THE BLOG
04/14/2008 06:20 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The White Working Class is Not a Cardboard Cut-Out

The media spectacle of right-wing multimillionaires like Rush Limbaugh, Mary Matalin, and William Kristol proclaiming themselves the defenders of the interests of working-class Americans, and Hillary Clinton denigrating Barack Obama as "patronizing" toward working people, is just too ludicrous to endure.

It is the Republican Right that spreads the condescending and false stereotype of white working people as only caring about guns, gays, and god, and hating all things "liberal."

White working-class (or "lower middle class") people are Catholics, Protestants, and Agnostics; they are municipal, state, and federal employees; they are health care workers, occupational therapists, nurses, and technical assistants; they are in the highly-unionized skilled trades; they are truck drivers protesting $4 a gallon diesel fuel; they are agricultural workers and machinists; they work at "McJobs" like Blockbuster and Starbucks; they are checkers and baggers at Railey's and Safeway; they are child care workers and landscapers. They come from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. They have parents who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They value public education and have sons and daughters who daily depend on government social services. They hold complex and widely divergent opinions about the war in Iraq and the state of the economy (note the 81 percent who are unhappy with the direction of the country). They would love to have access to a doctor and send their children to a good college and own their own homes and see their incomes rise along with the productivity of their labor. In short, those people loosely identified with the "white working class" are not the monolithic homophobic, gun-toting, Bible-thumping bumpkins the elite right-wing media mouthpieces claim them to be.

Talk radio, Fox News, and the cable networks are all out flogging the idea that anyone who speaks in complete sentences and doesn't prance around in blue jeans and a cowboy costume is somehow "out of touch" with working people. They sold George W. Bush -- a trust-fund baby who attended Andover, Yale, and Harvard from a Washington powerhouse family -- as a faux populist.

Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of herself for using the Republican talking points about the "elitism" of Democrats. She shares the same cookie-cutter view of the white working class as the Republicans who have been so successful in recent elections to convince working people to vote against their own economic self-interest. The Republican Party platform opposes all of the measures that might make life better for workers. But the GOP loves to "tax and spend" for war and corporate power. The latest bailout of Bear Stearns shows working people where Washington really stands on their bread and butter issues -- no one bails THEM out when they can't make ends meet.