Mother Jones Blogger Admits That Big-City Liberals ‘Tend to Sneer at Rural Working-Class Folks’

Though it’s not clear whether the Democratic party will produce a post-presidential-election “autopsy report” like Republicans did in early 2013, there has been a lot of self-scrutiny among liberals since Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss. One example is a Friday post by Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum, written in response to a fellow liberal’s cluelessness.

After New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claimed to be unaware that “affluent liberals…sneer at the Joe Sixpacks,” an amazed Drum declared, “I'm not here to get into a fight with Krugman, but come on. Sure, the right-wing media fans the flames of this stuff, but is there really any question that liberal city folks tend to sneer at rural working-class folks? I'm not even talking about stuff like abortion and guns and gay marriage, where we disagree over major points of policy. I'm talking about lifestyle…Working-class folks like fast food.”

(Krugman had noted that his “neighbors on the Upper West Side” of Manhattan “don’t eat much fast food, because they believe it’s unhealthy and they’re watching their weight.” For the record, Drum said he likes fast food, “except for McDonald's.” Not even the fries, Kevin?)

Drum went on: “We sneer at their holy-roller megachurches. (But not at black churches; never that.) We sneer at their favorite TV shows. We sneer at their reading habits. We sneer at their guns…We sneer at their supermarket tabloids. We sneer at their music. We sneer at their leisure activities. We sneer at their blunt patriotism…Maybe you personally don't do it—though judging from the comments here, a lot of you do—but you hardly need to be an anthropologist to recognize that this kind of sneering shows up on TV, in newspapers, on Twitter, in books, on Facebook, and in private conversations all the time.”

The contempt, Drum recognized, is mutual but asymmetrical:

They also sneer at us. Fair enough. But as all good liberals know, there's a big difference between a powerful group sneering at a vulnerable group, and vice versa. The former is a far bigger problem. And we educated city folks are, on average, far richer and more powerful than ruralish working-class folks. Our sneering has a power component that theirs doesn't. I confess that it's fun, and I enjoy my share of sneering in private, but I also accept that this attitude has political costs.

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