Middle America, like its kissing cousin, the “silent majority,” is commonly taken as the clever if devious creation of Republican — be they Nixon-or Trump-era — strategists intent on building a right-populist coalition and, specifically, on detaching white working-class voters from the Democratic base. A careful genealogy of the term, however, suggests Christopher Cimaglio, reveals a more plural and bipartisan parentage. Northern white resistance to civil rights laws and mobilization in the 1960s, he observes, required of journalists and academics an explanation of those “most opposed to the trajectory of change.” Even as conservative politicians leaped to name and claim the new constituency with a variety of labels, including Middle Americans, analysts like journalist Joseph Kraft worried that professional-class liberals, like Kraft, were losing touch with the communities and sensibilities of lower-middle-class and working-class whites. Indeed, an entire literature, reaching across...

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