It seems to be common knowledge now that the Democrats lost the election because poor whites voted against them. (I also think that maybe millennials were indifferent and didn’t bother to vote, but I’ve seen no one else voice that opinion yet.) It’s easy to see why they voted against them, given remarks about the “deplorables” and the number of times they were berated for their white privilege (while their lack of class privilege was not mentioned). It’s just a really bad idea to bash poor people. (Isn’t this the “punching down” that Garry Trudeau condemned, thus excusing the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists?) But I want to say further that the Democrats’s attitude was one of bigotry against poor whites. It’s a type of both racism and classism (and if Democrats don’t think that anyone can be racist against poor whites, the Republicans will be happy because it will mean Democrats will continue to lose elections). To put it as starkly as possible, Democrats don’t believe that poor whites have the right to vote in their own self-interest. This borders on the aristocratic. Consider these attitudes:
Feminists: Poor whites were obligated to vote for Hillary so that there could be a woman president. Never mind that she wasn’t going to do anything for them and was even going to hurt a lot of them (such as those in the coal industry in West Virginia, which had the second highest percentage of voters voting for Trump after Wyoming). They simply needed to get behind a woman.
Blacks: Anyone who votes for Trump is a racist.
Latinos: Anyone who votes for Trump is a racist.
Gays, lesbians, etc: Anyone who votes for Trump is homophobic.
Environmentalists: Helping the environment is more important than helping you.
These are not actual quotes, but they seem to encapsulate the attitudes of the various groups. And they are all aristocratic attitudes. If there’s anyone who has a right to vote in their own self-interest, it is poor people. Believing otherwise is heresy in a democracy, but no doubt would be taken for granted among the aristocrats of Old Europe, where voting didn’t even exist.
Let me also remind Democrats that these were the same people who helped the Democrats win a number of elections. In fact, beginning in 1932 when the Democrats liked these voters, they won seven out of nine elections. The tide turned after 1964 when it became clear to poor whites that the Democrats no longer liked them very much. Since 1968, the Democrats have won only five out of thirteen elections, and two of these were with Bill Clinton, who had figured out that he needed to get poor whites on his side.
Some of course will say that poor whites will get a better deal from the Democrats than from the Republicans, but I argued against that in my last book. If you look specifically at the coal industry, it is hard to understand why anyone would say such a thing. But Democrats keep believing it.
Others talk about an emerging Democratic majority. Well, it hasn’t appeared yet, and may not appear until 2040. What will the Democrats do in the meantime? Will they continue vilifying the people who could help them win?