In a recent New York Times op-ed, Heather McGhee lamented that not only have conservatives used the concept of zero-sum racial conflict to undermine political support for public goods and a robust welfare state, but that “those seeking to repair America’s social divides can invoke this sort of zero-sum framing as well.”

“Progressives,” she wrote, “often end up talking about race relations through a prism of competition — every advantage for whites, mirrored by a disadvantage for people of color.”

If anything, she doesn’t go far enough. The rise of this sort of progressive zero-sum racial rhetoric has accompanied the electoral backlash Democrats once hoped was limited to non-college whites but instead became a broad pro-Trump swing in all kinds of socioeconomically downscale communities during the 2020 election (Hispanics, immigrants of all stripes, maybe even Black people as well, while white voters swung towards Democrats).