Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Operatic disdain for white people is bad politics

Ryan Cooper, The Week

Why liberals need to stop doing collective guilt over election results.

Democrats whiffed the Virginia elections this week, and the dread “Karen” is to blame. So argues Wajahat Ali at The Daily Beast, pointing to exit polls finding that a 57 percent majority of white women voted for the GOP in the state. “Democrats must finally stop chasing Amy and Karen, and start chasing Stacey: lean on women of color and a multicultural coalition that will inspire and bring out voters of color, who are your base and helped deliver you Georgia and Arizona,” he writes.

This is a stupid and counterproductive argument. Liberals’ habit of using collective responsibility to explain election outcomes needs to stop.

To start with, the class connotation of “Karen” isn’t even right. This (increasingly grating and offensive) stereotype is generally applied to educated, upper-middle class white women with a bad case of entitlement. Examples are people who call the cops on Black men at the drop of a hat, yell at service workers, work to keep their schools racially segregated, flip out about affordable housing proposals, and so on. But white female college graduates are the closest subgroup to the stereotype in the Virginia exit polls and they actually swung towards Democrats. It was white female non-graduates who swung Republican, from 56 percent to 75 percent (which Ali does note, to be fair). For the argument to make sense, we need a more classist derogatory synecdoche — maybe Krystal or Amber?

Secondly, operatic disdain for white people is politically daft. Non-Hispanic white people make up about 60 percent of the American population. As a matter of simple arithmetic, it is impossible to win a national election without winning a substantial portion of those voters. Consider the 2020 election and white men, who vote Republican at even higher rates than white women. If the Biden campaign had been following Ali’s line of thinking, it would have written them off even more firmly than white women.


Leave a Reply