For a couple of years now I’ve had a theory, one I haven’t told you all about. It goes something like this–Canada is just like us, but 5-10 years ago. Here’s how it works.
Remember “Bernie or Bust”? Some Bernie Sanders supporters were very cross when Sanders did not win the Democratic Party nomination. They believed he should have won, both because he deserved to win and because some of them believed the DNC stole it from him. They were unwilling to support Clinton in the general election, and Clinton supporters let them have it. How could these Bernie supporters stand idly by and allow Donald Trump to become president? Don’t they care about poor and working people, about the middle class, about people of color, about women, about LGBTs? How could they betray the groups they’re meant to care about like that? Sarah Silverman told them they were “being ridiculous”:
But the tables have turned. Today we see a new breed of Democrat–the “Hillary or Bust” voter.
Today a friend of mine sent me a piece by Franklin Foer in The Atlantic. In the piece Foer gives some thought to what ails the Democratic Party, and he comes to a constructive conclusion–the party needs to reach out to the white working class. But the way Foer gets there troubles me. Too many liberal commentators don’t quite understand the division within the Democratic Party, even the ones who are actively trying to understand that division. Let me show you what I mean.
Since the election of Donald Trump, there’s been some renewed interest in striking as a form of political resistance. Just this week, many women participated in A Day Without a Woman, a strike during International Women’s Day, and a general strike was held on February 17 to oppose Trump. These strikes have divided the left, with some arguing that they are not true strikes because the participants are primarily members of the professional class rather than the working class, while others argue that they play an essential role in mobilizing dissent regardless of which classes primarily participate. This debate over strikes is muddled because the two sides are using the word “strike” to refer to two very different kinds of political action.
In the wake of the Trump victory, some pundits have written pieces arguing that Trump’s win was not down to economic distress, but instead due to hostility to immigration, diversity, and social change. In some cases these pundits explicitly call the election result a “whitelash” and accuse Trump supporters of racism and xenophobia. Unfortunately the dichotomy they are drawing between economic explanations and racial explanations is deeply misleading, and stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the ways class and race intersect, both in America and throughout the western world.