The economic and social stress for this part of America is real. The fact that these people have had their livelihoods and social status reduced because of the process of globalization is real. And yes, their animus toward foreign competition and immigrants is real too. Their problems should still be addressed, not because the elite views them as virtuous and thus deserving of the help of the state and its political class, but by virtue of our common citizenship. Many of the policy entrepreneurs and political grifters in D.C., when they go back home for a holiday, have members of their families who are also sliding down from the middle class into Fishtown.
Even the left could find a way to justify this to themselves. For some thoroughgoing socialists, the social sins of racism, patriarchy, and classism can be seen as the epiphenomena of capitalism. The capitalist world has to justify the unequal distribution of goods, opportunity, and dignity, and so it generates these ideologies of domination and exclusion. It’s no surprise, comrades, that this false consciousness would penetrate even the proletariat itself. In fact, it may be inaccurate to even classify them as the working class. For many it is more accurate to say that they are a wage-when-possible, disability-otherwise class.
But for the political right, the incentive is obvious. Working-class whites are increasingly atomized and disconnected from their communities, larger networks of family, the political process, and the nation. They identify as religious, even if they are backslidden. They support the traditional family, even if they come from and create broken homes. In other words, they are people who aspire to be more like social conservatives, though they lack the material and spiritual resources to become like them.