Fear and Loathing in White, Working Class America: How Political Appeals to Individualism, Implicit Racism, and Religion have Polarized our Two-Party System




Sheets, Kathlene

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At the core of modern political division is a deep resentment for the culture of the opposing side. Political narratives deployed by politicians and media outlets emphasize polarized values that pit progressive leaning and right-wing Americans against each other, contribute to misinformation, and uphold systemic inequity. This paper focuses on the values of the white, working class, as this group has been the target of many political codes and appeals throughout American history due to its ability to sway a voting body. Politicians have exploited the unique economic and social circumstances of the white, working class such as their appeal to individualism and Evangelical religions and their fear of economic instability and civil unrest in a populist attempt to gain trust. Through rhetoric coated in conservative American values, politicians equate whiteness with morality and the protestations of liberal elites and minority groups with disorder to keep the social hierarchy intact so they can remain in power.



critical race theory, southern strategy, dog whistles, evangelical, white working class, Honors College


Sheets, K. (2020). Fear and loathing in white, working class America: How political appeals to individualism, implicit racism, and religion have polarized our two-party system (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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