The Courage of the White Working Class
If the election of Donald Trump has showed us anything, it has showed us the integrity and courage of the white working class. Here is a group of people dedicated to the well-being of the United States of America, and they did not flinch when they had the chance to turn all three branches of the federal government over to the Republican Party.
The white working class is not obtuse, they were well aware that a vote for Trump was also a vote for Paul Ryan and his ‘Better Way’ plan. While they responded enthusiastically to Trump’s invectives against free trade, they also were well aware that they were lining up with the party one of whose fundamental tenets is expanding global trade. While they were in sync with Trump’s call to sustain the current status quo on Medicare and Social Security, they recognize that Paul Ryan’s plan to pare Medicare and Social Security will lead to some privation in their lives in retirement.
The liberals and Democrats floundered in identity politics, presuming that ‘America’ is nothing more than the collection of its citizens, and that the purpose of government is to cater to the economic and social interests of its residents. The perspicacity of the white working class is to grasp the notion that America is more than its people, it is an idea, in Reagan’s words, ‘a shining city on a hill.’ The city shines because of the acumen and virtue of its natural aristocracy.
Arlie Russell Hochschild, in Strangers in Their Own Land, relates how members of the conservative white working class in Louisiana ‘identify “up”’, they honor the ‘planter’ class, the 1%, and are proud because it shows that they are ‘optimistic, hopeful, a trier.’ Living in the most polluted state and watching their spouses and even their children succumb to cancer caused by the poisons that the industries have deposited in their soils and bayous, they nonetheless recognize that the greatness of America lies in a deregulated market, and consider their biggest enemy to be the EPA.
Even union members, the stalwarts of the Democratic Party, are realizing that there is more to American greatness than the benefits a union job provides. They started with Reagan, who accelerated the demise of unions and their power by shuttering the air traffic controller’s union, for whom they became Reagan Democrats and continued with support for Donald Trump and the Republican party. Lee Saunders, chairman of the AFL-CIO’s political committee, assumed that the union get-out-the-vote operation would deliver the rust belt states to Clinton and the Democrats but was surprised that union households barely gave Clinton a majority of their vote. It takes a tremendous amount of astuteness and fortitude on the part of white working class union members to recognize the damage that unions have caused by their emphasis on the well-being of the middle class, and voting against their short-term interests for a Republican Party which hoped ‘to further hobble labor unions.’
The white working class welcomes an agenda which while not in its short-term interests, will bring prosperity back to America. They recognize the need to work longer and receive fewer Social Security and Medicare benefits because it will prevent the bleeding of America’s finances. They recognize the need to adapt to a jobs environment where the absence of unions will diminish the number of well-paying working class jobs, so that America as a whole can prosper. And they understand the need to live with a polluted environment, even if it means sickness for their families, since less-regulated corporations are the backbone of American strength. To have understood this requires perspicacity. Integrity. Courage.
I.A. Great, 27 Nov 2016