Liberals Used to Feel Your Pain. Now They Inflict It.

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Liberals are supposed to feel other people’s pain. Now they seem more intent on inflicting it.

I noticed the de-empathification of the Democratic Party during the implementation of Obamacare. I lived in one of many counties with zero or one plan on offer. Low supply and high demand—hell, the ACA required you to buy one or get fined—allowed insurers to gouge patients with sky-high rates. The one plan in my county’s ACA sucked. It charged a $1400-per-month premium with a $10,000-a-year deductible—and featured no doctors within network within a 90-minute drive.

On Facebook I complained about the paucity of affordable plans in my online health insurance marketplace. “I don’t know what you’re going on about,” one of my friends snarked. “I found an excellent, affordable plan.”

My friend lives in Manhattan.

When I pointed out that residents of big cities like New York had far more competition than residents of more sparsely populated areas, he acted as if I hadn’t said anything, continuing to sing the praises of the ACA. “Obamacare is a Godsend for me,” he continued. “So many great options!”

This conversation-without-communication went on and on like that. It was like a variation of the old book “I’m OK, You’re OK.” Now it’s “I’m OK, You’re—Who Cares About You?”

People often ask me for political predictions. Many people I know are Democrats of the Third Way/DLC/Clinton variety and so were understandably upset when I told them I was sure Donald Trump would win. “I grew up in Dayton, Ohio,” I explained. “The major swing states in this election are full of hollowed-out depopulated deindustrialized Rust Belt cities like Dayton. Free trade agreements like NAFTA killed those cities and destroyed their residents’ quality of life and crushed their American Dream. Hillary and the Democrats supported that globalization garbage. Trump will win because he’s the only one who talks about their problems, the only one who acknowledges they exist, and Democrats are too obsessed with identitarian symbolism.”

“But Trump is an idiot,” they said.

“Not so much of an idiot that he said nice things about free trade,” I said, referring to Hillary Clinton.

“But he’s a bigot,” they continued.

“True,” I agreed. But these people desperate and angry and he’s the first presidential candidate to admit that free trade isn’t awesome. It’s a chance to send a message, a cri de coeur.”

The vacant disconnected look in my liberal friends’ eyes was every bit as dumbstruck as that of a MAGA supporter who realizing that big tax cut wasn’t for him. They weren’t from the Midwest, had never been to the Midwest, didn’t know anyone from the Midwest. The devastation and dysfunction I described—substance addiction, generation after generation on disability, systemic un- and underemployment, plunging housing prices, cash-starved local governments so unable to keep up with the mayhem that ODed corpses piled up at the morgue—was as foreign to them as a drone strike in Afghanistan.

Globalization was inevitable. Why didn’t those stupid Ohioans accept it?

Democrats like FDR used to look at dispossessed voters and see electoral opportunity, a chance to grow the party. Today’s liberals are poorer than Roosevelt yet more elitist; they see a bunch of irrelevant old white guys who ought to hurry up and die.

The latest case study is France’s “Yellow Vest” movement. For over a month angry motorists, many middle-aged men from rural and suburban areas of the country, have converged on cities like Paris to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s hike of the gas tax. As in Britain less populous areas have been left behind economically and neglected by the central government. People say they’re barely making it to the end of each month after paying rising bills on fixed incomes, and they’re pissed.

No doubt echoing their well-heeled counterparts in the 4ème arrondissement, my liberal Democratic friends were gobsmacked by France’s most violent Days of Rage since May 1968. “It’s a carbon tax,” one explained helpfully. “We have to reduce consumption of greenhouse gases.” Her attitude is typical: don’t those conservative hicks understand that the planet is dying?

True, we should reduce air pollution. (Though it’s probably too late to slow down climate change.) But a tax designed to reduce consumption only serves one purpose if consumers have no choice but to consume: to increase government revenue while making citizens miserable. Yellow Vesters who live in the sticks don’t have a mass transit alternative. They can’t carpool. They’ve got to drive and, with a carbon tax, they have to pay. No wonder they’re angry. Wouldn’t it make more sense to tax shareholders whose portfolios include stocks with big carbon footprints?

In the 1970s right-wing Republicans like Richard Nixon promoted the cliché of the “limousine liberal”: self-righteous, hypocritical, privileged and disconnected from Joe and Jane Sixpack. I don’t know if it was true then. It certainly is now.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

24 thoughts on “Liberals Used to Feel Your Pain. Now They Inflict It.

  1. Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, uses that something to support their own existence.
    Frank Zappa

    One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people’s minds.
    Frank Zappa

  2. Mot a Trump fan, well ANY politician nor party, but cut the bullshit Rall.
    ““But he’s a bigot,” they continued.

    “True,” I agreed. But these people desperate and angry and he’s the first presidential candidate to admit that free trade isn’t awesome. It’s a chance to send a message, a cri de coeur.””

    Prove Trump is more of a bigot than Clinton or Obama!
    Also your “friends” soind like complete assholes.

    • good lord, glick, do you not have anything better to do than clog up all our inboxes with notifications of these endless meandering posts that nobody is going to read?

      • You are a festering pustule of a person.
        I know most of you either want to offer Rall blow jobs or mentally masturbate each other.
        That pat on the head circle jerk here truly limits discourse.
        A discussion should move people out of the comfort zone, make them scared that THEY COULD BE FUCKING WRONG.
        That s why people like you ruin the world.
        You enjoy the comfort of complacency.
        When the revolution comes you will be the first pulling the dominant chariot, on any side.
        Myself, I don’t give a shit. I just become bored with how ignorant the supposedly educated people are. How biased the self-proclaimed unbiased are and how narrow-minded and inflexible you all are.
        You are the EXACT SAME PEOPLE you bitch about.
        I truly love a good farce.

        What we need is hatred. From it our ideas are born.
        Jean Genet

      • ok, this one i thought i’d read–never ignore someone speaking directly to you, i figure. i dunno bud, for someone who doesn’t care, you sure seem to care a lot. assuming you do, there’s a lot to consider in what you say, but i would ask if you are really likely to succeed in making people uncomfortable if you bore them to death in the process. i mean, really, who exactly is going to bother to read all this? but perhaps it’s really something else you care about? i dunno. good luck, peace out. d

      • Just for the record:
        No, I don’t have any desire to give Ted a blowjob. I mean, I don’t know him. Maybe if he bought me a couple of drinks and was nice to me, I might consider it. But the idea that I keep coming back here because I’m stimulating myself while I whisper, “Oh, Ted. Yes. There. Oh, God. Yes. Don’t stop.” is risible.
        I respect Ted because he doesn’t flip-flop like a nervous liar. Not because I do or do not want to sleep with him.
        I mean, really, who thinks like that?

  3. Thank you for this, Ted, it seems to me right on the mark. And reminds me of Mark Blythe, political economist at Brown, who’s been saying just about the same thing for a long time. And others, too, of course.

    I would only add one thing, and change one other. While I don’t know the French scene well at all, I believe the tax cut Macron gave the wealthy has pretty much killed him politically and would think it must be working synergistically with the gas tax to piss people off. On climate change, oy vey. It’s too late to slow it down? I think you just said we’re all dead in fifty years no matter what. You might have had a tight deadline?

    But mostly, really, thank you. I’m going to send this to a friend who’s been telling me the liberals are about to save the day. I have family in Cambridge whose eyes go blank just like the people you describe in your article. They’re highly “educated” and “sophisticated” and it’s like they have a wire that’s not connected, literally can’t conceive of what you’re describing. God help us. Better yet, Bernie and Alexandria et al. help us. Or wait, maybe us help us! Anyway, we will solider on, please keep up the very good work.

    • Have you never listened to Phil Ochs, later updated by Jello Biafra for the Clinton years, Love me I’m a Liberal?
      Ochs was not right wing brother.

  4. https://www.npr.org/2018/12/20/678578358/gop-insists-it-doesn-t-engage-in-identity-politics-researchers-disagree
    this story was pretty interesting. A Dem party guy in PA was interviewed too, saying to Dems don’t abandon the Rust Belt voters, use an economic argument. But the problem is, how can the Dems bring new jobs to these areas? With Amazon and Google announcing their new locations in the usual places, not in the depressed places, I don’t see any party doing anything meaningful.

    • No asks what I think is the central question (or so close to central as be practically the same): how do the Dems bring “these” jobs back?

      FDR’s administration (and let’s be fair: I keep pointing out that Hillary Rodham Clinton sucks up to war criminals–yes Dr. Kissinger, I’m talking to you–so I will point out that FDR’s administration rounded up a whole lot of Japanese-Americans and stuffed them into concentration camps on good old American soil. Oddly, the NRA did nothing to protect these loyal Americans from such treatment) saw the economic problem quite clearly.
      The problem is simple, so is the solution.
      Is it still applicable? Absolutely. In a world where Chelsea Clinton can be handed a six-figure payment for nine articles for a major media outlet while the entire industry continues to implode, anyone can be paid for anything. If Chelsea’s scribblings were worth six figures, hell, this one-off by me ought to be worth at least $50,000. (Ted, just get that check to my accountant’s chauffeur next time you run into him on the links. And feel free to pass it on to Bernie. God knows I need a job.)
      When the economy collapses (and if you haven’t been paying attention, you might think that it has not) you end up with unemployed people. WHY they are unemployed is not relevant. HOW they stop being unemployed is. There’s three ways:
      1. Shoot them in the back of the skull.
      2. Put them on welfare.
      3. Get them back to work.
      I dismiss #1 because the wrong people would be getting the backs of their heads aerated.
      Two is really not a good solution either. Welfare helps to breed a sense of hopelessness. Most of that hopelessness comes from how you are treated when you show up at the welfare office. I’ve been there. If I had been a self-confessed, convicted child molester, I would be treated with more compassion and civility at a PTA meeting than I was treated as someone who’d reached the end of his rope and, idiotically, shown up at the welfare office expecting help. Welfare is run and staffed, mostly, by bullies. And, oh my, do they love to put the cigarettes out in your eyes while you are forced to stand there and not say one goddamned word.
      So that leads to three: get everyone back to work.
      And that’s what FDR excelled at.
      What work? It doesn’t matter. Have people sweep the streets. Have people polish curbstones. Refurbish parking meters. Repaint the strip in the middle of the highway with a one-inch brush. Give everyone a reason to get up, a reason to go out, and a paycheck that was EARNED so that NO ONE can try the bully-tactics.
      How to pay for it? I can answer that too, but I’ve already gone on far too long as it is.

      • @Alex – The R’s got one thing right: “Workfare” is a great idea, but it does put the onus on the government to find or create work for these people.

        We’ve got crumbling infrastructure and people out of work. It sure seems like we could get two birds stoned at once, here.

      • Sure. I’m saying that even if all could be made were pretend jobs like the TLAs did in the 30s, then even that’s enough.

      • My man. Over a decade ago NYS wanted to put welfare recipients to work for benefits. It was shot down because, supposedly, too many people of color would be doing the work making them look bad.
        Dems have kept minorities on the farm by demonizing the other guy. Yet Dems do absolutely nothing for minorities. Sure maybe some tiny tidbit that will never aid them is rising above poverty or bettering their communities.
        Then when the Kanye’s appear they are either crazy or Uncle Toms.

        Whitey on the Moon
        Gil Scott-Heron

        We have a poem here, it’s called “Whitey On The Moon”
        It was inspired by some whiteys on the moon
        So I wanna give credit where credit is due

        A rat done bit my sister Nell
        With whitey on the moon
        Her face and arms began to swell
        And whitey’s on the moon
        I can’t pay no doctor bills
        But whitey’s on the moon
        Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still
        While whitey’s on the moon
        The man just upped my rent last night
        Cause whitey’s on the moon
        No hot water, no toilets, no lights
        But whitey’s on the moon
        I wonder why he’s upping me?
        Cause whitey’s on the moon?
        Well I was already giving him fifty a week
        With whitey on the moon
        Taxes taking my whole damn check
        Junkies making me a nervous wreck
        The price of food is going up
        And as if all that shit wasn’t enough:
        A rat done bit my sister Nell
        With whitey on the moon
        Her face and arm began to swell
        And whitey’s on the moon
        Was all that money I made last year
        For whitey on the moon?
        How come I ain’t got no money here?
        Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon
        Y’know I just ’bout had my fill
        Of whitey on the moon
        I think I’ll send these doctor bills
        Airmail special
        To whitey on the moon

  5. Suggested reading “Bobos in Paradise”

    Yeah, Trump once again demonstrated that you can fool some of the people all of the time. Promise jobs, then cut taxes for the rich while abandoning those who voted him into office. Lather, rinse, repeat, and those same fools will vote for you again.

    More suggested reading: “What’s the matter with Kansas?”

    • To CH:

      Re: “Lather, rinse, repeat, and those same fools will vote for you again.”

      Indeed, I am a recovering, FORMER fool of that exact sort …. except of the Democratic Party. It has done and continues to do the very same as your summary of the His Hairness effect… just with different promises made made by people whose lies are particularly pernicious because they speak what seems comprehensible English.

      • @falco

        “I feel your pain” 😀

        I don’t think I’ve ever considered myself a Democrat, and I did register as a Whig once. But I did usta believe the D’s BS much more than I do today. Then again, the party has changed since I was a young’n.

        Obomber got my vote for his first term, and I defended him right up until the day he murdered UBL. My support was wavering previous to that point, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He didn’t get my vote for his second term.

      • “I defended him right up until the day he murdered UBL.”

        UBL was a rotting corpse way before that bit of political theater.
        really, just how out of touch are you?
        Maybe research UBL’s health situation and the medical requirements for him to live long enough for Barry to put that dog down.
        And because you seem to be a political moron, you know that Afghanistan offered to turn UBL over to the US but Bush the lesser refused.
        The Heroin/Opium stopped flowing because of the Taliban. Cut the funding for a lot of Black Budget programs.
        But hey live in fantasy land.

  6. It was wild Bill Clinton who inaugurated the phrase: “feel your pain.”

    But since he apparently had, for example, more than one meaning for the otherwise completely obvious, “is,” it seems highly likely he had a meaning for “feel your pain” of which we were, and remain, unaware.

    I presume that it was a code he used to signal his mistress du jour: “come on over, baby, this afternoon, same time, same place so I can ‘feel your pain(s)’!”

    But, all seriousness aside, as I have asked several times for definitions of some of the terms used repeatedly in these comment threads, I’m willing to settle for the definition of “liberal” given by Ted, at the end of the above article.

    To wit:
    >> A person who is “self-righteous, hypocritical, privileged, … disconnected from Joe and Jane Sixpack” and who, I would add, almost aggressively, maintains a disconnection from the true politics of the country, insisting that there are only ‘positive’ occurrences in that realm, especially when their political tribe is in power.<<

    In this particular case, the disconnection was perceiving "Obamacare" as a benefit to the populace as opposed to an insult*** to the populace and a generous handout (first of MANY) to the ultra-monied class.

    I noticed that Obamacare is breathing it last breaths in the courts. This was the easily predictable fate of the Rube Goldberg-esque Obamacare – WITHOUT price controls, no less. If Obumma's "signature" legislation had been, for example, "Medicare for All," I suspect the pitchforks of the populace (and maybe, also, yellow vests) would have been always at the ready to protected it from a similar demise – assisted by decades of legal robustness.

    ———–
    *** Obamacare being a mandate … instead of a single payer system that was supported by 65% of responders in polls taken throughout the period of passage of O-care.

    • There is a song about that

      Love Me, I’m a Liberal
      Phil Ochs

      I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
      Tears ran down my spine
      And I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
      As though I’d lost a father of mine
      But Malcolm X got what was coming
      He got what he asked for this time
      So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal
      Get it?

      I go to civil rights rallies
      And I put down the old D.A.R (D.A.R., that’s the Dykes of the American Revolution)
      I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
      I hope every colored boy becomes a star
      But don’t talk about revolution
      That’s going a little bit too far
      So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

      I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
      My faith in the system restored
      I’m glad that the Commies were thrown out
      Of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
      And I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
      As long as they don’t move next door
      So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

      Ah, the people of old Mississippi
      Should all hang their heads in shame
      Now, I can’t understand how their minds work
      What’s the matter don’t they watch Les Crane?
      But if you ask me to bus my children
      I hope the cops take down your name
      So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

      Yes, I read New Republic and Nation
      I’ve learned to take every view
      You know, I’ve memorized Lerner and Golden
      I feel like I’m almost a Jew
      But when it comes to times like Korea
      There’s no one more red, white and blue
      So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

      I vote for the democratic party
      They want the U.N. to be strong
      I attend all the Pete Seeger concerts
      He sure gets me singing those songs
      And I’ll send all the money you ask for
      But don’t ask me to come on along
      So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

      Once I was young and impulsive
      I wore every conceivable pin
      Even went to the socialist meetings
      Learned all the old Union hymns
      But I’ve grown older and wiser
      And that’s why I’m turning you in
      So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

      Love Me, I’m A Liberal
      Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon

      I cried when they shot John Lennon
      Tears ran down my spine
      And I cried when I saw “JFK”
      As if I’d lost a father of mine
      But Malcom-X and Ice-T had it coming
      They got what they asked for this time

      [Chorus:]
      So love me, love me, love me
      I’m a liberal

      I go to pro-choice rallies
      Recycle my cans and jars
      I’ll honk if you love the Dead
      Hope those funny Grunge bands become stars
      But don’t talk about revolution
      That’s going a little bit to far

      [Chorus:]
      So love me, love me, love me
      I’m a liberal

      I cheered when Clinton was chosen
      My faith in the system reborn
      I’ll do anything to save our schools
      If my taxes ain’t too much more
      And I love Blacks and Gays and Latinos
      As long as they don’t move next door

      [Chorus:]
      So love me, love me, love me
      I’m a liberal

      Rush Limbaugh and the L.A.P.D
      Should all hang their heads in shame
      I can’t understand where they’re at
      Arsenio should set them straight
      But if neighborhood watch doesn’t know you
      I hope the cops take your name

      [Chorus:]
      So love me, love me, love me
      I’m a liberal

      Yeah, I read the New Republican
      Rolling Stone and Mother Jones too
      If I vote it’s a democrat
      With a sensible economy view
      But when it comes to terrorist Arabs
      There is no one more red, white, and blue

      [Chorus:]
      So love me, love me, love me
      I’m a liberal

      Once I was young and had an attitude
      Stickers covered the car I drove in
      Even went on some direct actions
      When there weren’t rent-a-cops to be seen
      Ah, but now I’ve grown older and wiser
      And that’s why I’m turning you in

      [Chorus:]
      So love me, love me, love me
      I’m a liberal

    • Fuck me, Henri, you are deeper than you seem.
      Toss in Working Class Hero, It’s Alright Ma, and maybe Soft Parade and the entire world has been summed up and explained musically.

  7. Ted,
    This is one of your best. I’m thinking of a person I know from Twitter. He doesn’t have to work because his parents have been supporting him since he was born (he’s in his late 30s now). He pissed away almost a decade in grad school before walking away with his thesis unfinished. He has all the correct, outraged terminology and uses it frequently. I never, ever, not once, hear about him helping at a soup kitchen, or knocking on doors for a voter registration drive, or anything that would have him putting some skin in the game. He works occasionally on some sidegig thing he has, but he lives in a house with his partner, who also does not work regularly.
    I really hope that the Progressives effectively neuter these people politically and opinionly. I am fed up with people who have it made pretending that they’re in the trenches with me shucking and jiving and barely surviving when salvation is always just one quick e-mail to mama and papa away. Why should any of these trustfund babies be allowed to say anything about why Hillary Rodham Clinton (who is right next to Henry Kissinger, the war criminal) was a better candidate? Why are they being listened to as they opine about which candidate is best? They have no actual life experience, certainly not in dragging themselves across the broken glass of surviving on your own. But they can’t stop posing and flexing in the mirror. “Oooh, look at my cred. I’m so gritty and real.”
    You’d last 10 fucking seconds, cupcake.

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