Paul Krugman dismisses Bernie Sanders's call for a populist Democratic Party that could recapture the white working class by "stand[ing] up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry." Krugman explains why he dismisses Sanders's populist program, which you can read in full for yourself, but here's one telling instance: Take "Clay County, [Kentucky], which the Times declared a few years ago to be the hardest place in America to live…. Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill. Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote."
In brief, the white working class rather consistently puts a gun to its (as well as our) head. As an ethnic class, it's economically irrational. "Trump Turning to Ultrawealthy to Steer Economic Policy," screams an above-the-fold NYT headline this morning — an act as predictable any other Trumpian con. Trickle-down conservative elitism has been hustled as a poor man's populism for decades, with predictably ruinous effect. And the suckers took the bait again.
About this, Krugman is as befuddled as any:
The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics — some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn’t) and anger on the part of the less educated at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.
To be honest, I don’t fully understand this resentment. In particular, I don’t know why imagined liberal disdain inspires so much more anger than the very real disdain of conservatives who see the poverty of places like eastern Kentucky as a sign of the personal and moral inadequacy of their residents.
Financially, I'm not even up to white working-class status. Nonetheless, I'm sure my left-wing politics cast me, in the eyes of that class, as part of the infamous "liberal elite." I have this to say to them: You don't have to "imagine" that I look down on you. I do. There's nothing imaginary about my disdain for a voting bloc so spectacularly ignorant as to re-elevate a trickle-down conservative elitism that, in the hands of the most disgraceful demagogic buffoon ever, will cause yet more American wreckage. You deserve my disdain. You've earned it.
In Trumpism there reigns one untouchable political correctness: One should never question the virtue of the white working class. This class is superior to all others, it must be coddled, it must be endlessly praised, never criticized. It is the "real America." And yet, in return, the white working class is free to openly disdain all others.
To which I say, Horseshit. You can't doom America to four, grotesque years of Trumpism and then ask for my respect. What's about to befall us is on you — and you alone.