Want to understand Democrats’ problems with working people? Read this

If you’re struggling to understand how Donald Trump could even have a ghost of a chance to be our next president, read Democrat Cynthia Dill’s column in last weekend’s Maine Sunday Telegram. (Warning: progressives with high blood pressure should consult with a physician before attempting to read that column, assuming you can afford the deductible.)

Dill is the lawyer from Cape Elizabeth who got trounced in the 2012 race to succeed Olympia Snowe in the U.S. Senate (she finished third behind the victor, unenrolled pol Angus King, and Republican Charlie Summers, who earned more than twice as many votes as Dill did). Dill’s screed last Sunday is a textbook example of the elitism and disdain for working people that inspired independent voters and Dems unbeholden to the party establishment to rise en masse in support of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders this year, in Maine and across the country.

“Forget Bar Harbor or Nantucket,” Dill’s column begins, “I’m heading to sweltering Philadelphia on ‘vacation’ for the Democratic National Convention.” Dill notes that she plans to spend “thousands of dollars” on her trip, though she complains that even on that budget she’ll have to travel in the company of “hoards of strangers,” endure “sweaty crowds,” eat “expensive bad food” and stay in a hotel “near the airport.”

Pardon me if I can’t muster a lick of pity for Dill. I haven’t taken a “vacation” in years, and the prospect of blowing thousands of dollars on a jaunt to Nantucket is as realistic for me as a trip to the moon.

I’m hardly the only one in this situation. Last May, the newspaper Dill writes for reported the results of a poll that found that three-quarters of households earning less than $50,000 a year would have a hard time scrounging up $1,000 to cover an extraordinary expense. That applies to most families in Maine, where the median household income is under $50,000, but the poll also found that two-thirds of households making between $50,000 and $100,000 annually would be hard-pressed to come up with an extra grand, too.

Unlike Dill, the vast majority of people in Vacationland can’t even dream of spending several grand while not working for a week. Why? Because wages for nearly all classes of American workers have been stagnant or falling for decades, while salaries for those at the top of the corporate heap have skyrocketed. This is the point Sen. Sanders hammered on at every campaign appearance he made, and as we witnessed in Maine and elsewhere, that message inspired an enormous outpouring of enthusiastic support for his candidacy.

Bernie Sanders supporters protest in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Mark Kauzlarich | Reuters

Bernie Sanders supporters protest in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Mark Kauzlarich | Reuters

Sanders’ most ardent supporters, members of what Dill calls “the extreme left,” harbor a “resentment of success,” she wrote. “Anyone perceived to be ‘rich’ or found living in a nice town” — Cape Elizabeth, for example — “or driving a new car is suspect and there is bias against them. … The extremists occupying” — nice pun there — “the far left … gloss over their spasms of envy with self-righteous piety. They know better than you what it’s like to be poor — they’ve been doing it a long time.”

Indeed, we have.

Dill has some choice names for these poor political progressives who supposedly envy her success: “leftists,” “idiots,” “loons” and “bozos.” Bernie supporters are “just mad because they lost the primary,” Dill wrote. “I understand why they resent this, one more loss to toss on their lifetime’s heap.”

The “fringy elements” at both ends of the political spectrum share a “deep resentment toward elected officials who engage in the profession of governing,” Dill observed. By contrast, Dill writes that “it gives me chills thinking about casting a vote for the nomination of Hillary Clinton.”

The prospect of voting for Clinton leaves me cold, too. As we now know, thanks to Wikileaks, the big wigs running Dill’s party actively worked to subvert Sanders’ candidacy during the primary. The Democratic Party’s anti-democratic superdelegate system further subverted the will of working-class voters in order to sink Sanders and buoy Hillary, who’s hated almost as widely as Trump is across the country.

You’re damn right I resent that, Ms. Dill, but not because I’m poorer than you. I resent the fact your corrupt, dishonest party, which once purported to represent the will of working people, purposely sabotaged Sanders’ candidacy in favor of a warmonger beholden to Wall Street whose chance of beating Trump is significantly less than Sanders’ was, according to numerous polls.

If Trump does win, the resentment of those sweaty hoards of loony bozos beaten down by decades of economic repression may very well turn into outright rebellion. And in that case, I won’t envy you, Ms. Dill, because the “angry scrum of Bernie Bros,” as you called them, won’t be heading to the house I rent to loot and pillage. They’ll be kicking down your door.

Chris Busby

About Chris Busby

Chris Busby is editor and publisher of The Bollard, a monthly magazine about Portland. He writes a weekly column for the BDN.