What's the Matter with White People?
Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was
by Joan Walsh
Pub Date 28 Aug 2012
The size and stability of the American middle class was once the envy of the world. But changes unleashed in the 1960s pitted Americans against one another politically in new and destructive ways—while economically, everyone fell behind except the wealthy.
Right-wing culture warriors blamed the decline on the moral shortcomings of "other" Americans—blacks, feminists, gays, immigrants, union members —to court a fearful white working and middle class base with ever more bitter "us" vs. "them" politics. Liberals tried but mostly failed to make the case that we're all in this together. In All for None and None for All, MSNBC political analyst and popular Salon columnist Joan Walsh traces this deeply disturbing dynamic as it has played out over the last forty years, dividing the country, poisoning its politics, jeopardizing its future—and splitting her working class Irish Catholic family as well.Connects the dots of American decline through trends that began in the 1970s and continue today—including the demise of unions, the stagnation of middle class wages, the extension of the right's "Southern Strategy" throughout the country, the victory of Reagan Republicanism, the widening partisan divide, the increase in income inequality, and the drop in economic mobility. Shows how liberals unwittingly collaborated in the "us" vs. "them" narrative and failed to develop an inspiring, persuasive vision of a more fair, united America Explores how the GOP's renewed culture war—one which could conceivably make Rick Santorum president, and produced radical changes in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia—now scapegoats even segments of its base, as it blames the troubles of working class whites on their own moral failings rather than an unfair economy
As the United States becomes a "majority-minority" culture, while the GOP doubles down on racial and cultural appeals to rev up its demographically threatened white base in 2012, Walsh talks about race in honest, unflinching, unfamiliar terms, acknowledging not just Republican but Democratic Party political mistakes—and her own. This book will be essential reading as the country struggles through political polarization and racial change to invent the next America in the years to come.