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7 Pundits Who Spread The Myth Of Trump’s Working-Class Voter Base

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Following Donald Trump’s ascent to the U.S. presidency, both liberal and conservative pundits and commentators have circulated a dangerous myth that the white working-class propelled Trump to the White House. This has led the media to blame poor and working-class whites for the rise of Trump, which is an oversimplification and misevaluation of how we arrived at the current political moment.

As data from NBC indicates, during the 2016 primaries, more than one-third of Trump supporters had incomes of over $100,000, and two-thirds of Trump supporters earned over $50,000 a year, or above the median national household income. In other words, Trump’s base is not the working class, but what might be called the petit bourgeoisie: small-business owners, property owners and inheritors, technicians, electricians, plumbers, policemen, firemen, and other highly skilled workers.

The definition of working class is fluid and is more than a measure of income or wealth. But if, as the data indicates, over two-thirds of Trump supporters earn above the median national income, and if many live in small towns and rural areaswhere the cost of living is lower than the national average, it follows that the overwhelming majority of Trump supporters are relatively wealthy compared to the average American.

Part of the confusion around the socioeconomic status of Trump supporters stems from the fact that 69 percent of Trump supporters did not have college degrees, as the Washington Post reports. But education is a distorted and insufficient measure of class. In fact, around 60 percent of white Trump supporters without college degrees made above the median national income.

This is not to say that poor and working-class whites didn’t turn out for Trump in large numbers—they did—but rather that working-class whites should not be seen as the core of Trump’s constituency.

Here are seven commentators and outlets that have mischaracterized Trump’s electoral base.

1 and 2. Matt Flegenheimer and Michael Barbaro, New York Times, Nov. 9, 2016.

On the day after Trump’s stunning victory, the New York Times declared on page A1 that Trump’s victory could be attributed to a backlash among America’s neglected white working-class communities.

Trump’s victory “was a decisive demonstration of power by a largely overlooked coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters who felt that the promise of the United States had slipped their grasp amid decades of globalization and multiculturalism.”

In reality, Trump made his most significant gains among the white middle class.

3. Ronald Brownstein for The Atlantic.

In his much-circulated article from September 2015, Ronald Brownstein made an early case that Donald Trump’s base was the white working class: “The billionaire developer is building a blue-collar foundation.”

4. Kevin D. Williamson for the National Review.

Neocon political correspondent Williamson conflates Trump supporters with poor and working-class whites, arguing that their communities are negative economic assets to the country, and therefore, should not exist.

“The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin… the truth about these dysfunctional downscale communities is that they deserve to die.”

5. Markos Moulitsas for the DailyKos.

DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas rides on assumptions similar to Williamson’s, blaming poor and working-class whites for electing Trump, and essentially saying they deserve to die for doing so.

“Be happy for coal miners losing their health insurance. They’re getting exactly what they voted for.”

6. Kyle Smith for the New York Post

In a recent Post article, Smith argues that Trump won over his white working-class base by pandering to their experiences of economic stagnation and cultural decline, but he fails to mention that many of these so-called working-class supporters made over $100,000 a year.

“That Trump declined to back down from his more colorful statements made him seem courageous and honest to the [white working-class], and they share his loathing for political incorrectness. The more he was attacked for being ‘offensive,’ the more they were reminded of themselves.”

7. Joan C. Williams in White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.

In her book White Working Class, Joan C. Williams defines the white working class as white Americans without college degrees who fall within the $43,000-$123,000 income bracket. But since when does the working-class category extend to Americans making over $100,000 a year? In an attempt to explain the sociocultural phenomenon behind Trump supporters, Williams exploits the term “working class,” extending it to high-income earners.

Trump “was felt to be a way for the white working class to kind of stick that thumb in the eye at the elites and let them have it.”

Who got it right?

Here’s a list of recommended reading for more nuanced reporting on Trump’s base and the working class.

1. On Trump supporters and the working class: “Who Put Trump in the White House? Kim Moody, Jacobin

2. On race and the working class: “Why the White Worker Theme is Harmful,” William E. Spriggs, American Prospect

3. On reviving the Democratic Party and the working class: “The Democrats’ ‘Working-Class Problem’ Is Worse Than We Think,” Stanley B. Greenberg, AlterNet

4. On defining the working class in 2017:The New Working Class,” Gabriel Winant, Dissent

5. On bridging the working-class divide:The Great God Trump and the White Working Class,” Mike Davis, Jacobin


Lauren Kaori Gurley is a freelance writer and master’s candidate in Latin American studies and journalism at New York University. Her work has been published in In These Times, the American Prospect and the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Follow her @laurenkgurley.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

Here Are 10 Of The World’s Dirtiest Oil And Coal Polluters

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Ten corporations and state-owned entities are responsible for over 36 percent of global fossil fuels emissions since 1988, according to a new study published by the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Among the top ten polluters is British-Dutch owned-Shell, as well as the Exxon Mobil Corporation, whose former CEO, Rex Tillerson, currently serves as the U.S. Secretary of State. The governments of China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, India, and Mexico also own entities, which make the top ten list.

The study, which also shows that 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of global emissions, highlights the critical role of corporations and powerful state actors not only perpetuating environmental damage, but also in combatting climate change.

If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 20 years, the world could see a 4°C rise in global temperatures by the end of the century, leading to mass extinctions and widespread starvation.

Here are the top ten corporate and state-entity polluters:

1. China (Coal): 14.3 percent

China’s state-led coal production has tripled to almost 4 billion tons since 2000, contributing to around half of all global emissions.

2. Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco): 4.5 percent

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco has the world’s largest crude oil reserves and the highest daily production output of any company in the world.

3. Gazprom OAO (Russian): 3.9 percent

Russian-owned Gazprom OAO has been the target of environmental protests for its Arctic drilling.

4. National Iranian Oil Co: 2.3 percent

Iran’s state-owned natural gas company has had unilateral control over the country’s oil reserves since 1948.

5. ExxonMobil Corp: 2.0 percent

ExxonMobil is the world’s seventh largest corporation, an offspring of John D. Rockerfeller’s Standard Oil Company. ExxonMobil has lobbied against climate change action in the U.S. Congress.

6. Coal India: 1.9 percent

State-owned Coal India is the largest producer of coal in the world.

7. Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex): 1.9 percent

In 2009, Mexican state-owned Pemex was Latin America’s second largest corporation.

8. Russia (Coal): 1.9 percent

Russia saw a 70-percent increase in coal production since the late 1990s.

9. Royal Dutch Shell PLC (Shell): 1.7 percent

Shell is the seventh largest corporation in the world, and involved in every area of the coal and gas production chain. The British-Dutch owned company has been implicated major oil spills in Nigeria.

10. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC): 1.6 percent

The state-owned oil and gas corporation is the largest integrated energy company in China.

In the foreword to the report, Pedro Faria, CDP’s Technical Director, said the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement was “an unfortunate decision,” and called on oil and gas firms to step up their commitment to the transition to a low-carbon economy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Fossil fuel companies are also going to have to demonstrate leadership as part of this transition,” he writes. “They owe it to the millions of clients they serve that are already feeling the effects of climate change, and to the many millions more that require energy for the comfort of their daily lives but are looking for alternatives to their products.”

Click here for the full report.

Lauren Kaori Gurley is a freelance writer and master’s candidate in Latin American studies and journalism at New York University. Her work has been published in In These Times, The American Prospect and The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Follow her @laurenkgurley.

Minneapolis Just Adopted A $15 Minimum Wage In A Landslide Vote

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The Minneapolis City Council passed a law Friday making it the first Midwestern city to adopt a $15 minimum wage, increasing the salaries of 71,000 workers by 2024.

With the historic vote, Minneapolis joins a growing wave of progressive U.S. cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C., where the Fight for $15 movement and other grassroots organizations have scored major labor victories.

Before the vote, which passed 12-1, Minneapolis city council members credited activists and organizers from Fight for $15 and Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha for pushing the bill forward.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tweeted a video of himself singing “Money (That’s What I Want)” in celebration of the news.

“Keep it up. We’re going to fight here in Washington, you guys are fighting there in Minneapolis, we’re fighting all over the country so the American people can get a raise,” Ellison said.

In May, Ellison, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, alongside Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate introduced a $15 minimum wage bill that has little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress.

In the face of austerity and social safety net cuts in the federal government, grassroots organizers and activists are looking more and more to local and state arenas to implement policies that combat poverty and inequality.

Lauren Kaori Gurley is a freelance writer and master’s candidate in Latin American studies and journalism at New York University. Her work has been published in In These Times, the American Prospect and the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Follow her @laurenkgurley.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.