50 Years of Angry White People

First published March 28, 2016

Angry white people are in the news again.

Why are they angry? Michael Kimmel calls it aggrieved entitlement.

“According to the UK Guardian, a November, 2015 survey of 3,257 US adults by Esquire and NBC produced the following bits of data: white people are more likely than black people to say their current financial situation isn’t what they thought it would be when they were younger, and they were also more likely to put that down to difficult circumstances rather than “wrong choices”.

When asked whether they ever hear or read anything on the news that makes them angry, white respondents were more likely than black ones to say they felt angry at least twice a day. There were gender differences too – men were more likely than women to say that they felt angry about the treatment of white men.”

In the 1960’s poor whites were pissed about integration and desegregation.

They hated John Kennedy for using the power of the Federal Government to protect the rights and the safety of black students who wanted to enroll in school.

Art by Rob Goldstein

Poor whites loved Lyndon Johnson until he signed the Civil Rights Act.

That was when the Federal Government became a ‘problem’ for poor whites.

Our Government was too big, they said.

Our Government had no respect for individual liberty.  (white privilege).

In 1969 a GOP strategist named Kevin Phillips wrote a book called the Emerging Republican Majority.

Newsweek purportedly called The Emerging Republican Majority the political bible of the Nixon Administration

Art by Rob Goldstein
Dividing the Democrats — Memo to H.R. Haldeman from Pat Buchanan

Kevin Phillips stated to New York Times Magazine in 1970,

“All the talk about Republicans making inroads into the Negro vote is persiflage. Even ‘Jake the Snake’ Senator Jacob Javits of New York only gets 20 percent. From now on, Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote, and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

In my research of Kevin Phillips and the Southern Strategy I found some image files of a 1971 Memo to H.R. Haldeman from ‘Research” (as Requested).

The memo was called Dividing the Democrats.

Pat Buchanan, wrote the memo anonymously.

George Packer of the New Yorker describes how he got the memo:

“I wanted to hear tales of the Nixon years, and Buchanan—between writing his syndicated column and getting ready to drive to the studios of MSNBC for a televised political talk, which he called “bread and circuses”—was happy to oblige. After all, he’d been present at the creation of the themes and tactics that led to forty years of conservative domination of American politics, and he was proud of it.

“At one point, he mentioned a memo that he’d written for Nixon in 1971 under the heading Dividing the Democrats.”


Art by Rob Goldstein
Dividing the Democrats — Memo to H.R. Haldeman from Pat Buchanan

“It was a Machiavellian primer in the vulnerabilities of the New Deal coalition.

He later sent me a copy, warning me that it’s “a little raw for today.

It reminded me of how relatively gentle and civilized the supposedly
vicious campaign of 2008 has been.“  The New Yorker

Art by Rob Goldstein
Dividing the Democrats — Memo to H.R. Haldeman from Pat Buchanan

Dividing the Democrats – Right Click and Save Link As

The Southern Strategy used racist code words to stoke racism and division for political gain.

Journalist Dan Baum wrote in the April cover story of Harper’s about how he interviewed Ehrlichman in 1994 while working on a book about drug prohibition.

Ehrlichman provided some shockingly honest insight into the motives behind the drug war. From Harper’s.

This is from John Ehrlichman.

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Read the whole article, which is a comprehensive argument for drug legalization, here.

Dividing the Democrats Screenshot 4
Dividing the Democrats — Memo to H.R. Haldeman from Pat Buchanan

Lee Atwater was a Republican Political Strategist and Regan Advisor.

: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964 and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Listen to the interview here: Lee Atwater’s 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy

In 1980 angry white people elected Ronald Reagan

Angry white people got their wish and government shrank.

They voted to cut funding for public education.

They voted to close Community colleges.

They voted to end federal grants and scholarships to the poor.

They voted to cut Community Mental Health.

Art by Rob Goldstein
Dividing the Democrats — Memo to H.R. Haldeman from Pat Buchanan

The federal government stopped giving things to the people poor angry whites said were undeserving.

But something was wrong.

The lives of angry white people got worse, not better!

It’s important to poor angry white people that we who are
undeserving know our place.

They didn’t like Bill Clinton because he was one of them, but he
wanted to ‘give things’ to black people and perverts.

They didn’t like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

They didn’t like AmeriCorps.

They didn’t like his uppity wife’s plan to give medical care to the everyone (black people).

So they organized and elected Newt Gingrich and a GOP Congress that did everything it could to destroy Bill Clinton.

The Gingrich ‘revolution’ also did everything it could to destroy opportunities for the poor:

More cuts to education.

More cuts to community mental health.

More cuts to federal vocational programs.

Lifetime limits on access to welfare.

But something was wrong.

The lives of angry white people got worse, not better

In 2000 poor angry white people bravely fought back against a Gore Presidency:

“As angry as conservatives have felt over the nearly three weeks since Election Day, a clear turning point in this remarkably twisting story line came Friday, when Joe Lieberman stepped up to liken GOP protesters in Miami-Dade County to a “mob” trying to “intimidate” vote counters. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) chimed in, saying the Miami-Dade rally had a “whiff of fascism.” Conservatives see these statements – along with other Democrats’ invoking of the Voting Rights Act – as efforts to silence protests against recount outrages.”

How the GOP Fought Back

At last poor angry whites people got what they wanted!

They had Congress and the White House and they had the power to make sure that no part of government would go to the undeserving (not white).

Then 9/11

Then the sick and disabled died on our streets.

Then the children of the poor went hungry and uneducated.

But something was wrong.

The lives of angry white people got worse, not better

Barack Hussein Obama II became President in 2009.

Poor angry white people formed a Tea Party to prevent Obama from giving medical care to the undeserving (transgenders, black people, Muslims and immigrants).

And when Obama did get a broken health care bill passed they got even angrier and in 2014, with a combination of right-wing activism and liberal apathy, they elected the most partisan congress in recent  American history.

Poor angry white people had a racist Congress that was openly hostile to the first African-American President.

And they had Fox News to tell them the lies they wanted to hear.

And they used the power of their local governments to make sure that no one in their states got anything they didn’t deserve.

But something was wrong.

The lives of angry white people got worse, not better

Angry white people have shorter life expectancies

Angry white people have less education and their children are more likely
to be poor, sick, and malnourished.

From Paul Krugman of the New York Times in a March 18 column: Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain

“…social collapse in the white working class is a deadly serious issue. Literally. Last fall, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton attracted widespread attention with a paper showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans, which had been declining for generations, started rising again circa 2000. This rising death rate mainly reflected suicide, alcohol and overdoses of drugs, notably prescription opioids. (Marx declared that religion was the opium of the people. But in 21st-century America, it appears that opioids are the opium of the people.)

And other signs of social unraveling, from deteriorating health to growing isolation, are also on the rise among American whites. Something is going seriously wrong in the heartland.”

The thrust of the article is that the GOP élite believe poor whites are as undeserving as poor blacks.

For GOP élite it was always about class.

“Stripped down to its essence, the G.O.P. élite view is that working-class America faces a crisis, not of opportunity, but of values. That is, for some mysterious reason many of our citizens have, as Mr. Ryan puts it, lost “their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” And this crisis of values, they suggest, has been aided and abetted by social programs that make life too easy on slackers.”

Now the nation’s impoverished angry white people want a carpetbagger from New York to be their President.

He promises to build walls to protect their cherished illusion of racial superiority.

To Trump they’re peasants, useful idiots, things.

They’re his things.

“Trump’s aim seems not to be just the Republican presidential nomination. He clearly wants to be an American ruler, above political party, Washington politics and the demands of democratic compromise. Popularity and admiration will bind him to his followers. He’s so sure of his followers — “many, many millions of people,” as he puts it — that he predicts riots if his path to capturing the nomination is blocked by the GOP establishment.

Trump feeds off a zealotry born out of his promise to reawaken America and restore the country’s greatness. He promises to make his followers strong, instill them with pride, give them hope and make American power dominant in the world. “

Walking in David Duke’s shadow

The so-called Left tries to understand what it’s seeing.

One writer for the Huffington Post compares poor angry white people to two-year olds:

“The behavior we’re seeing is basically the extreme of the Republican base kicking and screaming because they believe that if they throw a big enough tantrum, they can hold off change, turn back the transition period already begun, and keep things the way they are — or go back to the way they were.”

He then recommends that we pick them up and carry them forward with us:

“…we pick up the tantruming toddler under one arm — in such a way that he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else — and carry him forward with us. It doesn’t mean the tantrum ends right away.”

Terrance Heath The Tyranny of the Tantrum

Hello Terrance.

Adults who throw tantrums like toddlers are called pathological narcissists.

You don’t pick up an enraged gun-toting adult who behaves like a toddler and carry him forward.

And you don’t let them run your government.

This is from Benjamin Knoll, Many Donald Trump Supporters Deserve Respect

“Those who do not support Donald Trump should point out his serious character flaws and unfitness for the office of the presidency. They should point out the potential danger to American society and the planet earth at large. They should loudly spotlight how his rhetoric and potential policies would harm religious, racial and ethnic minority groups in American society. They should do everything they can to exercise their right of free speech to engage in reasonable discourse with those who support Donald Trump to attempt to persuade them to change their mind.”

Can we also say their misery is a result of their votes?

I don’t have to understand or carry a man who wants to shoot me dead because he’s pissed that I can marry another guy.

Maybe it’s time to pay attention to the victims of white rage.

Look around you the next time you walk down Market Street in San Francisco or any major city in the U.S.

Look at the squalor and the degradation on our streets and ask yourself if your life is better for the suffering.

If the answer is yes, I don’t want to understand you.

And I don’t want you and people like you in charge of my government.

Art by Rob Goldstein
Liberals created the Middle class

(c) Rob Goldstein 2016 All Rights reserved

Reagan/Roosevelt meme found on Twitter