Writes Katrina vandal Heuvel in "A progressive’s answer to Trumpism":
For Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, the lesson of 2016 should not be that Trump voters are irredeemable. It should be that by paying more attention to the plight of blue-collar workers, and offering inclusive solutions to the great challenges roiling our country and the world, they have a real opportunity to expand the Obama coalition of minorities and young people who make up the Democratic base today.
Doing more to reverse the "plight of blue-collar workers" is of course a conscientious goal in itself, no matter the politics. But as a matter of politics? As Fareed Zakaria argues in a recent Foreign Affairs essay:
[T]he crucial difference between the left and the right today is cultural. Despite what one sometimes hears, most analyses of voters for Brexit, Trump, or populist candidates across Europe find that economic factors (such as rising inequality or the effects of trade) are not the most powerful drivers of their support. Cultural values are. The shift began … in the 1970s, when young people embraced a postmaterialist politics centered on self-expression and issues related to gender, race, and the environment. They challenged authority and established institutions and norms, and they were largely successful in introducing new ideas and recasting politics and society. But they also produced a counterreaction. The older generation, particularly men, was traumatized by what it saw as an assault on the civilization and values it cherished and had grown up with. These people began to vote for parties and candidates that they believed would, above all, hold at bay these forces of cultural and social change.
For the Democratic Party, "these people," politically, are gone. Again, that doesn't mean the economics of their plight are to be ignored; it's just that Democrats' favor won't be reciprocated at the voting booth. This is the key insight that Republican pols cynically perceived long ago, and powerfully exploited.