Here we go again.
At a recent campaign event in South Carolina, Jeb Bush was asked how he planned to include black people in his campaign and how he would appeal to black voters.
Bush responded, “Our message is one of hope and aspiration.” But–as Charles Blow noted in a recent column in the New York Times— he didn’t stop there. He continued: “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”
Shades of Mitch Romney, his “makers” and “takers” and 47 percenters!
As Blow noted, this was not one of the unforced errors we’ve come to expect from “Jeb!” (And I thought he was supposed to be the smart one…)
And this is not some one-time slip of the tongue for Bush. In Bush’s book written two decades ago, “Profiles in Character,” he wrote: “Since the 1960s, the politics of victimization has steadily intensified. Being a victim gives rise to certain entitlements, benefits, and preferences in society. The surest way to get something in today’s society is to elevate one’s status to that of the oppressed. Many of the modern victim movements — the gay rights movement, the feminist movement, the black empowerment movement — have attempted to get people to view themselves as part of a smaller group deserving of something from society. It is a major deviation from the society envisioned by Martin Luther King, who would have had people judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin — or sexual preference or gender or ethnicity.”
What is it about privileged people that makes it so difficult for them to look at their fellow humans and see fellow humans? What makes them unable to see the systemic issues–economic downturns, jobs paying less than living wages, overt and structural discrimination–that disadvantage some people?
What is it about less fortunate people that elicits these sneering, patronizing stereotypes, rather than efforts to understand–let alone remedy–those systemic constraints?
What special kind of cluelessness makes a man born to wealth and privilege consider his own condition “earned success” that anyone might achieve?