WCP: Misrepresenting the White Working Class: What the Narrating Class Gets Wrong

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Each election season brings a stream of punditry about the white working class. As Jack Metzgar observes in this week’s Working-Class Perspective, commentators try to explain their voting patterns by relying on stereotypes for their analyses. In doing so, they reveal their own class biases.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Connie Schultz noted how many reporters and columnists associate Donald Trump and his pal Sarah Palin with white working-class ignorance and bigotry.  A Cleveland Plain Dealer writer, for example, complained: “Thanks to Trump, the entire Palin clan is now back in the spotlight they so crave.  Come July, Republican National Convention organizers should house the whole dysfunctional family in a trailer park in Ashtabula [Ohio].”  As it happens, both of Schultz’s grandmothers lived portions of their lives in trailer homes in Ashtabula, and she commented that “since Donald Trump’s charade of a candidacy caught fire, I have heard many fellow liberals freely toss around the terms ‘white trash’ and ‘trailer trash.’  These are people who would never dream of telling a racist joke, but they think nothing of ridiculing those of lesser economic means.  Every group has its ‘other.’  For too many white intellectuals, it’s the working class.”

You may read the post in its entirety and see other Working-Class Perspectives posts on our website.

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. It features several regular and guest contributors.