Does Donald Trump own the “white working class”?

UMA 1989 from People's World

West Virginia miners on strike against Pittston Coal in 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

Source: People’s World

Author: Roberta Wood

Emphasis Mine

Defeating the Trump agenda is going to require winning a section of working class voters who supported him – mostly white – undoubtedly influenced by racism. To get there, it’s going to take more than just rejecting that divisive influence; it’s going to take strengthening working class identity.

The election made me remember back to 1989. My husband Scott and I decided to make that year’s family vacation a trip to the mountains of West Virginia, to Camp Solidarity set up by 2,000 striking coal miners. Their employer, the Pittston Company, had eliminated health benefits for retirees and widows, blaming decreasing coal prices. The miners were occupying the mine’s tipple, its coal-loading platform. Camp Solidarity rallied supporters and donations from around the country and around the world. We wanted our kids to see for themselves what solidarity looked like.

As our old van made its way to the top of the mountain, I was struck by how different this work location was from the urban factories and mills Scott and I spent our work lives in. The giant Freeway Flyer buses with New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania license plates that kept passing us looked out of place on a switch-backed, two-lane road. At Camp Solidarity, we found a well-organized operation directing traffic and parking.

“Welcome folks,” said a tall, wiry, middle-aged miner. He leaned into the open driver’s side window and introduced himself as Jim. Taking note of our license plate, he went on, “I see you folks have come a long way, from Illinois. I used to live near there, near Burns Harbor in Indiana. Know it?”

Seeing a connection, I jumped in, “Did you work at Bethlehem Steel?”

“Yup, seven years!” Then why did you leave, we asked. “Well, I came back here when they began to move in, all these…” He paused; nearby hundreds of stiff-kneed travelers were tumbling out of the buses: AFSCME, SEIU, steelworkers, mostly African American. He looked at us; he knew we knew what he had been getting ready to say. “But,” he drew himself up and a little pride entered his voice, “I don’t feel that way anymore.”

picket line in 1989

On the picket line against Pittston Coal in West Virginia, 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

I wondered about Jim after the Donald Trump election. Did he remember the experience of solidarity? Or was his vote motivated by fear and hate?

Why Trump?

We know that a majority of white voters – in all categories – voted for Trump. Men, women, young, old, and yes, working class. Who are these folks and why did they vote for a conniving billionaire?

Well, it’s undeniable that there is a consistent, hardcore right-wing racist movement with a deep historical base in our country. The liars. The bullies. These haters made up the core of the Trump supporters; they were the rally-goers.  But these hardcore supporters were only a fraction of the Trump voters.

So what about the others? The ones who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. The ones who really take to heart their Sunday school lessons, “Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight.” The ones who want their daughters to have full equality. The ones who will be warmly welcoming the LGBTQ members of their families at their tables this holiday. The ones who remember their own grandparents were themselves immigrants.

Racial isolation

Statistics show the white voters who supported Trump are concentrated in racially-isolated zip codes. They don’t have day-to-day contact with black people, with immigrants, with people from the Middle East.

They don’t listen to NPR either. Instead, they’re inundated with Fox News, hateful talk radio, and fake online news. “Black Lives Matter thugs attack homeless veteran in Charlotte” was the headline of one such fake “news” video that got over a million views. In it, an elderly white man is kicked by a group of black teens. The footage had nothing to do with BLM; it was years old, filmed in London. But to those who viewed it, those made vulnerable by a culture of racial stereotypes, this horrible image became a fact that influenced their choices.

These Trump voters live in areas where there is little social structure that supports progressive thinking. Churches, with a few heroic exceptions, by and large don’t play a positive role. Often the moral guidance from right-wing evangelical churches is limited to one issue when it comes to voting: abortion. When candidate Trump evoked the mental image of babies being ripped out of their mothers’ wombs, it resonated.

Unions don’t have much of a presence in these racially isolated areas. Nor do other social movements like the Fight for $15. People here – whether in factories or fast food restaurants or call centers – don’t work side-by-side with immigrants or people of other races. Yet the people there face the same anxieties all American families face. What kind of jobs are their kids going to get? The drug scourge. Their health, their retirement. They care about the climate too, and their kids’ education.

A tolerance for the intolerable

Millions made a bad, ill-informed choice in this election. We have to deal forthrightly with the fact that a significant percentage of our working class voted for Donald Trump despite his hateful rhetoric toward African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and women. Trump got more votes than Romney did in 2012, roughly proportional to the increase in the overall number of voters. This is disturbing, given Trump’s much more extreme, direct, racist, anti-immigrant, and misogynist appeal. The increased vote for Trump is evidence of a troubling tolerance of what should be intolerable.

(N.B.: it has bee observed that education was a bigger factor than income, and in general those with college degrees are less like likely to be prejudice… see https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/)

We are repelled by the failure to reject hate, but we can only reverse the Trump agenda by reaching out to these same voters in racially-isolated communities. There’s not four years or even two years to wait.

When the shit hits the fan with Social Security, Medicare, and VA privatization, lost health care, and declining standards of living, the same lying manipulators who worked the media for Trump in the 2016 election will attempt to direct folks’ anger toward the same scapegoats: African Americans, Muslims, and immigrants. They will use the same narrative to take the Trump agenda out of the line of fire. More on that in a bit.

Half a million missing votes

Trump won the electoral college vote in five Midwest (N.B.: these are actually Great Lakes states, which includes Western PA) battleground states – Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. A combined total of one million voters who had previously voted Democratic, for Pres. Obama, did not vote Democratic for Hillary Clinton. Half of them added their votes to the Trump total this time. But what about the other half? What did that half million do?

Countless Midwestern (Great Lakes) voters – it’s hard to say how many – who were Democratic voters in 2012 were knocked off the rolls by a methodical GOP suppression campaign in these battleground states.

Of the remainder, there were others too who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump but didn’t come out for Clinton either. Some of the former Democratic voters chose third party candidates – either Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. They chose not to vote for Clinton, but nevertheless these former Democratic votes cannot be counted as a vote for racism or xenophobia.

Some may have been driven away by the venom of the campaign and not voted at all. No exit polls are taken of people who don’t vote. It’s important not to exaggerate the Trump vote, especially among the working class.

“Backlash”?

And I find no evidence of a phenomenon cited by other commentators, that Trump’s appeal was primarily based on a backlash to a black president or an increasingly multi-cultural society.

Our challenge is to win the unity of the working class. How do we reach out to these people?

I think first, we have to know that ALL of us, like our coal miner friend Jim, are of two minds about many things. People like him believe in humanity, in being generous, in the brotherhood of man and woman, in peace, in neighborliness. (N.B.: biconceptuals, as Lakoff maintains).

Many embrace the beautiful image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming refugees from poverty and oppression. They are troubled by news reports and videos of unarmed black youth shot in the back by out-of-control police or vigilantes. But they are also influenced by the awful stereotypes they’re inundated with – Islamic terrorists, crime-ridden “inner cities,” dangerous immigrants.

Only working class consciousness – embracing one’s primary identity as a member of that 99 percent majority of Americans who own nothing but their ability to work – fully addresses this challenge. This means identifying with a working class that covers diversity from one end of the beautiful rainbow of humanity to the other.

This is the only foundation that can fundamentally challenge the influence of racism and other ideological influences that undermine working class unity. This kind of consciousness is the protective vaccine needed to resist the poisons of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Lessons from what worked

The working class movement in the U.S. is not starting from scratch in taking on the duality in thinking on matters of class and race. In fact, alongside being the source of the sharpest racist ideology, our country also has a heritage of developing a fight against racism, one that includes winning white Americans, especially white workers, away from that poisonous and suicidal ideology. We also have a long history of fighting for the rights of immigrants and for women’s equality.

There are lessons from our people’s struggle, be it against the 19th century slavocracy or the 20th century Jim Crow, that held the key not only to equality, but to improving of condition of white workers:

  1.  Resist. Don’t sit back and wait to see what happens.
  1.  Defend all targets. Every hate crime and act that goes unchallenged strengthens the base for fascism. On the other hand, engaging folks in the democratic and humanistic struggles against this disunity changes the thinking of the people themselves. Just as a person who has walked a picket line is never the same, a person who has signed a petition, gone to a public hearing, or spoken out against injustice is changed.

Let’s look at the case of the nine African American youth who were being railroaded to a death on a fake rape charge in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. Our predecessors, up to their necks in building the CIO industrial unions of steel, auto, and packing house also spent the decade of the 1930s making the case to their co-workers that unionization could not succeed without unity – and their banners read: “Black and white unite and fight.” In the same demonstrations, white and black workers carried placards calling for freedom for the “Scottsboro boys.” For those white workers, fighting racism against the Scottsboro youth helped cement the unity of those workers.

  1.  We need to pay special attention to mass movements that can resonate in racially-isolated areas. For example, the Fight for $15. The majority of those who make less than $15 per hour are white workers. They are fast food workers, Walmart workers, nursing home and, yes, factory workers in towns, suburbs, and rural America. Planned Parenthood has a loyal following and is represented in every state and D.C. Public education is under assault everywhere. There is a basis for national unity there.
  1.  We have to take the initiative in the fights to defend Social Security and Medicare – and Obamacare – to the communities in these areas that are politically vulnerable.
  1. We can’t wait for elections. During elections, tactics demand that efforts be concentrated on getting votes where they are most plentiful, so little door-knocking is done in more challenging areas. Working America has done pioneering work in initiating year-round doorstep conversations.

This is not an easy fight, but look what’s at stake. It’s not enough to analyze and reject the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny of members of our class. Our job is to figure out how to turn it around. But there is no path to unity that doesn’t go through that process. We need all the Jims of the world on our side.

See:http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/does-donald-trump-own-the-white-working-class/

Moyers ; Winship: The Speech Hillary Should Give Before Trump Takes Office

America needs a watchdog, and Hillary needs to make the sales pitch.

Source: AlterNet

Authors: Moyers/Winship: BillMoyers.com

emphasis mine

Imagine that a day or two before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Hillary Clinton, as the candidate who received the greatest number of votes — and after a period of personal reflection and evaluation — addresses the nation.

My Fellow Americans:

On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. As mandated by our Constitution, he received a majority of the votes in the Electoral College and thus for the next four years will be given the powers and responsibilities of our nation’s chief executive.

But I believe that I, too, have a mandate, one given to me by the 65 million of you who supported me over Donald Trump in the popular vote, some 2.6 million votes more than he received.

If we are to continue as a democracy, for the next four years and beyond, those voices cannot stay silent.

I urge every one of you who voted for me to help express that mandate and make sure our voices are heard. As each of them comes up for re-election, we will field candidates to run against Donald Trump and his friends in Congress and the statehouses, and we will run against them hard. But until then, let us prepare by joining together as a movement and creating the constituency of what will be, in effect, a shadow government — one that will serve to track and respond to every single bad action undertaken by the Trump administration and its monolithic Congress.

This shadow government will forthrightly express its opposition to such actions and not only call them out as the damaging policy they are, but also offer constructive alternatives that we believe will serve and advance the proper agenda for our nation. No proposal or executive action will go unanswered. We’ll even voice support if it’s warranted — but I fear so far there is little evidence that will be the case.

Historically, this follows the British tradition of a shadow government created by the party in opposition that monitors the ruling party and creates greater transparency, encouraging an honest dialogue based on facts and a thorough knowledge of history and policy. Our shadow government will reflect the experience and knowledge of a core group of men and women who understand how policy is made in Washington, but it will also call on the wisdom and experience of elected mayors, state legislators, public servants, activists and organizers who know the needs of our municipalities, counties and states across the country.

I propose that for every Cabinet officer named by Donald Trump and confirmed by the United States Senate, we in the opposition will have a shadow cabinet member who will monitor the work of that department and comment as needed.

Consider one example: President-elect Trump has named Tom Price, a US Representative from Georgia, to be secretary of health and human services. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which now offers health coverage to more than 20 million Americans who have never had it before. Whomever we select as our shadow secretary of health and human services will speak out against repeal — but should Secretary Price recognize reality once he is confirmed and offer changes or alternatives that make sense and do the most good for the people, the shadow secretary will voice support.

What’s more, our opposition will be vocal against any attempt to privatize Medicare, which some leaders of Donald Trump’s party have announced as a major and immediate goal. As a general principle, the shadow secretary would urge that the United States move closer to a single-payer system, a Medicare-for-all health care like those in so many other countries that would be more equitable, save lives and create a healthier, more prosperous society. Does this run contradictory to what I supported during my campaign? Yes, it does. I was on the wrong side of the issue. Most of us are familiar with St. Augustine’s observation that it is human to err; few are aware that he went on to say: “It is devilish to remain willfully in error.”

Our shadow secretary of state and secretary of defense will support America’s interests abroad, remain true to our long-term relationships with NATO members and other allies, and constantly work toward peace. While protecting ourselves from terror, we will continue to be a nation of immigrants that welcomes those who come to us in genuine pursuit of liberty and a fresh start.

Nor will the dog whistles of hatred and prejudice that haunted the campaign and the weeks after go unchallenged. Our shadow department of justice will continue the fight for civil rights and voting rights that the incoming administration threatens to suspend. We will not let discrimination destroy our country.

We will have a shadow secretary of the treasury, a shadow secretary of health and human services, secretary of education and secretary of veterans’ affairs. Each and every Cabinet-level post will have its equivalent, as will the heads of many of the top regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

A shadow version of the Securities and Exchange Commission will speak out against attempts to return Wall Street to the reckless days of speculation and behavior that led up to the terrible financial crash of 2007-08 and the recession that followed. President Obama inherited both and worked hard to lead the recovery. Thanks to the policies of the last several years, President-elect Trump will inherit a thriving economy very different from the one the Republicans left behind in 2004 — and very different from the one he described during his presidential campaign. But I have said to my own friends on Wall Street, whom I came to know as constituents and donors when I served two terms in the Senate, that I now firmly believe that “business as usual” will no longer do. A United States of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase is untenable if prosperity is to reach Main Street instead of hitting a dead end on Wall Street.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is DOA. As candidates, Donald Trump and I agreed on that. Our shadow US trade representative will favor international agreements that continue the flow of goods and services among nations but preserve jobs while generating new ones and protecting our interests. Further, we will monitor transactions like the recent Trump-Pence deal with Carrier, which keeps several hundred jobs in Indiana while still losing hundreds of others to Mexico in exchange for the kind of tax breaks that Donald Trump denounced during his campaign. We’ll tell the truth behind the propaganda and the optics, and work instead toward a healthy, thriving atmosphere for economic growth.

A shadow Federal Communications Commission will oppose media consolidation and resist attempts by a Trump-era FCC to overturn the net neutrality rulings that protect a free and open internet. And a shadow Environmental Protection Agency will make sure that any attempts to pollute clean air and water, to pay off industry with deregulation, will be unable to hide in the shadows away from the public eye.

You get the idea. In doing all of this, we hope to bolster the system of checks and balances essential to our republic — a system that already is being battered by an onslaught of irrational, authoritarian impulses. In the face of the fake news epidemic that infects social media, we’ll make freely available to the press and the public facts and data essential to the functioning of a representative government in which all viewpoints are fairly heard.

We will call out the continuing scourge of money in politics.  Every one of us in politics knows that even as we seek the votes of everyday Americans during our campaigns, once elected it is the big donors who get our ear. I am especially disturbed that President-elect Trump has named as his White House counsel Donald McGahn, a man who has eviscerated campaign finance reform in our nation. We also note that many of his Cabinet choices, including Secretary of the Treasury-designate Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Education-designate Betsy DeVos have donated or bundled millions for Donald Trump and the Republican PartyAs the Center for Responsive Politics has noted, Ms. De Vos and her family have  given “at least $20.2 million to Republican candidates, party committees, PACs and super PACs” — some of it to senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will vote on her confirmation.

Our shadow government will support the reversal of Citizens United and other court decisions that have flooded politics with rich people’s money. During the recent campaign, I called over and again for reversing Citizens United, and I realize now that my own fundraising among the wealthy compromised my position. Again, I was on the wrong side. Sen. Bernie Sanders was on the right side. He showed all of us that you can mount an effective national campaign with small donations from millions of American citizens. That’s the way we must go. Our shadow government will be dedicated to ending the buying of America by the superrich.

The Washington swamp that Donald Trump has pledged to empty obviously will not be “drained,” given his myriad conflicts of interest, the “kitchen cabinet” of corporate CEOs he has chosen to advise him, and his support of the same old revolving door between corporate America and government. Our shadow government will call out those who spin through that door — including members of Congress from both parties, who pass through it at dizzying speeds to join lobby and legal firms that use their influence to line their pockets and swell the profits of the corporations that hire them.

It’s time to end the crony capitalism that backslaps and pays off its pals as it kicks the working class to the curb. No more bribes in the form of tax cuts for big business. No more backdoor deals — or threats — that briefly generate jobs or only temporarily keep them in America.

Again, I know that some of you are saying that Hillary Clinton has been guilty of many of these things, too. And again I say, to a great degree, yes, it’s true. You know the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.” But I want to go deeper than that, and say that when you lose a campaign for the presidency, despite receiving millions more votes than your opponent, you ask yourself: “Where did I go wrong? How was I tone deaf? Why couldn’t I reach the people who doubted me and convince them I was on their side?” I see clearly now that I simply didn’t understand or appreciate the full extent of people’s frustration with how lopsided our political system is in favor of privilege, or how the inequality in our economy has devastated their own lives and their children’s futures. It is the greatest mistake of my political career.

I’d like to think I have learned from this last campaign how and why my party and our nation have gone wrong. It’s the painful lesson of my long career in public service, and I now take to heart the words of historian Mark Mazower, who has said: “The political class has a very impoverished historical memory and as a result it has a very limited imagination. It is by and large made up of people who do not see themselves in politics in order to effect sweeping change and so they tend to operate very incrementally and very technocratically. They’re very suspicious of vision and as a result what fills their brains is party calculation – which of course always occupies politicians but in the past coexisted with bigger things.”

This must end. Our shadow government will be devoted to the vision of bigger things and a better America for all. All of you will be able check our progress. And we will regularly hold hearings around the country to listen to what you have to say, especially in the regions where so much economic hardship and personal loss have resulted in millions of voters sending up a cry for change, no matter the messenger.

In the immediate days to come, we will hammer out the details on how best to choose and organize this watchdog government. I hope you will join with me and offer your thoughts as we identify those who carefully will watch the Donald Trump presidency and report to you his missteps, excesses — and when called for, his successes.

Our eyes are upon you, Donald Trump. As we work to protect and better our country, you will hear from us, loud and clear. We will not be complacent and we will not allow the trampling of our republic to go unchallenged.

Thank you. May God bless — and save — America.

(N.B.: no supernatural powers are in play: we must save ourselves!)

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com.

Michael Winship is the president of the Writers Guild of America, East and senior writer of BillMoyers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship.

see:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/hillary-clinton-inaugural-address?akid=14969.123424.EW___0&rd=1&src=newsletter1068417&t=4