A pro-immigration advocate says the hard-hit mostly white working-class communities in the United States must be wheeled into “political hospice care,” and a Washington Post columnist commended his solution “as a way forward.”
“Economic dislocation and demographic changes are fueling discomfort and desperation among white working-class voters,” wrote WashPo columnist and editorial board member Jonathan Capehart, continuing:
While [university professor and author] Justin Gest says that both Republicans and Democrats have exploited these voters, he sees a way forward.
“The only way of addressing their plight is a form of political hospice care,” [Gest] said. “These are communities that are on the paths to death. And the question is: How can we make that as comfortable as possible?”
Capehart declined to answer questions from Breitbart about his statement that “hospice care” for mostly white working-class communities is “a way forward” for the nation. He declined to suggest alternative policies or to suggest which of the progressives’ political goals could be traded to win support for white working-class voters in 2020.
The offer of political elimination to working-class communities has prompted anger even from some left-wing writers, such as Martin Longman at The Washington Monthly.
I’m not saying the whole Democratic Party feels this way, but the default position among a lot of progressives since the election has been that to even talk about these folks is to pander to their racism and dilute the party’s commitment to civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and the environment. If we want to draw up our battle lines like that, then they sure as s*** are going to take the hint…
I don’t recognize a [political] left that has no better solution for struggling people than to make their inevitable deaths more comfortable. That’s not just a political loser. It’s an indefensible position to take as human beings. Every single community needs a left that will represent them and that doesn’t mean it will tolerate them or give them just enough to ease the worst of their pain.
Gest responded to Breitbart’s questions by doubling down, saying immigrants can replace American consumers, workers, and children, and also that expert advice will soothe American communities during their government-managed exit:
Declining towns need immigrants to reinvigorate their markets, take on unwanted labor positions, and add youth to aging demographies. Once these communities understood the benefits immigrants bring and were consulted about the terms of their integration, they would feel more comfortable with their arrival.
Breitbart asked if Americans’ communities can be strengthened by wage-boosting curbs on immigration or trade, but Gest, a strong advocate for globalism, offered only a series of additional government programs to offset the current government-imposed policies of cheap labor and cheap imports.
Public policy can help ease the pressure on ‘outmoded’ post-industrial communities and facilitate their integration into the modern economy… States can incentivize apprenticeships and job training by the private sector like they do in Montana. They can provide universal health care like they do in Vermont. Other ideas have yet to be pursued: What if welfare benefits increased when recipients were enrolled in university programs or trade schools, so that we subsidize re-skilling and innovation? What if the quality of school districts weren’t correlated with the income of their neighborhoods, entrenching people into intergenerational poverty? What if minimum wage laws, workplace protections, and family leave policies allowed people to live on the jobs that already exist in the United States today? These ideas don’t require a revolution; they require courage and political will…
Higher wages can be mandated by policy, and so can more accessible, high quality education. Policy can therefore reduce wage competition at the bottom and help level the playing field for poorer Americans.
Gest, an assistant professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, sharply opposed cuts to current high level of immigration, which now imports one immigrant for every four Americans who turn 18. Gest also argued that immigrants are more inventive and hardworking than Americans and are also more useful to the prosperous middle-class, saying:
Immigration is one of the principal engines of [economic] growth in the United States because immigrants disproportionately start new businesses (which hire people) and innovate (by filing patents). They also often take unwanted jobs in meatpacking, cleaning, and agriculture. Would it have been better if Albert Einstein stayed in Germany? What if Jerry Yang’s family stayed in Taiwan? … [also] reducing immigration would actually hurt the middle class.
Gest made his hospice comments when Capehart invited him to talk via his podcast about his book on white working-class communities, titled “The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality.”
Their conversation was revealing because Gest repeatedly admitted that the fight over working-class communities is also a political fight over who gets higher social status. Democrats, he argued, want to grant higher status to their diverse coalition of progressives and various minorities, and are willing to reduce the social status of the white working-class.
Many working-class whites supported former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but pulled the lever for Donald Trump in 2016 because Trump’s support for working-class communities was a huge contrast to the disdain from Democrats. “It has become okay [among Democrats] to become classist against poor white people and the [white voters] see it,” said Gest.
The party’s coalition includes environmentalists, lawyers, Latinos, hippies, and electric-car drivers, Gest said, adding “there are many people in there who like the privileged status that the Democratic Party gives to certain ethnic groups.” For the party to welcome the white working class, he added, it would be “cheapening” the privileges given to others.
Capehart did not disagree and did not counter Gest’s comments during the podcast interview.
Capehart did push the claim that white working-class support for Trump is based on mere nostalgia for prior decades, not on a rational hope that Trump’s pro-American policies are better than the Democrats’ cheap-labor immigration policies, and might even revive struggling American communities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states.
Gest did not suggest any political fixes for cheap-labor immigration or global trade, saying:
For many white working class people, and this is going to be controversial, for many white working class people, not all of them but many, you have a community of people who are advanced in age, whose skill set is for a different economy, who are living in communities that are losing population, losing resources, and so in many ways, the only way of addressing their plight is a form of political hospice care. These are communities that are on the paths to death, and the question is how can we make that as comfortable as possible …
Gest inadvertently admitted that the targets of his pity, white working-class communities, actually have a broader, non-racial view of their economic circumstances, saying:
How can we truly ‘level the playing field’? And what is so remarkable Jonathan, is that that is the language many of my white working class respondents used. It is the language that we’ve heard the civil rights movement use – ‘Leveling the playing field,’ ‘Finding equality.’
That is where Gest defaulted to the palliative policy of giving more taxpayer funds to his peers in the white-collar education industry:
How can we make an America that has greater mobility … independent of your race, independent of your ethnicity. How can we create avenues for people who start off in these communities in hospice care to live vibrant and dynamic lives of possibility, and I think that so much actually returns to education … education is that avenue to mobility, intergenerational mobility. It allows a steel town to raise children who are not necessarily predestined for manufacturing … our system of education is not allowing us to create a break, an intervention, where we actually prevent these communities destined for death, to be revived.
Education can’t be the only answer for Americans if the U.S. labor market is also being flooded with cheap foreign workers, said a highly skilled worker contacted by Breitbart. “I know you don’t know me from a can of paint, but I had to throw in my 2 cents in your article about the WashPo editor,” said the woman, who tunes and operates computer-controlled machine tools in Cincinnati, Ohio. She continued:
I work in manufacturing. I have a high school diploma and a so-called associate degree from Wyotech that currently has as much worth to me as toilet paper (and it’s just as disposable). I am a [Computer Numeric Control] Machinist. I set up, tool, program, and operate CNC mills and lathes to make precision parts out of Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene, that nonstick stuff on your frying pan) and can hold tolerances to +/- 0.0002″. So I’m wondering, since I am working in a field of a bygone economic era, how dumb do they think I really am that I need “more” education? What is more education going to do for me? So I can sit around and be a great do-nothing thinker as a white (non) working class individual? What is the threshold of intellectual satiation? How many degrees do we need to be indebted to the federal government before they deem the white working middle class smart enough to associate with people like THAT?
I have a hard time understanding how someone like Gest or Capehart can look down their noses at someone like me because I don’t share their desire for overpriced toilet paper. Could either of them program a machine to cut an arc into a piece of material? No, but I can. Could either of them change their oil, replace their brakes, or change their front differential fluid? (I’d be surprised if they knew where the dipstick is to even check it.) No, but I can. I’m a 35-year-old, white working class woman that could outsmart them on a common sense basis and on a highly technical basis, and somehow I am the one that needs more education?
People like that think that “working class white voters” is a descriptor of who we are as a socioeconomic group, with a dash of race and political functionality. “Working class (white) voters” are machinists, assemblers, machine operators, mechanics, nurse’s aides, waitresses, small retail store managers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, and all the jobs that they wouldn’t dare do themselves, being so much smarter than the rest of us (doubtful they know which end of a wrench to use).
Being a “working class white voter” does not make us inferior or intellectually stunted so much that we need to be (re)educated in liberally biased schools of doublespeak and thoughtlessness. All we want to do is work a good job that does present a modest challenge, that does feel rewarding, keeps the lights on and our bellies full and after all of that, we just want to come home, drink some beers, pet the dog and enjoy the sunset in our small suburban slice of heaven. For us, that is what life is all about. We don’t care about revolutions, microaggressions, or how many physical and economic descriptors we can apply to a sub group of a sub group of a sub group. People like Gest and Capehart are more important to themselves, like Narcissus was to his reflection; eventually, they will drown in their obsession. And when they do, they’re still gonna be at the counter of a Mom and Pop shop asking some “white working class voter” with grease on his or her face “What’s wrong with my Prius?”