Law prof’s book asks if ‘class cluelessness’ led to Trump’s election win

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Joan Williams.

Professionals with large salaries and “class cluelessness” may be the reason Donald Trump was elected president, according to a new book by a University of California Hastings Law professor.

“White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluenessless in America” is written by Joan Williams, who also directs the law school’s Center for WorkLife Law.

In an interview with American Lawyer’s Vivia Chen, Williams sees lawyers as part of the issue in that they are often seen as being obsessed with work and themselves–two characteristics the white working-class disdain.

The piece points out that while to many professionals a college education is a given, only 33 percent of Americans graduate from college. The median income of a working-class family in 2015 was $75,144, according to the article, which notes that while the upper class may have stereotypes about the working class, the same can be said in reverse. Chen asked Williams if it was fair to put the responsibility on “the elites.”

“It’s totally fair,” Williams said. “Some people tell me, ‘but [working whites] insult us,’ but, excuse me, who has the power in this relationship? If you feel powerless, and you’re making $200,000 as an associate or a couple of million as a partner, then you lack imagination.”

Chen writes that professionals may not be as dismissive of blue-collar workers as Williams suggests. Her piece mentions a recent book party for Williams at the Penn Club of New York, an “exclusive not-for-profit private club” connected to the University of Pennsylvania alumni, according to its website.

“How can we reach out to the white working class? We don’t know any,” an attendee at the party said, according to the article.


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