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Reagan's 'legacy' was built on the anger of white men

June 13, 2004 5:46 am


IF THE REAGAN PRESIDENCY were a film (and why not think of it that way?), it might have been called "Revenge of the Angry White Men."

Most of those pondering the former president's legacy talk about how he reshaped the United States' political landscape and moved the country to the right. "Over time, he converted much of the country to his own views and values. His more important legacy is how much he changed our minds," David Gergen, formerly Reagan's communications director, told Knight Ridder Newspapers.

But it may be just as accurate to say that Reagan gave legitimacy to the feelings of fear and resentment that were rife among certain segments of the American population.

Consider the times. The nation's prestige had been dealt severe blows overseas by military defeat in Southeast Asia and a hostage crisis in Iran. The economy was battered by recession, inflation, and oil crises. And women, African-Americans, and, to some extent, gays had rejected their subordinate status in American society and were openly demanding equal treatment and opportunity.

It was enough to make many white men feel that they were losing their bearings. It was enough to make many of them feel threatened--and angry.

Of course, the "angry white man" phenomenon had been growing for a number of years before Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign. In 1968, Richard Nixon had devised a "Southern strategy" that targeted whites in the Democratic South by promising not to back any meaningful social or economic changes in race relations.

But while Nixon's 1968 campaign may have put the GOP on a new course, it was Reagan who mastered the politics of resentment. This had to do largely with Reagan's ability to connect with angry white men while still appearing as the genial grandfather to most voters.

Reagan reached out to angry white men right from the start of his 1980 bid for the presidency. He delivered the first major speech of his campaign in Philadelphia--not the home of the Liberty Bell but the town in Mississippi where racists had abducted and murdered three young civil-rights workers 16 years earlier. In a big wink and nod to angry white men, Reagan used the occasion to proclaim his belief in "states' rights," a phrase that long had been part of the rhetoric of white supremacy in the South.

Once in office, Reagan slashed social programs and vilified "welfare queens," a code phrase understood by angry white men as an attack not only on women but also on poor blacks. Reagan also played to white racial resentment by appointing judges who watered down civil-rights legislation, by opposing a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr., and by adopting a pathetically weak stand against South African apartheid.

The Gipper also ushered in an age of reaction against women and gays. He loaded the courts with anti-choice judges and spent most of his tenure ignoring the mushrooming AIDS epidemic, which was viewed by many of the president's angry, Bible-thumping supporters as God's special punishment for gay men.

Meanwhile, manufacturing jobs were vanishing, real wages were falling, and the power of unionized labor was being severely undercut. But many blue-collar white guys were oblivious to all this and backed the Gipper because he was giving hell to the blacks, the feminists, the queers, and the commies.

Yes, it was morning in America, and many folks were too hung over from their anger binge to see that they were voting against their own interests.

The Reagan magic was such that he could take a pop song about working-class alienation and despair--namely Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."--and transform it into a rallying cry for American triumphalism.

For those not lucky enough to have been born in the U.S.A., the Reagan revolution was often experienced as blood-letting and terror.

Reagan made it seem as if brown-skinned commies were poised to cross the Rio Grande and take over the country, whereupon they would kick back with cigars and cervezas and sing ballads about Che Guevara while God-fearing white Americans were reduced to tending their oppressors' gardens, picking their fruits and vegetables, and building monuments to Lenin and Stalin.

To prevent that day from ever coming to pass, Reagan bankrolled killers and torturers who slaughtered tens of thousands of innocents in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

Our boys in Central America--the security forces, the mercenaries, the death squads--were good at what we paid and trained them to do. They wiped out entire villages in Guatemala's highlands, killed school teachers in Nicaragua, and raped and murdered American nuns in El Salvador.

But none of this mattered much to Reagan's angry white men--America was standing tall in the world.

While the success of the Reagan revolution could be measured in Central America by the number of mass graves it produced, it was measured here in the States by electoral votes. The Democratic Party was devastated by the defection of their angry white men--who came to be known as Reagan Democrats--and it has spent more than two decades trying to win them back.

A few Democrats, such as Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, have been successful at wooing some of them; others, such as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, have made clumsy efforts to do so, and have failed.

The Warners and Deans certainly are right: The Democratic Party must seek the votes of angry white men. But it should do so with inclusive economic populism that doesn't take African-Americans for granted and that reaches out to other progressive voting blocs--such as young, single women.

Reagan taught us that politicians who effectively articulate a few core convictions can build new winning coalitions. If Democrats can rediscover their core convictions and start running on them--instead of running away from them--they may be able to create a sequel to the Reagan era that could be called "The Angry White Men Come Home."

RICK MERCIER is a writer and editor for The Free Lance-Star.

© MBM

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"Angry white men"----what the hell do they have to be angry about? ---that Black people are no longer slaves in this country, that they can no longer lynch African Americans for not "jumping off the sidewalk" fast enough, that they can no long rape and molest African American women and children and get away with it?

Racist psychos brainwashed white people into being racist in the first place, then further brainwashed them into believing that white men had some reason to be angry?-----
quote:
Originally posted by sunnubian:

"Angry white men"----what the hell do they have to be angry about?


Poor and working class white men are mad as hell that they do not have the big house, white picket fence, dog, and wife like Carol Brady. This angst is severely exacerbated when they see more and more blacks and browns breaking through to do better than they are. Black achievement runs completely counter to their view of the world, which shaped by white supremacy, says that they should be supreme king of their domain and all "lesser peoples" here in "their country". Roll Eyes Since they are white, and should receive all of the privileges and rights of their esteemed position in society Roll Eyes, they completely lose it when a non-white achieves more than they do. Of course it is completely irrelevant that the black folks achieving are simply smarter, better educated, better trained, work harder, and just generally more worthy of their accomplishments. It just burns these white guys up to no end! That damned affirmative action taking rights away from the hard working white man! Roll Eyes

Anyone with any sense can see that privileged white men (a la George W. Bush et al) should be the true target of their angst, but poor white folks have been quite deftly diverted to worrying about black and brown folk instead. Roll Eyes
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by sunnubian:

"Angry white men"----what the hell do they have to be angry about?


Poor and working class white men are mad as hell that they do not have the big house, white picket fence, dog, and wife like Carol Brady. This angst is severely exacerbated when they see more and more blacks and browns breaking through to do better than they are. Black achievement runs completely counter to their view of the world, which shaped by white supremacy, says that they should be supreme king of their domain and all "lesser peoples" here in "their country". Roll Eyes Since they are white, and should receive all of the privileges and rights of their esteemed position in society Roll Eyes, they completely lose it when a non-white achieves more than they do. Of course it is completely irrelevant that the black folks achieving are simply smarter, better educated, better trained, work harder, and just generally more worthy of their accomplishments. It just burns these white guys up to no end! That damned affirmative action taking rights away from the hard working white man! Roll Eyes

Anyone with any sense can see that privileged white men (a la George W. Bush et al) should be the true target of their angst, but poor white folks have been quite deftly diverted to worrying about black and brown folk instead. Roll Eyes


Hey MBM. You're a real fuckin comedian arean't ya. Uppity smart ass nigger! I bet you wouldn't come down here and say some dum shit like that.
Thats okay...he talks that schit....but just like his klan-raised inbred ancestors, he has to hide behind a keyboard just like they his behind a mask......MBM is right...they do think they are entitled to something...believe me, I have had interview panels tell me after the fact how white applicants protested my appointment over them for a given position......given the relative gap between our credentials, I would not even be invited to an interview as a black man with some of their sorry azzed backgrounds.....and to think affirmative action was needed so a white high-school dropout would not get picked over a black man with a college degree. White privelege has been coming to a slow halt since the fifties......and with competition here in the US and threats to blow their azzes to hell from abroad, they are just feeling the uncertainty about their future that others have always had to deal with....I really do not understand how white people cannot be successful......hell I have succeeded greatly despite dealing with the inbreds....if society were slanted in my favor as a white guy......who knows what in the hell I would have become with much greater ease.....It is a sad state of affairs when they cannot get off their lazy azzes when someone is trying to GIVE them what everyone else has to WORK for.......a sad species they are......so AMERICA...like you tell us about slavery.....JUST GET OVER IT........
quote:
Originally posted by AMERICA:


Hey MBM. You're a real fuckin comedian arean't ya. Uppity smart ass nigger! I bet you wouldn't come down here and say some dum shit like that.

______________________________________


I live "down here"--- and I say it all the fucking time, anywhere, any place, any time . . .

And another thing, that simple minded, historically illiterate slogan is proof of the ignorance that people like you are caught up in, or you would know that you have been played by white people with money over these centuries in this country; if the truth be told, the majority of whites in America that think like you anscestors could not afford to have any cotton of their "own"----I would wager a great deal that if you traced your ancestry, you will find that you are descended from white that worked as share croppers alongside the slaves . . .rich white landowners brainwashed and used your anscestors to do their dirty work for them, like fight a civil war to protect their "interests" (slave/cotton)---a war that had it been won by the south would left poor whites in the position to have no other choice but to become slave (again) as well in the south, because why would rich landowner pay poor whites to work for them when they would have had slaves to do it for free, slaves that whites like your anscestors fought and died for to keep enslaved . . .and don't be fooled, only a select percentage of white actually owned slaves, not all whites, and especially not poor whites in this country.

When will racist whites stop being pimped by whites in this country with real money and power?
america,

Tell you what, you wake up one morning, and while you're fixing breakfast a mob breaks down your door and takes you and your whole family to a stinking wooden boat where you are chained together shoulder to shoulder with strangers. There you stay, lying below decks, for the weeks it takes you to get to Zimbabwe. Half of those chained with you die. When you are taken ashore, you are sold to one farm and your wife is sold to somebody else where she is impregnated by the farmer, has two of his children, and then is "married" to another white slave where she stays for the rest of her life. Her children are sold away from her one by one. Her life is work and sleep and not enough food and no medicine, childbirth is pain without a doctor, only lhalf of her children live and she is too soon old and too young dead.

You don' tknow where your children are. YOu never see them again.

Meanwhile, you are set to work in a field where you are whipped repeatedly all day to make you work faster. What you did during that day is how much work you must do for the rest of your life. If you do not, you are whipped again and again. You are given a "wife" who will have your children except for those who are born much darker than you are and who look a bit like the owner of the farm.

Hundreds of years pass during which your children and all your descendents are considered less than human because you are white. Some chimpanzees have white skin. You must be like them.

Well, comes a day when all you whites are freed. But freedom means that you can make your own way in the world. No one will help you and no one wants you to make it. You cannot eat where real Africans eat, you cannot sleep where real Africans sleep. You are slapped, punched, kicked, and told to get out of wherever you are. You can't ride certain buses, and taxis won't stop for you. The best parts of town are barred to you. Doctors won't treat you. Lawyers won't go to court for you. Police won't protect you. You are killed and black police laugh about it, saying that you must have brought it on yourself. Now and then you will find the body of one of your friends hanging from a tree because some drunken black crowd thought it would be "fun" to gang rape a white girl and hang her boyfriend.

Meanwhile you can't go to a decent school, you can't get a decent job, you can't even live in the good part of town. Menial work at low pay is all you can get because everybody knows that you are "lazy" and "shiftless." You've even gone to war for these people and shown that you are just as brave as anyone else, and still you can't get a job. Plumbers won't even come to fix your sink.

Finally when generations have passed and you and your friends decide that you will not take this kind of treatment any longer, you are bitten by police dogs and washed off your feet by fire hoses while crowds throw bottles at you. People make jokes about you, how all you need are two dimes and a pair of yellow shoes to make you sing that you are rich.

And still you can't get a job.

Then, over the next decades finally you start to achieve some success, though many of your friends are so conditioned by your history that they are convinced that it doesn't do any good even to try. And they have a point. For you are still white in a black society and there's no way for you to hide or change that. You are suspect wherever you go. Black people are afraid of you, ignore you, won't help you, and think that you may be after their money. And still, when someone recognizes and names the evil of society, there are those who blame the white and call him "uppity." And many blame you for what others do to you.

That would be just a small part of what it's been like for us. If conditions were reversed like that, you'd be singing a very different tune, if you could sing at all.

America, you desecrate that name. You stand for hate and stupidity, and mentally you are as bright as the inside of a dog's anus. MBM can't come down to where you are. The smell alone would kill a human. You seem to enjoy it, though.

He'd have to come "down," indeed.
Yall have no idea who ya talking to. Otherwise you'd show me the respet do me. All of you on your high horses with your degrees and bmws have no idea what its like to be a hrad working white man these days. Where are the programs for me? WHere is my handout? Where is the scholawrship for my kids to go to school? I try to be proud of my heritage and i'm a racist. yall have a hole dam month. sure im just a simple feller. not everyone has to be a phd. yet im the inside of a dogs ass?

i also see how you taken my posts away here too. i've been here for a year posting and all i have is 1 post? its racist thats what it is. the white man caint get no break anywhere.
I'll use some of Blaqfist's post to
re-emphasize what I said earlier:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
What type of dumb azz backwards cracker could not make it in Amerikkka?

This system is designed for you & you can't make it?

Should I feel sorry for your dumb azz?

Hell no.



***How they cannot make it is a mystery to me...a real mystery.....
quote:
Originally posted by blaqfist:

What type of dumb azz backwards cracker could not make it in Amerikkka?



99% of us asshole. you think all white men are rich?

and whats the point of righting America with the k instead? if your referring to the kkk, that's a fine and upstanding organisation. maybe they had some extremists back in slave times, but thats long been over. yuo just cant stand the white man standing up for his rights. shit you got the ncaap.
America, you have programs, handouts and every type of aid given to you on a silver platter...it's called white skin privilege.

Trust me, if the black people in college are in because of AA or some type of quota, then the Kennedys and the Bushes got into Ivy League schools for the same thing. If the current president in the White House didn't have a father and grandfather legacies at Yale, and tried to get in with his "grades," he'd never would've been admitted, let alone graduated.


The majority of people on welfare are white, but they show pictures of black and brown people.

The majority of people benefitting from affirmative action are also white, because it helps minorities AND women. Last time I heard, white women are still women, so AA helps them too.

Until we hear in the news about white people being followed in stores or in malls by the owners or by security because they look like suspects, until we hear about black bankers denying white folks loans because of their skin color, you have no reason to complain about discrimination.
amerikkka wrote:

and whats the point of righting America with the k instead? if your referring to the kkk, that's a fine and upstanding organisation. maybe they had some extremists back in slave times, but thats long been over. yuo just cant stand the white man standing up for his rights. shit you got the ncaap.


**to compare those two organizations shows what a backwards f-k he is.......one is based on racism, hate and terror...one is based on advancement through societal means....man there are some dumb azz white people in amerikkka.
that was the primary part of his legacy...giving the illusion of returning white people to their form of nationalism by going against anything and everything blacks stood for....and the military industrial complex....with the usual deficits.....if one is black...and see a reagan legacy...then they are sorely misguided........everything he stood for is not in a lilly white part of a very ethnically diverse state for nothing.......

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