"We have a political candidate who has divided the country into winners and losers, and believe me he didn't have to do that, because most of us think that way anyway."
If you understand this aspect of the American psyche, than you understand the Affordable Care Act "debate", you understand why Donald Trump became the Republican party's nominee, and you understand why our economic, political, and social problems will be so difficult to solve.
Gabler goes onto to say:
"Americans have always believed, and they've been, frankly, taught to believe ... that it's all on you ... if you're having financial difficulty, it is completely your fault. Because anybody can make it in this country, if you work hard enough, right? Well, I'm gonna tell you right now, and I'm resentful about this, and if I sound angry, I am angry. You can't work harder than I work. And it's not true. And you want to know something. If you talk to tens of millions of Americans, who work hard and don't live above their means. It's not true. And it's about time we deprogram ourselves from thinking if we work hard than we'll get everything we want. It's not true."
Nancy Isenberg said essentially the same thing in her interview on All Things Considered after discussing her new book White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.
"Well, I think Americans like to believe that they support the idea of equality. We think that equality is something that can be earned. This particularly from a more conservative point of view - the idea that if you work hard, you'll get ahead. We have to be more aware of our historical roots. We have to stop telling ourselves stories about American exceptionalism. We can't keep repeating those myths that we are a land of social mobility when we're not."
The connection between systems and the impact they have in our lives is either invisible or severely diminished in the eyes of individuals who subscribe to the winners and losers view of the world. That connection, however, is in fact quite real. The refusal to discard the winners and losers perspective in spite of everyone's undeniable need for government support has produced what Suzanne Mettler calls the submerged state.
By Ezra Klein
"The submerged state" is Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler's term for the slew of government policies that most Americans don't know exist or don't realize are government policies. As part of her paper -- gated, sadly -- exploring how these invisible programs affect the politics of social policy, she designed a study asking people first whether they'd ever used a government program and then later whether they had ever taken advantage of 19 specific programs. The percentage of people who didn't think they used government programs and then admitted using government programs is shockingly large. This graph tells the tale. For each program, it shows the percentage of people who said they used it but had originally said they hadn't used any government programs:
This slow recognition of America's less attractive cultural norms is interesting to watch. In a conversation on Morning Joe with the author of the book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
"You wonder," Joe Scarborough asked, "whether these people would be sitting at home all day shooting heroin if they had jobs to go to?"
How long have communities around the country suffered from these problems? Are we really coming around to acknowledging what's been happening for decades?
I wonder how long it will take us to acknowledge other fundamental realities about our country. Take our system of government, for instance. The United States of America is a constitutional republic. I'm willing to bet most Americans are unfamiliar with that term. Why? Well, not one story, not one narrative, exists around the notion constitutional republic. Most Americans believe candidates for office are chosen by the people, but, as this year has shown, votes in primaries and votes in caucuses are suggestions made by electorates to political parties, and the major two parties - the Democratic Party and the Republican Party - are private institutions. Leaders in these two parties are not bound by the suggestions made by the voters who participated in the primaries and in the caucuses.
That is a big part of the disconnect between the political class and electorates all around the country. There are at least two different America's: the America experienced by elites in control, and the America experienced by the rest of us.