As far as all the criticism of Hillary Clinton, and the record of Democratic leadership so far, the widespread support of Bernie Sanders (the other non-establishment candidate) shows that people in both parties are aware of this. I wish the Democratic Party had not underestimated how strong and widespread the sentiment is that most Americans feel they are not being served by either major party. After all, this dynamic is hardly restricted to the white working class. There are few who do not associate Washington, D.C. with corruption or at least the main players in the major parties as siding more with moneyed and special interests over the interests of the rest of the American people. There are very few who are not feeling the middle class sink further towards actual poverty.
It’s not only the white working class who feel this way. Or the white middle class. Or the white anybody. Please, can we just say that already. It’s not as if the white working class are suffering all on their lonesome. They aren’t the only ones suffering, and their suffering is not the only suffering that matters.
The multiply disadvantaged groups in America feel it too. In fact, multiply disadvantaged working people feel it more. They feel the baseline oppression that the white working class feels, and then this is compounded by multiple additional kinds of oppression. This is real, and it needs to be acknowledged.
The thing is, America was approaching a point where it was possible for all the people who were suffering to find common cause and maybe start on some real changes. I am NOT saying that Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders, or any particular candidate could have achieved this. This is not something that a CANDIDATE or a PARTY achieves. This is something that we as a nation have to do as a people, and it isn’t done quickly or magically. It takes time. It takes recognizing each other as fellow Americans and treating each other like allies instead of opponents. America had been making some progress on that front lately (or seemed to be!). It is possible. It will never be perfectly done, of course, but we can come together and be the stronger for it.
Yet, as soon as anything of that sort even begins to happen, a familiar political refrain begins to play: The legitimate concerns and fears of the white working class are manipulated and misdirected by (white) elites who blame all the trouble on a marginalized group who cannot defend themselves. Instead of any kind of meaningful economic (or other) reform, the white elites crack down on these supposedly guilty Others. The marginalized, multiply disadvantaged groups are (much) worse off (&some in fear of their very lives), the white working class is no better off, and America is the more divided.
This is not a new dynamic in the United States in any way. We were, however, hoping that it would be seen for what it was, that we as a nation had progressed to the point that it wouldn’t work anymore. But we don’t really learn much about this in school, do we?
Hillary Clinton can stand to be criticized. However, so can Donald Trump. How is it that people thought Hillary was untrustworthy because it seemed as if she didn’t tell the truth, whereas they believed Trump even when he was repeatedly shown to be constantly lying (complete with video evidence)? Why did people seem to not think critically about what he said or about what he did? What exactly did he promise to do differently, and how likely is that to happen?
Why do white Americans feel the need to circle the wagons and keep the gunpowder ready, when we are surrounded only by other Americans?
Why do white working class people think it’s okay to throw the rest of America under the bus?