Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Ideology and Realism

Several months ago, I was invited to join a group that wanted to promote more women directors, writers, and female-oriented films in Hollywood.  I signed up, and later day I received an email that I was blocked from the site because the administrators decided that they wanted the site to just be for women bloggers.  I understood the reasons.   I wasn’t hurt or angry, but at the time I didn’t say the obvious — it was a dumb move on a practical level.  I was the one who knew something about Hollywood.  I had contacts.  I had experience writing movie scripts.  And my own personal tastes leaned towards character-oriented films.   I have seen every Meryl Streep movie at least three times, even the bad ones.

In my opinion, the group chose ideology over the real world.  When I first got blocked from the site, I composed a passive aggressive tweet on Twitter that said something like “Eh, screw my romantic comedy.  Time to start that violent thriller about Denzel Washington having to stop a bomb from blowing up the UN.”

Better to go with the demographic that at least talks to me.   And pays more.

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Do we realize that a big part of the Democratic loss in Massachusetts is that blue collar and middle-class white men, the “Joe Six Packs” of our country, don’t believe that the Democratic party cares about their interests?

The Suffolk University poll in Massachusetts, which was pretty much on target in the final result, singled out two white working class towns, Gardner and Fitchburg, as bellwethers. Obama won Gardner, where Democrats hold a three-to-one registrations edge, by 59% to 31% in 2008. Brown won it by 56% to 42%. Obama won Fitchburg, with a similar Democratic edge, by 60% to 38% in 2008. Brown won it by 59% to 40%. That suggests a fairly dramatic shift among white working class voters.

Why did this happen?  Why are only the Glenn Becks speaking to this constinuency?  I think Obama’s election was seen by many of us as the end of the Bush era — and the demise of the blue collar guys who shopped at Walmart and flew American flags on their porch.    We were a new, hipper coalition of upscale liberals with advanced university degrees, accomplished women, and strong-willed minorities who would forever change the face of America.  Hey, I consider myself part of that group.  But is it good politics to completely ignore those that could benefit by being included in the fold, even if they remind us of the relatives from Podunk, or Staten Island,  or because they don’t watch Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow?

16 Comments

  1. Don’t forget that those who voted for Brown aren’t only represented by rednecks, but by people who don’t want to see the government go into deeper dept than it already is.

    I am, for the most part, one of those upscale liberals with university degrees that you reference, but I didn’t vote for Obama and don’t approve of the healthcare plan simply because of the economic strain this plan would put on America, already overburdened with debt (both at the government and personal level). Healthcare has to change, but not at the expense of making the U.S. more unstable than it already is.

    Regarding the women’s organization: female professional organizations are often self-inclusive and exclusive of men, meaning that this organization is almost destined to fail, per point #4 in this post: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/01/12/5-career-tips-women-should-ignore/

  2. I’m curious to hear what you think it would look like to have the Democrats NOT ignore “Joe Six Pack.” What would they have to do to make those Wal-Mart shoppers feel that their interests were being considered?

    I think it’s crazy that you were kicked out of that online advocacy group for women in film. They could have at least waited until you posted obnoxious comments about some of the members’ breasts!

  3. I, for one, do not buy the economic strain argument. The stimulus package should have been MUCH bigger. Read the NY Times economist Paul Krugman on this.

    And (sorry) another plug for the NY Times. I liked Gail Collins recent column on MA. It was hilarious! I paraphrase: “The voters wanted change all over the place. Less spending! Except on the troops!” etc.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/opinion/21collins.html

    I agree with you, Neil, about ideology.

  4. They’re reacting against sexism by being sexist.
    There’s a weird kind of symmetry in this that doesn’t bode well for the future…

  5. I also liked this post. “Dems were out of touch, but it was much more”

    http://anniegirl1138.com/2010/01/20/doom-and-gloom/

  6. Juli,

    Here is more on the economic strain argument that I deal with on a daily basis as an economist: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/business/21worldbank.html The stimulus effect is already wearing off, leading a possible slow U shaped or W-shaped recession (I’m thinking the former, which still isn’t very safe). Yes, the stimulus did provide a short-term boost, but who will pay off the debt accrued from it in the long-term? Additionally, how will the world adjust to another possible short recession or stalled recovery? The stimulus package didn’t necessarily help and a bigger one would have had the same, larger effect.

    I’ve read Krugman and disagree with him on many points, mainly that he inserts his personal politics into his economic analysis (i.e. his column, “Consicence of a Liberal”), as well as more technical economics reasons that I don’t want to get into here for the sake of Neil and other commenters who come here to read about boobs, not economic stimulus plans. 🙂

  7. Neil, sorry to hijack your post.

    Vicki, I looked for your email on your blog, but I couldn’t find it.

  8. In days gone by, I might have been excluded from offering my opinion verbally or in writing simply because of my gender. The pendulum has swung heavily to both sides of equation since those days; any hope of balance is only achieved by individuals willing to set down their scimitars and make room at the table for true diversity: that of opinion, of gender, of religious or spiritual leanings, of preconceived notions set in stone.

    The moment we exclude or deny someone the opportunity to join in discussion, we risk limiting the conversation topic to only that which we value. There is no opportunity for learning or growth if there is no change. Each of us brings to the table a background rich in life experience, sunlight and shadows, the sacred and the profane.

    In excluding those who differ from us, we embrace a special kind of ignorance: willful.

  9. My sister wrote on FB earlier today about the demise of Air America and how she doesn’t understand why Glenn Beck gets all the advertising while the dems had to fold. I can tell you why Beck gets all the advertising moolah. It’s because Glenn Beck is freaking hilarious. I listened to his radio show entirely for his Moron Trivia segment. I am as Joe-Six-Packy as it gets, and while my true beliefs are mainly liberal, the people out there representing the democrats are often just too cuckoo and overbearing to endorse. Rush Limbaugh is a pompous jack-ass. Glenn Beck is funny. I’ll listen to the funny guy.

  10. I’m tired of the general consensus being that anyone that would vote Republican is uneducated and a redneck. I’m an accomplished woman with an advanced university degree, and I didn’t vote for Obama. There, I said it.

  11. i have floated so much between the two polarities…and i just check out of it. it makes no sense to me. but i do think it sucks that them folks did not realize that they had a gem with you in the group, or whatever the hell it was. and kicked you out. and um, i am commenting drunk. so there.

  12. I’m with Emily. The assumption that a Republican cannot possibly be educated or compassionate is old. You want to embrace diversity and give everyone a spot at the table? Accept that there is more than one view of an issue. So far, I’ve seen liberals, much like the group that wanted to promote a more female-oriented Hollywood, commit the very same sins they are condemning.

    Call me crazy, but I think voters in Massachusetts spoke pretty clearly.

  13. Vicky,
    The Congressional Budget Office says (and health care economists agree) the Senate bill would reduce the deficit. It does more to control costs than anyone has ever attempted in the past.

    Usually when people bring up their “worries” about the deficit, they are *really* worried that someone might be receiving a handout. I hope this isn’t the case with you.

    The recession is causing low business investment. Young people are cancelling education, people are being layed off, child poverty is increasing. Stimulus is needed to prevent these future costs.

    Politics and economics are related. To suggest that they need not be just opens the door to more risk-taking on Wall Street with other people’s money.

    Finally, with regard to the “technical economics” that you referred to, we can all agree that most economists (with the exception of Paul Krugman and a few others) got it wrong. They missed the economic crisis. They were either too self-serving, or they were blind. Give us a break.

  14. Ok, here’s a dumb question (forgive me): he’s called Joe Six Pack because he carries around a six pack of beer, right? Not because he has six-pack abs?

  15. It’s just not good business to alienate segments of the population – the Dems have had a lot of trouble with their marketing in the past – all the good intentions in the world won’t matter if you can’t brand yourself in a way that makes people feel included. Same goes for that group that blocked you.

  16. yay. proud to live in massachusetts. not.

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