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Vote Your “Caste!” Or Someone’s Catching Up With You


We all know that in Republican lore that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a “traitor to his class” and worse. So we need a new boogeyman [not “boogaloo” man] to demonize the “libs,” the “antifa,” the “socialists” who ruined “our” suburbs, forced unfair taxes down on “our” throats to pay for welfare queens, and stole “our” jobs.

If “we” voted our caste — class and race, included in the broader sweep, well, “we” might be putting some distance between “us” and “them,” aided and abetted by “traitors” in every sense of that word.

Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns” remains at the top of my personal recommendations of “must read” books if you want to understand the human stories behind the seismic shift of people that changed the United States over the last century.

And to help you sift through the vote-counting in this presidential election in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, reading that masterpiece and her latest, “Caste” to put that tallying in perspective with “the white left-behinds” in “flyover country” outrage over movements and events out of their control when they risked life and limb at the polls Tuesday.

First, the background.

In “Warmth,” her Pulitzer prize-winning work, Wilkerson lays out the “why” of   the massive African-American migration out of the South during the two “world wars” to the industrial Midwest and Eastern big cities of the 20th century that changed the nation.

Now, the “what’s at stake for me.”

In “Caste,” she gives us samples of the thinking of the “white left-behinds,” using the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare — to the “Repeal and Replace” Republicans in state legislatures and Congress] as just one example.

You see that in following 45’s lead in trying to kill it in a Supreme Court Case in the middle of a pandemic.  You hear in the screaming at the rallies, “Fire Fauci.”

Drawing from the research and writings of Dr. Jonathan Metzl on health care, she details  Tennessee’s  decision to withhold care benefits from both races rather than be “seen as helping presumably undeserving minority groups” by extending Medicaid benefits by legislative action.

This was the position supported by a 41-year-old white taxi driver “who was suffering from an inflamed liver that threatened the man’s life.” [p. 189]

As he approached death, the taxi driver is quoted as saying “No way I want my tax dollars paying for Mexicans or welfare queens. …Ain’t no way I would ever support Obamacare or sign up for it.  I would rather die.”

And he did.

That is sticking to your believs.

If the white taxi driver lived in Kentucky, he  might have lived because that state — as red as Tennessee — called it Kynect to establish a marketplace called for in the act and also expand Medicaid.

Now down to the 2020 voting lesson from Wilkerson’s “Caste,” drawn on research from 2016’s presidential vote by John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Varneck.

If this were on cable news, although its several years old, the chyron would be yelling “in RED ALL CAPITALS,


In English, the political scientists wrote, “No other factor predicted changes in white partisanship during Obama’s presidency as powerfully and consistently as racial attitudes” and fear that minorities were taking “white” jobs. p. 325

Continuing the quote from Sides’ et al. “Identity Crisis,”  “‘Racialized economics:’ the belief that undeserving groups are getting ahead while your group is left behind” was at play in the voting booth.

Looking at the election results  after 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, it would be extremely safe to say “racialized economics” was in play again. And, if that needs to be updated a teensie-bit, yell “socialism!!!!!”

So it goes.

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