Sarah Smarsh has a well written opinion piece up in the NYT titled “Liberal Blind Spots Are Hiding the Truth About “Trump Country.“ To give a flavor of her piece:
WICHITA, Kan. — Is the white working class an angry, backward monolith — some 90 million white Americans without college degrees, all standing around in factories and fields thumping their dirty hands with baseball bats? You might think so after two years of media fixation on this version of the aggrieved laborer: male, Caucasian, conservative, racist, sexist.
. . . . Most struggling whites I know live lives of quiet desperation mad at their white bosses, not resentment of their co-workers or neighbors of color. My dad’s previous three bosses were all white men he loathed for abuses of privilege and people.
While I don't agree with all of her arguments, it is a very important contribution because the notion that Trump and the Republican party became a White Working Class movement was always factually incorrect and was really an attempt by pundits and the rest to excuse the rampant racism among the White middle class, rich and elites. (See this Ta-Nehisi Coates piece for the best exploration of the issue.)
I’d also point out that her original framing is wrong — “Whites without college degrees” does not equal “White working class.” This was one of the key mistakes leading to this whole meme. Even in counties where Trump led in the category of “Whites without college degrees,” surveys consistently showed that those voters were still the wealthier voters in their counties. (The explanation is that many folks without college degrees still become relatively affluent, often by going into business for themselves (or taking over a family business)). The Republican party is still very largely a party of the wealthier.
Anyway, I thought the most important part of her piece was the following: