Much has been written about this phenomenon over the years but a lot is being written about it now in an attempt to explain the rise of Donald Trump. Most takes on it have white working class voters abandoning the Democrats because they are racist, and/or stupid, i.e. too dumb to know what their economic interests are. Because they feel threatened by the rising numbers of other groups in the country.
It's not all whites. Dems get a lot of votes from among the "professional" classes, and along with the votes they get from women, African Americans and Latinos, and anyone who identifies with identity politics, they can (sometimes) cobble together a majority in a presidential election (but not in most congressional, senate, governorship and state house elections.) It's those older, non college educated white males who abandoned the Democrats for Ronald Reagan and the Bushes and are showing up at Donald Trump's rallies. Those are supposedly the uneducated racists who vote Republican.
Connor Kilpatrick, managing editor at Jacobin magazine, has another take on it. To get at this question, though, first you have to ask the question; When America is richer than ever, why are Democrats telling working class voters they have to settle for less? Why are incomes stagnant? Why has college gotten so expensive? Why are health care and other benefits going away? Why are all the income gains and productivity gains going to the 1 percent? Why have the all wealth gains during the current recovery gone to the 1 percent?
White males used to get a share of that, but no more. In that sense it may have something to do with their race, but that's not racism. Those same white working class males voted for Jimmy Carter and a lot of them voted for Barak Obama, especially the first time.
And why is it that most people don't even vote at all?
Democrats say, just wait. They think they have the demographic wind at their back. Just wait til Latinos become the majority.
But why, I'd ask, wouldn't Latinos eventually abandon the Democrats, too, for the same reasons white voters are abandoning them now?
Kilpatrick's article on this is the most interesting I've read in a long time. It has serious implications not only for understanding the problem but for how to unite the working class, which is sorely divided now in oh so many ways. I recommend it. Again, it's here. Jacobin has become an interesting magazine under his management. Keep tabs on it.