Michael Moore shreds the image of who makes up the working class now

Politicians love to talk about how they support the working class, the people who are seen as the backbone of any nation, the ones who keep things going. But if one has a mental image of the working class, it might be that of a middle-aged, white man working in a factory or on a farm who is in the middle-income bracket, definitely not wealthy but not poor either. It is this demographic that is much sought after by politicians, and it is their supposed steady defection from the Democratic party to the Republicans, a process accelerated by Donald Trump, that is blamed for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016.

Michael Moore challenges that view. Moore is seen as a humorist and political documentary film maker but he is also one of the shrewdest political observers of politics who predicted Trump’s win last time because he would carry Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. He says that many people still do not realize that the working class now is quite different from what it was a few decades ago.

“The majority of the working class in this country are women,” Moore stressed. “When you say working class, you’re talking about young people, 18 to 35. They make the least amount of money. When you talk about the working class, you’re talking about people of color; theyi make the least amount of money. That’s who the working class is.”

“But somehow,” Moore continued, “when we have these discussions on these shows, we talk about, ‘Well, we’ve gotta not get too far to the left here or be too progressive because we’ll lose that white working class vote.’ Well, I don’t know, maybe that was true 30 or 40 years ago. But it’s not true (now). It’s not the America we live in.”

Moore says that the Democratic party establishment’s strategy of constantly focusing on the older white male working class is misguided

“I think a lot of Democrats don’t understand – a lot of people who are in the leadership don’t understand: this isn’t 1980,” Moore told Williams. And he added that Democrats will be making a huge mistake in the 2020 election if they forget about their base, which isn’t dominated by older working class white males.

Most working class whites who voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, Moore warned, won’t be voting Democratic in 2020 either.

“News alert: they’re not coming,” Moore asserted. “Some of them will come. Trump got 8 million people who voted for Barack Obama, either once or twice. So there’s a chance: maybe a million of them might come back.”

Obsessing over “the white male vote,” Moore stressed, is a losing proposition for Democrats because Jimmy Carter in 1976, Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 were victorious even though they “lost the white male vote.”

He then gives the party this advice on whom they should focus their appeals and what that appeal should consist of.

Moore went on to say that “the majority of Americans take the liberal/progressive position” on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to raising the national minimum wage — and they “will come out to vote for the candidate that’s going to side with them.”

“Let’s get out the Democratic base of women, young people and people of color,” Moore told Williams. “And for the one-third of the white guys who voted for Hillary last time, good on you. Come on back, and bring a couple of your buddies who mistakenly voted for Trump.”

He reminds us that in only two elections since Harry Truman’s time have Democrats won the presidency with a majority of the white male vote: in Lyndon Johnson’s landslide win in 1964 and in Bill Clinton’s second campaign in 1996. He makes the important point that in the next election, 70% of the voters will be women and/or people of color and/or people between the ages of 18 to 35 and the majority of voters support the liberal/progressive positions and they will come out to vote for candidates who inspire them and side with them and will wage a scrappy, street-fighting campaign and not try to soothe the feelings of the mythical ‘moderate’ voters.

Watch the full interview with Moore. It is worth it and should be watched b every candidate who is running for the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem to be the ones who are currently following this strategy.

I am reposting this excellent Jen Sorenson cartoon because it is so apt.


  1. drken says

    I always thought “working class” meant middle and lower-middle class people. They don’t have a lot of money, but they’re not impoverished. It’s also code for a neighborhood where lots of black people live, but isn’t dangerous.

    Also, it’s not just that the Dems have been alienating their base by running more “moderate” candidates, they’ve been actively running against their base. What’s the old expression? “Republicans are afraid of their base, Democrats are ashamed of theirs”? Well, it’s true. Joe Biden thinks he can hippie punch and dog whistle his way to the nomination and (fortunately) it’s not working for him. Democrats win when their base turns out and they’re not going to turn out for somebody who keeps throwing them under the bus. How many times have you heard a “3rd way/DLC/etc.” Democrat say “(insert Republican talking point) is correct, I have the same problem with (insert some faction of the Democratic base)”. It’s kind of a bummer to hear that sort of stuff all the time. They don’t have to run “Sunflower McMoonbeam” for Congress in Alabama, but they should stop running using the “don’t worry, I hate those radical, far-left Democrats as much as you do” strategy.

  2. starskeptic says

    @drken says

    They don’t have to run “Sunflower McMoonbeam” for Congress in Alabama, but they should stop running using the “don’t worry, I hate those radical, far-left Democrats as much as you do” strategy.

    That is the funniest true thing I’ve read this year!

  3. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    I’m so hoping that Warren and Sanders have a secret pact where, once some threshold is crossed, whichever of them is behind drops out and becomes VP pick to the other.

    Neither of them is perfect, but I’d be delighted with either.

    I wish I could donate as a Canadian. The outcome of US elections impact us big time.

  4. Dunc says

    I always thought “working class” meant middle and lower-middle class people. They don’t have a lot of money, but they’re not impoverished.

    It’s times like this when I realise I have absolutely no idea what Americans mean when they talk about class. Here in Britain, “working class” and “middle class” are exclusive categories -- if you’re one, you can’t be the other, by definition. And neither really has much to do with how well off you are.

  5. Sam N says

    @3, don’t get me wrong, I like Bernie Sanders, and donated to his campaign monthly until he lost the primary in California, but I think he is far more effective as a senator, and feel he should just drop out and fully throw his support behind Warren. I think Tulsi Gabbard would make a great Vice President and help bat down any neocons that try to opportunistically influence a Warren admin. I currently donate to Warren monthly (I have little income so it’s small, but I strongly believe in her policy).

    Far too many democrats who otherwise would appear fine, seem to be in the pocket of lobbyists by how they present policy. Biden, Harris, Booker, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke. They might talk a good game at times, but their policy feels far too influenced by maintaining inequities that provide far more rights to the wealthy than the typical citizen. The pickings are pretty slim aside from Warren, Gabbard, and Sanders. Maybe Yang…

    Sadly, I see a repeat of 2016 with the establishment having their way. California voted so overwhelmingly for Clinton in the primary I have lost hope that people in this country understand and care about correcting its worst excesses. I think California is a shoe-in for Biden or Harris, making a progressive candidate somewhat of a dream.

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