MSNBC Goes To Flint, Learns Nothing

Flint Michigan - Chris Hayes - Michael Moore

 

The Establishment Left’s strangely non-diminishing sense of entitlement was on full display in Flint, Michigan

Today, Chris Hayes of MSNBC broadcast a special live town hall from Flint, Michigan, the place made famous by the poisoning of its water supply and the near-criminal incompetence of some of the people responsible for the public’s safety. Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore has also made the Flint story a personal cause of his, and today both he and Chris Hayes were together, live before a local audience, to talk about national politics viewed through the prism of this beleaguered town.

At one point in the panel discussion, Hayes introduced a number of local people who were non-voters; people who either did not vote at all in the 2016 general election or who voted for down-ballot candidates but refused to cast a vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president.

Almost to a person, these non-voters talked about the fact that despite having been Obama voters in 2008 and 2012, they could not bring themselves to vote in 2016 when the Democrats offered no “inspiring” candidate. One got the sense that many of them may have gladly voted for Bernie Sanders, had the Clinton and Democratic Party machines not unfairly muscled the Vermont senator out of the race, though this was not explicitly stated by anyone during the segment.

For the life of him, Chris Hayes simply could not understand this position. It did not compute. At one point, he told one of the non-voting interviewees that MSNBC viewers were likely “throwing things at their televisions” in reaction to what he was saying. Hayes interrogated each guest as to how they could possibly have abstained from voting for Hillary Clinton when a Republican governor had presided over the poisoning of their town’s water supply. He implied that their desire for an “inspirational” presidential candidate was childish and irrational, and that the obvious choice would have been to swallow any misgivings and vote for the Democratic Party presidential nominee.

This exchange highlighted as clearly as anything else the divide within the American Left – the establishment, coastal Left and the once solid-Democrat heartland left-behinds, if you will. The likes of Chris Hayes (and that mainstream brand of left-wing thinking for which he is a mouthpiece) simply cannot understand why a rational voter would spurn the boring, uninspiring technocrat put forward by the Democrats when the consequence of not voting was the election of Donald Trump. Despite having heard testimony from many people about the long-standing issues and decline facing the town – issues which ate away at the community throughout President Obama’s two terms – Hayes was seemingly unable to understand that another continuity technocrat offering more of the same was the last thing that this community wanted or needed.

Michael Moore cut to the heart of the issue:

Why did people stay home knowing that the result was going to be possibly Donald J. Trump? That’s some serious anger at what the system has done to fail this city.

 

Like most people, I have my issues with Michael Moore. But credit where it is due – Moore was warning about the dangerous complacency of the Democrats and the visceral anger against the status quo in many communities at a time when establishment leftists were rolling out the grand coronation of Hillary Clinton, oblivious of (or unconcerned by) her utter lack of popularity among people who were sufficiently left-wing and non-racist to cast their prior votes for Barack Obama.

Nobody of any significance on the mainstream Left heeded Michael Moore’s warning to take the Donald Trump threat seriously before the election, and the past two years have been their reward. And even now, in the middle of a pilgrimage to a part of middle America which shrugged its shoulders and abandoned the Democratic Party in 2016, still the chief attitude is one of incredulity that people could have been so stupid / naive / selfish / childish / utopian (delete as applicable) as to demand a Democratic candidate in possession of a clear set of guiding principles and an understanding that globalization has been eating away at towns like Flint as surely as is their contaminated water.

Technocracy is not always a bad thing – at a time when regulations and systems of government are infinitely more complex through necessity, experts are needed to administer the system and keep the machinery of state running effectively. However, technocracy is not well-suited to navigating through periods of disruptive change or crisis. What works well when the economy is in steady-state and there are no significant changes afoot in society or industry does not work well when the economy is in difficulty or when huge realignments are taking place on the national and international level.

Conservative scaremongering about her supposed extreme socialism aside, Hillary Clinton was the quintessential technocratic candidate at a time when the people of Michigan and elsewhere needed a candidate who recognized that for them, the status quo was not something to celebrate and build upon; that the structural changes which had delivered nothing but good things for the likes of Chris Hayes and many of us “coastal elites” were not necessarily anything to celebrate in places like Flint.

More than one of the people interviewed on MSNBC who did not vote in the 2016 presidential election have themselves run for public office in the months since. There is no crisis of political engagement or motivation here. There was only a crisis of ignorance and arrogance among a party hierarchy which believed it could impose their preferred candidate and have people like the inhabitants of Flint, Michigan swallow their distaste and offer up their vote.

And after spending a day in Flint in the company of Michael Moore, I am not sure that Chris Hayes, his core audience or anyone within the Democratic Party leadership are any closer to grasping this essential fact.

 

Michael Moore - Chris Hayes - Flint

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More Praise For The Vatican

Well, for its current occupant, to be more precise. MSNBC host Chris Hayes (who mirrors his mentor Rachel Maddow in speech and writing to a remarkable degree), is the latest to fall under the spell of Pope Francis I, for many of the same reasons that this blog has praised the new pontiff.

francis1

Hayes gushes:

You know who I freakin’ love? This new pope. Pope Francis. You know who I’m talking about, right? The pope. Are you watching this guy? Because you should be. It’s early, but I’m thinking… best pope ever.

That’s original emphasis, by the way. Aside from the redundancy of explaining to his viewers and readers that Pope Francis is indeed the pope, the style is just like Rachel Maddow Mark 2, right? The stylistic similarities between Maddow and her protege are quite astounding. But I digress. Hayes also picks up on the new pope’s penchant for making cold-calls to the faithful who write to him of their problems:

Perhaps most amazing of all: the pope is now picking up the phone and calling people who write to him for advice and prayers—earning him the nickname “Cold Call Pope.” He phoned a woman who had been raped by a police officer in Argentina, telling her she was not alone, and to have faith in the justice system.

He’s comforted a pregnant woman whose married boyfriend tried to pressure her into an abortion, Francis offering to personally baptize her baby.

He also rightly picks up on Francis’ more humble demeanor:

He showed up to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, not in the imposing Popemobile, but in the back of a rental car. He’s not above taking a selfie with the kids. He plans on driving a used car around town. And he’s urged others to do the same: ”It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”

francis2

The one area where Hayes and I differ is the degree to which this wonderful, welcome rhetorical shift will actually lead to any significant step change in Church doctrine or Vatican policy. Hayes says this in his article:

But Francis has also shown he’s pretty good substantively, as well. On the once taboo subject of homosexuality, Francis told reporters: ”If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Clearly, he sees this as something substantive, but I find it hard to apply that term unless there are meaningful changes afoot to reform Church teachings on gay marriage, the ordination of women priests and other such issues – something that is clearly not on the horizon.

Nevertheless, I join Chris Hayes in celebrating the warmer, more inclusive tone now emanating from the Vatican. May it spread down from Pope Francis to his brother cardinals, the archbishops, bishops, priests and of course the laity, where it might really start to do some good.

Some interesting and fun Pope Francis memes can be found here.