Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) on Friday defended voters of President Trump, saying that the election was Democrats’ to lose and that the party needs to better represent the working-class voters who supported Trump and other GOP lawmakers.
“Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks. I don’t agree, because I’ve been there. Let me tell you something else some of you might not agree with, it wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic Party lost the election,” Sanders said while speaking at an Our Revolution rally in Boston with fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Commentary by The Secular Jurist: At the risk of offending Democratic Party supporters, I completely agree with Mr. Sanders. While racists, sexists, and homophobes did vote for Donald Trump, not all who did vote for him can be characterized as such. Many of these voters used to be Democrats. What turned them towards a megalomaniac like Trump?
From FDR to LBJ, the Democratic Party enjoyed massive support among a broad coalition of working class whites, ethnic minorities, liberals and progressives. What held this coalition together was the Party’s core message which was profoundly economic and populist (i.e. the little guy versus the big guy). After working class whites largely attained the promise of the American Dream, primarily under Democratic rule, Republicans were able to appeal to their resentment over the rise of black activism in the 1960s (who also wanted to share in the dream). This successful GOP ploy was first coined Nixon’s southern strategy. In response to defections of working class whites, the Democratic Party reformed under Bill Clinton. It abandoned its core message of economic populism (i.e. progressivism) and instead embraced the causes of social justice (i.e. liberalism) while, at the same time, aligning itself with corporatist policies driven by the corrupting influence of big money. However, corporatism eventually destroyed the American middle class and drove millions back into poverty. With the Democratic and Republican party establishments arrayed against them economically, socially conservative working class whites were left out in the cold – ripe pickings for an opportunistic megalomaniac.
Past is prologue. The economic inequality created by today’s obscene concentration of wealth is mirroring that of the 1930s which enabled the Democratic Party under FDR to rise to great political heights. Once again, Bernie Sanders has hit the nail squarely on its head. Democrats better listen.