Class Trumps Race

Appeal to suburbanites or blue-collar workers?

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Disunity among Democrats is, of course, nothing new. What has changed is the most important fault line of division. Race and region used to be the keys to intraparty splits. From the Depression to the civil rights movement, for example, the Democratic Party was a hodgepodge of Southern segregationists and Northern urban liberals, divisions that the New Democrats repackaged during the 1980s, with stances on fighting crime and “reforming welfare” that appealed to white Southerners and Northern working-class whites worried about the black poor.

But in the 1990s, the New Democrats, with their emphasis on an “information age” economy, are orienting themselves away from working-class voters and toward upscale suburbanites across the country. This has created an opening for the populists to position themselves as “lunch-bucket Democrats,” reaching out to blue-collar and lower-middle-class families. Although affirmative action and welfare remain contentious within the Democratic Party, neither the New Democrats nor the populists are highlighting racially divisive issues.

A shrinking electorate and an increasingly money-driven polity spur opposite responses from the two Democratic factions. Despite easier registration under the Motor Voter bill, the 1996 election had the lowest turnout since 1924 — and voting was sharply skewed by family income. Richer Americans vote more, while also lobbying and giving political contributions, making them an appealing target for the New Democrats. Populists, meanwhile, want to make headway by activating enlarged support at the grassroots. This is a much tougher proposition, but, over the course of several elections, it might do more to counter the Republicans.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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