The White Working Class is in Trouble

Back in the Sixties a couple of lefty BBC TV guys thought up a cool idea. They would do a documentary about a group of British seven-year-olds from all walks of life. And then see what happened to them. The result was Seven Up, produced in 1964, and updated every seven years since.

But what is never mentioned about the “Up Series” is the searing fact that the three cute working class girls from the east end of London have lived rather dismal lives, including lots of single-parenthood and welfare. Whereas the three upper-class (and rather priggish) seven-year-old boys have ended up living exemplary lives. The only working-class kid that did well was Tony, the son of a criminal in jail at the time of the first show; he became a London taxicab driver. But then the good old London criminal class always did know how to look after itself.

The show that thought it was celebrating the rise of the working class under the tender supervision of enlightened lefty north London luvvies showed us instead that the British working class was actually getting hammered. Today their daughters are getting hammered by “Asians” in Rotherham. Who could have seen that coming?

Now we have the Atlantic telling us that all is not well with the US white working class either. They are dying off briskly, what with alcoholism and drug dependency, opoids and such. This is a shock to liberals who apparently were too educated and evolved to read Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. Murray told us back in 2012 that educated white America was doing fine: going to school, getting good careers, marrying and seldom divorcing. But the bottom 30 percent of White America was not doing well. The men didn’t work much, and the women didn’t marry much. Murray wrote that it would be a good thing if educated Americans, conservative and liberal, preached what they practiced.

How could this happen? For over a century, lefties the world over have loooved the working class, fluffing its nest with wage and hour laws, union exceptions to monopoly laws, education, entitlements, and, in the 1950s at least, good jobs at good wages. What could have gone wrong with the little darlings of the liberals?

The answer, I think, is that the welfare state is all about lefties. The working class was never more than a prop for the lefty morality tale about themselves, and the day came when the left tired of the working class. In the TV sitcom, "All in the Family", with Archie Bunker, liberals gave themselves permission to hate on the white working class and stigmatize Archie and the millions like him as racists, sexists, and bigots.

This dovetailed with the liberal agenda because, with the cultural Marxist turn to race politics and gender politics, somebody was going to have to pay the price of Affirmative Action for blacks and women in the government bureaucracies, and it wasn’t going to be educated and evolved white liberals. Ditto when it came time to create sanctuary cities for illegal immigrant Hispanics and bake wedding cakes for gays or else.

By all rights the white working class ought to have tumbled to this a generation ago and become rock-ribbed Republicans, but, pace the Atlantic, alcohol and opoids aren’t the only addictions corroding the white working class.

The main addiction of the white working class is that it still thinks someone owes it a living. That’s why, as late as 2012, the Joe Soptic ad helped re-elect Barack Obama.

Does Trumpmania mean that the white working class is finally ready to join the Republican Party? I don’t think so.

The Republican Party is the party for Americans who are People of the Responsible Self. The white working class isn’t there yet. Now maybe, in the depths of their alcoholism and opoid addiction, the white working class is finally going to bottom out and head over to Alcoholics Anonymous, or even better, start their own Great Awakening and get religion. Then they’ll be ready for the GOP.

But then maybe not. Maybe the white working class in the US and the UK is going to keep going down, and never hit bottom. The world is full of the ghosts of cultures that just kept right on going down.

On this view the liberal morality tale got it all wrong. Our problem is not Whatever’s the Matter with Kansas. Our great national problem is liberals softening up their client groups so they don’t work much, as in welfare, don’t marry much, as in the sexual revolution, don’t have kids much, as in abortion, and don’t take responsibility for anything, as in Black Lives Matter. At some point they aren’t good for anything except cowering in a safe space while, outside, a liberal microaggression counsellor chants magic incantations against racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.