Michael Phillips, Jacobin - Trump’s rise ... has unleashed a cascade of contempt for white working-class voters. In the aftermath of the election, Kali Holloway, a senior writer at AlterNet, treated racism as a disease pandemic among the white proletariat, asking in one column that people “Stop asking me to empathize with the white working class.”
Writers like Holloway spent 2016 depicting Trump’s electoral successes as symptoms of white working-class dysfunction, ignoring that Trump voters earned a higher-than-average median income (about $70,000), that Trump won a plurality of voters earning $100,000 and above, and that Trump carried the votes of more white college graduates than Hillary Clinton.
Demonizing the white working class as disproportionately prone to white supremacist thinking serves a reactionary political agenda. It delegitimizes the economic pain suffered by the white working class in an age of mounting debt, downward mobility, decreasing life expectancy, and shrinking opportunity. (“Be happy for coal miners losing their health insurance. They’re getting exactly what they voted for,” Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas proclaimed in one recent post.) It makes it easier to dismiss the grievances of white workers as racial backlash, mere tribal scapegoating.
Too many imagine that the occupants of what Clinton called “a basket of deplorables” toil in vanishing Rust Belt factories, auto plants, or Christ-haunted and gun-toting farming communities.