Healing the Resentments that Cleave Us

January 11, 2021

I’m working to help get more wind turbines and solar farms sited around the upper Midwest, mostly in my home state of Michigan.
Climate change is obviously a primary driver, but it’s not the only one.

You don’t have to spend much time in rural areas to understand there are problems. The same kinds of ills that devastated cities in the 80s and 90s now plague small towns from Ohio to Minnesota. Manufacturing jobs that once paid a living wage are gone, the farm economy exists but farmers themselves are going bankrupt at record rates. Schools are closing and consolidating, as young people leave and don’t come back.

Yet there’s a lot that’s good here.
It’s beautiful, for one thing. People want to live here, if they can make it.
How to bring those economies back to life?
Renewable energy is one way. We’re looking at a brand new 300 million dollar wind project about to start up just to the south of me. The coal-backed astro-turfed group that tried to stop it is still angry, and they’ll be back, but we’re turning the page on them.

Art Cullen is editor of the Storm Lake Times in Northwest Iowa. I don’t agree with some of the specifics he mentions here, but the gist is spot on.

Art Cullen in the Washington Post:

STORM LAKE, IOWA — I kept looking for someone I knew as I watched protesters crash through the Capitol windows. They all seemed so familiar. People from my little town in Northwest Iowa were out in D.C. to protest. These graybeards in flannels, MAGA caps and camo pants? I know and grew up with them. Would most be incited by the president to risk prison by ransacking Congress? I wouldn’t bet on it.

A man popped into the live TV feed from inside the building who claimed:

“The government did this to us.”

What did the government do? He never got that far before disappearing. He should be found and jailed. Then, we should earnestly ask ourselves what he was talking about, because that guy shares a perspective with tens of millions who think they somehow got cheated.

Well, they have been cheated over the past half-century, while fed a steady diet of baloney about welfare queens and immigrant marauders, in part to keep the working class fighting among each other.

The average blue-collar manufacturing wage around here is about $18 per hour, barely enough to get by. Those union jobs in the industrial heartland that once paid double that are long lost, south of the border or to China. Ottumwa, Iowa, once a manufacturing hub, is half its size from 50 years ago. Capital flows to the coasts. We get left with hog confinements and the manure that goes with them.

It breeds a resentment that fosters racism and rage. Jobs in meatpacking pay half what they did when I was in high school in 1975. Immigrants moved in, and the Anglos either bailed out for the big city or stayed behind, nursing a grudge. Some of them get mad enough to grab a gun.

President-elect Joe Biden has an opportunity to grab us by the shoulders and challenge us to look at ourselves. Georgia voters delivered control of the Senate to Biden’s party, but he will need to speak to the disaffected who have been led to believe they are disenfranchised — when, as always, it is the poor person of color whose franchise is at stake.

Biden campaigned on unifying the nation through shared prosperity and security for everyone — rural and urban, Black and White, men and women. At the same time, our very existence is in peril from global heating. Biden’s goal of transforming the economy to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is the principal cure. He proposes a massive infrastructure program starting immediately to build out a wind and solar smart grid that will jolt economies from Appalachia to the Great Plains into a prosperity never before witnessed.

hese are among the conclusions of a team of Princeton University energy experts who issued a December report about what it will take to save the planet from overcooking.

Their plan: Farmers now growing corn for ethanol will be able to earn far more by growing grass to make hydrogen. High-paying jobs in renewable energy will quadruple from Iowa to Ohio to Georgia. Texas will morph into the carbon-holding and hydrogen-converting capital of the world. West Virginia’s coal jobs will be replaced by people making jet fuel from hemp or switchgrass. All without giving up an acre currently devoted to food production. We can feed and power the world sustainably.

The Southeast can be reforested. Coal and fracking jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio will be replaced and expanded by solar and wind. Underground storage and pipelines to transport carbon dioxide and hydrogen will be built from the Industrial Midwest to the Gulf Coast.

This would put the places forgotten by time back in the center of the action. Corporations know what is coming and are lining up. Cargill, Xcel Energy, General Mills, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission are ready to profit from the Great Transition.

Somebody making $75,000 in Arkansas producing biofuel is far less likely to waste time protesting phony election fraud.

That’s how we quash the resentments that cleave us.

10 Responses to “Healing the Resentments that Cleave Us”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    “Biden campaigned on unifying the nation through shared prosperity and security for everyone”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Good one.

    Biden campaigned on the same oligarchic lies as all the others do. What the hell is everybody smoking that makes them believe this right wing ass?

    “All without giving up an acre currently devoted to food production. ”

    Well, we’re either giving up wildland, food-producing land, or land already producing corn for ethanol, industrial stocks, and oil that should be returned to wildness. Biofuel and hydrogen ARE fraud. Maybe those are the specifics that ain’t right.

    • doldrom Says:

      Biden will deliver to the National Security State corporatocracy complex that funded him and the traditional Delaware domiciled (no usury prosecution) financial interests for which he was the dedicated used car salesman. American politics responds to the donor/owner class, the rest is window-dressing to win elections.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      I believe Biden is sincere in his intent, but that won’t be worth a giant hill of burning soybeans if the RW media continues to promote incendiary BS.

      Besides Fox News, so many of the local news stations are owned by the Sinclair Group, which pushes out prepackaged propaganda under the veneer of local news and opinion.

      Maybe maybe maybe the Right Wing will finally fracture in the Trump aftermath, but unless that happens the Biden administration will face the same GOP headwind that the Obama admin saw.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Yes, he’s sincere in his intent, and he’s even told you what it is. See the video below.

        How people can keep deceiving themselves about the fundamentally right wing gray Democrats is beyond me.


        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Sure. Biden the Oligarch is pushing for COVID recovery checks for the middle class, a faster immunization schedule for everybody, actual climate action for everybody.

          But he is an oligarch because he isn’t perfect.

          You are not helping.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            I have to think you believe that because, like most people, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of
            1. the direness of the problem and the speed with which it will destroy civilization and most life on Earth, and
            2. the nature and functioning of the oligarchic duopoly party.

            Isn’t perfect??? Ignoring the nature of the oligarchic Democrats isn’t helping. Thinking of mortal enemies of all life as allies isn’t helping.

            They will never agree to any real solutions.

            When a carbon price might have worked, they wouldn’t even discuss it. 20 years later, when it was too late for it to make any difference, they “tried” it, although they have a very strong track record of only passing progressive things when they know the Republicans will stop them. Now, 12 years on from that, when a carbon price is way too little too late, they’re beginning to consider it… oh yeah, except they have to get Manchin and the other blue dogs on board and way more Republicans than will ever do it, so it will have to be weak and slow.

            20 years from now when it’s too late to do anything, maybe they’ll try to pass a Green New Deal and the Republicans will offer (and then fight viciously against) a carbon price. $5 a tonne, maybe.

            Why are they in this position, where they barely rule the Senate, lost seats in the House and squeaked by in the electoral college? Because like the Republicans, they lied, cheated, manipulated, collaborated, and stole the nomination from the only one of their 87 presidential candidates who understands and speaks up for the real solutions. And because they refused almost across the board to embrace the set of extremely, bipartisanly popular* measures that would have won them all 3 houses in a landslide. (An actual landslide, not another 55% squeaker)

            “Winning slowly is the same as losing.” Bill McKibben**
            Climate is a fundamentally different issue from almost any other. Its existential seriousness and the fact that it can’t be settled by compromise or incremental measures, and the utter, decades-long refusal of either major US party to admit that, means that unless we remove them all from power and replace them with people progressive enough to do what’s needed, we’ll fail completely.

            *among the electorate though not the oligarchy
            ** https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/bill-mckibben-winning-slowly-is-the-same-as-losing-198205/

            yet another warning

            dear boss i relay this information
            without any fear that humanity
            will take warning and reform

  2. Anthony William O'brien Says:

    Wealth differentials are well beyond sustainable and Biden will do nothing to correct that. Single payer health care would solve the unaffordability of medical treatment, Biden would never do that. Free university education based on merit would give the US a chance of staying in front of China, Biden would never do that. The US has a greater tonnage of aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined, this won’t change under Biden.

    Only in the US, or maybe Russia, would you consider Biden a progressive. He is a creature of the 1%. True he won’t send the US into oblivion as quick as the other side, but he will not correct the imbalances that are inevitably going to destroy the US.

    • doldrom Says:

      »» True he won’t send the US into oblivion as quick as the other side

      What makes you think that?

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      I don’t think anybody thinks Biden is a progressive, policy-wise. He does seem to be aware of social injustice, but his diverse cabinet will only serve to further alienate the resentful white Christians as their dominance further erodes.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Right wing nutcases think he’s progressive, so do many corporate Democrats, or at least they say so. His cabinet is a paen to tokenism and shows that as promised,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: