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Obama And The End Of Working-class Veneration

Jason's post about Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert and socklessness was funny and telling, and also had the feel of a bygone era. I've written a lot about the elite obsession with venerating the white working class. I think it's largely a product of the red state-blue state political maps of the Bush era. Starting in 2000, Republicans acquired the image of the party of regular Americans, which means whites without college degrees. The white working class became the favored class of the Bush era, with politicians and elite pundits constantly striving to demonstrate their cultural bona fides. It wasn't necessarily important to agree with the white working class on policy, or -- heaven forbid! -- to actually be working class. The thing was to convincingly ape white working class social mores. Jason's point about Russert, Brokaw and socks is a terrific example.  

But I also wonder whether this will persist through the Obama presidency. The underpinning of white working class veneration was the sense that they represented not only authentic America but the key to the American majority. (I should note that I have nothing against white working class Americans, or any group of Americans of any color or class.) Now that we have a president who won a strong majority while decisively losing among the white working class, I really wonder if it will persist. Maybe the new trend will be demonstrating your affinity with Democratic constituencies -- television pundits could boast on air about their time in the Ivy League, or drop knowing references to rap music. But, ideally, the whole silly game will just come to an end.  

--Jonathan Chait