“These Days”: conservative democrats then and now

by zunguzungu

From David Roediger’s 1991 Wages of Whiteness:

“When US elections are won or lost these days, the voting patterns of the ‘white worker’ receive considerable attention. In popular usage, the very term worker often presumes whiteness (and maleness), as in conservative Democrats’ call for abandoning ‘special interests’ and returning the party to policies appealing to the ‘average worker’ — a line of argument that blissfully ignores the fact that the ‘average worker’ is increasingly Black, Latino, Asian and/or female. Most fascinating are sociologist David Halle’s recent observations on the self-identification of white workers. Halle writes that the New Jersey chemical workers he has studied prefer to call themselvese ‘working men’ (and ‘lower middle class’ or ‘middle class’ when describing their consumption patterns). The phrase working class speaks at once, Halle observes, of a class identity and of a gender identity. But its actual usage also suggests a racial identity, and identification of whiteness and work so strong that it need not even be spoken. That is, the white chemical workers do not describe as ‘working men’ Blacks who do similar jobs and who are more likely to be AFL-CIO members than are the white chemical workers’ neighbors. That category is instead seen as ‘naturally’ white, and Black workers become ‘intruders’ who are strongly suspected of being ‘loafers’ as well.”

From Hillary Clinton, circa a couple days ago:

“I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,” she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article “that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

Plus ca fucking change.