Why Democrats Need to Reach All Working Class Voters

November 14th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed embarrassment over the Democratic Party's failure to reach "white working class" voters on Twitter Monday. His tweets immediately got called out online by those who argued that his complaint represented another example of Democrats ignoring working class voters of color to their own demise.

There's been a lot of soul searching among Democrats in the wake of the presidential election, with many blaming Hillary Clinton's campaign and journalists for ignoring or underestimating America's working class — a voting bloc that turned out in impressive numbers for President-elect Donald Trump, especially in the Rust Belt. Sanders called attention to the issue in an interview on "CBS This Morning" Monday.

"I think that there needs to be a profound change in the way the Democratic Party does business," Sanders said. "It is not good enough to have a liberal elite. I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to where I came from."

Sanders got some backlash online for emphasizing the importance of connecting with white working class voters.

Trump may have won big with white voters on Election Day, but calling on Democratic candidates to allocate more resources for white working class outreach might not be the best strategy considering the growing diversity of the working class. A lack of black and Hispanic turnout contributed to Clinton's loss, after all; and as the country continues to diversify, it will become increasingly important for candidates to reach working class voters of color. A 2016 report from the Economic Policy Institute found that America's working class will be comprised of a majority of minorities by 2032.

A tweet thread from The New Yorker's James Surowiecki reflected on how U.S. politicians have historically marginalized voters of color in efforts to win white working class voters, Vox reported.

"[I]t's not unreasonable for people to worry that this focus on working-class whites will again lead to POC being sold out, once again," Surowieki wrote. "Real question is whether Dems can follow through on [an agenda that incorporates economic populism and anti-racism], and not choose, once again, to try to win back white votes at expense of POC."