Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
HAVE YOUR DONATION DOUBLED!

If you are able to donate $100 or more for our Annual Fund Drive, your donation will be matched by another generous CounterPuncher! These are tough times. Regardless of the political rhetoric bantered about the airwaves, the recession hasn’t ended for most of us. We know that money is tight for many of you. But we also know that tens of thousands of daily readers of CounterPunch depend on us to slice through the smokescreen and tell it like is. Please, donate if you can!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Sanders Campaign, Greater Appalachia and Young Workers

by

The white working class is ready. Are you?

The 2016 Democratic primary gives us a way of assessing the potential for organizing among white workers. This may sound surprising since the corporate media created a narrative about how white workers supported Trump in the general election. But clear-eyed observers such as Konstantin Kilibarda and Daria Roithmayr, Mike Davis, Bill Fletcher, Jeffrey St.Clair and Jake Johnston have countered that story.

It was the Democrats that abandoned the working class with Trump merely holding on to the Romney electorate as Clinton underperformed Obama in almost every demographic including white workers. The corporate story about white workers in the general election obscures a far more important story for activists and organizers. In order to reverse the drift toward war and corporate rule, we will have to launch bold and aggressive campaigns that replace the discredited corporate forms of identity politics and meritocratic thinking typical of the Democrats.

The Clinton machine tried to assemble an unconvincing coalition, bringing working people and urban professionals together to support a fundamentally corporate and imperial agenda. This project failed, and will fail again, but that failure can open the door to grassroots democracy. The Sanders campaign strongly suggests that victory is possible. If activists and dissident political movements can offer visionary leadership and mount determined organizing drives then millions of white workers will join the movements for social justice and economic democracy.

Greater Appalachia

While an overall analysis of the primary or general election is beyond the scope of this article, we can learn a good bit by looking at “Greater Appalachia.” By this I mean the region of the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to northern Alabama. I realize this is not the typical way of describing Appalachia.[1]

Greater Appalachia is however appropriate for assessing the political potential of the white working class because this region is demographically far whiter than the rest of the country, solidly working class, and ethnically more Scots-Irish.

Southern Appalachia is a region of stubborn poverty. Central Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and New England, outside of the metropolitan areas, have, like the rest of the country, never recovered from the 2008 crisis. These areas are also distant from the urban political machines which have long histories of producing votes for machine politicians.

The electoral map of the 2016 Primary in the New York Times captures the general trends. From northern Alabama to Maine, it shows that Sanders was very competitive where he did not win outright. Where Clinton did win, it was by narrow margins. It is reasonable to assume that had the DNC not rigged the primary for Clinton or the media not presented Clinton as the “presumptive nominee” or elevated Trump with billions in free publicity, Sanders would have done far better.

Sanders voters in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York voted later in the primary season persisting in their dissent  long after the narratives of Clinton’s “inevitably” were widely circulated by party elites and corporate media.

Clinton did worse and Sanders better in the Appalachian region of every state.

The Daily Kos, a news outlet friendly to Clinton, offered the following analysis.

“The Democratic primary exhibited an even starker division between each state’s Appalachian and non-Appalachian regions. While Clinton won every state except West Virginia, she performed worse in every state’s Appalachian region and Sanders easily won Appalachian Kentucky and North Carolina. Sanders also came very close to victory in Appalachian Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia despite Clinton easily winning the remainders of those states. Clinton won by a comfortable margin in southern Appalachia outside of North Carolina, but still performed dramatically worse than in the rest of those states.”

If we move north, we see support for Sanders in the rural upland regions of Central Pennsylvania and Upstate New York.

While the definition of Appalachian Pennsylvania is unclear, the core of the majority white working class mountain region that follows the ridges of the Appalachian chain in central Pennsylvania voted for Sanders.[2] In three of the central state mountain counties where Clinton does win – Fulton, Bedford and Union – the machine wins by razor thin majorities. “Sanders, for his part, performed strongly in the rural parts of the state, winning rural voters 50-48 and carrying Central Pennsylvania 50-49.

In upstate New York, Sanders wins all but three counties. In the Catskills, just outside of suburban NYC, Sanders wins Sullivan Country 56.1 to 43.9, Ulster County 62.6 to 37.4 and Dutchess County 51.5 to 48.4.

As a general indication of class consciousness, in NY, “Clinton won voters who said Wall Street does more to help the economy, Sanders won among those who said it hurts the economy.

It is interesting to note that many counties in New York flipped from voting for Obama in the 2008 general to Trump in 2016. Fourteen NY state counties flipped from voting for Obama twice to voting for Trump. Was this a sign of bigotry unleashed by Trump? Or was it the deep disappointment in Clinton, who, as former Senator from New York, had failed to keep her promise of jobs and economic development? Or both? We need more evidence.

Sanders went from strength to strength in New England, where he took three of four counties in Western Massachusetts and won all of Vermont, all of New Hampshire, and all of Maine.

The story is not just that Bernie would have won, although all the polls agree. The story is that win or lose, the Sanders campaign shows us what might be. And that assessment is positive enough to encourage anti-racist, union, community organizing, anti-war and environmental movement building among the white working class.

Young Workers of America Unite!

Young workers face the economic crisis head on. If the Sanders campaign is any measure, then young white workers, and young workers from all backgrounds, are fired up and ready for change.

Organizers, listen up!

Young Women Voted Differently than Older Women

+ Young women (ages 17-29) who participated in the Democratic Super Tuesday primaries favored Sanders 57% over Clinton 41%.

In North Carolina, almost three-quarters (72%) of Democratic youth supported Sanders.

In Missouri, Sanders received overwhelming youth support at 78%.

Young Ohio voters supported Sanders 81% to 19%.

Young people in the West Virginia continued to support Sanders far more than the presumptive Democratic nominee. Young voters, ages 17-29, favored Sanders 70% to 25%.

In Maryland, Sanders received 68% of youth support.

In Michigan, young voters went for 81% for Sanders. “Michigan mirrored early majority-white states where Sanders received extremely strong support from young people.”

+ New York “Overall Sanders won among voters age 18-29 in the Empire State, capturing 65% of this demographic.”

+ In Pennsylvania, Sanders swept younger voters with a stunning 83-17. These numbers are so lopsided we can say with confidence that Sanders did well with young white workers.

Young Democrats Want More Liberal Policies and an Honest Nominee On Super Tuesday, 44% percent of young Democratic primary voters, compared to 28% Democratic voters of all ages, wanted to see more liberal policies rather than a continuation of Obama’s policies. White youth were the most likely to choose this answer….Finally, young Democratic primary voters were more likely (32%) than other age groups to name Income Inequality as the most important issue facing the nation, though “Jobs and Economy” continues to be their top priority (41%). [emphasis added]

In the 20 states for which we have data, nearly 2 million young people have voted for Senator Sanders, almost three times more youth votes than any other candidate in either party….More youth have voted for Senator Sanders than for Clinton and Trump combined.”

Since I am using electoral data as a general indicator of what is possible, the white working class, the young white working class in particular, is ready for change.

The corporate order — in all of its extremism and excess — is in decline and disarray whether managed by an Obama, a Clinton or a Trump.

Corporate politics can only offer more of the same: perpetual war and global empire, mass incarceration and mass surveillance and the hollowing out of all of our once democratic institutions from elections, to unions, to the Bill of Rights, to education.  The crazy corporate crusade to pillage the planet and impose inequality and austerity cannot be sustained.

Things fall apart; the extreme center cannot hold.[3]

As the white working class — and the whole working class — becomes increasingly unmoored from its tethers, some will soar and some will crash.  But as the great organizer Ella Baker said: “Give light and the people will find a way.”

Notes. 

1/ I make no pretense at offering a comprehensive analysis of the complex historical trends, cultural characteristics, and demographics that make up the either the traditional core of Appalachia, lying south of the Mason-Dixon line, or the northern upland regions of Pennsylvania, New York, and New England.

2/ The Daily Kos article cited above uses a broader definition of Appalachian Pennsylvania much more favorable to Clinton.

3/ Apologies to Yeats, The Second Coming

More articles by:

Richard Moser writes at befreedom.co where this article first appeared.

Weekend Edition
October 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 compared to 1917
Paul Street
The Not-So-Radical “Socialist” From Vermont
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in the Life of CounterPunch
Jason Hirthler
Censorship in the Digital Age
Jonathan Cook
Harvey Weinstein and the Politics of Hollywood
Andrew Levine
Diagnosing the Donald
Michelle Renee Matisons
Relocated Puerto Rican Families are Florida’s Latest Class War Targets
Richard Moser
Goldman Sachs vs. Goldman Sachs?
David Rosen
Male Sexual Violence: As American as Cherry Pie
Mike Whitney
John Brennan’s Police State USA
Robert Hunziker
Mr. Toxicity Zaps America
Robert Fantina
Fatah, Hamas, Israel and the United States
Edward Curtin
Organized Chaos and Confusion as Political Control
Patrick Cockburn
The Transformation of Iraq: Kurds Have Lost 40% of Their Territory
CJ Hopkins
Tomorrow Belongs to the Corporatocracy
Bill Quigley
The Blueprint for the Most Radical City on the Planet
Brian Cloughley
Chinese Dreams and American Deaths in Africa
John Hultgren
Immigration and the American Political Imagination
Gerry Brown
China’s Elderly Statesmen
Pepe Escobar
Kirkuk Redux Was a Bloodless Offensive, Here’s Why
Jill Richardson
The Mundaneness of Sexual Violence
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Choreography of Human Dignity: Blade Runner 2049 and World War Z
Missy Comley Beattie
Bitch, Get Out!!
Andre Vltchek
The Greatest Indonesian Painter and “Praying to the Pig”
Ralph Nader
Why is Nobelist Economist Richard Thaler so Jovial?
Ricardo Vaz
Venezuela Regional Elections: Chavismo in Triumph, Opposition in Disarray and Media in Denial
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
NAFTA Talks Falter, Time To Increase Pressure
GD Dess
Why We Shouldn’t Let Hillary Haunt Us … And Why Having a Vision Matters
Ron Jacobs
Stop the Idiocy! Stop the Mattis-ness!
Russell Mokhiber
Talley Sergent Aaron Scheinberg Coca Cola Single Payer and the Failure of Democrats in West Virginia
Michael Barker
The Fiction of Kurt Anderson’s “Fantasyland”
Murray Dobbin
Yes, We Need to Tax the Rich
Dave Lindorff
Two Soviet Spies Who Deserve a Posthumous Nobel Peace Prize
Rafael Bernabe – Manuel Rodríguez Banchs
Open Letter to the People of the United States From Puerto Rico, a Month After Hurricane María
Oliver Tickell
#FreeJackLetts
Victor Grossman
From Jamaica to Knees
Michael Welton
Faith and the World: the Baha’i Vision
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Kirkuk the Consolation Prize?
Graham Peebles
Beyond Neo-Liberal Consumerism
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s Citizenship Bill Fails
Louis Proyect
On Gowans on Syria
Charles R. Larson
Review: Candida R. Moss and Joel S. Baden’s “Bible Nation: the United States of Hobby Lobby”
October 19, 2017
Farhang Jahanpour
Europe Must Stop Trump From Starting Another War in the Middle East
John W. Whitehead
The Experiment in Freedom is Failing
Karen Hicks
Make Big Pharma Pay for the Opioid Crisis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail