A recent article in the Washington Post from January 14, 2016 wants to know if working-class whites are the GOP keys to the White House? Reporters Philip Rucker and Robert Costa ventured to New Hampshire to find out how the GOP will try to persuade many more white working class Americans to vote Republican. Ted Cruz campaign manager, Jeff Roe said, “Some of them have never voted.” … “If they can be convinced to come out and vote, we win.”
For some decades now the GOP has pushed one policy: cut taxes and spending and everyone will prosper. During the same decades the Democrats have pushed one policy: get education. Go to college and everyone will prosper. Maybe the working class doesn’t vote because they recognize both Republicans and Democrats ignore them with useless slogans?
Campaign Manager Roe is right though, the working class vote could determine an election because they are the biggest voting block of any voting block. Census data shows 65 percent of the working age adult population does not have college degrees, which suggests the Republicans and Democrats have ignored the economic circumstance of at least 65 percent of the working class.
The Democrats lost the working class in the 1980’s when Ronald Reagan got their vote talking patriotism and a selection of social issues like abortion and gun control, along with lower taxes and union busting. President Obama has done next to nothing to get them back. He finally endorsed a higher minimum wage and a tiny improvement in overtime rules, while stagnant wages and the union busting going on around him.
Over the past thirty years the Republicans have done a good job getting the working class worked up and angry with someone, or something, while getting them to forget the low wages they earn from private sector employers. Now though Rucker and Costa assure their readers Republican see the need for new strategies. They quoted Roe again, he told them “The Republican argument can no longer be just about taxes and spending. It’s got to speak to the working poor and the culture.”
Trump told voters in New Hampshire “You people know better than anybody about jobs leaving an area. Look at what happened to you?” He is the bluntest of all the candidates with his opposition to immigration and the shift of jobs abroad. His campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said “People don’t feel like these jobs have disappeared, they’ve been stolen, and they don’t mind if someone is speaking forcefully about taking them back for blue-collar America.”
When Cruz and Trump pitch trade protection and limits to immigration and foreign investment they speak to the working class, but not to business and corporate America. That part of the Republican party wants all the immigration they can get to keep their supply of cheap labor flowing. That part of the Republican Party expects to roam the world looking for investment opportunities in countries with cheap labor. That part of the Republican party ignores decades of $400 and $500 billion dollar trade deficits, and ignores how much U.S. debt and deficit spending supports employment abroad. But then again the Democrats ignore it too.
The idea that Trump and Cruz will take over the Republican Party to impose policies business does not want sounds too far fetched to consider in spite of the polls that show them leading. I find it ironic that Donald Trump would have a television show, the Apprentice, where he casts an imperious eye around the board room table and fires one person on each episode of the show.
Trump knows that Americans work at will, a euphemistic term for getting fired at any time, and for any reason, at the whim of an employer. Could there be anyone who likes to be the boss more than Donald Trump?
The only way to have job rights in the United States is to negotiate an employment contract. Big time athletes and their coaches have them. Movie stars and celebrities get them. Unions negotiate them, but the Republicans work hard to bust organized labor while the Democrats look on, mostly in silence. Private sector unions have sunk to six or seven percent of private sector jobs. Few of the remaining millions who work at will seem to realize unions are the only means available to negotiate job rights or protect their declining standard of living.
The Democrats know that and so do the Republicans. Unions are dead; long live unions.