Friday, April 29, 2016

It don't make no difference

A conspicuous wave of messaging over the past few weeks has somberly reminded Sanders voters of history's greatest monster, Ralph Nader, and the evils of not voting for the lesser-evil. Historically, this criticism has just relied on the cynical, brick-dumb logic that singles out Nader as the cause of a massively overdetermined outcome; but we live in the Age of Wokeness, which means that the old arguments need a new coat of paint.

Thus we get the ridiculous spectacle of bougie Cosmo dilettante Jill Filipovic sagely lecturing people with "lucky lives" about their democratic responsiblities - just eight days after she skipped out on voting for Hillary for a trip to Kenya.

What's hilarious here is that Filipovic's substantive position is relatively defensible: a wide spectrum of liberal-left voices, from centrists at one end to radicals like Noam Chomsky at the other, have always maintained that the (sometimes narrow) differences between candidates can have major consequences. But because she's an elite centrist liberal, Filipovic can't resist the impulse to repackage this point with an addition claim about privilege that's demonstrably untrue. She suggests that people who are less privileged are more likely to appreciate the differences between the candidates, but in fact, voting trends suggest the exact opposite. The poor, for example, are the only income demographic with a majority preference: they don't bother voting.

And anyone with any basic connection to the poor knows exactly why this is: as @kraydiobelly notes in the same thread, "'it don't make no difference' is like the default political position of poor Americans of all stripes." They have good reason to think this. For instance, the last Clinton Administration was long credited with reducing poverty, but today it has become clear that Bill Clinton's welfare law (which Hillary actively supported) only accomplished this by making extreme poverty much, much worse. This is perhaps one of many reasons why Nader had a stronger 2000 performance among voters making less than $15,000 a year than he had with any other income demographic:

So there's a basic detachment from reality when we get articles like this one from Michael Kang, rueing his vote for Nader and suggesting that refusing to vote for the Democrat is a movement of privilege:
I’m sure as I write this some opportunistic free market capitalist is already having a factory in China print up “Don’t blame me, I voted for Bernie” bumper stickers.
Would you be shocked to learn that Kang, like Filipovic, has a prestige media career? Our content providers for the liberal elite have the privilege of not needing to worry too much that their jobs could get outsourced to China (at least not yet). Kang may have cast his vote as a "symbolic" gesture so that he could feel "empowered and unapologetically righteous" - this is because he wasn't one of the Teamsters who supported Nader in "opposition to trade policies of the Clinton administration, in particular NAFTA and the recent House vote conferring normal trade status upon China." Kang may think that people who refuse to back Clinton "are voting solely with their hearts" - and there's a good explanation for that, too:

Wealthy people aren't just the ones who are most likely to vote - they are, by far, the ones who are most likely to specifically vote for Clinton. Ordinarily, we'd be skeptical of people with this kind of privilege condescending to the oppressed that they "are voting solely with their hearts." But media conversations about privilege, of course, are completely dominated by the well-off - so it's easy to see why the poor look at liberal privilege policing and conclude that it don't make no difference, either.