Batya Ungar-Sargon calls Trump the working class voice in book

Rikki Schlott

US News

“The Democrats have become the party of the over-credentialed college elites. They hate the working class. They have contempt for them. And the working class is noticing,” author Batya Ungar-Sargon told The Post.

Case in point: Joe Biden charging as much as $500,000 for tickets to a so-called “grassroots fundraiser” with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at Radio City Music Hall Thursday. (Donald Trump, on the same day, attended the Long Island wake for an NYPD officer killed in the line of duty.)

In her new book, “Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women,” out April 2, the Newsweek deputy opinion editor set out to answer important questions: Who are today’s working class — and do they still have a shot at the American dream?

She traveled the country interviewing people of varied political, gender, racial and religious backgrounds and came away surprised by just how much they have in common.

“Whether they were a Hispanic cleaning lady in a hotel in Las Vegas, or a black sanitation worker in New York, or a white rural worker who works for Amazon, they had very similar views,” Ungar-Sargon told The Post. “They have actually an unbelievable consensus about the important issues, and what they would like to see in government.”

The author self-describes as a left-wing populist and pro-Trump Marxist, and she believes that supposed ideological and demographical divides are misleading.

Newsweek editor Batya Ungar-Sargon argues in her new book that Trump is an effective voice for the working class.

“We think of this country as having a political divide, but we are actually not divided politically,” she told The Post. “The real divide in this country is along class lines — between an over-credentialed college elite and the working class.”

Though she has a PhD herself, and admits to being “100% of the class I critique,” she’s motivated to give a voice to the working class who, she says, have been robbed of a platform by politicians and journalists from the elite echelons of society.

“I simply cannot stand to see the good-hearted working-class people of this country smeared by the left that sold them out,” she said. “We simply have evicted the working class from public view. We just don’t hear from them anymore, even though they represent most Americans.”

The author predicts a mass shift of non-white voters to Trump in 2024. REUTERS

Ungar-Sargon/s extensive interviews for “Second Class” reveal a common thread: that working-class Americans, regardless of their personal characteristics or political affiliation, generally agree on which political reforms would improve their lives.

The author realized that working-class Americans largely share the same view on stricter border control and trade tariffs that favor domestic industry.

“The open border hurts them economically in a very real way by driving down their wages — and that’s obvious to people, whether they are Democrats or Republicans,” she explained.

Working-class America overwhelmingly opposes Democrats’ open border policies, according to Ungar-Sargon. AP

Working-class Americans are also overwhelmingly in favor of promoting vocational training and trade schools as an alternative to higher education — though Ungar-Sargon writes that elite politicians are responsible for the fact that our government invests $150 billion in higher education, compared to just $1 billion in vocational trades.

“Skilled trades are one of the few working-class jobs that really guarantees the American dream, and yet we’ve sort of cut that out of public life,” she said.

Finally, Ungar-Sargon says working-class Americans are generally opposed to zoning laws that restrict housing development for the benefit of NIMBYs: “Getting rid of the laws that allow wealthy liberals to protect their neighborhoods from having duplexes would let us build a million new units a year, and in a decade solve the housing crisis.”

“Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women” is Ungar-Sargon’s second book.

Ungar-Sargon blames both Democrats and Republicans for sometimes not listening to working-class Americans, saying, “Both parties have one piece of the puzzle but then are actively undermining working-class interests on the other side.”

She points to Democrats’ open border policies and Republicans’ lack of action on expanding healthcare access as points of failure.

Bernie Sanders speaks to populist sensibilities from a left-wing perspective, says the author Getty Images for People’s Rally to Cancel Student Debt

But the author says there are politicians who stand out as voices of the working class — namely, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Although they might seem opposite at face value, Ungar-Sargon believes the two share populist sensibilities, along with Republican Sen. JD Vance of Ohio. 

“Bernie spoke about the struggle of the little guy against the billionaires and the corporations. And Trump does a very similar thing. Even though he doesn’t rail against billionaires, his policies are very much designed to weigh power in favor of the worker in relation to corporations,” she said.

Trump supporters, she added, “are people who feel like the little guy has been left behind.”

Ungar-Sargon’s book couldn’t be more timely ahead of the 2024 election.

Ungar-Sargon says that JD Vance and Donald Trump are particularly adept at appealing to working-class sensibilities. AP

More Hispanic voters support Trump than Biden, according to polling, and Trump is reportedly making inroads with black men — trends that Ungar-Sargon predicts will continue.

“Any Republican who thinks that [these voters are] defecting to the GOP is totally wrong. They are defecting to Trump, because they see in him a champion for working-class issues,” the author said.

“I think that’s the number one trend to keep your eye on. That’s really the realignment right there.”

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