The New York Times ran a Nate Cohn piece today that epitomizes the way conventional liberals spin American politics. On the one hand we have the turnout and voting preferences of people of color—blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans. On the other we have whites and, in particular, the white working class. Not much happened in the 2016 presidential election on the POC side, says Cohn; nearly all the movement was among working class whites.
I suppose it’s good that political discourse can now acknowledge the presence of a working class, at least where white people are concerned. Wouldn’t it be nice if they allowed people of other hues to be workers too?
Seriously, what’s the basis for dichotomizing the political terrain into race versus class? Why not examine not just white workers, but workers?
The issue is not simply how many nonwhite workers switched their vote to Trump or waited out the election altogether. The starting point should be that Trump ran the most openly racist presidential campaign since George Wallace, and this should have cost him big time among all the groups he disparaged—but it didn’t. So let’s do a class breakdown for nonwhite voters the way it’s now becoming fashionable to do for whites. How did Clinton do with working class black and Hispanic voters compared to more affluent POC? How does adding the nonwhite slices of the electorate change how we assess the role of the working class as a whole in electing Trump, if at all?
The working class is multiracial, and it is also a working class. There’s nothing either/or about it.