It has been almost a week since I wrote last and I have a pretty good excuse. A relative of my wife's passed away over the weekend. I wasn't going to bring my computer and my Iphone ended up going on the fritz on the way back home. My customer service experience with Apple will be the subject of another column soon. Suffice it to say, everything is almost back to normal after the ten hours on the road. However, I thought I would get something out of the experience.
Obviously, I don't want to get too personal. They are my wife's family and she isn't going to take too kindly if I start spilling secrets over the internet. I should simply say that most of them are not as educated as we are, but are not unintelligent people. They are what we would call ignorant in the academic sense. At least they are in political terms. I could get into social things and psychological things, but this is a political blog so I will focus on it.
My wife's family (particularly her parents' generation) works hard. Like most people, they have made some mistakes and sometimes have had less luck than they should. On the other hand, you could simply say their relative lack of education has placed them in their lot in life. I'm not going to judge that. What does interest me is that their interests should be quite clear and their opinions are quite clear. The problem is that they don't match.
Many in the gamily are anti-Obama and yet they stand to gain the most from his policies. In essence, some of them represent the disconnect between working class white people. When someone they know has to take on government assistance it is seen as a hand up. When someone is black and gets government assistance it is a hand out. It is particularly disconcerting when one of them lambasts Obama's health care plan while people in his family have suffered with numerous health problems. Some can afford basic necessities because of health care costs. The disconnect is overwhelming.
I promise this isn't about health care, welfare, or anything else specific. What it is about is simple enlightened self-interest. I know it is one of those vague political science terms most of us learned in college. It really shouldn't be that vague. It is in fact the greatest issue facing voters today. If everyone voted their actual interests this would be a much better country. Unfortunately, you have people willing to pit us versus them in an attempt to cover up the fact that there very rarely ever conflict.
What is sick to me is that I grew up in a world where there was no race. People were people and everyone was judged by the content of their character. I knew occasional people that had racist beliefs, but we seemed to have moved past that. Unfortunately, it was either hidden or it has come back. As for me, I was a good in law and bit my tongue most of the time. My wife would have killed me otherwise.