As our nation chooses its next president, we leave behind one of the most contentious, ugly elections in recent history. In this week’s Working-Class Perspective, Sherry Linkon makes the case that our new leader must push forward policies that address the class and racial inequities that fueled such a divisive presidential campaign.
The election has created the conditions for addressing the first of those: class resentment. I don’t mean the resentment poor and working-class people feel toward the wealthy. I mean the resentment they feel toward a government that doesn’t seem to care about them or have the will to address economic inequality. I’m also talking about resentment toward a public discourse that denigrates and blames working-class people for not being more like the middle class. WNYC’s On the Media provided a terrific overview of that discourse in a series of reports about common and problematic assumptions that shape reporting on poverty. As host Brooke Gladstone explained, reliance on these assumptions generates media that reinforces the idea that people are poor because they don’t work hard or because they make bad choices. No matter how much we might deplore some of the behavior and attitudes that have surfaced in the election, we can’t address the class-based cultural divide by dismissing poor and working-class people as “deplorables” who lack the critical thinking skills that college education provides.
The Working-Class Perspectives blog is brought to you by our Visiting Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year, John Russo, and Georgetown University English professor, Sherry Linkon, who authored this post. It features several regular and guest contributors.