Joan C. Williams/Atlantic with an interesting but flawed piece:
All told, I’ve spent a good deal of the past two years talking with progressives about the broken relationship between elite white people and the white working class. (I use the term working class to refer to Americans with household incomes between the 30th and 80th percentiles. This group, which has median earnings of about $75,000, is also commonly referred to as the “middle class.”) Democrats presently have a unique opportunity to appeal to the working class, because their base is newly open to a populist message: Income inequality has gotten so bad that people across the political spectrum, college-educated and non-college-educated alike, are feeling a serious pinch. Bernie Sanders got 72 percent of the votes from Democrats under 30 in the 2016 primaries in part by decrying the rigged economy. In the past three decades, education costs have nearly tripled at public universities and doubled at private ones; at the same time, too many people with a college degree are settling for jobs that don’t require one. Unemployment may be low, but the median real wage has remained flat since Trump’s election. Housing costs, meanwhile, continue to rise. In 2014, the General Social Survey found that only 35 percent of Millennials described themselves as middle-class, down from 46 percent of similarly aged people in 2002.
All of this should add up to explosive potential for Democrats. But many appear to be taking the wrong lessons from recent political turmoil. As of this writing, the results of the midterm elections are unknown, but one thing is clear: Democrats have banked a lot on the prospect that their voters’ anger can outmatch the anger of the voters who propelled Trump to office. Whether or not this strategy wins a given election, writing off an ocean of rural and Rust Belt red is a terrible strategy in the long term. If the Democrats want to win and keep winning, with a mandate to put their policies into effect, they need to face four hard truths.
Our gains were in the Midwest, and not just in the suburbs. Our anger did outmatch theirs. And our focus was on health care, not race. We won. But there are some interesting points in there.
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