Uh Oh…

Brian Cook

If you thought working class folks were bitter before, just imagine how they might feel after reading this choice quote: "Screw 'em. You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them." That would be Hillary Clinton, referring to Southern, white, working-class males while talking to her husband in 1995. The "Screw 'em" bit is, of course, simply lovely, but I think what's much more interesting (and telling) is the notion of transactional (or quid pro quo) politics implied by the end of the statement. I'm not sure why it is politicans think citizens, much less working class citizens (who presumably are pretty tired after a long, grueling work week), should do anything for them; it should be the other way around, and we certainly pay them nice, upper-middle class salaries to work for all of us, not just the 50 + 1 percent of Americans who vote them in. But the quote reminded me of Algernon from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, idly musing that "if the lower orders don’t set us a good [moral] example, what on earth is the use of them?" And if they're not going to vote for us, why, screw them, indeed!

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Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.
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