To win in 2018 and especially 2020, Democrats need more identity politics — not less. They must address the widespread working-class revolt against global elites. Doing so is a pressing issue because in four years the Electoral College will again give outsize power to the working-class whites in Rust Belt states who delivered the last election to Mr. Trump. We need to listen to their concerns for reasons that are both strategic and ethical.
Strategic first. If Mr. Trump wins the next election, that will guarantee Republicans long-term control of the Supreme Court — not to mention the continuing negative impact on immigrants, minorities, L.G.B.T.Q. people, women and the poor, all of whom are taking a hiding under Mr. Trump.
But ethical considerations are even more important. As a progressive, I am committed to social equality — not just for some groups, but for all groups. That’s why we must attend to what the sociologists Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb call the “hidden injuries of class.”
Politically, the biggest “hidden injury” is the hollowing out of the middle class in advanced industrialized countries. For two generations after World War II, working-class whites in the United States enjoyed a middle-class standard of living, only to lose it in recent decades. Does their sense of entitlement reflect white privilege? Sure it does. Even in the glory days, when blue-collar whites’ wages were spiraling up and the Federal Housing Administration was helping them buy homes, those jobs and houses were not equally available to African-Americans.
Joan C. Williams, “The Dumb Politics of Elite Condescension”, The New York Times (28 May 2017), SR4.