January 30, 2017

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Left Has Lost The Working Class.

Trumps’s popularity with blue collar voters doesn’t come as a particular shock to anyone who followed the campaign. Private sector union bosses supported Hillary Clinton, but their members backed Trump. Trump’s crowds cheered protectionism and his infrastructure plans. Trump’s advisor, Steve Bannon, has clearly signaled that Trump wants to focus on protecting the American working class (many of whom are considered “blue collar”) first and foremost.

To some extent, Democrats aren’t to blame for this shift. The decline of American manufacturing and the accompanying collapse of collective bargaining (only 6.7 percent of private sector employees are unionized) are the result of economic forces outside any political party’s control.

Nevertheless, it’s worth stopping to take note of the remarkable distance between working class voters and the Democratic Party. At least since the 1920s, Democrats have thought of themselves as the party of workers — for a long time because that’s actually what they were. They inherited the Progressive Movement from the Republicans under Woodrow Wilson (reluctantly, in some ways), and then the New Deal cemented their status as guardians of the proletariat. The 1960s brought Medicare and, in the 1980s, they pushed back against Reagan’s pro-business deregulation and market reform efforts.

But starting in the 1960s, Democrats struggled to balance working class politics with identity politics. Identity politics (favored for different reasons by academic and corporate interests alike) won. The Democratic Party now represents a coalition of minorities, well-educated upper middle class urban professionals, and powerful interests in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and to an extent on Wall Street. Much of what’s left of the left’s working class support comes from public sector unions — a perverted application of collective bargaining principles that President Franklin D. Roosevelt believed hurt working class American taxpayers.

FDR was right about that.

Plus: “The election was the referendum on wealth inequality leftwing intellectuals have been predicting since shortly after the financial crisis. It’s just that Trump and the GOP won it.”

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