Not long ago — at least not long ago in blogging time, you know the sense of time that combines procrastination and the distortion of time produced by intense personal satisfaction — I wrote a book review of Arlie Hochschild’s book, Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. A fantastic book that accurately explains why white conservative Christians are stooges and vote against their own interests by voting for Repubicans. The long and the short of it is, they feel hurt because they are not achieving the American dream any longer, but liberals are promoting other groups ahead of them even though they haven’t worked as hard or waited as long and earned their place in line.
The feelings are real. And, ruthless Repubican politicians like Bobbi Jindal and Sam Brokeback exploit it so they can sell their lives cheap to corporations and industry. As someone who sees the connection between the economic and social challenges of these white middle class people and the horrid policies of Repubicans and the alleviation and help that could be there through Democratic policies — the Obamacare versus RyumpDon’tCare, anyone? — it is frustrating, dismaying, and angering. How can they continue not to see what is so plainly obvious? Well, cognitive dissonance and the availability heuristics, obv.
But, now the two economists who published a report in 2015 revealing that the mortality rate of whites in midlife has been rising since 1999 while the mortality rates of other groups has been falling, have published another. In this paper, Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century, Anne Case and Angus Dean economics professors at Princeton University, report that in the developed world, i.e. the economic peers of the US, midlife mortality rates continue to fall for all education groups, except in among US whites with a high school education or less. The mortality rate of US whites with a high school education or less in midlife has been rising since 1999. Who are the 45-54 year old US whites with a high school education or less? The people who make up the American right that Arlie Hochschild wrote about, the people I call the stooge voters.
This rising mortality rate is termed deaths of despair! Doesn’t that just sound horrible? It sounds like they might could be dying of broken hearts or disappointment or something and in a way they are. They are dying from complications of alcoholism, drug abuse — the ubiquitous opioid epidemic — and suicide. They are dying of heart disease and cancer, two conditions that poor life choices like smoking and drinking contribute heavily to. They are experiencing increases in physical pain, emotional distress, and social dysfunction. According to these two learned economists who purport to know, these people are literally drinking and drugging and shooting themselves to death.
That’s how real the pain is for these people. The pain of watching their American dream go up in the very real smoke of lower corporate taxes, fewer state services, and a constant drumbeat of social controversy. The pain of believing the very real smoke screen of the American dream being a very finite pie that if another group like blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Indians, or other immigrant groups gets a piece of it, there is less for them! The pain of imagining that these groups are being given special unearned and undeserved advantage to “get in line” for the American dream “ahead of them” escorted there by liberals and a black president as if the American dream was a well into which you had one chance to dip your bucket before the well went dry. The deep story of Hochschild’s analysis. No wonder they are turning to alcohol, cigarettes, opioids, and guns to ease this very real pain. No wonder their mortality rate is sky rocketing while every other group’s is continuing to fall.
And, the Repubican Congress and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber just made it easier for those with a history of mental illness to buy guns! Hello rising suicide rate among middle class midlife white men! Can we say, the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid? Can we say stooge voter? Can we say beat me to death with a bag of cancerous tumors?
These people are feeling left behind by the American dream surpassed by blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Indians, and immigrants of all kinds. And, economically and socially many of them are. It is true. But it isn’t liberals and President Obama who are escorting the others ahead of them, it is the likes of politicians, the Bobbi Jindal, Sam Brokeback Brownback, Scott Falter Walker, Mitch McTurtle McConnel, Paul Ain’t Tryin’ Ryan, and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber who will literally only make things worse. Can you believe that the good folks of Kentucky didn’t realize that Kynect was Obamacare! And, Mitch, dear Mitch, was willing to tell the good folk of Kentucky that Kynect was just a website and could be maintained by the state! And THEY believed him! They BELIEVED him! For Fuck Sake!
On the one hand, they elected Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin, and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, so fuck them. What the hell did they think Matt Bevin, Mitch McConnell, and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber would do other than lie to them and then sell them cheap to national insurance companies? Seriously, prepubescent girls sold into the sex trade by their parents have fetched more than these stooges have.
But, they truly are hurting. They are hurting so bad that they are destroying themselves. Slowly at first through cigarettes and alcohol and then more quickly through opioids and then suddenly with a gun shot to the head. Does Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin, or the Ol’ Pussy Grabber care? Hell no. They just made it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns to shoot themselves in the head with. Fuck these guys. The white Christian would rather continue believing the soothing convenient lies cooed into their souls by these foul motherfuckers than begin to dig out of the hole they’ve been put in. The white Christian voter would rather shoot themselves in the head than vote for a woman or black man for president.
But… but… these people are in real pain to be behaving so self-destructively. Their self-destructive behaviors extend from a life long addiction to cigarettes and alcohol, and for a far more recent addiction to opioids to voting for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. Given the chaotic conflictive mess that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber has created in his administration and the god awful mess that the Repubicans have cobbled together to call healthcare reform, which is really just a tax break for the wealthy, you can only call this suicide by election. They are taking the rest of us with them on their suicidal journey because accepting blacks and women and Muslims and immigrants as equals is just too much for them.
Again, fuck them. Get your head out of your ass and smell the shit strewn about in your stumbling bumbling wake! Understand that you are worth something more than your piety. You don’t deserve the shit job that you’ve been saddled with. You don’t deserve the cancers that come from the unregulated industries that your lives have been sold to. You don’t deserve to live in the environmental degradation that unregulated industry has provided. You deserve healthcare. You deserve $15.00 an hour. You deserve maternity leave. You deserve a healthy diet. We live in the fucking richest country in the history of the world. We can afford anything we fucking well want. Instead, we have allowed ourselves to become the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid!