“Even though Joe Biden emphasized his working-class roots and sympathies,” Sandel told me, “the Democratic Party continues to be more identified with professional elites and college-educated voters than with the blue-collar voters who once constituted its base. Even so epochal an event as a pandemic, bungled by Trump, did not change this.
“Democrats need to ask themselves: Why do many working people embrace a plutocrat-populist whose policies do little to help them? Democrats need to address the sense of humiliation felt by working people who feel the economy has left them behind and that credentialed elites look down on them.”
Again, while Biden made small inroads with working-class voters, there seems to be no huge shift. Maybe because many working-class Trump voters not only feel looked down upon, but they also resent what they see as cultural censorship from liberal elites, coming out of college campuses.
As Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, wrote in an Oct. 26 essay, “Trump is, for better or worse, the foremost symbol of resistance to the overwhelming woke cultural tide that has swept along the media, academia, corporate America, Hollywood, professional sports, the big foundations, and almost everything in between.”
“To put it in blunt terms,” he continued, “for many people, he’s the only middle finger available — to brandish against the people who’ve assumed they have the whip hand in American culture. This may not be a very good reason to vote for a president, and it doesn’t excuse Trump’s abysmal conduct and maladministration.”
I confess that the hardest conversations I had Tuesday night were with my daughters. I so badly want to tell them that all is going to be OK, that we’ve been through bad patches as a country before. And I hope that will turn out to be the case — that whoever wins this election will draw the right conclusion that we simply cannot go on tearing one another apart.
But I could not, in all honesty, tell them that with any confidence. I am certain “the better angels of our nature” are still out there. But our politics and our political system right now are not inspiring them to emerge at the scale and speed that we so desperately need.
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