Why Is Matt Yglesias?

Culture Wars

In an interview this weekend with The Sunday Times, Matt Damon, a 50-year-old adult man, revealed that he just very recently learned, from his daughter, that it's not okay to use the gay slur "f-----t.". In the year 2021.

While the reaction from most people online was shock that it had taken this long for this information to reach Matt Damon — who, as far as we know, is not a time-traveler — along with confusion over why he would even share that story in the first place, one man bravely stood out from the rest and suggested Damon ought to run for office.

That man was Matt Yglesias, who was not brave enough to not delete the tweets after he was roundly mocked for them.


Matt Yglesias

"Matt Damon is the candidate Democrats need to win back more voters in that top-left box from the Voter Study Group," Yglesias tweeted. "Very passionate about minimum wage and labor issues."

"Check out his MIT commencement address (and sporadic un-woke gaffes) and tell me this isn't a populist winner," he recommended.

The point here, I take it, is that the voters Democrats "need to win back" are people who for some reason have the compassion to understand why it is hard for someone to live on the minimum wage, but who lack the humanity required to see why they should not use gay slurs or racial epithets. Oh! And who are won over by "populist" MIT commencement addresses from Hollywood celebrities. Quite the Venn Diagram there.

Someone with a brain asked Yglesias, "What we need is more politicians who are comfortable calling people faggots, do I have that right Matt?"

"Not politicians comfortable calling people faggots, politicians who *only just recently* became uncomfortable and thus make people with retrograde cultural views feel comfortable with him," Yglesias responded.

Oh, people with "retrograde cultural views," hmm? Like assuming all people with "retrograde cultural views" are working class, or that the working class is just too deeply enamored of gay slurs to vote for people who will raise the minimum wage?

Are those who "only just recently" became uncomfortable with calling people "f----ts" supposed to have some special insight into the wants and desires of these unknowable mysterious creatures?

There is a particular class of pundits -- most of whom, like Yglesias, come from relatively well-off backgrounds or who have been rich long enough to not know anyone who could even be reasonably described as middle-class -- who have fallen desperately in love with a particular narrative about the working class and what Democrats ought to do to appeal to them.

From what they can tell, all working class people are white, male, heterosexual, flannel-wearing union members who didn't go to college, and who, though they love their private health insurance companies, would be open to some very modest left-leaning economic changes, but are put off of voting for Democrats because of "wokeness." Apparently they just love using racial epithets and slurs and generally being Archie Bunker too much! They also use this to describe literally every single person in the entire Midwest.

Curiously, the exact hypothetical Democratic politicians who will appeal to this lot will also appeal to the WASP-y suburban Republican soccer moms who think the GOP has gone "too crazy." Of course some of that population is literally Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Michele Bachmann, or Sarah Palin.

Even more curiously, these hypothetical dream candidates would also advocate for policies that would not substantially infringe upon the wealth of the same pundits so certain these candidates are the key to unlocking those sweet= demographics.

Do I have that right?

Now, I get it. Matt Yglesias likely does not actually know any of the working class people of whom he so confidently speaks. He went to Dalton and Harvard, his dad was a screenwriter and novelist and pretty much everyone in his family has a Wikipedia entry. He gets his intel on "real people" from polls and sitcoms. But does he really have to be this insulting to so many people?

His point seems to be that LGBTQ people — and, we can assume, POC and all women — need to put their interests and desire for respect on the backburner for a minute so Democratic politicians reel in these other people who may or may not vote for them. Which is pretty goddamned insulting. And yet, in doing that, he's simultaneously insulting the working class, which is actually a whole lot more diverse than he seems to think.

Throwing a friend under the bus in hopes of appealing to someone who doesn't even like you is not just a shitty thing to do, it never works out and it certainly never makes anyone else think you are cool or want to hang around with you. This is a thing Matt Yglesias would understand if he saw people as human beings instead of demographics and sitcom characters.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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