Thanks to the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, the Republicans now have control of the presidency, the Senate, the House and most of the state governorships, legislatures and state houses. This is the first time during my time on earth that there has been such a limited about of Democrats in power.
And, according to political reports (and the opinions of many), the reason for so much loss of power for the Democrats can be contributed to one thing: the party will not win power until it successfully wins the “working class voters.”
Here’s the problem with that these days. Many working class white people abandoned their loyalties to the Democratic Party. Now, the phrase “working class” is actually one that describes a race-specific group.
What follows will often be a montage of clips showing white people working in factories or attending Donald Trump rallies, narrated by a discussion on how Trump succeeded in certain voting districts that Obama and Bill Clinton previously won. Again, these districts are primarily white districts, outside of America’s major cities, but the discussion, instead of using racial terms, has grown quite comfortable calling these voters “working class.”
But here’s the thing — working-class African-Americans voted for Hillary Clinton en masse. So did working-class Latinos and working-class Asians and working-class Native Americans and pretty much every non-white, working-class demographic in America. Here’s the rub. In an apparent attempt to not deal with the fact that it’s working-class white people who are abandoning the Democratic Party, the phrase “working class” is being used in place of the race-specific description.
This is a problem. Because here is what I know — when I get up at 6 or 7 a.m. and take the train to work in the morning in Brooklyn, the trains are packed with working-class voters, and they generally aren’t white. When I lived in Atlanta, and Kentucky, and Southern California, the early-morning streets and bus stops were clogged with workers, and they were rarely white.
Something ugly happens when “working class” becomes shorthand for white. It projects the very distinct impression that working people are white. And sure, white people work, but all over this country, including deep in red states, people of color are filling millions and millions of working-class jobs — in the service industry, factories, public service jobs, the health care industry and everything in between. And the overwhelming majority of those men and women voted for Hillary Clinton and down-ticket Democrats.