What's the Matter with White People?: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was

What's the Matter with White People?: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was

by Joan Walsh

Hardcover(First Edition)

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"In this wonderfully insightful book, Joan Walsh shows how America built a large and vibrant (although mostly white) middle class that fueled the greatest economic boom in history and made a reality of the American dream. Hers is the story of postwar America told through a working class New York Irish Catholic family whose political divisions mirrored the nation's. Moving and powerful, her account will help people of all races think through how we can build a just and prosperous multiracial America." — Robert B. Reich

"A brilliant and illuminating book about America since the upheavals of the '60s and '70s. What's the Matter with White People? is about the heart and soul of America, from our Founding Fathers to Hillary and Barack.It's about our middle class, which so recently flourished, and how it has been injured and diminished almost beyond repair by greed and racist fear-mongering. It's about America's greatness and delusion, the betrayal of the working class, and the fragmentation of the Democratic party. It's about how Walsh's own Irish Catholic family from New York was treated, responded and fared in the years between Richard Nixon and Barack Obama Walsh writes with passion, precision, and insight into how racism has made such a bold public comeback. Her book was heaven for a political junkie like me, somehow managing to be painful and exhilarating at the same time." —Anne Lamott

"Joan Walsh's reflections and observations from her personal journey as an Irish Catholic daughter of a Northeastern blue collar family provide a unique window into the hearts, aspirations, anguish, anger, fears, and pride of white working class voters during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. No one can properly understand current class politics and race relations in America unless they've read this book." — Dr. Clarence B. Jones

The size and stability of the American middle class were once the envy of the world. But changes unleashed in the 1960s pitted Americans against one another politically in new and destructive ways. These battles continued to rage from that day to now, while everyone has fallen behind economically except the wealthy. Right-wing culture warriors blamed the decline on the moral shortcomings of "other" Americans—black people, 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 What's the Matter with White People? , popular Salon columnist Joan Walsh argues that the biggest divide in America today is not about party or ideology, but about two competing narratives for why everything has fallen apart since the 1970s. One side sees an America that has spent the last forty years bankrupting the country providing benefits and advantages to the underachieving, the immoral, and the undeserving, no matter the cost to Middle America. The other sees an America that has spent the last forty years bankrupting the country providing benefits and advantages to the very rich, while allowing a measure of cultural progress for the different and the downtrodden. It matters which side is right, and how the other side got things so wrong.

Walsh 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 increase in income inequality, and the drop in economic mobility.

Citing her extended family as a case in point, Walsh shows how liberals unwittingly collaborated in the "us vs. them" narrative, rather than developing an inspiring, persuasive vision of a more fair, united America. She also explores how the GOP's renewed culture war

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118141069
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 08/28/2012
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

JOAN WALSH is editor at large of Salon and an MSNBC political analyst. She spent six years as Salon's editor in chief.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction 1

Part I Fact-Checking a Fractured Irish Fairy Tale 15

Part II Growing Up in Nixonland 61

Part III The Loneliness of the Reagan-Era Do-Gooder 117

Part IV Some of My Best Presidents Are Black 177

Part V What’s the Matter with White People? 235

Acknowledgments 255

Index 261

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"...thrilling and moving family and political memoir that will help those who read it decipher the political spectacle that will unfold over the next two months." (The San Francisco Chronicle, August 2012)

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Whats the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
RWRyley More than 1 year ago
After decades of government bashing by the right, white people have lost touch with some important 20th century history. Joan points out that it was government, after all, that enabled a generation of whites to climb the economic ladder with the New Deal, GI-Bill, and other post depression and post WW-II programs. Helping generations of whites with jobs to get through the depression with a variety of New Deal programs. The GI-Bill created tens of thousands of new college graduates. With government funding we built roads, hospitals, established Social Security to provide a level of retirement support. The middle working class was created and they largely identified with the Democratic Party as their standard of living improved. Walsh tells the story from the perspective of her Irish Catholic family. She shares all the fears and tribulations that arose out of the cultural changes 60s and 70s. We learn how Nixon's Republicans used the campus revolts to exploit middle class whites. They used fear of the civil rights movement to fool whites that equality for blacks meant less economic opportunity for whites. Joan walks us through to current times and the "majority vs minority" politics of division that threaten our future. The Republicans talk about "job creating" and "economic opportunity." In reality they spread images of a zero-sum game and then convince whites they're losing because others are taking what's theirs. Walsh shows us how it all happened. While Joan Wash makes no bones about being a progressive Democrat, she does not spare the Democratic Party. She points out crucial mistakes and how they have often played into the GOP's games of fear and division. If you want to know how it all happened and what we can do to fix it, this is the book. I consider it a must read in this political year of 2012.
winterbanyan More than 1 year ago
I didn't expect where this book was going, and I suspect the author didn't either. I came from a big Irish family, and this answered a lot of questions for me about the political changes I saw back in the 70s. But more than that, it's a loving story of a big family and its myths. I shed a few tears, too. Thanks, Ms. Walsh, for your searing honesty, your love and your understanding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent well written book. Ms. Walsh explains her premise in an interesting and entertaining manner. She is empathic and understanding of the subjects of her book. Recommend highly.
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Ms. Walsh have read my mind! Great insight!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go cash the welfare check and get some crack then have another dozen kids so we can pay for them too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liberal garbage dont bothet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
poorly written with multiple spelling errors and grammatical mistakes Besies,,Joan Walsh is a racist for not calling out White Liberal racism against one of her minions. I don't know when calling a Black man an Uncle Tom is not racist, but appearently Joan Walsh has no issues with it This is trash and its a shame trees died for this junk
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a waste of time and money