In July 1979, President Jimmy Carter warned of a “fundamental threat to American democracy … the erosion of our confidence in the future.” Carter identified the source of the nation’s malaise: “Ordinary people are excluded from political power.” He said that the best way to address the problem was a “restoration of American values” through “hard work, strong families and close-knit communities.”

Donald Trump, in his speech accepting the Republican nomination for president, referenced “laid-off workers and communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals.” These people, he said, “are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.” His solution is what he called his campaign’s “credo”: “Americanism, not globalism.”

It would seem that Donald Trump has rescued the spirit of Jimmy Carter from the dustbin of history by invoking “the forgotten man” in his doom-and-gloom speech accepting the nomination of the Republican Party for president. Similar outlooks characterized the national mood during the late-19th-century depression, and were resurrected by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression.

Whether “ordinary people” or “the forgotten men and women,” identity politics is at work here.

Identity politics emerged in the late 20th century with the civil rights movement, feminism, the American Indian movement and gay and lesbian campaigning for nondiscrimination laws and, more recently, for marriage equality. The rise of identity politics was in every instance a shared sense of suffering systemic injustice within a society nominally favoring democratic equality but one that nonetheless denied equal rights to members of these various marginalized groups.

In all instances identity politics belies the convenient fiction of an American “melting pot.” Interestingly, the two successful presidential campaigns by Barack Obama were built atop identity politics, building an electoral coalition from heretofore marginalized groups.

But identity politics has taken a new turn. Today’s identity politics is more a reflection of economic status than it is about marginalized groups achieving social acceptance. If there was a turning point in this new development, it was the “Occupy” (Wall Street) movement, which pointed out that 99 percent of the population has been losing ground to the super-rich.

Donald Trump understands this. He says the “system is rigged” to favor the 1 percent upper income bracket, that the rich have gotten a lot richer and the poor have remained poor while the middle class has suffered from stagnant income. White men lacking higher education and suffering from job immobility and lower wages make up the core of Trump’s following. And Trump has vested in them a new form of identity politics: They are the victims of immigrants and women, trade deals and a global economy that they do not understand and that therefore frightens them.

Trump’s forgotten ones may now understand Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech because they are living it. Carter’s malaise, of course, was followed by “morning in America” Ronald Reagan. Reagan preached hope, Carter doom. The tables are reversed in the 2016 election, with speech after speech at the Democratic convention focused on the reasons to feel good about America, while Donald “Trust me” Trump continues to claim the nation “is going down fast.”

Such Trumpian despair is bound to lose support over time. If there is a segment in America that can legitimately claim it promotes a “melting pot,” it is the Democratic Party. The audience at the Democratic convention was reflective of the racial and cultural diversity in America, while the Republican convention audience was largely white.

Demographics favor the Democrats, with non-white, young people, women and well-educated voters strongly in support, while in the past two presidential elections, Republicans lost in large part because of their over dependence on white voters without college degrees, the “forgotten men and women” of America. It is well to remember that since 2011, white and non-white babies have been born in roughly equal numbers; the party that reflects that changing diversity has the brighter future.

It is sad that the forgotten men and women have embraced an authoritarian personality like Trump. By encouraging their identity politics of victimization, Trump has legitimized their resentfulness toward their own nation and its ethnic and racial diversity; and momentarily, at least, blinded them from seeing that their best interests lie with the inclusive and positive policies of the Democratic Party.