesia being what it is, though, this degree of honest self-reflection will be rare.

    Watching the remarkable rise of the Bernie Sanders campaign has been like an instruction manual about how flimsy “the prevailing wisdom” can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David Brooks wrote an illuminating column about the old Guilt culture, vs today’s Shame culture. In guilt culture, one’s internal sense of right and wrong is the driving force behind behavior.
      In a shame culture, however, we seek to be liked, to gain approval, so our behavior is more driven by the opinions of others. In a shame culture, some people take on an Enforcer role to “call out” people who go outside that particular culture’s norms. The piling-on that you see is the shame culture at work, trying to change people’s behavior via ridicule, and, as you say, “shouting down.”



    2. Kate Gowen knows whereof she speaks. I served with her for a time on the KPFA Local Station Board, a very well-known instance of the Circular Firing Squad of the Left.


  12. Jon, I want to write you a thoughtful response because you have said some things I think are quite right and some other things I think are quite inaccurate. I will write that to you. I think probably you and I have different information and different experiences. But in the meanwhile, I recommend the film “Blue Collar,” as germane to this discussion. And I would like to remark that the label “elite” can be applied to you and I, if the labeller is feeling disrespected by anyone smarter, cleaner, richer, with whiter teeth. The exercise of seeing yourself from the the POV of the worse off person – class consciousness – is good za-zen. So is seeing one’s self from the POV of the better off, or kinder or smarter, I think. Of course, your mileage may differ.


  13. A little too weepy. Most of the scorn-heaping comes from the
    top right, from the very exploiters who depend on misleading the exploited, not the middle left. Most Americans through most of our history have been despicable: Indian-killers, slavers, child molesters, rapists, lynchers, con artists, land thieves, white and blue-collar criminals, hypocrite lecteurs. Only a few Episcopalians, Lutherans and black Baptists, maybe, have ever had relatively clean hands. Life is a dirty business. You can treat stupid people with ordinary common decency and try calmly to reason with them, but you’re whistling in the wind. They’re still irretrievably stupid. Like naturalized citizenship, the right to vote ought to require passage of a basic history and civics test — it ought to be licensed.

    There, does that reinforce your thesis?


    1. I think you gotta try harder. Live with the discomfort, and try again.

      And yes, I suppose it is true that I have a sunnier take on the human character than you do.


  14. Another pertinent column and a depressing one as well. I know that one is supposed to always think positively, however liberal as I am in most matters, given the current state of affairs, I suspect that life as we know it will not be around much longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t think mere talking across the fence is going to do it. Does the economic underclass just want to be “understood,” or do they want their own pieces of the pie?
    Jobs are vanishing; take bridge toll collectors, For example. those were jobs with decent income and benefits, but government, like private business, gives the excuse that it is “financially irresponsible” to hire people to do what technology can do cheaper. And citizens are unemployed, and the class divide grows.

    Jobs are disappearing, and there isn’t enough meaningful work to go around. Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Player Piano” is increasingly prescient. And in PK Dick’s “Galactic Pot-Healer,” the highest pinnacle a person in society can have is a job, since there are so few of them.

    Therefore, I never use through those grocery store “self-check” lanes, and I prefer going into the bank to a teller, even though banks are cutting personnel to encourage people to use the cheaper ATMs that don’t provide jobs. Being a grocery store cashier isn’t glamorous either, but it’s a job, and our fellow citizens need those jobs until we’re forced into a major economic overhaul (likely to be very painful) that changes the current system, the one that is based on inherited wealth, class privilege, and accumulation for “later,” when our fellow citizens are going without, now.

    My short term idea: low-cost or free college education, which is inherently enriching. And somehow we have to counter this idea that “the good life” is based on working long hours to buy cars, flat-screen TVs, computers for every member of the family, foreign travel, endless enrichment activities for kids, luxury restaurant meals, etc. Even people who don’t have those things now think they are the markers of success. What would be our standard of “a good life” if we couldn’t see what other people owned?

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I am all you say, but running out of time. What am I going to tell my friends when we visit Switzerland this summer–skipping Paris. They are gobsmacked at our political choices. Grateful for your blogging–a bright spot (imagine that) in my day when one arrives.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m with Janos Gereben, too broad a brush. Sniffing along in the right direction but haven’t quite found the trail yet. Not that I have, this is all something of a puzzlement, and beware of the people who have a readymade comprehensive answer for you.


  18. Wow I miss you so much in the chronicle….what has happened to Callie Miller in the sat chrome she was great. You are better than even herb Caen different but more for these times thanks Judy davis class of San Marino high school class 1961 proud welfare mother in the 70’s rainbow grocery worker 30 years wife of jack Davis Chet helms mother of Sarah davis🐺😺🌺🚘


    1. Chet Helms was nice to me (as in didn’t laugh out loud) when, as a 14-year old, fresh from a summer at the Art Institute, I showed him my poster portfolio 🙂


  19. It’s hard to feel sympathy for people who shop at Walmart and then complain that there are no local jobs. Jonathan Haidt maintains that the people you are talking about believe in proportionality and people getting what they deserve. Though probably not themselves. I do think we need to find a middle ground, somewhere a little less liberal — the streets of SF show us daily that there needs to be a limit to what we let our fellow citizens get away with. But we don’t want to give away the house either.I just can’t imagine who is going to negotiate this compromise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, people who shop at Walmart often don’t have a choice. I mean, it’s like people buying clothes made in China — do they really not care about US jobs? Because then we’re all hypocrites.

      I understand that it’s hard to feel sympathy; maybe that’s why it’s important to try.


      1. … better than sympathy would be having some empathy – and then some sort of positive action.


      2. There are many reasons people shop at Walmart
        1. Price. If they’re poor they may not have a choice.
        2.availability. There may not be any other stores.
        3. Selection. Walmart has clothes of many kinds in many sizes.
        4. Access. Walmart is open 24 hours.
        5. Simplicity. You can go to one store for clothes, food, etc.


  20. I get a twitch whenever I read op-eds that talks about them’s and they’s. Every generalization has an exception – or two or four thousand. Yeah, ignorance is terrible – but not all ignorant folks are bigots – spurious or not, flip it over, not all educated people are non-bigots.

    As for figuring out the cause of prejudice… does anyone actually know? Seems we’ve soiled ourselves in it to such a degree, being prejudiced or not has become a demented cottage industry … books, movies, personalities and politicians… prejudice is used like a bus token, a blow torch. Who knows, maybe it’s innate to the human species, a recessive gene or the result of not enough roughage. Or, maybe America is basically tilted due to the loony zealots that found Plymouth Rock and hammered their identity flags into a flag-less country.

    I once thought of myself as progressive and liberal but I’ve come to understand – identifying with ideologies is limiting and it usually ends up, sides are chosen and it’s you vs. me – or them vs us. Gotta break free of placing values with one word descriptions.

    And Paris? It must be nice being wealthy enough to travel. And free time? How does one afford free time and walking on beaches? And politics – Trump and the Republicans? Are we witnessing the destruction of it All, thanks to the billions the Kock Brothers pledged to spend on this election… I mean, we’ve know Carl Rove has funneled money and talking points to the Sanders campaign… so, just what are the K brothers doing?

    And yes, once upon a time I lived near SF. Because of employment I also lived near LA, Chicago and New York City but that’s just personal history … so is the fact my immigrant grandfather and my father’s brothers were uneducated West Virginia coal miners.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It takes a long time for progressive, effective change to be enacted to the point that everyone (not just the elites) notices and appreciates the improvement in their lives. One modest proposal might be to VOTE! And I don’t mean once every four years for President. So many Progressives (and loads of young voters) sat out the mid-terms in 2010 and 2014. The result: 11 (or 12?) Governorships went Republican, along with many State Legislatures. Result of that: so much gerrymandering that for the Democrats to win back the House will take years. Alas.


  22. What a lovely post. Maybe I feel so uncomfortable with it because I don’t live in SF. Or is it because the author doesn’t live in the rural Midwest, south of the Mason Dixon, north of Boston, or even in Small Town, CA and is guessing about how we live and what our concerns are? Or is it because I’m not politically liberal (moderate)? I’ve had my trip to Paris and much prefer Venice as a welcoming city – in Europe, anyway. Rather than long walks on the beach I like those situations created in my mind by the Corona beer commercials on television – kick back in a comfortable chair and stare out to sea with a cold one.

    Don’t get me wrong, please. I do have ties to SF. I lived in Hayward, once-upon-a-time, and worked in Alameda, but my closest tie is my older brother; he lives in Sausolito and is the person who sent me this post. And we both love SF for its history and traditions of acceptance – of both liberal as well as ultra conservative values. And, yes, I’m over 50 – over 65 to be more precise, and retired. Maybe those are reasons I agree with some of what the author said.

    So; what do I agree with? That we’re afraid. Just like our counterpoints on the West Coast and in “the big city”. We’re afraid that, when “they” are done with whatever group is being denounced today, “they” will come after us.

    But, I’m just a grumpy, whiny, old man who thinks pie in the sky in the sweet by and by is just that and will more likely cause diabetes than save a soul or help a person in need.


  23. That is soDope Dear Jon –As stated,here is my thought-out response to your who is a dope column. 1.      It is not the case that we, yourreaders, have only ourselves to blame for the economic ruin of the poor,working poor, and middle-classes. The economic ruin of the lower 98% of the USis the direct result of specific public policies.  For one example, NAFTA was enacted by BillClinton and the 1992 Congress and it did facilitate (but did not begin) theflight of capital and manufacturing jobs out of the US. The trend of capitalflight began in resource extraction shortly after World War II.  You might recall an early Bob Dylanline:  “It’s much cheaper down in theSouth American towns, where the miners work almost for nothing.”  That is accurate.

    The Rust Belt began de-industrializing in the early 1960’s, even as it appearedto be expanding.  Detroit, Cleveland,Buffalo, St. Louis.  Why? Moving jobswest. Moving jobs to other countries. Automation. Decline of US steel, copper, and coal, fewer jobs in thosefields due to automation, outsourcing to cheaper sources. Moving jobs to thesoutheast, much cheaper labor because less unionization.  

    But remember please that the war between labor – that’s blue collar workers,like coal miners, farmers, cowboys –has been going on in the US since Euro’sgot here.  The rise and demise of unions– US history.  In this country, capitalkills workers, be they men, women, children. Did you ever read about the sugar strike at Crockett, California?  And you know about Harry Bridges and theLongshoremen’s strikes. Did you know about the 1946 Oakland general strike?

    Other policies and events leading directly to the demise of the workingclass:  the Nixon Southern Strategy. The PowellMemorandum, the Citizens United decision. Loss of resources to extract. Overpopulation. We, your readers, were born generally between 1945 and 1955.  What we did about the inequities youpresent:  We went into VISTA, volunteersin service to America.  We taught at HeadStart.  We went into the Civil Rights andAnti-War Movements, the Women’s Movement, the environmental movement.  We read and learned.  We mingled freely with blue collar boys andgirls at rock concerts, in the streets. Some of us listened to Country western music, an outgrowth of whitemountain music and gospel.  You didn’thave to be an evangelical to love the music of the Carter Family, the Blue SkyBoys, the Watson Family. We worked in clinics, taught in rural schools, learnedand listened. We went into law and filed suit on behalf of people with blacklung and brown lung disease, people exposed to asbestos, lead – workingpeople.  We went into epidemiology,journalism, research. Maybe some of your readers did not do these things. If you didn’t there’s notime like the present.

    2.      It is not the case that racism is aproduct of ignorance. Racism is a worldwide phenomenon.  Aristotlewrote that Greeks were naturally free but Barbarians were more suited forslavery.  Racism, ethnocentrism – today,the Buddhist Bhutanese practice racism against Nepalis.  Racism in the US is an outgrowth of thesocial and financial benefits of seeing white people as superior to all others,of scientific racism, of pre-civil rights era social and economic structures.  You would not call Thomas Jefferson ignorant,but you would call him a racist.  DittoGeneral Robert E. Lee.  Ditto a hugenumber of white southern and northern academics, jurors, and scientists.  They refused to think outside their boxes butthey were not ignorant.  The white racismof today has its uses to its believers. One way to change it is to employ thedominant and subdominant males of racist families in facilities that separatethem from their clans, surround them with people of other colors, and strictlyenforce tolerance. 

    3.      Several times in US history therehave been alliances among poor people of different races/cultures.  Some of those alliances have achieved, othershave not. You might remember that Jimmy Hoffa integrated the Teamsters.   You might have heard of the Green CornRebellion.  Maybe you remember theSouthern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality, theStudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the 1963 March on Washington forJobs and Freedom, and the achievements – the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965.  These are events that formed me, of which Iam proud.  It was poor people, black andwhite, and middle class people, mostly white, students, teachers, elders – who madethese alliances.

    4.      What can be done now to create thebetter world we want, restore those alliances with poor white people: seenumber 3 above.  And what else:  start kicking that question around.  That is a fundamental necessity. 

    Cheers,Martha Ture

    Liked by 3 people

  24. We need to start a SuperPac. Just like a pac, but wearing a cape.

    And here’s the name—“Untied Pac”.

    The Supremes almost mandated it with Citizens United. If it’s good enough for the Kochs it’s good enough for us.

    As usual,

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi, I read, skimmed, most items, and read slower when I came to Martha Ture’s (she had a great start, did she not?) and re-reading her letter is on my list, too.. I wonder why media dosnt point out that Trump is reaching people by saying as much as he can about everything that irks us. People hear what they want to and he speaks one view one minute and 15 minutes later another and media just broadcasts it. They could make his strategy more obvious for the masses, rather than just repeating his statements. He has a strategy and it appears to work well for him.
    As for racism in this country, look to history.


    1. Actually, the media does point that out, quite a lot. The problem with media is the wall-to-wall coverage it gives to Trump, even if it fact-checks him ruthlessly. Trump talks over the media; they can’t keep up.


  26. As always, you’ve given me food for thought. Thank you. Also, thanks to Tracy for the images.


  27. I just returned from Trinity county where I saw a truck with a sign on the tailgate saying ” I’ll keep my Liberty, my guns, my money. You keep the change”. This area has long history of fights with the federal government in the form of all the forestry and park administrations.
    The level of distrust and ignorance is really un fathomable. The owner of the guest ranch would go on a rant tangentially and the only polite action was to nod ones head or try to change the subject. For instance one guest flew from Oakland to Redding. The plane was a bit late and she says declaratively “the jets are never on time. The propellers were on time”. That was the most inane yet there were so many others statements.
    The world is different when viewed through different perspectives. (I know that from getting sober). How to change the perspective of folks who see government as the biggest intrusion in their lives? Folks who really only understand exploiting the natural resources for sustenance while urbanites want it preserved and majority rules give us the edge?
    Your readers don’t have to leave the state to meet the rural poor.

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  28. I always thought that attaining the highest level of education one could was a worthy goal. Seems it is still a goal for many immigrants. When people (pundits, politicians) make a career out of shaming and deriding the “elites” or you could even lump in the academics or intellectuals, or maybe just anyone who is a “know it all,” because they know something … I don’t want to live in a culture where knowning something is now a bad thing. I do think we need to put a lot more civility in our discourse. And that may be the root of the problem. Our culture has devolved to the point where civil disagreement on anything seems impossible, and everyone is just slobbering to put someone “in their place.” Trying to get someone with a demonstrable lack of imagination (not education) to stand in someone else’s shoes, is an uphill battle. There but for the grace of god … few seem able to go. I seem to know more and more people who can’t comprehend realities beyond there own very personal experiences. Even when their personal realities contain huge contradictions, it doesn’t seem to matter. And needless to say, when you point those out (however sweetly you can) they don’t appreciate the “heads up.”

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  29. There is one serious problem with your article and it’s a bit of a doozy. You start out by saying that the educated liberal elites treat the rural poor like dirt (which is true). However, your solution is to ride in with our shining armor, lift their veil of ignorance, and shepherd them out of their benighted world views. This is an incredibly patronizing position and advertises a distinct lack of respect for them as human beings. The irony is almost palpable.

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    1. No, I did not say that. I suggested that, in all humility, we reach out to people and find out more about why they think what they thtnk. Maybe they’ll change our minds; you never know,.


      1. Jon, I understand that you believe that you didn’t say that but, as someone familiar with the rural white poor (both through family and upbringing), your words comes across as patronizing. Now, I admit that I may be overly sensitive but it might not be a bad idea to think about how this would sound to the rural poor you feel are in need of education.


  30. Jon, I am SO glad you still are writing for us. Always enjoyed you. That I still can is a happy connection. Thanks and please keep it up.


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