Guest Editorial

Zulus, Amazons, Homos
and The Savage Alien Hordes

Why The Democratic Party
Will Continue to Lose Unless We
Take It Away From the Current Leadership

John M. Kelley

My friend Bill was telling me how he was able to increase newsstand sales ten fold of several history magazines he edits. "Put a Zulu with a spear on the cover and everyone wants to know whether the 'nigger' wins." All of a sudden the market expands from historians and history buffs to Joe Redneck. It occurred to me that both political parties use these same stereotypes to keep things exactly the way they are.

I'm a working class white male (WCWM) who doesn't want to be a Republican and isn't welcome be part of the Democratic Party. I'm part of the group that the Democratic Party not only seems to dismiss as lost to the Republicans but seems to do everything possible to alienate. I understand why when Howard Dean said he wanted to bring guys back into the party who drove pickup trucks with gun racks and confederate flags stickers to the party, he was greeted with all of the welcome of a leper at a swingers party and why that is exactly what we need to do.

While, I never see articles about bringing back WCWMs to the Democratic Party, I routinely see articles about bolstering up the traditional constituencies of minorities, women and labor as the only way to return Dems to power. The Democratic leadership has ignored and denigrated WCWMs. Both they and many of the single issue constituencies buy into the portrayal of WCWMs (unless they belong to a union with a large PAC) as ignorant, knuckle dragging, misogynistic, racist, gun toting, testosterone driven, war mongering miscreants not worthy of the effort to get them back. The failure of the Democratic Party to connect these groups and WCWMs is the reason they will continue to lose elections.

Buying Votes With Virtual Manhood

WCWMs don't necessarily agree with George Bush, but at least he doesn't make them out to be the bad guys. They don't think, lying aside, that he talks down to them. Even his lies appeal to their machismo, a virtual substitute for the loss of real power over their lives. This virtual machismo is routinely proffered in the place of real personal power by the Republicans. This is the core of he Republican framing to the WCWM. The Democrats attempts to effectively counter this has been a miserable failure because: 1) They have failed to offer a more effective macho archetype; and 2) The party leadership doesn't want too because of its fears of offending its corporate contributors. Instead they have become shadow Republicans, echoing them on war, crime, trade and social issues like "welfare reform".

The purposeful failure of leadership and the dissertation style polemics used by most Democrats doesn't convey a message that the average white male is either understood or cared about. Since neither party addresses their primary concerns, they are motivated to support Republicans by the archetypal fear of emasculation.

The History of Pecking Order Politics

What little status or power WCWM's had in the world to start with was always tenuous, and mostly dependent on the favor of the elite. They could easily lose what power they held and be virtually emasculated in front of their family and community. This emasculation fear is ancient in human behavior going back to the widespread practice of jus primae noctis, or first right. Whether real or symbolic, lords from ancient time through the middle ages used their claim for sexual favor from virgin wives to humiliate, show dominance, and extort money from the male peasant population.

When assistance was needed to maintain control, limited power was shared with subgroups for their assistance. In days of old this process was fairly simple. If someone distinguished himself and had some potential leadership ability that might cause you problems, you made him a knight, let him eat at your table, sleep with your dogs, give him his pick of the servant girls and let him routinely beat the peasants who complained about their conditions.

After the American and French Revolutions the elite got worried about the impacts that improved communication had on the mass's ability to organize. The concept of strength through solidarity arose. In truth Tom Paine's printing press probably had more power than George Washington's army. It seems that pissed off little people could rise up and chop off your head.

So the strategy changed, you had to enlist a larger group on your side. You had to get one part of the peasant population to believe that it was threatened not by the elite but by another part of the peasant population. In a Democracy this became an especially important skill. So propaganda was promoted the idea that WCWMs status was being undermined and threatened by their natural allies, minorities, women, and immigrants. It is an unfortunate human phenomena that people view it better to be a guard then an inmate, even though both suffer the same daily degradation of the system. The No-Nothings, the Klan, the NRA are all examples of this fear mongering to WCWMs to get them to work and vote against their own economic interests.

Throughout the history of mankind including that of the United States, the working class and poor have been pitted against one another by the financial elites in order to maintain their power. Repression, reform and reward for specific subgroups are routinely used to redirect and reduce the cry for change in the basic political structure. By doing so the financial elites have been able to prevent what they fear most, the unification of the masses.

Censored: The History of the Exploited in America

In an industrialized society where groups of compliant workers were needed to fuel capital collection, organization and solidarity caused problems. The rising impact of mass communication on organizational ability increased the need for propaganda and the evolution of more subtle forms of manipulation. Overt brutality was only used after the appropriate group could be properly demonized to make it appear that their interests were separate from the rest of the masses. Propaganda was not only made about the present but also the past through revisionist American domestic and diplomatic history.

For example most immigrants were not dreamy eyed seekers of the good life but were sent as prisoners, slaves, or refugees from war, persecution and poverty imposed on them by the financial elites of Europe. Once here they were exploited on the frontier to open the west and serve as a buffer against the Native Americans. When their usefulness was exhausted, most settlers were forced off their land by banks, railroads , debt holders and sometimes violent theft by the economic elite. The image of the rugged homesteader and settler never tell the rest of the story of when they were forced off their land during times of drought, market manipulation or outright theft.

Likewise the great wars of American history are presented as an advance of human rights instead of their reality as a quest for economic expansion for the benefit of the upper classes. Hence the Revolutionary war was supposedly for everyone, even though only white male property owners who wanted to run their own show gained the right to vote or hold office. The War of 1812 is presented as a second revolution, not a war primarily to defend the trading rights of commercial interests.

The Civil War in which more Americans died is then any other war, is presented as a war to free the slaves, not primarily between two economic systems that both used their working classes as cannon fodder in a bloody war that they would not gain from. Seldom mentioned is the fact that those in control of the federal government easily traded African Americans to another hundred years of semi slavery Jim Crow laws in order to advance their commercial interests by ending reconstruction. Only hinted at is the fact that the Mexican and Spanish American Wars were purely expansionist wars of the elite and the politicians and press they controlled.

The violence and exploitation of labor by capital is given passing mention at best. Little is said about women and children working 16 hour days in mills, factories and other places because they were easier to intimidate and force into compliance. Men employed in mines, logging, railroad and canal building were often geographically isolated. This made them dependent on the company for everything necessary to live including housing and food if not through direct provision, through the use of company script for pay. Seldom told is it that most farmers were sharecroppers, tenant farmers or in perpetual debt to merchants who both sold seed and bought crops. The sole purpose of most government policy was expand markets and to maintain a labor surplus to pit one man in need of a job against another. Lack of regulation (now sought by business) caused financial panics and depressions in 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1907, 1919, and 1929.

Unions, agricultural populists, and socialist movements led by everyday people fought great battles against the forces of wealth and power only to be absented from history. These movements especially strong between 1890 and the beginning of WWII were based in WCWMs finding their own voice. The Peoples Party, the International Workers of the World, the Socialist anti-war movement against WWI, were all peoples movements centered on WCWMs banding with other groups crossing traditional differences to stand up against an oppressive, exploitive form of corporate and political capitalism supporting the county's elite. These were the moments in history when there was true vision on the part of working people to understand who their common enemy was and effectively counter it.

For that many paid the prices of jail, deportation and even death. The economic elite used desperate immigrant and minority scabs, thugs and at times the law and the military against union organizers, pacifists and protestors. Patriotic fervor was routinely aroused to divert attention or crush internal dissent. Especially vicious was the destruction of the Socialists and the Wobblies during WWI (undeniably a battle of colonial powers) and the use of anti-communism during the cold war to crush any anti-capitalist dissent.

Democrats: Pragmatic Populists

The Democratic Party only had any real interest in WCWMs when populist movements threatened their place in the two party system. In most cases, Democrats joined Republicans or acted on their own to divide and defeat these movements. When the pressure for change became too volatile, the Democrats incorporated enough of the populist demands to split movements or mollify calls for equity. The Roosevelts were the two presidents who understood the need for reform to cool the demands of the working classes and prevent a total rebellion against Capitalism. Teddy's modest constraints on monopolies and FDR's response to the great depression, were means to prevent open rebellion against corporate capitalism by desperate working people. Their forced adoption of some principles also bonded the populist socialist policies to the Democratic Party Image in spite of the discomfort of party leaders.

The period where WCWM came closest to some kind of secure status was after WWII. Coming home as heroes, needed by an expanding industrial base, unified by their common military experience, industry grew, unions grew, prosperity grew. Companies were willing to give because they thought that growth was unending, and union recognition stabilized the economic environment.

During the cold war Democrats and Republicans alike used McCarthyism and other forms of repression to coerce liberals to shun not only communism but socialism as well. Both parties invested in expansion of the military industrial complex and morphed into a like minded, pro-business, centrist governing cycle. Culturally WCWMs were presented as the mainstay of cultural and economic stability, reflected by Ward Cleaver, "Father Knows Best" and Ozzie Nelson. VFW groups, volunteer fire departments, financial prosperity, growing consumerism quieted the home front.

The two factors that threatened this 60s Nirvana were: 1) the call for working people to sacrifice their sons in a war of aggression in Viet Nam and; 2) the fact that minorities (blacks, women, Hispanics, certainly gays) did not share in either the status or prosperity. The opportunity for wider solidarity and class splintering were born of the same seed.

Additional energy fueled this dynamic because of the large numbers of young men and women from the working class, who for the first time had access to higher education (the draft helped this process). Many of these children from union homes brought with them the awareness of the class struggle, a history of fighting for their rights and had a desire to gain the skills to enter and change the power structure. The resulting concentration of young working class idealists caused an even larger demand for financial and social equality. The civil rights, anti-war and women's movement brought these grievances to the fore front and challenged the supremacy in the social-economic spectrum of the power structure and its front man the WCWM.

The monumental opposition to the war in Viet Nam and move back to the left poised the greatest threat to the power structure since the populist and union movements between the 1890's and WWII. But history was not lost upon the elites, they once again used racism, misogyny, and smear tactics to deny substantial change in the overall system.

One Continual Oxbow Incident, Unfortunately Without the Suicide

Once again, the historical fear of emasculation was raised to separate WCWMs from their natural class allies. Feminism, the upwardly mobile yuppies, blacks entering the system for the first time were all used to stoke these fears amongst WCWMs. This was even more evident in the black community where black women were given hiring preference over black men. This happened because of traditional fears of black men as well as affirmative action programs that tended to give double credit for hiring a "woman" who was a "minority of color".

The result was that black men were further emasculated culturally and banished economically from the system. The irony was these same black men excluded from the legal economy, were exploited again by Republicans for participating in the only economy they weren't excluded from. They served double duty, raising the fear of crime and going on a prison building spree that gave WCWMs a financial job stake in keeping them imprisoned. In the process the prison system was privatized allowing lower wages and benefits to the WCWMs who ended up with the guard jobs.

The Right wing elite who had exploited WCWMs as cannon fodder during Viet Nam now did so again exploiting the displacement and disorientation of veterans when they returned home to a stagnant economy and a cloud of suspicion about their mental state and service. Republicans were quick to revise history and blame leftist elites as the reason the U.S. lost the war. In actuality, as pointed out by Howard Zinn in "A People's History of the United States", it was a widespread recognition of the failed corporate militarism by the working class that hastened the end of another war of aggression not the elites who generally supported the war to the very end.

The bitter taste of the Viet Nam war, Watergate, a period of stagflation under Carter left the public with a taste of disillusionment for politics in general. The result was a falling voter participation and more activists splintering into single issue politics and going the route of traditional lobbying. This made the Democratic party even more dependent on the coalition of minorities, women and traditional union members that was able to maintain control of congress if not the Presidency. Class economic issues of WCWMs became secondary.

As these minority groups were able to become increasingly upwardly mobile (even if to a limited degree), economic concerns of WCWMs went unseen. For example, women entering the work force in record numbers greatly increased the income of families and newly emerging jobs in technology created upward mobility for the educated children of blue collar workers. This covered up the fact that individual wages, when adjusted for inflation stayed flat at best for some while actually declining steadily for most. In addition the steady erosion of the industrial wage base went ignored as it effected older workers more and was considered part of the "natural shift to an information society".

The education of Yuppies separated them culturally from their blue collar brethren but didn't get them into the upper classes either. Little did they realize that just because they worked in offices, they were just the new working class wearing white collars instead of blue. Indeed most white collar non-executive workers make less money today when adjusted for inflation, then their blue collar union parents did at the height of their economic power. In addition in most cases their jobs are less secure, they work more hours and lack equal health and retirement benefits to their parents.

The Republicans capitalized on this with increased rhetoric blaming women (feminazis), minorities (affirmative action), and the poor (crime and welfare) as the cause of the WCWM's problems. They fed into the age old fears of male inadequacy by threatening their ability to support their families, and pointing to women and minorities as the cause, and those lazy poor for the cost of their tax bill. The reality was Republican and Democratic parties were increasingly supported by economic elites who were off shoring jobs, attacking historical gains of labor and expanding support for the military industrial complex while destroying the social safety net. They also painted the new Democratic base groups as unpatriotic, associating them with the anti-war movement, just because they emerged during the same time period.

WCWMs subdivided into several groups during the post Viet Nam era. Many blue collar workers, some Viet Nam Vets, mid-level managers, sales people, and many cubicle rats became Republicans. Some because they felt threatened and alienated from the changes in American culture, the rest because they envisioned themselves as being part of the upper class some day. In addition, Reagan anti-Communist rhetoric, tough on crime talk, and now terrorism appealed to the virtual and ritualistic patriotism and machismo that many WCWMs fall back on when there traditional roles are undermined.

Right Wing talk radio blamed everyone but corporations and misdirected WCWMs angst toward the wrong causes for their desperation. The rise of violent TV programming, video games, internet pornography (interestingly the rates are the same for religious vs nonreligious populations) and mindless consumerism directly corresponds to the sublimation of white male anger. The strong Ward Cleaver male role model had morphed into Al Bundy, a pathetic loser in a dead end job whose high point in life was one high school football game. Traditionally WCWMs anger has shown itself in Union Organizing, Veterans Protest Marches and other behaviors directed at forcing government corrective action. The more vulnerable they feel the more susceptible to aggressive responses they are. The lack of labor organization or other activity on the part of WCWMs demonstrated the emasculation of WCWMs as a counter political force of corporate capitalism's war on workers.

Republicans have successfully channeled this anger at what are actually WCWM's economic allies. African-Americans, Hispanics, women, immigrants and now gays are all economic allies of WCWMs. The financial elites have always pitted those who are to be economically exploited against one another to maintain control. In the great populist movement of the 1890s, the financial elite exploited racism to break the movement, although some gains were eventually made when the whole country was plunged into the commonality of the depression and the excesses of corporate capitalism could not be ignored.

Free Market Churches and the Blessing of the Macho Jesus

The other factor that allowed the Republicans to capture this group was to marry itself with the Christian Right. The larges rise in church memberships has been in evangelical churches, particularly independent mega-churches or what I call Free Market Churches. The other groups of Protestant churches who follow this path are primarily Baptists whose churches operated independently and hence are largely products of the individual minister's individual appeal.

Whether traditional fundamentalist Christian Denomination or Free Market Evangelical, dogma evolves around attracting dissatisfied, fearful customers who will financially support a minister in good style and is not answerable to any larger church authority. There commandments tend to emphasize free market principles, financial blessing of the faithful, patriotism, victim hood, and male domination.

The appeal of these churches to WCWMs is fairly straightforward; 1) our society and culture (you) are the victim of feminism and homosexuality (emasculation); 2) crime and affirmative action (minorities & immigrants); 3) excessive taxes (the poor and social welfare philosophies); and 4) secularism threatens the church's power and status (liberals hate God). The feelings of the WCWM are real. What they have lost is automatic status preference and real loss of income and financial security. The causes of these problems however are corporate and government policy's to lower the cost of labor and increase profits.

The primary appeal of the Free Market Church (FMC) and Republicans is the promise to restore the idealized past of the late 50s early 60s. In the FMC males are the head of the family and form the ranks of church control. The minister himself (the macho Jesus stand in) is always charismatic, masculine, financially successful, superficially charitable while espousing dogmatic rigidity and certainty, frequently discussing his willingness to go to "spiritual war" to defend his values. Exactly the kind of man exhibiting the "rugged individualism" of a John Wayne movie. The archetype for the male dominated society. What Lakoff calls the "strong father" archetype. This model offers several of these psychological placeboes to the damaged ego of the alienated WCWM.

They stretch this role to the max. During a recent visit at the dentist's office I perused an issue of the "Christian Sportsman". Inside was a picture of a group of camouflage dressed men and boys with guns standing over a pile of dead wild boars. I really tried, but I just couldn't picture Jesus in camo standing in the middle.

The second is the promise of financial security. These ministers talk about the traditional Protestant tool that holiness is easily identified by financial success a sign of blessing by God. In this way they use the same ruse that has been used through the ages by Ponzi men, Amway salesman, rich republicans and others. If you give me your money and do what I say, you can be as successful as me, not recognizing that the only reason they are "successful" is they got your money and a lot of other people's too. They often offer classes on financial prosperity. Many of the FMC actually train their young people to become successful "missionaries" this using these same methods, returning a portion of their take back to the parent church either directly or by marketing their products.

The third is victim hood. Ministers talk regularly about how the "Christian Community" (Evangelicals in particular) is under attack from a variety of sources. These fall into two categories: 1) liberal government in the form of "intrusive" regulation. Accordingly EPA, OSHA, Child Protective Services, the Public Schools are all institutions to keep them down, brainwash their children and prevent them from achieving their fair share of wealth and freedom so that the; 2) traditional democratic constituencies, Hollywood, feminists, gays, minorities can unfairly get the WCWM's share. Oddities and fringe events are regularly quoted as typical events meant to disparage these groups and demonstrate how un-Godly forces are out to destroy them. All of this appeals to the feelings of economic powerlessness felt by WCWMs.

The fourth is the community of the church, a replacement community for one destroyed demands for worker mobility, by longer work hours, two parent employment outside the home, and long commutes. The only gain is cult like conformism as an alternative to the bonds of a nuclear or extended family, caring, cooperative neighbors, or the rich cultural rituals of heritage. The irony is that these churches offer the same spiritual consumerism as the rest of capitalism, only selling religious products instead. Indeed the desire to be seen as "holy", that is successful can create more demand for debt based assets over one's means. While offering the support of a community, just how intimate is a Mega Church congregation of 3,000?

The fifth is moral certainty and superiority. FMC's teach that theirs is the only true religion and all of the others are in error. Believers in the FMC are therefore morally superior to their "unsaved" neighbors. Those that disagree, just don't understand. Articles of faith are armor against those pesky facts. The FMC also instills its members with a black and white simple view of the world. The good is what the minister tells you it is and the bad is what the minister tells you what it is. This eliminates the sometimes messy and confusing sorting out humans engage in to answer their moral dilemmas. Logic, self examination, intellectual discipline is not necessary or encouraged. This is reinforced through the use of Free Market and male bonding language, "spiritual war", the competitive language of overcoming your enemies, aggression, in your face resistance to the feelings of helplessness. Disobedience or doubt is seen a weakness of faith, a personal failing to be pitied and if repeated to be shunned.

The problem with all of this is these are exactly the traits that allow the financial elites (which now include a number of wealthy evangelical ministers) to manipulate the masses against each other to maintain power. The anointed candidates who pledge loyalty to these people really could care less about these issues in reality but will vote for every corporate perk wanted. If any nasty laws affecting personal behavior are passed it doesn't make any difference because the rich aren't subject to the restrictions of church laws like abortion restrictions anyway. That is why the marriage between the Republican Party, FMCs and corporate capitalism is so perfect.

Mediocrity for Sale

The reason Democrats have been ineffective at countering this is fairly simple. A professional class of consultants, what a friend of mine calls the consultocracy, has evolved to control the national party. They tend to be ideologically moderate and totally dependent on the corporate contributions they bring to the party. These funds not only keep them employed but a major power in the party itself.

They have a severe aversion to the words "class war" even if they know there is one and they are losing it. The reason is that they stay in power whether Democratic candidates win or lose. They continue to collect their salaries, influence who gets selected as candidates, the platform positions and the money flow. Consequently they are terrified of an open endorsement of the populism around economic issues that would attract WCWMs back to the party. They are paranoid about alienating the corporate sponsors whom they collect most of their contributions and support from. The history of this is born out in the Democratic support of "law and order", military spending, restrictions on the bill of rights and other anti-populist measures.

Organized Pygmies Can Kill an Elephant

The moment for the rise of world wide populist power may be higher now than it has ever been. Conditions of disillusionment, organization of regular people through the internet, the growing crisis of world instability environmentally, economically, and culturally require cooperation that only every day people can bring about. These are the also the conditions that create the cauldron for revolutionary change.

The rising group of progressives must bring greens, socialists and other "fringe" groups back into the party and take control of it at every level. Activists from the 60s must reinvigorate themselves and work in cooperation with the younger generations. This time we are the parents and grandparents who owe them the rekindling of our idealism and our support. It is they who can save us if we show them the way.

We need to openly declare and engage in class warfare identifying, connecting and publicizing the growing inequities of Republican (and most Democratic) policy impacts on American working people and the growing underclass. Make economic security and social justice for all peoples the primary issue in every election. We need to make sacrifice for the common good, a mark of pride, respect and virtue as opposed to the "I got mine, screw you" culture of the Republicans. We need to elevate the work of every day people to the importance it deserves. And this is the part of it too, we need to elevate and honor these as part of the traditional male role.

We need to honor the fight. We need to bring back the history of the labor, anti-war and civil rights movements to new generations so that they can draw strength from the struggles of the past. We need to take over party positions at every level and reject the traditional party leadership. Get regular people to run on a "Mr. Smith/I'm not a politician" campaign making it a matter of principle not to accept corporate dollars. Make commonality such an issue that graduating from an Ivy League University is considered as automatic reason for disqualification from public office, comparable to child molesting. George Bush a C student rejected by a state university who got a legacy degree at Yale is the perfect example of the rule of the mediocre elite, placed in power by connections not skill, dedication or ability. Its time to show the oligarchy the door.

We must build a model of a world that people can draw hope from. Local economies controlled by the people themselves, interconnected with other small economies. Fire up local economies and entrepreneurs by implementing universal health insurance, disability and old age pensions, the main reasons people are wage slaves to corporations. Establish charters for more community based credit unions to provide locally controlled capital. Lets have government policy that encourages cooperative as opposed to exploitive economic relationships. Where governments licenses corporations owned by workers and consumers to provide goods or services needed on a larger scale then can be done by communities for themselves. Economies where long term consequences take precedence over short term gain.

People don't necessarily believe that government is bad, but they do hate bad government. The concerns of the working class have overwhelming support. Healthcare, education, old age protection, job security, protecting the environment are extremely popular issues. Can we provide this? Yes and we can pay down the national debt at the same time. How? Realize that building a larger military industrial complex is the cause of our insecurity not the answer to it. Instead of a peace dividend we need a peace initiative both at home and abroad using the former military budget to accomplish it. Recognize our responsibility for the world we leave our children, all of them. To do this we must recognize that first and last that political purpose is defined by class differences.

Politics of Purpose

We can all have a better world but it will require we give up old ways of the thinking and acting. To do this we must strip away the framing and define the purpose of politics by our interests.

Rich individuals and corporations see the purpose of politics as a way to gain advantage for themselves. Greed. They use government for: 1) Increasing profits by reducing taxes and regulation; 2) Exploiting natural (public) resources; 3) Opening and protecting revenue sources (markets); 4) Privatizing profits while subsidizing costs; 5) Protecting private property over the interests of the general welfare; 6) Controlling information (propaganda & media control); and 7) Repressing the power of the masses to organize or resist such efforts of control.

Working people see the purpose of politics as a way to help themselves and each other. They want a government that offers: 1) Protection of the commonwealth (public resources) for the good of all; 2) Provide for the common welfare; 3) To protect the weak from the abuse and exploitation by the strong; 4) A fair chance for everyone and; 5) Provide individuals and families with basic protection from catastrophic occurrences. Corporations today are like wealthy people who skip out on the restaurant bill with the underpaid waitress having it deducted from her check by her employer. All the rest of the "issues" are just to convince people otherwise.

John M. Kelley is a teacher, philosopher, writer, artist, political activist, singer of ballads, rebellious Irishman and agent for change who worries daily about the world he is leaving for his grandchildren. His blog is at

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