A message to my fellow liberals: Working people are getting angrier and angrier

It seems to be therapeutic to many of my friends to have their beliefs reinforced each night that anyone who complains about shutdowns is unintelligent or malevolent.

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Demonstrators in Chicago protest Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. Many people, writes Richard J. Gonzalez, “haven’t seen a paycheck in two months.”

Scott Olson/Getty

I am a card-carrying liberal. As in a Ted Kennedy/George McGovern/Elizabeth Warren liberal. The last time I voted for a Republican was — just once — for Jim Thompson for governor. I don’t know what came over me.

I’m also an employee-side employment lawyer and employment law teacher at Chicago-Kent College of Law. For every single day of the past several weeks, I have spoken with employees who either are not allowed to return to work or cannot because their workplace is closed. And I have a message for my fellow liberals — these folks are becoming angrier and angrier.

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Meanwhile, President Donald Trump recently seems to have found his message: “I am on your side. Democrats and the liberal media don’t want you to have a job.” And Jared Kushner has named Democrats “the eternal shutdown crowd.”

This aligns well with the nightly barrage of gloom and doom from CNN and MSNBC. Every night, my liberal friends love to watch Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, et. al. who — while begrudgingly admitting that the pandemic statistics are looking somewhat better — emote a level of condescension and disdain toward unemployed folks who are losing their patience.

It seems to be therapeutic to many of my friends to have their beliefs reinforced each night by liberal media, who mirror their very strong opinion that anyone who complains about shutdowns is unintelligent or — worse — malevolent.

I love the interview segments with “ordinary people,” which always go something like this:

“So, Mr. Jones, you seem to making the argument that if you were permitted to return to your workplace, it would somehow benefit you. Our viewers (who are paid to work from home in their pajamas) may not be following that.Can you explain better what you are trying to say?”

And I love the always popular sanctimonious confrontations with people who have actually ventured out to bars or restaurants in other states.

Liberals continue to scratch their heads over the 2106 election. “How can people be so stupid?” they ask.

Well, as I say, I am in daily communication with increasingly frustrated and impatient ex-employees. These are folks who haven’t seen a paycheck in two months, cannot even get through — by phone or on-line — to the tremendously overburdened Illinois Department of Employment Security to file an unemployment compensation claim, and who can’t afford to have pricey meals delivered to their doors.

A remark from one of them to me last week was telling. The caller said, “You know, I never cared for Trump and I sat out the last election. But it seems like he is the only one fighting for us lately.”

As one liberal friend commented to me, “That guy is so stupid.”

Yes, he is one of the “deplorables.”

Good luck in November, liberals, if we don’t find a way to refine our message.

Richard J. Gonzalez is a professor of law at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

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