Some ideas are pretty rare outside of certain circles. [Insert joke about favorite idiosyncratic sub-subculture here.] Others pop up all over the place. The latter phenomenon particularly perks my interest when a political idea displays this versatility; if conservatives, liberals, and leftists all dabble, at least occasionally, in the same predilection, you know something is up.
Ever since the election, such a case has been catching my attention. Trying to make sense of the epic and entirely unpredicted horror show of a Trump victory, conservatives, liberals, and some leftists have all flocked to different versions of an underlying explanation: one way or the other, white people got their feels hurt and exacted revenge at the polls.
This population of white people sometimes appears un-classed, as in the case of Mark Lilla’s historically inept and astoundingly arrogant op-ed attributing Clinton’s loss to her unhealthy and offensive obsession with diversity/identity politics. It makes sense for a liberal to make this move; while they might constantly council drawing attention to issues that impact all Americans, actually doing so would entail criticizing capitalism a lot more harshly than most Democrats, if not most liberals, are (still!) inclined to do. It’s hard to tell the white working class, after all, that they’re being screwed over by the rich when you’re pretty invested in protecting said wealthy elites. So, the offended group in question often just becomes “white, rural people” in general.
For leftists, the focus falls on the white working class, and instead of counseling a postracial politics of entirely fictional American unity, a class consciousness fit for the revolution is recommended. The failures of the Democrats loom even larger here, as would be expected; constitutionally incapable of speaking to the constituency they consistently exploit, the center-of-center party is worse than useless. Nonetheless, sometimes a confident argument remains that the wayward whites are simply not being spoken to correctly – as can be seen in this thread, Jacobin recently raised the heckles of many non-Marxist leftists by arguing that ultimately, of course, it comes down to class.