The great new dividing line in American life is the four-year college degree. The line runs through virtually every part of society.
The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else has soared in recent years. The unemployment gap has, too. So have gaps in physical and social health. College graduates are living longer than they used to, getting divorced less and eating better. All of these trends are darker for non-graduates.
Then there is politics. Americans without a college degree are today’s swing voters. White non-graduates shiftedsharply to Donald Trump last year, relative to 2012, and black non-graduates affected the result by staying home in larger numbers. Both decisions — voting for Trump or not voting at all — stemmed in part from alienation.
In an alternate universe, Trump would devote his presidency to a conservative agenda that improved the lives of the people who elected him. Remember when he proclaimed, “I love the poorly educated”? In this universe, he sure has a funny way of showing his love. He is trying to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, while lavishing tax cuts on the affluent.
But his real-world disdain for the working class creates an opening for the Democratic Party.
Democrats have to find a way to win more working-class votes. (Yes, I’m using “working class” as a rough synonym for the two-thirds of adults without bachelor’s degrees.) It’s not just Trump. Republicans control the House, the Senate, 33 governor’s offices and the legislature in 32 states.
- New York Times