White Non-College Educated

Donald Trump took 62% of the vote with “white non college graduate women” and 72% of the vote with “white non college educated men”.  

Is “white non-college educated” the new euphemism for white trash, clay eaters, waste people, mudsill, or countless other ways to describe this demographic?

I’m reading “White Trash”, an insightful historical perspective of poor working class non-minority Americans. I’m up to Chapter 11 where it mentions “identity politics” beginning in 1968. This line jumped off the page at me. “Some people can choose an identity, but many more have an identity chosen for them. White trash folks never took that name for themselves…..” In my opinion, our political parties now refer to them as “white, non-college educated”…..with the same disdain.

And how does the Democratic Party gain a foothold in this demographic?


26 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. To answer your question:

    Is “white non-college educated” the new euphemism for white trash, clay eaters, waste people, mudsill, or countless other ways to describe this demographic?

    Only if you’re an asshole.

    I don’t use that word lightly — I rarely curse on this forum. But yeah, I mean it here. If someone equates a person 25 years or older without a college degree as any of those things — that person is an asshole.

    I wonder if a different metric (albeit more difficult to measure and imperfect in it’s own right) would be: Are your wages hourly or are you paid on salary? I’m not so sure the relevant difference is college degree; I think it has far more to do with both (a) job stability, (b) hours and weekly pay, and (c) prospects for a new/better/different job. Hourly vs. salary may do a better job of reflecting those differences.

    • Okay then

      What is the key difference between white non college educated men/women and college educated that lead to Trump doing so well and Clinton doing so poorly?

      I think Michael Moore spoke to this issue.

      I agree with him, 100%.

      • What is the key difference?

        I think it has everything to do with perceived economic security. Not actual, not measurable, but perceived.

        I’m not certain though, and I think it’s worth spending some time talking and more time listening.

      • John, the more I think about it

        and I live with and serve what people consider the white working class, the more I think that a lot of it just has to do with partisanship. Many of these folks As a selectman, I went to a Purple Heart ceremony last month, I’m sure most of the folks voted for Trump. A lot of them are probably Republican or identify with Republicans. Trying to get them to switch parties would be like trying to get me to become a Yankees fan.

        Most people–I’m not talking stupid, I’m not talking educated, I’m talking most people–don’t think deeply about politics or follow the news like we do. I plan on some community organizing in Granby when I finish as selectman, but a problem is a lack of institutions to bind people together.

        • I think it's values.

          When I worked a a service dispatcher, supervising about two dozen repairmen, I’d say that all of them voted for Scott Brown, Donald Trump, and the usual sorts.

          They are convinced that the poor people are stealing from them “lazy people on welfare won’t work” and they see that as a moral issue. I have many anecdotes from them over the years, each with the same underlying tone….”I’m working my ass off and not able to make it while the poor are taking my tax dollars”.

          They don’t see the full picture. They don’t see that the owner of the company is taking an unfair share of the wealth that their labor is generating. They don’t see the tax loopholes that he gets and they do not. They listen to Howie Carr and take it all in, and they have to strike out against someone, so its “those lazy poor”.

          Johnson said it best, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Only now, it’s not colored people, it’s poor people.

          And Republicans have crafted this into a moral values issue. Why attack the person who worked for his money? Look at all the takers! Of course , what’s left out is that so many of the wealthy people in our nation never really ever “worked” a day in their lives or took a fraction of the risks that most of us do.

          As Exhibit “A” I will offer Donald Trump. Without reference to their small size, I doubt he’s ever had a callous on his hands from working. And as to risks, he, like all of his ilk, game the system so that others take the risks for him.

          • So the trick is how to change that...

            …so they will just as readily say, “I’m working my ass off and not able to make it while the rich are taking my tax dollars”. There’s at least as much corporate welfare to go around as there is AFDC-style welfare.

            • You can't change that until the Democratic Party agrees .....

              ….to attack the system that has unfair protections and provisions for the rich. As I see it, the Democratic Party protects women from what they describe as a patriarchy. The Democratic Party protects minorities from what it describes as white racists. It protects the GLBTQ community from homophobes. Mind you, all noble pursuits and all rooted in some truths….but it picks one group and pits it against another, assuming uniformity in each group. That leaves out a lot of people and puts people in places they may not deserve.

              Some have said that I hate the rich. I do not. My mistake has been in using the term “the rich” when I should instead use “the system” (or the game or the rules…??). I will not make that mistake again.

              Democrats will have ample opportunities to attack the system, now that the poster child of the system and his family are running things for their benefit.

              If I were being sworn in as president next week, I would be expected to place my Fidelity and other accounts in a blind trust. It’s an amount far less then a million dollars, so no one would support me if I said that I could not do that as it would put an unfair financial burden on me. After all, the president’s salary is $400K a year, plus expenses and a comfortable (for most) retirement package. However, “the system” it appears is DIFFERENT for the rich as Trump is not held to the SAME standard as me. That’s unfair. That’s something that any American would disapprove of, the same ones that are now focused on the “welfare cheats”.

              But are we, as Democrats willing to attack the system?

    • We have about a dozen folks in our department who are college graduates and earn an hourly wage (well above minimum wage). Most, if not all, of them did not vote for Trump. As you suggest it is probably a mix of things including the wage earned. I don’t think simple hourly vs. salary does it.

      • There is no "simple"

        I agree that it’s imperfect. The question is: is it more informative than dividing on college degree?

        • For example...

          …is this BA/BS only, excluding community college degrees?

          Does it exclude business owners in the trades without an academic BA/BS?

          And so on. It is trying to make a 4 year degree a synonym for smart, as opposed to too stoopid to vote for Hillary. I happen to be a professional without a BA/BS, but my government, administrative, and financial sector career is invalidated in this supposition.

          • Yip

            I really think it’s “trying” to get at those who we think have stable jobs versus those who we think don’t.

            But for me, at least with respect to economics, I see far more in common between the young college graduate driving Uber and the 46 year old part time maintenance worker. I don’t see anything in common between the 40 year old college graduate working a full time job and the 68 year old fully retired college graduate.

        • voting categories

          As you examine the results of the game (the election) and try to figure out how your team lost one area you have seemed to settle on has been college vs non college.
          For the college educated I would think it needs to be broken down into fields of study also. In an admittedly small sample I know, some Trump voters degrees (Finance, Criminal Justice, Business) and the Hillary voters (Education, Public Health). Any info how things break down this way?

  2. Universal messages resonate universally

    I don’t think we need a white male or noncollege educated strategy, I think we just need a simple and easy to understand message about lifting everyone up and making society fairer. That means more justice to the wealthy to pay their fair share and play by the same rules as everyone else. It means truly creating equality of opportunity through innovative policies.

    The status quo of stratification is unsustainable and a danger to our democracy, as President Obama eloquently argued in his speech. Fortress America as Trump proposes hasn’t worked in the past and won’t work tomorrow. Expanding the welfare state as Sanders proposes won’t work if it’s not also reimagined for a post-industrial context. Simply put, we need new policies and new ideas that can be widely understood.

    • Could not agree more

      And I was not suggesting that we need a specific white male or noncollege educated strategy or any other sort of identity politics. I am saying that our party’s current identity politics strategy leaves too many people out and fragments us, weakens us.

      Simply put, we need new policies and new ideas that can be widely understood.

      We need to be a party of universal values that are unaffected by identity.

      Universal values trump issues and identities.

      • In other words, you and jconway want mush

        Really nice policies that help everyone and don’t hurt anyone, and make everyone feel good.

        • Where did I say this?

          I want the same policies everybody else here does. You start the conversation with pointing out that the system is unfair and benefits the wealthy and connected and we will build a system that benefits ordinary people for a change. That’s it. That’s how you start to engage the constituency we lost or didn’t convince to come out.

          When I managed my last campaign in Chelsea for he CPA, our early lit and forums were too wonky and detailed for the average voter. By making the policy simple (eg. Yes for parks; Yes for homes; Yes for history) we made much further inroads than explaining how surcharges and state matching funds worked. Details matter for policy, they are irrelevant to voters. The election of Trump and Obama who were the vaguer and more emotional alternatives to Clinton should’ve confirmed this.

    • Lovely thought

      I don’t think we need a white male or noncollege educated strategy, I think we just need a simple and easy to understand message about lifting everyone up and making society fairer. That means more justice to the wealthy to pay their fair share and play by the same rules as everyone else. It means truly creating equality of opportunity through innovative policies.

      The “lifting everyone up” message was pretty constant in the Clinton campaign. Clinton hit all those themes and regularly. It’s a lovely thought. We’ve been there. It’s difficult to accept its failure. It’s such a lovely thought it should win.

      But it lost.

      It lost out (in key electoral college states) to the idea that a tough leader would succeed at forcing through the necessary change for prosperity better than someone skilled at building bridges, consensus, and policy prescriptions.

      Part of that is who is more susceptible to authoritarian messaging. Maybe candidates need to talk to those folks differently?

  3. Rubbish ... same exit polling group

    The real reason, they both were bad options and those voters picked the wildcard.


    • We lost

      Call is rubbish, but we lost. Why do you want to double down?

    • First, what else should that group be labeled?

      It seems pretty descriptive, and “white” and “college educated” seem to be important differentiators when it comes to voting. Three decades of identity politics exacerbates the “white” bit, and the difference in the economic fortunes of college-educated vs not-college-educated folks has exploded during that same period.

      Second, we had two awful, awful “mainstream” party candidates to choose from. One had a long and storied history of using government to war against the 99%, the other at least knew enough to mouth, with seeming conviction, a few things that acknowledge some of the reasons for the 99% getting brutalized in recent years. Most Trump voters simply voted for the potentially-lesser evil.

      Hopefully we can promptly remove the Third Way cancer from the Democratic Party, and once again run candidates that don’t want to steal from the poor and give to the rich*, but it’ll be one hell of a fight.

      *Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and most of the MA congressional delegation excluded, thank Goddess.

      • Words cannot express...

        …how strongly I disagree with your contention that we had TWO awful candidates representing the major parties, and it is precisely that attitude that contributes to where we find ourselves now.

        Regarding college-educated, I think there is more to it than whether or not that is literally your status. After all, everyone was at one point not college educated. While there is plenty I gained from a college education, my 18-year-old pre-college self would not have been any more inclined to vote for the DUMB candidate than I am now in my late 30s with both a BA and an MA to my name.

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Sat 29 Apr 11:21 AM