1 hr 7 min

How the Working Class Became America’s Second Class Honestly with Bari Weiss

    • Society & Culture

On Election Night 2016, many of us thought we knew who would be the next president of the United States.

We were blindsided when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. Legacy media quickly scrambled to explain what had happened. They ultimately arrived at an explanation: Trump’s voters were racist, xenophobic conspiracy theorists, and possibly even proto-fascists.

That wasn’t quite right.

My guest today, Newsweek opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, has been on a journey for the past eight years to understand how Trump won the White House in 2016 and how the left fundamentally misunderstood the American working class. She eventually came to the conclusion that the most salient feature of American life is not our political divide. It’s “the class divide that separates the college-educated from the working class.” 

Democrats have historically been the party of the working class. But for the better part of the past decade, Democrats have seen their support among working-class voters tumble. Policy wonks and demographic experts kept saying just wait: the future of the Democratic party is a multiethnic, multiracial, working-class coalition. But that didn’t pan out. 

Instead, in 2016, Trump carried 54 percent of voters with family incomes of $30,000 to $50,000; 44 percent of voters with family incomes under $50,000; and nearly 40 percent of union workers voted for Trump—the highest for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984. Meanwhile, in 2022, Democrats had a 15-point deficit among working-class voters but a 14-point advantage among college-educated voters.

In order to understand how and why this happened, Batya decided to spend the last year traveling the country talking to working-class Americans. Who are they? Do they still have a fair shot at the American dream? What do they think about their chances to secure the hallmarks of a middle-class life? 

She collected these stories in her new book: Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women. What she found is that for many of them, the American dream felt dead. 
Today, Batya discusses who really represents the working class; why she thinks America has broken its contract with the working class; how we reinstate our commitment to them; and what will happen in 2024 if we don’t.
Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

On Election Night 2016, many of us thought we knew who would be the next president of the United States.

We were blindsided when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. Legacy media quickly scrambled to explain what had happened. They ultimately arrived at an explanation: Trump’s voters were racist, xenophobic conspiracy theorists, and possibly even proto-fascists.

That wasn’t quite right.

My guest today, Newsweek opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, has been on a journey for the past eight years to understand how Trump won the White House in 2016 and how the left fundamentally misunderstood the American working class. She eventually came to the conclusion that the most salient feature of American life is not our political divide. It’s “the class divide that separates the college-educated from the working class.” 

Democrats have historically been the party of the working class. But for the better part of the past decade, Democrats have seen their support among working-class voters tumble. Policy wonks and demographic experts kept saying just wait: the future of the Democratic party is a multiethnic, multiracial, working-class coalition. But that didn’t pan out. 

Instead, in 2016, Trump carried 54 percent of voters with family incomes of $30,000 to $50,000; 44 percent of voters with family incomes under $50,000; and nearly 40 percent of union workers voted for Trump—the highest for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984. Meanwhile, in 2022, Democrats had a 15-point deficit among working-class voters but a 14-point advantage among college-educated voters.

In order to understand how and why this happened, Batya decided to spend the last year traveling the country talking to working-class Americans. Who are they? Do they still have a fair shot at the American dream? What do they think about their chances to secure the hallmarks of a middle-class life? 

She collected these stories in her new book: Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women. What she found is that for many of them, the American dream felt dead. 
Today, Batya discusses who really represents the working class; why she thinks America has broken its contract with the working class; how we reinstate our commitment to them; and what will happen in 2024 if we don’t.
Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1 hr 7 min

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