Book review of Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer

Although Packer is right to focus on the revolt of the White working class against the Democratic Party — one of the most important political developments of the past half-century — he gets the story backward. “The more the party identified with the winners of the new economy,” he alleges, “the easier it became for the Republican Party to pull away white workers by appealing to cultural values.” This is not true; the White working-class revolt, which began in 1968, was sparked by the antiwar movement, patriotism, the counterculture and school busing — not economics. In 1972, George McGovern, tagged as the candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion,” received the lowest share of the White working-class vote Democrats have ever received, before or since.

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