The logic of rainbow liberalism says that the anger of working-class Latinos and other marginalized minorities ought to be directed at hateful working-class whites in the heartland. But it’s not hard to imagine second-generation Americans choosing a different target for their ire: the white overclass of coastal America.
This class has heretofore been able to count on the support of immigrants, in part because of their commitment to helping that group gain access to the safety net that the Democratic Party has championed and fought to protect. But second-generation Americans may have less patience than their parents for a status quo that offers them little hope of advancement, and for a strain of liberalism that talks about redistributing wealth without delivering the more sweeping changes promised by Ocasio-Cortez and others like her.
A key principle of rainbow liberalism is that the solution to working-class woes is hiking taxes on the rich to finance a generous suite of wage subsidies, social services, and, for the truly ambitious, basic-income grants. But will white liberals be as enthusiastic about sharp increases in their taxes if they become something other than theoretical? Immigrants in New York, for instance, live in a state where the Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, recently championed a tax reform designed to sharply reduce the total tax burden facing his state’s wealthiest residents while stymieing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to raise taxes on the city’s ultrarich. Cuomo did so as New York’s transit infrastructure was in crisis and rising rents were exposing tens of thousands of families to the risk of eviction.