Belmont Club

Jurassic Farce

What Reuters called a “division and tension between black and white Americans” is shown by Steve Sailer’s analysis of the President’s approval ratings to primarily be a falling away of white and hispanic support. Sailer notes:

Black support for the black President remains almost rock solid, standing at 89 percent through the week ending July 11, 2010—slightly higher than in his first week in office.

But Obama’s approval rating among whites is now only 38 percent—51 points below the black level. The white approval rating has fallen 25 points since January 2009.

The three-pole coalition is collapsing on two sides. While black support remains steady the other ethnic components of his base are falling away. What is astounding is the rate at which it has collapsed. White support was “as high as 60 percent as late as the week of May 10, 2009”. Two months later it it was below 40% and still falling. More interesting still are hispanic opinion trends which have followed the same downward trend as whites, albeit from a higher base. Interestingly, neither the President’s appointment of the “wise Latina” nor his war with Arizona helped him on a sustained basis.

For example, Hispanic warmth toward Obama hit its peak (85 percent) a few weeks before he nominated Sonia Sotomayor on May 26, 2009. By August, he was down in the 60s with Hispanics.

Similarly, in the weeks before Obama went to war against the citizens of Arizona in late April 2010 over SB1070, his Hispanic approval rating had been in the 60s. Now, it’s at 55.

Although incidents like the NAACP vs Tea Party dust up and the “Beer Summit” have been cited for the racialization of politics the economy may be as much to blame as anything else. People turned to Obama on the strength of his promise to fix the economy. His inability to do that could not be compensated for by symbolism or the promise of government entitlements. People are hurting and are expecting to hurt some more. In a telling story, Max Klein found Americans are posing as Filipinos on Rent-A-Coder to find jobs from his own experience. After posting a bid for a two week job for a total of $200 he “selected my programmer, a guy from the phillipines, and we started working …” only to find his “Filipino” really wan’t.

So it struck me as very odd that my freelancer was working by 4am in the morning his time. After a while, I asked him about it. He told me that he was actually based in London.

Over the next couple of days, I put up two or three other projects. On my next project, I picked another worker, this time from India, and we started work. After a while, he remarked that he was based in Oregon.

When Klein pressed them for an explanation, they replied that no one would hire them if they told the truth. While Klein’s story may only refer to a phenomenon at the edges, the idea that illegal immigrants are just people doing “work Americans won’t do” is being replaced by the reality of Americans doing any job they can get. One of Max Klein’s commenters noted you could have predicted this. “What is often forgotten is that it is the market and competition within the market that sets the price”.

The market forgotten? But forgotten by whom? It is probably least remembered by those in Washington, a boom city in what is turning out to be a depression. And it may be only dimly recollected by the culture of progressivism and redistribution which brought the administration to power.  Walter Russel Mead, writing in Foreign Affairs argues that the President’s formula for ending racial divisions in America was essentially forged in Honolulu, Harvard and Hyde Park. The world view he acquired stressed redistribution as the key to healing wounds.  The market, if was remembered at all, was the sure source of peas. All a clever politician had to do was keep the pea moving around. What happens in a world running out of peas is that there’s nothing under the shell.

As a New England reformer building a larger, more intrusive state, and as the most prominent beneficiary of New England’s determination to broaden access to its most elite institutions, Obama represents forces that many populists instinctively oppose. At the same time, nothing in Honolulu or Cambridge or Chicago taught Obama what Clinton learned in Arkansas: how to reach out to these people and to know what, and what not, to say to them. The economic crisis of 2008 and the country’s unhappiness with the Bush administration gave Obama an opportunity to be heard by populist voters; since his inauguration, they have shown signs of retreating to their former loyalties and ideas. … Learning to integrate his New England value system into a public persona that could reach Chicago’s black voters gave Obama a potent and even mythic political appeal, but it also left him with a weak suit: the folks out in the hills clinging to their God and their guns.

And he might have added, clinging to their jobs. The fundamental weakness with President Obama’s theory of racial healing and social progress is that has assumed that America would always have the means to pay for its grand ambitions. With the arrow of redistribution flowing along racial lines from the relatively well-off whites to the latinos and blacks, ‘progressive politics’ in a depression may just be another word for “division and tension between black and white Americans”. When it became clear that Obama would not — could not — fix the economy; and when it became clear who was going to pay the bill for his social engineering, his supported melted away. President Obama doesn’t have a racial problem. He has an economic and ideological problem with racial dimensions.

The problem is that his governing mental model may be founded in a lost world — in the Marxist critiques of the 1960s and 70s. It may have been forged at a time when Americans seemed obscenely prosperous in comparison to the denizens of the Third World. They were harmless eccentricities at the time. Today, in a globalized world where China, not America is on track to become the greatest consumer in the world; in a world where Americans and Britons pose as Filipinos to get jobs, it is nothing short of disastrous.  His old categories of race and privilege and noblesse oblige are survivals from a bygone age. President Obama has made much of being the harbinger of the future. On the contrary, he may turn out to be a relic from the past.

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