For slightly over half of the voting electorate this Thanksgiving promises to be anything but as they continue to gag on the bitter vetch of an impending Trump presidency. Not since the election of Andrew Jackson have the American people have elected a non-establishment candidate as president of the United States. The pundits began talking about the turnout of the white working class long before election and the discussions continue as the “establishment” attempts to figure out what the hell happened. In fact, what happened is very easy to define. The “working class,” because more than just white people elected Donald Trump president, figuratively grabbed the “establishment” by the short hairs!
A large part of the establishment especially for the Democratic Party has and remains the established leadership of organized labor. Since the 1930s rarely has labor strayed from the side of Democrats and as a consequence we constantly hear how together they created the middleclass and ushered in a period of prosperity heretofore never seen or replicated. And then the wheels came off the bus.
The Democratic Party became the party of every special interest regardless of the impact on working class America and “killed their populist soul”. Party bosses and union bosses, firmly joined at the hip, continued to tout the undeniable and unbreakable bond between the two. Meanwhile, the Republican Party played a long game tapping into the cult of masculinity that carries strains of Jeffersonian and Jacksonian little “d” democracy that any man could and should rise on his own merits. It’s a message that still resonates strongly among the working class, union and non-union.
By the time Montana held its primary in June Clinton was already the presumptive nominee but she still lost to Sanders by almost 10,000 votes. Union leadership in Montana followed the lead of their nationals endorsing Clinton well before the primary with the same old tired saw, “it isn’t perfect but better than the alternative.” At the same Trump garnered almost as many votes as Clinton and Sanders combined. The writing was on the wall despite dire warnings about the demise of organized labor under a Trump presidency.
Now that the American working class has the attention of the party elites it will be interesting to see how they react. The Republican leadership in congress will only have two years to prove their worth before the mid-term elections. In the meantime, Democrats will need to roll up their sleeves and acknowledge that class, not ethnicity, is very much a part of the groundswell of discontent among workers—white collar, blue collar, union, non-union, pink, or precariat—workers matter. And unions, they need to pay attention to their base or Trump and his minions will finish the unraveling of organized labor that began with Reagan. This isn’t your daddy’s industrial union anymore.
The soul of America rests on who wins the battle for the working class. Let’s just hope working class America is “man” enough to take their medicine…four years of President Donald J. Trump.
T-Bone Slim – “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”