Liberals Need to Include the White Working Class in Their Discussions

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.​

Every day when I drive to work, I pass a rainbow sign that says “all are welcome, Raleigh, NC,” clean suburban shopping centers and yards cluttered with blue signs. But most of the state is not like this. North Carolina, a supposed purple state, is still very much red.

I didn’t realize this until I went to the mountains a few weeks ago. As I drove West and the cluster of Hilliary-Kaine signs thinned, instead we saw massive pro-Trump billboards. My friends and I laughed at the signs saying things like “Hillary Sucks” or “Want a Job? Vote Trump-Pence.” When we arrived at our accommodation and I saw that our Airbnb host had a Trump-Pence sticker, I thought to myself, “Oh great…” But our host seemed kind and helpful. In our little house, she had left some snacks, water and a helpful little booklet with suggested travel itinerary. I played with her dog, a rescue, for a bit and she talked about how she was trying to find a permanent home for it. Like a lot of North Carolinians, she was friendly and hospitable.

Since I am young and live in the Triangle area, I don’t know many Trump supporters. It’s sometimes hard for me to fathom why anyone would support Trump, much less how 47% of Americans could. Then I remember that many people, especially in rural communities, didn’t have the same opportunities that I did as a 2016 college graduate from an upper-middle class family. While the economy has mostly recovered from the Great Recession, there are plenty of rural communities that still haven’t seen that recovery. Although Americans are trained to think they live in meritocracy, the reality is that the working class must overcome hurdles to land in a position almost guaranteed to their upper-middle class counterparts. Many voters saw Trump as an opportunity for change. However, I am skeptical his chances will be for the better.

As an Iranian-American, I am genuinely fearful for the future of my family and friends. I am upset that a Trump victory has legitimized feelings of hostility towards Muslim-Americans, POC, the LGBTQIA+ community, the disabled, and many others who are excluded from Trump’s vision of a “great” America. In electing Trump, his supporters have failed to acknowledge his unacceptable sexism and xenophobia. While it is my hope that those who have supported Trump and who have the privilege to not feel targeted by his words will someday empathize with those who fear his presidency, I think it is my responsibility to understand their point of view.

Before we can unite and heal, we must also realize that class is very often excluded from conversations about identity politics. To quote The New York Times, “From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a 'basket of deplorables' who aren’t all deplorable.” The white working class may never have to worry about being targeted because they are white, but they are still shunned and oppressed on other levels. While progressives must continue to stand up against racism and xenophobia, we must include the plight of the white working class in our conversations. We must begin to see beyond our own echo chambers.