There is much discussion recently about the “Coastal Elite Liberals” versus the “White Working Class”. Everyone has a different opinion on how this affected the election outcome and what needs to be done in the future to reconcile the two groups.
I do not fall into either category, and I imagine there are many other people who also do not. I was the first in my family, on both sides, to graduate from college, and I live in a state so red, democratic candidates do not bother with it. Mississippi is a bastion of social conservatism that voted for Trump by a huge margin, and as a whole, the state is not going to put a democrat in office. To label me an elite would be laughable, but if y’all insist, I’ll just make do.
One can make the argument that the democratic party has largely ignored the white working class, and “the elites” look down on them. Anthony Bourdain recently did just that.
“The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now,” Bourdain told Reason. (WaPo)
That may be true of some, but overall it seems an unfair blanket statement. What about the people like me, who live in “red-state, gun-country”? As a moderately liberal atheist, I am looked down upon by the religious zealots, the social conservative tea partiers who have no compunction about saying, “If you don’t like it, leave.”
It does not matter that Mississippi is fiftieth in education and has a serious problem with “brain drain”, that the state cannot keep college graduates because it cannot attract jobs; religion is used as a weapon, and legislating that is more important than anything else, even retaining talent and improving the school system.
The white working class is the majority, and they, along with public officials, will condemn you to hell and run you out of town. In the Bible Belt, these people, not coastal liberals, are the elite, and they will destroy you. Mr. Bourdain sadly did not touch on this, which is a great shame.
Both sides have significant issues. Then there is a third group, which is the minority population. It is absolutely unfair to ask them to sympathize with either of these groups when they have been marginalized and degraded throughout this entire election process. It is contemptible and downright disgusting how the white supremacists have been given a platform and then the White House. Nobody from this group should be asked to commiserate with anyone.
First, we absolutely have to stop making such broad, sweeping statements. Then we each have to examine what is in our own hearts. Are we guilty of spurning another group as a whole? Are there changes we could make, attitude adjustments that would allow us to better listen?
Even if the other group is just as guilty, it has to start somewhere. We can be the bigger people and allow it begin with us. There may not be any difference at first or for a long time, but eventually, at some point, it will pay off. That change we have made within ourselves will allow us to truly listen when the time is right.