Sadly, I think so and you are right about that being the dominant narrative in the US.
Keith Boykin of Columbia University (& occasional CNN commentator) certainly thinks so, in this Twitter thread on the subject:
- No Democrat has won the majority of the white vote since 1964, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Of course it's about race.
- Racism is the glue that held the country together. As long as both parties were a bit racist, we could build bridges and dams and highways.
- When both parties were a little bit racist, government could do big things like Social Security, Medicare & GI bill on a bipartisan basis.
- Shortly after the Democrats aligned with the civil rights movement in 1964-1965, government became the enemy for many white voters.
- After signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson reportedly told Bill Moyers that Dems would lose the south for many years to come.
- Nixon exploited white fears with his "southern strategy" in 1968. Reagan used "states' rights" & Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" in 1980.
- George W. Bush used "Willie Horton." Newt Gingrich used "food stamps." And all Donald Trump had to say was "make America great again."
- As GOP's Lee Atwater said, you start by saying "nigger." You end up talking "tax cuts," but it's all the same thing.
And regarding the point about how much racism is embedded in people's attitudes towards welfare recipients, I'd say it's a pretty damn big chunk. And another chunk is simple classism - growing up poor and Pakeha 30 odd years ago (before the worst of the welfare "reforms") certainly demonstrated that aspect to me adequately.
So just like in America. One of the more sensible things Christopher Hitchens said was as follows:
“An old joke has an Oxford professor meeting an American former graduate student and asking him what he's working on these days. 'My thesis is on the survival of the class system in the United States.' 'Oh really, that's interesting: one didn't think there was a class system in the United States.' 'Nobody does. That's how it survives.”
What I think is going on here is the bedding in of a kind of pop Social Darwinism, which blames the victims of neoliberalism for their own demise and, conversely, regards the trappings of material success earned through market activity as signs of spiritual election and moral authority. And of course, Social Darwinism acquires some pretty malign racialist aspects in a former colony of settlement.
The same thing can be seen among rabid Trumpniks who couldn't care less about their Dear Leader's economic protectionism & nuclear bull-in-a-china-shop Tweets, but do care "bigly" about black and brown "welfare queens sponging off their hard-earned wages". Is welfare in NZ only as controversial as it is because of racial undercurrents?
Eagleson is a Key-era/aligned henchman with much baggage that may potentially become a liability in the weeks ahead.
He will move on with a generous payout.
And likely move into a warm boardroom seat.
If Jacinda & James take the Treasury benches, expect to see a post-Muldoon constitutional crisis, and some well-resourced smear machines cranking up.
Long-term, NZ needs to do the following:
- Boost high school civics education
- Auto-enrol high school & university students upon turning 18
- Rebuild trust in the political system
- Combat post-truth politics, not with censorship but with active fact-checking & strong transparency. Carry out a Royal Commission into the NZ media sector, possibly like the Leveson and Finkelstein Inquiries
According to the Electoral Commission, total turnout after special votes are counted is around 78.8%. Good by global standards, but NZ really should aim for 80-90%.
Voter turnout for the 2017 General Election is estimated to be 78.8% of those enrolled as at 6pm Friday 22 September. This compares with a final 77.9% turnout of those enrolled in 2014.
People always vote on emotion. People don’t say “I will vote for Labour because after a cost benefit analysis I think they’ll do best to improve social mobility” They say “I am OUTRAGED at child poverty!”
Having been held back in life by ASD discrimination, I count myself among the solidly logical voters.
How old is this woman roughly, out of curiosity? Is she one of those "temporarily embarrassed millionaire" types? And often there's a coded racism underpinning loudmouthed poor-bashing.
Words fail me.
The self-immolator is supposedly connected with Family Court issues. In any case, it's sad that it's even happening.
Bill English may not be Donald Trump or Nigel Farage as some on Twitter compare him, but all the same he doesn't realise he's playing into the hands of the Brexiteers and Trumpniks in our midst. I'd compare him more to David Cameron or Hank Paulson - they made huge gambles on the status quo holding in place, only to lose the bet. Cameron with the Brexit vote, and Paulson with his setting up of the Wall St bailouts.
If English manages to lie his way back into office come Saturday, it could well be a poisoned chalice, as people run of patience waiting for their share of the "rock star economy", and NZF drums up the nativist elements. I'm reminded of The Sun's suspected role in swinging the UK 1992 elections. And it'd be nothing less than poetic justice for the nation's IGMFY types to lose the lot if/when the housing bubble bursts.
NZ's multiple property owners have basically become an unelected upper house, who threaten to go nuclear at anything remotely challenging their grip on the housing market. As Buckminster Fuller said once, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." Here's hoping KiwiBuild and other schemes can be that new model, instead of a hard crash happening.
For me personally, whoever's in charge on Saturday will have a major bearing on my social mobility or lack of it. (More on this in my guest post.) Either way I'm still awaiting further instructions from Specialisterne.