The consensus of the expert political pundits is that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election because she was a terrible candidate and that she didn’t campaign in Wisconsin. She did not appeal to the “white working class”.
The Republican Party, which has no moderates, and moderate Democrats agree that progressives don’t win elections because they play “identity politics”. Progressives focus too much on issues that are unique to different groups of people, rather than focusing on what is important to most Americans, who are moderates, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. Conservatives and moderates promote the notion that politicians should focus more on the “white working class”. Excuse me? Why isn’t the “white working class” identity politics? Are these politicians saying that what is good for the white working class, is good for everyone? If that is what they are saying, I completely agree that it SHOULD be the case. In a perfect world, what is good for one American SHOULD be good for ALL Americans. The problem is we don’t live in a perfect world.
White Americans, whether they are in the working class or the wealthy class, have always separated themselves from other Americans. Contrary to popular belief, Africans who came to the Western Hemisphere in the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries did not come here seeking employment, and they did not choose to not learn to read or own land and to live in harmony with other people who migrated to the new world. Neither did Native Americans choose to give up there land in exchange for a cushy life on reservations. Identity politics go way back and come way forward, related to the “white working class” as well as all white people.
I could go into explaining why when I grew up in rural East Texas in the 1950s and 1960s, I had to be in the NFA (New or Negro Farmers of America) as opposed to the FFA (Future Famers of America). Or I could explain why even to this day, Christians of the Baptist doctrine in the USA are divided into the Southern Baptist Convention for white churches, and The National Baptist Convention for black churches. But let’s not get into that. Let us just focus on how Americans are divided in 2019.
In 2019 black Americans have the highest rate of unemployment, the lowest level of income and wealth, the highest rate of incarceration of all ethnicities. Is that because black people are lazier than others? Less able to manage their money than others? More criminal than others? Given the state of affairs among black Americans, wouldn’t it be safe to say that black Americans have some issues that are unique to black Americans? Likewise, aren’t there some issues that are unique to Hispanic Americans, LGBTQ Americans, female Americans, Muslim Americans, Native Americans and yes, working class Americans (not just the white working class, but ALL working class Americans)? Progressives don’t exclude any of these groups, nor do they exclude the white working class or even the wealthy for that matter. What progressives attempt to do is to include ALL Americans by addressing issues that are unique to some groups as well as issues that are common to all groups. With progressives, there are no big “I’s” and little “you’s”. We are ALL in this together.