Thursday, December 18, 2003

"Why are 50% of Blue Collar White Males Planning to Vote for Bush..."

Sometimes I feel as though I'm reaching so hard to find those little pieces of information that are useful and constructive. Here in this interview with Arlie Hochschild is this little bit:
    Buzzflash:...How does a Democratic candidate stand up for universal rights -- including for women and minorities -- and for a secular society, and still be able to access at least some percentage of that blue-collar, white male vote that's going to Bush because of insecurities about those very issues?

    Hochschild: By appealing to the blue-collar guy's better half, by appealing to his good side. And by exposing this hoax.

    I think that the Democrats can appeal to the blue-collar man or the -- I won't call him a Nascar Dad, but the blue-collar voter, male voter -- by saying, "You've been exposed to a giant hoax, and here's what the hoax is. It is offering you a make-believe candied apple with one hand and picking your pocket with the other hand. And take your own feelings back. They're yours. And put them behind a vote for someone who's going to really solve your problems. Set about seriously setting up a domestic agenda that makes a difference to you."

    This series of wars that's an imperial stretch into the Middle East -- how does that help the blue-collar man, except for killing his relatives? The Democrats can say that's Bush's war. That's not a U.S. war. It has nothing to do with U.S. security. In fact, it's a whole "tap the hornet's nest" approach to international relations which makes us all a great deal less safe. So tell the blue-collar guy that this is a giant ruse and a scapegoating.
It's called betrayal.

Unfortunately, a drawback of this approach is that the messenger of the 'bad news' can in turn become the target of that very deep anger. How dare you take away my fantasy? How dare you expose my mistaken beliefs? It would take a very savvy leader to be able to overcome this barrier.

Still, the interview above contains a nice distillation of the 'psychology' behind the right-wing talk radio phenom. I also think that the medium of radio contributes a great deal in that it instills a sense of community to those who feel isolated and left behind. As one sits in one's commuter space, I think there can be the sense of belonging and being in a one on one conversation with the guy on the other side. It's a private audience, a very special relationship bounded by hatred and resentment.

Another realm of influence not quite covered in this interview is the role of organized religion within the worldview of these radio listeners. Since I think that Hochschild is probably well-versed with Lakoffian theory, I would love to see more discussion on the subject out there.