Krugman responds to Bernie’s call that we move away from identify politics. He makes some good points, though I think he focuses too much on Hillary and fails to include Sanders proposals that were more well received by the white working class. That said, I personally do not think it’s a zero sum game; we can organize and champion coalitions that are uniquely at risk while also pursuing a populist economic agenda rooted in union support, job creation and wage growth. Fighting for LGBTQ rights, or racial justice, or criminal justice reform is just as important as renegotiating trade agreements, tackling corruption and getting money out of politics. We need not be divided around theses issues. We just need to do better at practicing what we preach, and we have a long way to go.
“Now, you might say that health insurance is one thing, but what people want are good jobs. Eastern Kentucky used to be coal country, and Mr. Trump, unlike Mrs. Clinton, promised to bring the coal jobs back. (So much for the idea that Democrats need a candidate who will stand up to the fossil fuels industry.) But it’s a nonsensical promise.
Where did Appalachia’s coal mining jobs go? They weren’t lost to unfair competition from China or Mexico. What happened instead was, first, a decades-long erosion as U.S. coal production shifted from underground mining to strip mining and mountaintop removal, which require many fewer workers: Coal employment peaked in 1979, fell rapidly during the Reagan years, and was down more than half by 2007. A further plunge came in recent years thanks to fracking. None of this is reversible.
Is the case of former coal country exceptional? Not really. Unlike the decline in coal, some of the long-term decline in manufacturing employment can be attributed to rising trade deficits, but even there it’s a fairly small fraction of the story. Nobody can credibly promise to bring the old jobs back; what you can promise — and Mrs. Clinton did — are things like guaranteed health care and higher minimum wages. But working-class whites overwhelmingly voted for politicians who promise to destroy those gains.”
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million, and she would probably be president-elect if the director of the F.B.I. hadn’t laid such a heavy thumb on the scales, just days before the election. But it shouldn’t even have been close; what put Donald Trump in striking distance was overwhelming support from whites without college degrees.