A major theme at TOO is the racialization of American politics—the tendency for politics to reflect racial/ethnic identities rather than economic interest, as was the rule in pre-multicultural America where the Democrats were the party of working class Whites. The racialization of politics means that the Democrats’ “ascendant majority” of non-Whites is likely to dominate in the future, as they do in California where they had supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature (until two representatives of the ascendant [Ronald Calderon and Roderick Wright] got involved in scandals) and are urging Governor Jerry Brown to spend yet more money on social programs.
It’s interesting that one aspect of the new American identity politics is that Republicans are likely to continue to do relatively well in the Senate because each state gets two senators. That means that rural states with larger percentages of Whites, and especially older and working class Whites, are likely to vote Republican as racial identities increasingly dominate the political landscape (Ron Brownstein, “Parties trading places for 2014“). Clearly the White working class and older Whites are conspicuously absent from the coalition of the ascendant; Obama’s popularity is about 30% among these groups. Although these groups show the clearest pattern, Whites in general haven’t jumped on board the multicultural bandwagon as it heads into our glorious and vibrant future: majorities of all age groups and both sexes of Whites voted Republican in 2012; this trend will be more extreme in the future.
There are similar trends in the UK, where an observer described British political elites as posing “as champions of progress yet their fixation with multiculturalism is dragging us into a new dark age. In many of our cities, social solidarity is being replaced by divisive tribalism, democracy by identity politics.” And as in the U.S. where Whites and especially working class and older Whites are defecting from the Democrats, in the UK the White working class and older Whites are defecting from Labour to the UKIP (The Guardian: “White face, blue collar, grey hair: the left-behind voters that only Ukip understands“).
To truly understand Ukip’s appeal you need to go much deeper. The roots of this revolt can be traced back over decades. Divides in the social and economic experiences of voters have appeared, their values and priorities have been widening, and a new electorate of “left behind” voters has grown up. These voters are on the wrong side of social change, are struggling on stagnant incomes, feel threatened by the way their communities and country are changing, and are furious at an established politics that appears not to understand or even care about their concerns. And it is these left-behind voters who have finally found a voice in Farage’s revolt.
Farage is no catch-all populist; his appeal is concentrated in specific groups and is utterly alien to others. Ukip has virtually no support among the financially secure and the thirty- and fortysomething university graduates who dominate politics and the media. Support is weak among women, white-collar professionals and the young. Ethnic-minority voters shun the party totally.
Make no mistake, this is a revolt dominated by white faces, blue collars and grey hair: angry, old, white working-class men who left school at the earliest opportunity and lack the qualifications to get ahead in 21st-century Britain. … In fact, Ukip is the most working-class-dominated party since Michael Foot’s Labour in 1983. They struggle financially, worry about the future, and loathe the political class, not just Cameron and the Conservatives.
… Farage is winning over working-class, white male voters because they feel left behind by Britain’s rapid economic and social transformation and left out of our political conversation; struggling people who feel like strangers in a society whose ruling elites do not talk like them or value the things which matter to them.
This should ring loud alarm bells on the left. In a time of falling incomes, rising inequality and spending cuts, such voters should be lining up behind the party that traditionally stood for social protection and redistribution. Instead, they are switching their loyalty to a right-wing party headed by a stockbroker and staffed by activists who worship Thatcher. Those who are getting hit hardest by the crisis and austerity are turning not to Labour, but to Farage for solutions.
One reason for this is that for those left behind, politics is no longer about economics. These voters are not backing Ukip because of their economic concerns; they are backing the party because they see Farage as representing an identity and set of values they cherish but do not see expressed anywhere else. These voters have been left behind not just by wider trends, but the rise to dominance of a university-educated, professional middle-class elite whose priorities and outlook now define the mainstream.
This shift away from economics being by far the largest general factor in voter preferences has profound implications. A vote for Labour (or for the Democrats in the US) is a vote for the ascendant non-White coalition that is at the vanguard of the cultural of victimization — the culture of importing massive numbers of people with grievances and hostility against the White majority. (On the other hand, a vote for the Tories [or the Republicans] is a vote for pretty much the same, perhaps a little slower—which is why we need the American Freedom Party.)
A huge part of Labour’s strategy, as with the Democrats, has been to import a new voter base that would reliably reward them with their votes. In both cases, they shouldn’t be surprised when they see their old voter base defect when they realize that the party no longer meets their interests.
This phenomenon has spread throughout Europe:
These changes have been accompanied by a major transformation in the values that dominate the country. Across Europe it is no coincidence that radical right parties similar to Ukip win support from the same working-class voters, and accomplish this by targeting the same issues: national identity; immigration; Europe; and resentment of political and social elites. This is because there is now a deep and growing divide in the values of the left-behind and the professional middle-class mainstream.
The radical right in Europe is making a similar pitch, and for the same reason: the emergence of a large section of the electorate who feel the world they grew up with and valued is fading away, that what is replacing it is alien and threatening, and that no one in the mainstream understands their desire to turn back the tide of change. You cannot just ignore these voters – you need to have a conversation.
Throughout the West, the changes wrought by our hostile elites have destroyed the White working class and are anathema to older Whites who see that the country they grew up in is gone. In the U.S. we hear over and over again complaints from liberals that White working class people are not voting their economic interests when they vote Republican. Now we are hearing the analogous thing in Europe. It’s about race, stupid.