I just watched the host of PBS’s Washington Week in Review traipsing around his old home state of Pennsylvania to interview locals on their preferences for the Presidential race. Of the dozen or more strictly anecdotal interviews Trump had the lead. It was contrary to the current polling and just one more reason for me to keep the heebie jeebies until election night. After that I may have a new fit of the Heebjeebs.
But the blue collar men who were swearing by the President were almost certainly blue collar democrats won back from Ronald Reagan by Bill Clinton. Now they are Republicans. The journey this demographic has taken struck me especially as they bad mouthed Trump’s boogeyman Socialism. At the turn of the last century their blue collar predecessors were generally at least socialists if not communist leaning Wobblies. They got no respect for the Social Darwinians who ran the big industries of America. I want to study some French so I’ll skip over their years in the Depression the Post War up to Reagan and land on Bill Clinton.
Clinton was impeached by Republicans for stealing their platform. Monica Lewinsky was simply their excuse. The Newt Gingriches were globalists who wanted to give American corporations access to cheap labor to escape paying expensive blue collar workers. Bill Clinton realized they had convinced college grads that this made great economic sense. It would provide much cheaper consumer goods. A classic historical cycle was repeating itself. As Karl Marx would have put it an influential bourgeoisie liked that idea and had no particular concern for the laboring men and women who would lose their jobs. Bill Clinton successfully poached the idea from Republicans and was a threat to turn the bourgeoisie into Democrats. So they exposed his little peccadillos and decided that perjuring himself in court constituted a high crime and misdemeanor. America had very little patience for this. Blue collar workers who had yet to be laid low by NAFTA stuck with Clinton and he was reelected and Newt Gingrich was sent to exile at Fox News.
In effect there were two pro corporate parties and Donald Trump swept in on a hunch that turned out to be more true than anyone realized. I don’t think he’s done a thing for his solid male blue collar voters but the rhetoric he churns out might sound familiar to the Wobblies of one hundred years ago. Tough talking job protection. Trump got elected during a long economic expansion which he could take no credit for but when he claimed it as his own and now those new Trump voters think he’s their lucky rabbits foot…….never mind Covid 19.
Some eager sociology grad is welcome to investigate my supposition. If I’m right there is great irony in the Clintons reaching for college educated suburban voters and stealing them from Republicans only to make Trump handcuffed Republicans old fashioned tariff enthusiasts. Its what they were before the Reagan and Newt Gingrich era but more to line the pockets of the industrialists. As for labor they had little use for it. The Trumplican Party is closer to the Democrats of Andrew Jackson’s time. Woe to anyone who is not a blue collar worker.
I personally do not see how this solid Trump voting block will fare when Trump’s braggadocio begins to ring hollow. Socialism and Bernie Sanders might start looking pretty good…….to those blue collar workers who don’t incline toward White Supremacy.
I have some sympathy for those who take a pass on college. My French will have to wait. I’ve got another story to tell. Next post…