I don't know if this is an appropriate subject for a diary, but I wanted to draw attention to a link that Nate Roberts included in another diary and I think is likely to be overlooked.
For a long time I, like many other liberals, accepted the meme that the white working class voted against their interests, and the reason they did so was due to racism. Sure, I personally knew a few poor white people who voted Democratic, but. . . they're my friends! Of course they're smarter than average! This was a bit of recieved wisdom that I never bothered to question until the Tea Party became the face of angry white folks.
I saw the pictures of the Tea Baggers (I love this phrase. It makes me think of Martha Plimpton.) and they did not look poor to me. Crass and without class, perhaps. Working class, no. Yet, at least at first, they were described as representing the elusive angry white working class. I began to have my doubts. First of all, I knew that poor people voted in larger numbers for Democrats than rich people did. Could non-whites be making the entire difference? Those doubts increased when it was reported that Tea Baggers "have higher than average incomes."
This leads me to ask a very important question that is the title of the diary, "Who is working class?" If we're going to make pronouncements and advocate policies concerning the working class, we ought to have some idea who they are.
John Quiggen put up a post on Crooked Timber not long ago that explored the question of how it's possible that "a substantial proportion of the working class votes for the more conservative/rightwing party" while "higher incomes are correlated with voting for the conservative/rightwing party." He also adds, "I’ve read that the average income of the US working class is the same as that of the population as a whole, which goes against the whole idea of “working class” as I understand it."
All became clear(or, at least, clearer) when I discovered that US political discussion uses two very different (though correlated) concepts of “working class”. The first is the more or less standard one – people who depend on wage labor (normally in manual or low-status service occupations) for their income. The second, specific to the US, and standard in most political polling, is “people without a 4-year college degree”, a class which includes such horny-handed sons and daughters of toil as Bill Gates and Paris Hilton. More prosaically, it includes lots of small business owners, and (since college graduation rates were rising until relative recently), over-represents the old.The post is not long and I highly recommend it.