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White Working Class Problems

Harold Meyerson had a great column in the Washington Post this morning, “America’s White Working Class is a Dying Breed.”


Basically, Meyerson lays out the many ways in which the economic situation has deteriorated for the white working class — generally defined in studies as non-college educated whites — thanks to the decisions of Big Moneyed elites, who oppose unions, higher wages, benefits packages, pensions, basically anything that cuts into their bottom lines.

It was not always that way. Working people did quite well before Reagan:

Like the yeoman farmer in the 19th century, the white worker of the mid-20th century was the protagonist of the American saga. Members of the white working class were the linchpin of the New Deal coalition, the guys who fought and won World War II (well, if you ignored those Americans shunted to the all-black units), the Riveting Rosies who built those guys’ armaments, the postwar factory workers who made the goods we sold to the world at the height of U.S. economic power and, in consequence of their high levels of unionization, the world’s most affluent and economically secure working class from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Now that dream is gone, and white working people are not only feeling the crunch but they are starting to die at higher rates as well. It’s not hard to imagine why — given the jobless recovery, foreclosure crisis, the demands of midlife, etc.

Yet the white working class often votes Republican, the party of Big Money!

At first I was stunned to learn that the white working class is one of Trump’s largest constituencies, but at least he speaks to some of their grievances.

If the Left hopes to build momentum in this country, we need to appeal to the white working class, and I believe the economic populism of Bernie Sanders’s is our best chance to do that. He could pull a lot of people away from Trump.

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