George Packer (Togo) on Hillary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton and the Populist Revolt

by George Packer (Togo 1982–83) at NewYorker.com

“The Democrats lost the white working class. The Republicans exploited it. Can Clinton win it back?”

PHOTOGRAPH BY PHILIP MONTGOMERY FOR THE NEW YORKER

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  • Thank you, John, for posting this article. It is provocative. It is important that George Packer, Charles Murray, Chris Matthews and Paul Theroux, all are RPCVs and all have focused, in different ways, on the disappearing working class, both black and white, in America.

    However, It is late in the game for Democrats to “discover” the working class made obsolete by age, automation and the transfer of jobs overseas. Matthews said recently on his TV show, that Democrats have to learn how to “talk’ to these people. Charles Murray, in his book, “Coming Apart” argued that we had to “make” the lower classes be just like he and his upper class cohorts – complete your education, get a job, marry before you have children, and go to church on Sunday. I think both reflect the old Peace Corps myth that Volunteers were “change agents” and we had to “change attitudes” and then the “poor” of the world would be just as successful as we were, if we could just find the right way to talk to them and influence their behavior.

    Paul Theroux has a perspective that I think is far more realistic. In his book, “The Deep South”, he traveled from Virginia to Arkansas, listening to people whose communities had been economically devastated. He listened, he observed and he wrote. He was a witness to a forgotten part of America, long before it suddenly became politically popular.

    Despite Charles Murray’s disengagement of Trump, I still think that if Trump is elected, Murray stands a good chance of being the next Peace Corps Director.

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