By NATE HOCHMAN
There used to be a saying, “Democrats are the party of the working class bars; Republicans are the party of suburban country clubs.” This was largely true up until the last decade when party voting habits became more often defined along class lines. Republicans were the party of big business, composed of corporate elites who affirmed free-market orthodoxy and were wary of excessive economic regulation that may impede growth. Democrats were the party of labor unions, concerned with the effects of unfettered capitalism on the working class and willing to use government intervention to protect the little guy from powerful corporations. This is simplistic, of course. Opinions on a plethora of social issues such as abortion, segregation, civil rights, and gay marriage have also defined partisan voting habits at various times in the past hundred years. Nonetheless, the only identifiably consistent patterns of voting throughout the past century have been drawn along class lines.
However, voter demographics have begun to transform in the past decade. This trend was a dominant reason for Donald Trump’s upset victory in 2016. Trump won a third of the counties that voted for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012, overwhelmingly blue-collar areas. There’s also an education gap; Trump won more counties with a majority of non-college graduates. Voters with graduate school degrees overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton.
All of these trends continued in the 2018 election, suggesting that the Democratic National Committee is moving away from being the party of working-class labor unions. One of the significant reasons for the blue wave in the 2018 midterm elections was Democrats’ ability to flip historically red, wealthy, suburban neighborhoods. The motivation for this flip was clear; suburban voters detest President Trump’s style. Furthermore, there was a sense of disgust with Trump’s entire populist movement and the blue-collar voters who propelled it to the White House, so much so that it caused reliably Republican counties across the country to abandon their party en masse in the midterms. The gap is becomingly increasingly defined: Democratic voters are wealthy suburbanites, often residing on the coasts. Republican voters are often the rural working class, who predominantly live in the Midwest and the South.
Why is this happening?
As much as DNC elites might not want to admit it, they need the working class Obama voters who they alienated in the 2016 presidential election. At the moment, however, they seem to be doing everything in their power to push these voters further into the arms of President Trump and his surrogate candidates across the country. They don’t want to win back moderate working class voters who went for Trump. In the eyes of Democratic elites, they’re backwards, bigoted hicks who are beyond helping. They’re not worth listening to because they clearly don’t possess the intellectual capacity to understand the nuances of the progressive agenda, formulated and delivered by the wise Democratic intelligentsia. They’re also racist, homophobic religious nuts. Clinton articulated this sentiment best when she said that Trump voters are “a basket of deplorables.”
This disturbing feeling of moral and intellectual superiority over their fellow citizens is relatively new for the Democrats. If anything, it used to be a sentiment that resided largely in the GOP. Democrats used to understand that they were not superior to factory workers in Michigan — in fact, they represented a lot of them. They also understood that higher education did not automatically confer wisdom. Most importantly, they saw the humanity of the fundamentally decent men and women working blue-collar jobs in the middle of the country. Marxism, residing in the radical wing of the Democratic Party, was a philosophy completely aimed at the liberation of the proletariat. What happened to the party of labor unions? Karl Marx would be turning over in his grave.
The democratic socialism of Eugene Debbs is long gone; its 2018 incarnation, which is rapidly radicalizing the entire DNC is more concerned with lecturing Americans about abstract gender studies concepts than the uniting of the proletariat. They don’t talk about the proletariat developing class-consciousness anymore — largely because most of them are in the capitalist class that they pay lip service to hating. Bernie Sanders and his wife just bought their third house, a $600,000 beachfront property.
Rather, they talk about different identity groups. Divide and conquer. It’s how the British ruled India. And, by the way, if you disagree with them on policy, or don’t vote for them, it’s probably because you hate one of the identity groups that they claim to represent. This is identity politics 101, and by and large, Americans hate it; it’s failing miserably. This disdain for most of the people who live between the two coasts won Trump the presidency. If everyone who disagrees with you is a bigot, then you obviously don’t need to listen to them. Trump voters aren’t fundamentally decent people with rational concerns — they’re uneducated, and blinded by hate. Opposition to immigration isn’t because there’s a massive influx of low-skilled labor into the country at a time when demand for low-skilled labor is already at an all-time low. It’s because all those backwards hicks in Ohio don’t like Mexicans, the reasoning goes.
(Un)surprisingly, Democrats haven’t seemed to learn much from 2016. Rather than step back and take a critical look at their treatment of middle America, they doubled down on their self-destructive elitism. That’s because they know better, of course. They’re enlightened. Trump didn’t win because he spoke to millions of fundamentally decent Americans. He won because his voters are uneducated bigots. This approach is predictably backfiring; as Democrats attempted to rationalize their loss by blaming racism for Trump’s victory, his polling numbers steadily climbed. By many accounts, he is more popular now than Obama was two years into his presidency. If Democrats don’t radically reconsider their political approach, President Trump will win a second term. For the sake of national unity, I sincerely hope they gain some self-awareness.