Media, culture, and politics from an aesthetic-materialist's perspective.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Roadkill Politics

Lorien Olive has started a new blog that tackles recent political news stories from a white working-class perspective. It's called Roadkill Politics, and as Lorien makes clear in her first post, she started her blog in response to the controversy surrounding Barack Obama's comments on the "bitterness" of white working-class voters in Pennsylvania, leading up to that state's important, possibly decisive, Democratic primary on April 22, 2008. Where Hillary Clinton and a number of commentators have criticized Obama for his supposed elitism, Lorien sees an opportunity to engage with white working-class politics -- not as a liberal or populist sound byte but as a complex, multifaceted domain of interests which usually gets reduced to the low expectations of the redneck or hillbilly bumpkin. Indeed, in Lorien's words, politics-as-usual "reduces [working-class whites] to a voting bloc to be stereotyped and wooed for the political purposes of individuals, a practice that has been and continues to be used to address all marginalized populations in this country, and is equally despicable in its every iteration."

In a more recent post, Lorien takes on Hillary's staged camaraderie with the very working-class folk whom she had accused Obama of denigrating. Lorien asks whether Hillary's performance of having shots with "the guys" is itself a demonstrable form of denigration (via pandering). Between Obama's ruffling some feathers with his comments and Hillary's insincere identification with working-class folk, I'd say at least Obama gives us a set of political questions to debate and work through -- whereas Hillary leaves us with a bad episode of Roseanne.

In another post, Lorien deconstructs bloggers' comments on Michelle Obama's presence on the campaign trail, which range in racist content from patronizing liberalism to vilifying condemnation. Lorien critiques bloggers' comparison of Michelle Obama to Omarosa (of Apprentice fame), suggesting that an old stereotype from the halcyon days of radio (Amos 'n' Andy) is in wide circulation these days among those who feel threatened by the figure of the "uppity" black woman. Here Lorien's thoughts on the intersection of race, class, and gender in American politics and culture remind me of the work done by Stuart Hall during the dark days of Thatcherism and Hortense J. Spillers' radical and much-understudied political essays "Inauguration Day 2001" and "The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Post-Date."

Check out Roadkill Politics and have fun perusing Lorien's thoughts on sundry political topics. It's an engaging read, and you're sure to find lots of stuff in there to mull over, say amen to, and otherwise engage with as a politically curious person.

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