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Men to the right, women to the left - #373

When I regularly read the news, while I tend to know what things are happening, I often lack any sense of why. The Wall Street Journal's coverage of the market peels back one layer from whatever the spot prices are, but seldom further than that. Politico has up-to-the-minute statuses and feelings from politicians and proposals of all sorts, but you get the feeling you're watching the waves but missing the tide.

I've written and linked to a fair number of political pieces in the eight years of sending this email. A fair fraction of them do not stand the test of time: a lot of the things journalists thought might happen didn't; a lot of the causes whose effects we thought we knew didn't pan out. There's a lot of well-written tick-tock. They're interesting in the moment but don't add up to all that much later on. The ideas that stick in my memory are the bigger ones: tectonic shifts in what it meant to be on the American right (conservative to reactionary) or the clearer apparent impact of one's class on one's politics. These are the tides: slow, big shifts that'll change everything. I found more of these ideas in books or excerpts thereof than I ever did in pieces written on deadline, however well done.

Want a shift that seems more tide than wave? How about a multi-decade shift in an ideological gender gap: women to the left, men to the right. This trend is apparently both global and accelerating. And as formerly apathetic men join politics, their tendencies appear to be a bit ... extreme. The author of the first essay linked below suggests that as some previously disengaged men find their political voice, they're using politics to make up for a deep loss of meaning:

Many men in our society are feeling lost, hopeless, and helpless at being unable to articulate their problems in the face of a society focused elsewhere.

If these are the new supporters of the political right, then it's little wonder the right is losing its way.

Lest you think I'm a studious demographer, the second essay linked below is a discussion of where the new class lines might be drawn and how the new worker class (drivers) will influence our politics. Michael Lind, who has appeared here a few times before, thinks that the western world's factory workers of the mid-century have been replaced by long-haul truckers and shorter-haul delivery drivers. Trucks have replaced factories as the physical place where the working class can pinch the middle and upper classes. The new picket line is a trucker refusing to make his delivery.

Unlike most pieces on such protests, Lind treats the truckers fairly generously, understanding their perceived lack of autonomy and granting the point that governments tend to make these people's lives harder while protecting the middle and upper classes. Certainly this is a recurring flashpoint in our politics. Whether and how these emerging class lines intersect with the emerging ideological gender gap will define the political tide of the coming decades.



Why Men Are Drifting to the Far Right

Many men are falling behind. They need meaning and belonging.




Road Warriors: The New Proletariat

Why the truck and tractor are replacing the picket line—and what that says about our politics.