I don’t get it.* Why would an urban African-American president who as an adult has identified with urban issues support unions or organized labor, given its history of sexism, racism, and nativism in addition to being pro-seniority and anti-anti-poverty, a category or classification that correlates with age (children) and gender? Of course, Obama has “angry supporters” on the Left public opinion or Firebaggers (juxtaposed to Teabaggers or Tea Partiers) and in Congress.
Who did not anticipate this after the knock-down, drag-out Democratic primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton? Remember how Obama was belittled in April of 2008, when it went viral that behind closed doors with donors in San Francisco, the Democratic contender characterized Americans who live in rural areas as “bitter” and said that they “cling to guns and religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them”?
I grew up in a gun-clinging demographic (the gun-toting church population is quite high, I know), and my experience shows that Obama was right. Nonetheless, my budgetary point today is, who revived the term “entitlement” and juxtaposed it to liberals and progressives anyway? Wasn’t it the Clinton camp? All those “friends” (FOBs and FOHs) adopted the clever strategy, no doubt, when “liberal” became a dirty word. And what worked for Obama will work for Hillary Clinton or any woman in 2016, I hope.
But rather than this being a left/right or conservative/progressive or entitlement/no-handout issue, the question is: Who benefits from Social Security and Medicare the most, anyway? Social Security and Medicare benefit the white middle and upper classes, particularly women. There is, in other words, a spatial superiority correlated with but not caused by suburbanism. Put differently, there is a strong correlation between space and death (life expectancy for a black man in Detroit is 62 years, versus 74 for a white man in Bakersfield, California, and 83 for a white woman in San Francisco).
It’s the spatial middle class (suburban) versus the spatial rich/poor divide (urban). If we start visualizing our socioeconomic classes in geometric terms, stacking, at least for me, is simplified. Put differently, income inequality and social justice revolves around issues being raced, gendered, sexed, and classed.
And to put this in perspective, a little history of progressivism and paternalism or maternalism is always helpful, now that we’re around the centennial of the progressive movement. In the early 1920s, supposedly, a female reformer described the new urban areas by saying, “in the jungles of civilization the evolution is always downward — from man to beast, to reptile, and to that most noisome of living creatures, the human worm.”
So, as we’re reaching the end of the end — the liberal/conservative divide — of course the Democrats have more to lose than the conservatives in a debate about budgets and our so-called American “entitlements.”
Conservatives may lack a constituency, but the so-called “progress”-ive Democrats stand to lose entitlements that benefit those who live the longest. Correlation may not be causation, but if I’m going to bet on my lifespan, why do I really care?
As a Caribbean friend who lives in a tiny city in a demographically different suburb in New Jersey said, every year she lives beyond 50 is a gift. She doesn’t worry about the future, but then, looking at the demographics of Plainfield versus Metuchen, why should she? Why should she have retirement or worry about benefits when white men and women live up to 10 years longer? She is happy she’s alive post-50, after experiencing so much death from diabetes, asthma, and other ailments of those enclosed in poor areas — most of her friends, especially men, did not survive.
Raising a family and being trapped in the suburbs, I look at it differently. I tell my sons that as part of the peak of the pyramid of privilege, they should expect to have their privileges stripped, or at least their children’s privileges stripped, and when that happens, I hope they will be gracious about it.
*re-posted due to vandalism and categorized as Ruth O’Brien’s greatest blog hits since I warranted presumably right wing hacking.
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