What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class
My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment. He dropped out of school in eighth grade to help support the family. Eventually he got a good, steady job he truly hated, as an inspector in a factory that made those machines that measure humidity levels in museums. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he read The Wall Street Journal and voted Republican. For months, the only thing that’s surprised me about Donald Trump is my friends’ astonishment at his success. One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. J.D.
• What the Hell
• Contemporary History