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Press release/statement

Tamara Draut Releases Updated Book Examining the Political and Economic Status of America’s New Working Class

The Sleeping Giant Paperback Offers New Insights on the 2016 Election and the Economic Conditions of the New Working Class

New York, NY – Two years and a divisive Presidential election after the hardcover was released, Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos, announces the release of a revised paperback version of her book Sleeping Giant: The Untapped Economic and Political Power of America’s New Working Class, published by Anchor Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The updated book features new analyses, insights, and data from the 2016 election to show how, more than ever before, women and people of color are a dominating force in America’s new working class.

Sleeping Giant is the only book out today that examines America’s new working class: how it’s different from a generation ago and how fixing working-class issues means addressing class, race, and gender. In her book, Draut also shows how American workers are no longer confined to an assembly line; today’s working class watches our children and cares for our parents, screens our luggage, cleans our offices, and cooks and serves our meals. She also argues that economic inequality and the squeeze facing most American workers is best addressed by reviving the economic and political clout of the new working class.

“Following the 2016 election, the working class has captured the nation’s attention, but the primary focus on the white working class has left an important segment of the population essentially invisible,” said Tamara Draut, author of Sleeping Giant and Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos. “The new working class—dominated by people of color and women working in service jobs—are not sitting idly by. The sleeping giant is stirring and policymakers must prioritize an economic agenda that meets their needs, or they’ll pay at the ballot box.”

Draut’s book also offers a comparison on racial resentment between white Trump voters and white Clinton voters—showing how Trump’s victory in 2016 wasn’t simply a question of economic populism. Sleeping Giant outlines a bold policy proposal for how progressives can mainstream the policy needs of the new working-class through multi-racial populism, and how this approach can help Democrats win back control of Congress.

“Tamara’s insightful commentary on the state of the working class should be a wake-up call to leaders in Washington that this group has the power to determine the future of our democracy and must be listened to,” said Heather McGhee, President of Demos. “It’s time for our elected leaders to stand on the side of hard-working Americans and enact a bold progressive economic agenda.”

Draut has written extensive research and commentary on labor issues and the new working class, including “A Better Deal,” a policy agenda adopted by Senate Democrats to support working-class Americans; Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead (2006), “Message to Democrats: Don’t run away from race and class in 2018 and 2020 elections,” and “After 100 days of Trump, middle America has suffered — bigly.” She recently released a primer on the working class, “Understanding the Working Class,” which goes into detail on the demographic, economic, and political characteristics of the new working class.

Fresh analysis from the updated version of The Sleeping Giant includes:  

  • Analysis of 2016 and the whole working class—not just white working-class voters. Draut provides new data comparing levels of racial resentment between white Trump voters and white Clinton voters—showing Trump’s appeal wasn’t simply a question of economic populism.
  • An explanation and an agenda for how progressives can center the needs of the working class—all the working class—with a multi-racial populism.
  • Situates today’s working class, which is more black, brown, and female, in the 2016 election outcomes and with a look toward 2018 and 2020.
  • Provides updated figures about the jobs of today’s working class—and how the nature of work has changed from the occupations of the older, mostly white industrial working class that has captured so much media attention.