Judging from the demographics, I could have been a Trump voter. I am an older male member of the “White Working Class.”
Well, except as I read the media reports and deal with Trump supporters, I don’t actually “work.” Let me explain.
After a number of years in social services and taking time off to raise my kids, I took a job in a local newspaper. It wasn’t long until my job was cut to part time, then I freelanced for a while, and eventually there was no work at all. Judging from the graph below, my experience was pretty typical.
At about the same time I began teaching at the local technical college as an adjunct faculty member. I have been doing this for almost seven years now. I have never been eligible for benefits of any kind, even though I have been teaching an average of five classes every semester. If you Google “adjunct faculty poverty” you will see a variety of experiences similar to mine, for instance this article. This employment will soon be coming to an end for me as the college is requiring additional certification that I do not have and cannot afford to get.
I also substitute in the public schools on days I am not teaching college classes. I receive no benefits for this work either. Both jobs are variable in nature. I might have enough work — or I might not. With all the uncertainty, I average the princely sum of $14 an hour for all my efforts, including working evenings and weekends.
Even though I am of “European Heritage” and have certainly been subject to as much or more economic uncertainty as any factory worker, I am not considered “working class.” Most of the Trump supporters I have interacted with seem to think I am a member of “The Elite.” Unlike the billionaires in Trump’s cabinet, of course.
So, what is “White Working Class”?
Do I not qualify because I don’t do “physical” labor? Or do I qualify because my “industries” have been hammered by technological change and outsourcing? If I am qualified, do I lose that qualification if I get a salaried job?
Are full time teachers “working class?” They work in the same place all day, pretty much do what their boss tells them and have to take work home on a regular basis. Isn’t that working class?
And how is the “white working class” any different from Black, Latino or Asian working class? Don’t they have the same economic concerns as the WWC?
I may be over generalizing, but it seems to me that “White Working Class” is just more of the racial dog whistling that goes on in this country. It is about being “White” first and “working class” is somewhere far down the line.
Which is why, even though I am a wage slave in a semi-rural area of a state that went Red, I am not a Trump voter. I believe that in the words of Jefferson that all people are equal.
The Elite know that if the working class really joined forces across racial and ethnic lines, the country would experience REAL change, change they would not like.
So they continue to appeal to our tribalism, using race and religion to divide us so they can rule us more effectively.
Just one look at Trump’s cabinet nominees shows that is more true now than ever. The billionaires are no longer stringing up puppets, they are running things themselves. Thanks to the “White Working Class.”
Which is why I was not a Trump voter.