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Trump’s Appeal to the Working Class

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I would hope that the horrors of Trump would have moved workers against this anti-worker fascist president who attempts to name utterly horrible humans as Secretary of Labor. But with the Democratic Party having no answer on industrial jobs, if anything, even more union members are finding him appealing.

Mr. Trump summoned the heads of the building and construction trade unions, most of which supported Mrs. Clinton, to discuss infrastructure spending three days after his inauguration. “It was a substantial meeting about good middle-class jobs,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, adding that Mr. Trump was the first president to invite him to the Oval Office.

Some of Mr. Trump’s other early moves, like his presidential memorandums giving the go-ahead to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and his announcement that he would quickly seek to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, were clearly conceived with a similar objective.

They appear to have had the desired effect. Dennis Williams, head of the United Auto Workers union, which endorsed Mrs. Clinton, has professed eagerness to meet with Mr. Trump to discuss how they might undo Nafta and protect American jobs.

“He’s the first president that has addressed this issue, and I’m going to give him kudos for that,” Mr. Williams said at a round-table discussion with reporters in Detroit on Thursday.

Other unions may also have reason to do business with the White House. Consider the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which also endorsed Mrs. Clinton. Some portion of the union, namely its freight railroad workers, is heavily dependent on coal, and union officials say members in that sector voted heavily for Mr. Trump because he refused to foreclose on its role in the national economy.

If you need work or you see a recent past where you had more economic security than you have now (which is probably not a myth), it’s pretty easy to see why you might not pay attention to any of the facts that Trump is your enemy and embrace the idea of building a border wall, of building infrastructure in projects corrupt and ineffectual, of wanting to see pipelines built.

There’s no way around it–this is a response to the utter failure of Democrats to have a real jobs program for working people. As I have said for a very long time, people want WORK. They want jobs. Americans wrap dignity up in work. The lack of work is embarrassing. This isn’t new. The Great Depression and 25 percent unemployment didn’t lead the U.S. working class toward revolutionary ideology. It led them to leave their families and live in shame. Democrats became the party of the working class because they promised and delivered on jobs and then on working class security through the FHA, the GI Bill, and other core legislation of the postwar period that turned the white working class into the middle class, while offering the black working class at least more than the Republicans did.

The Democrats however embraced capital mobility and the growth of financial capitalism with a gusto nearly that of Republicans. Beginning under Carter and then Clinton and Obama, they never had a good answer for the working class. Job retraining for lower-paying jobs, reeducation assistance, and telling people to move to Texas are not answers. Economic destabilization makes both racialized nationalism and lies about job creation increasingly appealing to the white working class. Until we have answers about how there are going to be good jobs for people in the places where they live, we are really going to struggle holding on to the union members still voting for Democrats, especially the white ones, many of whom live in states that Democrats narrowly lost in 2016.

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  • Davis X. Machina

    As I have said for a very long time, people want WORK. They want jobs. Americans wrap dignity up in work.

    Certain kinds of work.
    Performed by certain kinds of people.
    So long as it doesn’t involve working for the state
    Or when it’s being paid for by the state.

    They want the reconstruction of a golden age that never existed.

    • efgoldman

      They want the reconstruction of a golden age that never existed.

      The two biggest job creation/job preservation initiatives of the last ten years were the auto bailout and the (inadequate, but still…) 2009 stimulus.
      For which Obama and the Dems barely got credit, and which are now fallen well down the memory hole.

      • imwithher

        Yeah, the Democrats have “failed” to do anything for the WWC, except for every single thing that government, on all levels, has ever done, in terms of jobs and everything else (labor rights, employment law, minimum wage, retirement, worker safety, public education, basic safety net, health care) for workers, ever, since at least 1933 and right on through Obama. The Dems are the only party to try to do more than what has been done, also, but have been thwarted by the Republicans at every turn.

        Same old, same old.

        Also, the fact that Union leaders want to meet with the new President is evidence of jack shit.

      • howard

        And to go a step further, Obama wanted a further investment in infrastructure rebuild, which would have been terrific for jobs, so the gop congress wouldn’t let that happen.

        And we should have 2 million more government jobs if we just followed normal practice, but the GOP congress said “no revenue sharing for you.”

        • efgoldman

          but the GOP congress said “no revenue sharing for you.”

          The RWNJ Republiklowns are equal opportunity haters: The hate working people and non-working people equally. They DO have a fucking great propaganda machine, though.

          • bs

            Not true. Parasites like Derp Fuhrer, who were born with more money than they could ever need, live off their capital gains, and maybe have a hobby job, are LOOOOVED by the Republicans. They just hate anybody who HAS to work for a living.

        • The Lorax

          Yep. The issue isn’t with Democrat’s not having a plan. Maybe with communicating the plan.

          • Dennis Orphen

            That’s not a problem caused by the democrats. It’s one of many problems with our media, who won’t report on Democrats policy positions and the most of the audience of the mainstream mass media who either cannot or will not deal with the complexities of the modern world.

            • sergiol652

              WWC relies on Fox News and hate radio for their news, so I don’t think the NTY or WaPo would have change the outcome

          • C’mon. Even when the current iteration of the Democratic Party establishment talks about helping the working class, they almost always sound like they are talking to professional-class people about working class people.

            Or, as the invaluable Atrios paraphrased Trump’s message:

            Show me a problem, and I’ll fix it. Not set up a plan to adjust the framework to tweak the incentives to modestly change the market outcomes. Just fix it.

            The center-mass of the Democratic party – what it sounds like when it talks – is now thoroughly professional-class rather than working class.

            • Dennis Orphen

              “When the going gets weird; the weird turn pro.”

              HST

            • Brien Jackson

              And….Trump is an historically unpopular President who’s going to lead Republicans to an apocalypse when he can’t deliver on his impossible promises. Yeah, let’s emulate that!

        • Brett

          I wonder about that. All but one of the states have Balanced Budget Amendments, which are disastrous – they make recessions worse. Could the Federal government pass a law banning Balanced Budget rules by state governments, and have it survive a constitutional challenge at the Supreme Court?

      • Donna Gratehouse

        When Democrats pass spending that creates jobs if there’s a speck of tax cuts or corporate subsidy in it it’s the worstest neoliberalism evah. No credit. None!

        When Trump stands in front of the Carrier Deal and claims credit for it he’s a working class hero, despite the entire deal being predicated on a sweet tax giveaway to a big corporation AKA neoliberalism when a Dem does it.

    • Frank Wilhoit

      So long as it doesn’t require higher education.

    • Brett

      Where are you getting those latter two? Working-class folks are more than happy to work for the state (or indirectly through firms contracting with the state) if the pay is livable. FDR’s Works Progress Administration was popular with the working-class – the biggest problem with it was that there weren’t enough jobs in the program relative to the level of unemployment.

  • Nobdy

    You make this criticism a lot. It’s not without merit. However I think you underplay a lot of the structural elements that work against Democrats in this area. Not just the fact that many rich Democratic donors approve of capital mobility, but the fact that just as many Americans believe that work gives you value as a human being, they have other political beliefs that make job programs very difficult.

    Americans don’t like government spending, especially what they perceive as welfare spending. This means that public jobs are devalued and the most logical way for the government to promote employment (directly hiring people to work for the government doing necessary work like healthcare, infrastructure building, social work etc…) are in many cases political nonstarters. Or if they do get off the ground they are vulnerable programs quickly slashed when the bad guys get power.

    This interfaces with with the other structural issue, which is racism. The Americans who vote against Democrats on jobs want an explicitly white jobs program. They don’t like jobs programs that benefit everyone equally. This is one of the reasons they don’t like government hiring, which tends to be less racist than the hiring patterns they enjoy. Any program that lifts up African Americans long with themselves is something they want no part of, and the Democrats obviously cannot (for moral AND tactical reasons) stab their base in the back to appeal to Trump voters.

    It’s worth noting that the Republicans have no jobs program either (except maybe building jails, the one kind of public jobs program white people seem to like) but they don’t have to because they have racism.

    This leaves Democrats in a situation where there aren’t a lot of good policy options. You raise limits on trade and capital mobility, but I have yet to see a detailed proposal on what that would look like and how it could be implemented in the current International order in a way that would be guaranteed to bring jobs back to the U.S. Would implementing labor standards overseas help American jobs? Maybe, but how much? It would probably raise prices for certain goods, which is an exploitable weakness, but it has no clear guaranteed upside.

    And if you want to try to remake the international trade system to promote American job growth…that’s asking a lot. That’s a far bigger project than the ACA with far more entrenched interests in opposition. And I haven’t seen an alternative model guaranteeing jobs.

    Creating jobs through policy (as opposed to direct hiring) is very very difficult. It’s not surprising that Democrats don’t have a great program for it. As far as I can see nobody does.

    ETA: One thing that would improve jobs prospects is improving public education and more funding of higher education. Unfortunately Democrats haven’t done a great job there, but that also improves jobs 10-15 years from now, and few politicians have a long view when it comes to policy, since they are up for re-election in at most 6 years. This is also one of the reasons climate change action is so hard.

    • Breadbaker

      Good points. How many Republican votes were there for ARRA again? How many jobs bills got through the House starting in 2011?

    • sergiol652

      The Americans who vote against Democrats on jobs want an explicitly white jobs program. They don’t like jobs programs that benefit everyone equally.

      This, exactly this. “Class only” leftist (mostly white) always ignore this part of the issue.

      • Steve LaBonne

        And we don’t like to remember that that’s pretty much what a lot of the New Deal was.

      • TVTray

        These people don’t exist.

        • sergiol652

          Ha!

          • TVTray

            Show them to me Serg!

            • Spider-Dan

              It’s not particularly hard to find a leftist complaining about “identity politics,” which pretty much encapsulates the essence of “class-only” leftists.

              • TVTray

                Does it though?

                • Spider-Dan

                  Why, yes, it does.

                  When you remove civil rights (i.e. “identity politics”) from the table, look at what remains on the leftist agenda.

                  Environmentalism?
                  Pacifism/isolationism?
                  Drug law?

                  I haven’t heard a single person claim that the key to the election was any of those three things. Nope, it’s entirely the working class that swung the election, and that’s what the “identity politics!” whiners are striving for.

    • Joe_JP

      Yes.

      When was there a national “real job program” that had wide support? The 1960s had some of that, tinged with concerns about race, but it was a short-lived thing with concerns about government spending and racism hurting the attempt. Another would be the Great Depression, when the situation was soooo horrible that it deemed compelled.

      A third on a local level at least might be helping immigrants get jobs in the 19th Century, but these days “immigrants” mean “dark-skinned people, scary!” Even then, there was a strong anti-immigration backlash, and we were mostly talking white Europeans much of the time.

      Another cited is the GI Bill … after WII, when many more were serving. Hard to be against that. What similar opening is present these days? Ironically, the safeguards of the past make life for even the working poor just livable that Great Depression level efforts don’t seem compelled to enough people. This includes less worker protest that caused major incidents that scared enough people.

      • Davis X. Machina

        A third on a local level at least might be helping immigrants get jobs in the 19th Century

        Not a government effort – unless you count substitutes being hired to dodge the Civil War draft. The government was tiny then.

        • Joe_JP

          Not a government effort

          I’m including the whole of the 19th Century and highlighted local efforts. There were various public and publicly funded jobs to be had, including in public canal/railroad/road building projects. If you expand this to a quasi-government process — political power brokers trading votes for jobs and other goods — even more so.

          ETA: Foreign born soldiers did play a significant role during the Civil War and not just as replacements.

          • Davis X. Machina

            If you expand this to a quasi-government process — political power brokers trading votes for jobs and other goods — even more so.

            That makes everything a government jobs program except hiring faculty for the Mercatus Center.

            • Joe_JP

              That makes everything a government jobs program except hiring faculty for the Mercatus Center.

              If you exaggerate what I said, maybe, though even there it’s hard to see much connection for various positions. My main point is that if some local political power broker in return for votes basically was guaranteed loads of let’s say laborer jobs to build a courthouse if they voted Democrat, it was in effect a quasi-governmental work program.

              This is not the same as “everything,” including every job under the sun c. 1870 NYC being governmental. Anyway, it wasn’t necessary for my “might” be the case. Locally at least there were enough local public jobs during the “19th Century” in various locations with or without that add-on.

      • imwithher

        When was there a national “real job program” that had wide support? The 1960s had some of that…

        There was the Humphrey Hawkins law of the Carter era, but it was weak tea. It says that full employment is supposedly the policy goal of the USA, but so what? And other goals, not all consistent with full employment, were listed as well.

        “Another would be the Great Depression, when the situation was soooo horrible that it deemed compelled…Ironically, the safeguards of the past make life for even the working poor just livable that Great Depression level efforts don’t seem compelled to enough people. This includes less worker protest that caused major incidents that scared enough people.”

        Yes, with five percent unemployment (thank you Democrats) and also what is left of the New Deal and Great Society still in place (thank you Democrats) there is just not the political will for a massive jobs program. And there hasn’t been for decades.

        Even without the factor of race, and other “identity politics” questions, that the blogger conveniently leave out, there is no widespread demand for a huge government jobs programs, even in the supposedly desperate for work rural/rustbelt heartland.

        Partly because things aren’t that bad. And partly because decades of anti leftist propaganda has an effect.

        • TVTray

          America is already great!

          • imwithher

            Things aren’t bad enough to create political momentum for a new WPA does NOT equal things are “great.” Is that too subtle for you?

            • brewmn

              A 2 X 4 upside the head is too subtle for this troll. Not saying it shouldn’t be tried, but…

              • TVTray

                Hi Brew! Where do you live?

    • Loomis if guilty of Green Lanternism here. Obama wanted to do more, the congress prevented it. End of story.

      • The Lorax

        It’s not just Loomis. The left has been criticizing the Democratic Party since the 90s for selling out workers. Some of that, during the 90s in particular, was warranted. (Though the late 90s were actually good for just about everyone in the economy.) But since Obama there have been real plans to put people to work building stuff. Maybe the Dems haven’t communicated that well. But anyone who looked at Hillary and Trump’s plans and decided Trump would be better for working people was really misguided.

        • busker type

          Sadly, between the total wackos, the completely ignorant and the deeply misguided, only a very small percentage of Americans (left, right or “center”) have any idea what the government does or how politics works.

          Perception is everything and it is rarely accurate

        • First Time Caller

          To that I’d add things like the CPFB to keep people from being ripped off by my colleagues in the finance and finance-adjacent industries. And decent appointments to the NLRB, support for the fight for $15 (or $12 if we don’t feel generous) and overtime rules and any number of proposals generated from “the most effective Secretary of Labor since Frances Perkins.” Or support for renewables, which employ more people than coal or the green jobs in retrofitting and building science that could have been more if not neutered by the GOP.

          Messaging is not what it could be, but kowtowing to the WWC when Dem philosophy focuses on the greatest good for the greatest number seems overdone.

      • TVTray

        Shame on Erik.

    • Gwen

      The GOP has a plan, it’s called white pride pep rallies and blaming the poor.

    • SIS1

      “One thing that would improve jobs prospects is improving public education and more funding of higher education.”

      There is really no support for the notion that a more highly educated population will create more jobs. If anything, better education should lead to higher productivity, and assuming no massive increase in demand, that should lead to a decline in employment, particularly manual employment.

      • Nobdy

        One of America’s primary problems when competing internationally for jobs is that while its workers are extremely productive they are also expensive. If they were even more productive then that value curve would move and more of them would be worth the expense.

        • SIS1

          The industries that have moved are those that don’t need highly productive workers, but instead lots of workers cheap – textiles being a grand example. US industrial production is continuing to increase, with fewer workers each decade. You could bring “jobs” back much faster by greatly depressing US wages. THAT is guaranteed to bring companies back.

          Its simple logic – if the amount each worker can make greatly increases in a way that means that the productivity of your workforce surpasses the total stuff that is needed to be made, then you need less workers and its unprofitable to employ more people than you need.

          • Nobdy

            There’s no law that says that the industries that left are the ones that have to come back. Germany has a highly paid workforce and does a lot of manufacturing but it’s mostly high tech stuff and it relies on a highly trained workforce to stay competitive.

            Germany also has other structural advantages that the U.S. doesn’t (it’s smaller, and it benefits from a monetary union that keeps its currency cheap.)

            • sapient

              Weird. They have workers who are willing to be trained?

              • David Chop

                They have companies who are willing to train them. Here in ‘Murica you’re expected to bootstrap yer damn self. Student debt your way to success.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Yep. Very few companies train anymore. “We want someone to hit the ground running!”

            • Brett

              On top of that, their manufacturing industry has increasingly relied on temporary workers, and the unions of German industrial workers largely agreed to restrain wage across the board to preserve jobs back in the early 2000s (ever wonder why they’re so suspicious of anything resembling inflation?).

    • The “let’s have more education” strategy is no strategy at all. There are lots and lots of people, and I’m thinking of particular family members here, who simply are not college material. They have to be able to make a living wage.

      • sapient

        They need to get trained then, maybe to work at a fish market. Lots of jobs.

      • Nobdy

        A) I am not just talking about tertiary education. I mean stronger elementary schools and high schools to teach critical thinking, math, use of technology, and other skills necessary for the modern workforce. Not everyone has to go to college, but everyone needs some level of education to function in the modern world (As an extreme example it is very hard to hold down a modern job, even a labor job, if you are illiterate. You need to be able to read warning signs on equipment and follow written instructions.)

        If you want to say that some of this education should be in the form of trade schools or other non-collegiate tracks I think that’s fine. Subsidized apprentice programs sound good to me. But people need skills to compete in the modern labor market, and a skilled workforce attracts investment. It’s not a panacea, but it’s part of the package.

        B) It’s fine to criticize education as a panacea cure (which it isn’t) but we need concrete policy solutions that can actually be implemented. I’m not going to say that we should be constrained by the conventional wisdom limits of policy, but there are limits.

        C) The main policy that I suggested and the best tool I think we have is direct government hiring, funded by increased taxes. If that sounds like a difficult policy to push out to the American people…I agree, but I don’t think anything else that will work is more feasible.

        • weirdnoise

          Our schools do a pretty poor job of focusing on what prepares a High School graduate for the world. Take math, for instance. High school math should include basic statistics and economics and concentrate less on triangle theorems and the quadratic equation. I majored in math, I actually like math, but we’re stuck in a 19th century mindset for math as some pure form of higher learning while we ignore its essential application in navigating life and politics.

          • GFW

            Yes, a mandatory “statistics for citizens” course has been a minor hobby horse of mine for a while.

            • Linnaeus

              As someone who is trying to learn statistics on my own, this would have been nice, although I wonder if I would have been perceptive enough to realize that when I was in school.

  • Joe_JP

    The new nominee to Secretary of Labor doesn’t seem like the total tool that the last guy was.

    But, like Trump barely referencing him during the press conference (with him not being there & from one account, having trouble pronouncing his name), doesn’t seem to be much interest in him around here.

  • jamesepowell

    There’s no way around it–this is a response to the utter failure of Democrats to have a real jobs program for working people.

    Have to agree with both comments above me. Democrats, including the recent past president, proposed, but the Republican congress disposed.

    Right now, which Democrats should have a “real jobs plan”? How does one do that without at least some measure of power in the government?

    • sergiol652

      There’s too much trust in the goodness of the WWC and that their racism will be overcome by good paying jobs.

      • TVTray

        Nobody thinks this.

        • sergiol652

          I guess you don’t read Jacobin or Doug Henwood or the Baffler or the Nation, etc.

          • TVTray

            Can you point me to an article written by one of these groups that says racism will be overcome with good jobs?

            • sergiol652

              Since you seem to have read everything that has been written about class politics in this country maybe I should defer to you.

              • TVTray

                I’m not sure what you’re talking about Serg. I just want to know more about these class-only leftists. Can you help me out?

  • A couple of observations, one snarky, one sincere.

    Snarky:
    I don’t remember ever seeing people like No More Alt Center commenting on posts like these. Perhaps their failure to notice these posts accounts for the fact that they think LGM never criticizes the Democratic Party or what it had to offer in the last election. It could be a case of selective hearing.

    Sincere
    : In the 1930’s the New Deal forged a winning coalition for the Democratic Party, including broad working class support.

    What could a New Deal for 2020 look like? We don’t have the same kind of massive unemployment that existed in the 1930’s but there are large pockets of high unemployment and underemployment and a major lack of job security. The advantage of the “New Deal” concept is that it includes the idea that the government should provide work for those who can’t find it. I mean, there are plenty of things people can do- all that’s needed is the political will to invest in projects and pay people decently for their work.

    A real infrastructure program would be a good start. I heard the Senate Democrats had a proposal – does anyone know what’s happened to that?

    • sergiol652

      In the 1930’s the New Deal forged a winning coalition for the Democratic Party, including broad working class support.

      That coalition specifically excluded African Americans and other people of color.

      • If we’re talking about an electoral coalition, then not quite. True, those who denied the vote by Jim Crow were excluded from all electoral coalitions. However, it is estimated that 71% of African Americans who voted in 1936 voted for Roosevelt, and a majority of African Americans have voted for Democratic candidates for President ever since.

        And of course the Democratic Party now does not have a segregationist wing.

        • Davis X. Machina

          And of course the Democratic Party now does not have a segregationist wing.

          Not yet, anyways. Chase the WWC chimera hard enough, though, and who knows?

          • It would not make sense. Whereas in the old days Democrats exclusively benefited from African-American disenfranchisement, now it would benefit Republicans exclusively, which is why Republicans are the ones now engaged in voter suppression.

            • sergiol652

              HRC lost the election the moment she praised BLM and mentioned implicit bias.

              • TVTray

                They voted for Obama!

                • sergiol652

                  Obama did not run on race, Police brutality or LGBTQ issues

                • Scott Lemieux

                  They voted for Obama!

                  First in conditions in which Clinton also would have won easily, second as an incumbent in a decent economy, and neither time against Trump, so this proves shit.

                • TVTray

                  He’s still very popular Scott! Do you think he was lying when he said he could have beat Trump?

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  He would have been the incumbent.

          • sapient

            Davis X. Machina, you rock.

          • TVTray

            Obama chased and caught it, helping him win two Presidential elections.

    • Davis X. Machina

      but there are large pockets of high unemployment and underemployment and a major lack of job security.

      Some of them are in pretty dark places….

      • bs

        Feature, not a bug. And when Derp Fuhrer talks about “improving inner cities”, he means more militarized (and more racist, if that’s possible) law enforcement, not economic development.

    • Gwen

      Let’s keep in mind though that plenty of wealthy industrialists and financiers supported the New Deal. The New Deal was not a socialist revolution but rather a modernizing movement that embraced alternatives to classical capitalism. The underlying belief of the New Deal was “we can do better” not “eat the rich.”

      I certainly agree that at the moment, the Democrats are a bit compromised by having a donor class that includes capital. But the real problem for the Democrats is the hegemony of neoliberal thinking that has made it seem politically unsafe to offer bold alternatives to the status quo.

      The Trump moment offers Democrats a way out of this, but only if we are smart about this. We need to be on guard against merely being reactive and defending the status quo. That’s a sure loser.

      But I think we can advance a progressive economic agenda in a way that gains support from (some) parts of the business community. The GOP is toying with ideas like the border adjustment tax that are going to alienate significant numbers of capitalists. We need to play them off each other.

      • Davis X. Machina

        But the real problem for the Democrats is the hegemony of neoliberal thinking that has made it seem politically unsafe to offer bold alternatives to the status quo.

        As opposed to the Good Old Days. Have you ever read a Democratic convention platform from the ’70’s? 80’s? 90s? Ever compared Jesse Jackson’s ’84 or ’88 platform to that of a certain neoliberal candidate from the last election?

        • Gwen

          Well, true.

          But I don’t mean hegemony within the Democrats alone, I mean in the larger society.

          The GOP has gotten (until recently) increasingly doctrinaire about tax cuts and trade deals. To the point where “Reagan would not be welcome here anymore” seems de rigeur. Fear of apostasy was I think one major reason for why Obama could never work with the GOP (that and racism).

          Now in the past few months that’s started to change because the Cult of Trump has dislodged the Cult of Ayn.

          What we need is a cult-free America.

          • TVTray

            Agreed. Let’s get rid of the cults. Get ’em outta here!

          • bs

            Attila the Hun wouldn’t be welcome in today’s GOP. (too soft of a foreign policy).

        • Gwen

          An example of this:

          https://qz.com/911968/bill-gates-the-robot-that-takes-your-job-should-pay-taxes/

          The Democrats can probably agree that the real thing destroying jobs is automation, not trade. That is because the facts are pretty overwhelming.

          But I’m pretty sure that it is unlikely that our candidate will propose taxing robots.

          Not because our candidates are beholden to the robot lobby (or the capitalists who own them).

          But because we’re afraid the Republicans will make fun of us and that they’ll call us communists on Fox News.

          This is not an unjustified fear; as I noted, look at what they did to Obama.

          But it is nevertheless reactive, respectability-based politics rather than proactive, forward-thinking politics.

          • so-in-so

            Like with the “liberal” press, the GOP will make fun of Democrats and call them communists no matter what they do. We have to learn to deal with that. Bill Clinton was the last one to give them pause by adopting their own policies. They have overcome that solution by being willing to denounce their own policies if a Democrat is willing to endorse the policy.

          • pillsy

            One things our candidates have advocated, on and off, and which is effectively taxing both robots and outsourcing, is eliminating tax preferences for capital gains over wages. Robots are capital!

          • AMK

            The facts are pretty overwhelming..

            Should be obvious at this point, but “facts are overwhealming” is not the way to frame an argument about exonomic policy with WWC people in flyover states.

            • sapient

              Or, sadly, with Erik.

          • DrDick
            • Brett

              The economists Dean Baker and Adam Ozimek had good posts on a similar theme. Baker pointed out that while the percentage of employment that manufacturing jobs made up has steadily declined over decades, the actual number of them was relatively stable until after the Asian Currency Crisis in the late 1990s. Ozimek showed that the rise in non-union manufacturing jobs offset the loss of unionized ones until around the same time (although the number of non-unionized manufacturing jobs is back where it was in the 1970s).

              It makes me optimistic in a way, though. China can only enter the world manufacturing market in terms of trade once, right?

      • Spider-Dan

        You had me at “neoliberal.”

    • SIS1

      It costs a Trillion dollars as is supported by Democrats, so it will NEVER come to happen.

    • Solo Law

      The advantage of the “New Deal” concept is that it includes the idea that the government should provide work for those who can’t find it. I mean, there are plenty of things people can do- all that’s needed is the political will to invest in projects and pay people decently for their work.

      The Dems have been running away from that idea as fast as their tiny little cocktail weenie circuit engorged legs will carry them since Carter. That’s part of Loomis’ point I’d think. Hell I don’t think a majority of the Democratic party has believed in that idea since Kennedy.

      That’s the problem. They let GOP dictate (or buy into) the “economic” frame that says that idea is impossible. Of course it isn’t, the Dems, just like the GOP, don’t believe it and don’t want it. Any guesses why? I can give you a couple of hints if you’d like.

      • humanoid.panda

        The Dems have been running away from that idea as fast as their tiny little cocktail weenie circuit engorged legs will carry them since Carter.

        The stimulus, car bailout, and the proposals Democrats have put on table since 2010 would like to have a word.

        Seriously, an enormous proportion of the stimulus went for the states so they won’t fire teachers, social workers, and such- but those jobs are for girls, so they have cooties, so they don’t count.

        • Souris Grise

          This subject should encourage so much more discussion. I’ll just note that those existing jobs (and some sorta new jobs I could propose) that are gendered female are precisely the jobs least susceptible to automation. They require humans interacting with humans. They usually pay poorly. And we desperately need to fund more of them in these fields because such work benefits some directly and everyone indirectly. But, yes, indeed, girls plus cooties devalues such work. People? Meh. More stuff? An extra helping, please.

        • Solo Law

          The “Stimulus” and the “auto bailout” happened for one reason and one reason only–their own political necessity not born of a commitment to “government providing work” i.e. giant regional public works projects that have capacity to employ millions. And by necessity I mean if they didn’t do the first (which was tepid, undersized and poorly targeted), and the second (which would have taken down an entire key American industry and all the derivative industries which are part of same), their Great Recession would have been The Second Great Depression and those same politicians would have had serious concerns about hanging from lampposts in short order. They did it to save their own asses.

          And to be precise with regard to the latter, it was instituted while The Shrub was still POTUS and handed off to Pres. Obama.

          And in case you’re new to America, and I’ve worked for two federal agencies in the last 25 years, the goal over that period has never been to increase the size of federal civilian employment but to decrease it.

          That the words “public-private” partnership (i.e outsourcing key government work to private contractors to non civil servants) ever come out of a Democratic party politicians mouth is precisely what I’m getting at.

          Everybody around here hates the word “neoliberal” but that is part and parcel of it–the idea that there aren’t key “public goods” that should be provided by civil servants, without a “profit motive”, and that pay good union livable wages and benefits is something the Democratic party has largely abandoned. Just a fact.

          The Dems lost all of those “arguments” and “frames” because they stopped believing in them. It’s just a fact not withstanding your citing to examples that are exceptions to the rule rather than the rule. I could sit here and give you 50 examples to illustrate this point but you might as well do your own research. From “welfare reform” to the second and most obvious illustration of what I’m getting at. Specifically the one I worked on the most as a lawyer–the home foreclosure crisis. TARP and HAMP served the interests of bankers primarily rather than homeowners, and it was a bureaucratic nightmare and wholly inadequate in every conceivable way. As it was designed to be.

  • Ithaqua

    Damn!!! Still can’t get my links to work! Oh well, maybe delete and try again.

  • Gregor Sansa

    Part of the problem is that many of these people don’t just want good jobs, they want good, macho jobs. Nurse or teacher isn’t an option.

    I think the answer is “solar technician”, “smart grid installer”, and the like. It’s not a permanent answer but then nothing is. There really is room to go big on this one. Trains! Windmills! Insulation! Greywater systems! There’s a lot of infrastructure to be built, and most of it has multiple side-benefits.

    And honestly, a clear future rising path for a carbon tax (or equivalent cap and trade), combined with moderate incentives to private enterprise (infrastructure banks, loan guarantees, and the like) is enough to get the ball rolling on a lot of this stuff. It doesn’t have to be showing up on the numbers on the gas pump before it shows up in terms of jobs.

    • Nobdy

      Sounds like gay hippie shit. ROLL COAL!!!!

      Seriously, though, while those jobs might work in some places there is cultural opposition to them in others, thanks to Republican opposition and the frankly toxic culture of the southern white American male (I know we’re not allowed to call them out, but frankly many of them are shitty people with incredibly shitty values. Not all, but many.)

      And if Hispanics and Blacks (or women) apply for these jobs and are not excluded due to racism then these toxic assholes will cry like banshees about “affirmative action” and anti-white racism and will either make the programs racist or demand they be destroyed unless they PERSONALLY are employed by one.

      Loomis wants to cast the backlash as semi-rational and the backlashers as appeasable so that a way forward can be found. It’s not an unreasonably desire, we all have it at some level, and there is a germ of truth. But it’s incredibly difficult to construct good policy that will make these people happy, because these people are white supremacists and what they ultimately want is white supremacy. Not all Trump voters, but the majority. And while electorally it might make sense to construct a massive policy initiative to try and win a few tens of thousands of voters in swing states, it isn’t really a good way to make public policy.

      We’re in this mess because our electoral structure is shitty and because our electorate is, to a large degree, shitty as well. Those are the issues we need to address. We improve the electorate by expanding voting rights and we improve the electoral structure by, eventually, changing the electoral college and jerrymandering (though those are harder projects because of how our system works.)

      Should there be a jobs program? Absolutely. It’s good policy and the right thing to do. But I don’t think it’s an electoral winner mostly because I think any good jobs program is racially neutral and egalitarian towards the sexes and I think for the voters Loomis is talking about that kind of egalitarianism makes it very unappealing.

      • ap77

        (I know we’re not allowed to call them out, but frankly many of them are shitty people with incredibly shitty values. Not all, but many.)

        Who says we’re not allowed to call them out? Fuck those people.

      • DrDick

        A lot of Trump’s support is straight up racism, no question. However even that is a bit complicated, sine I think it would die down if the economy were better for the working classes. Economic insecurity feeds racism, since it is easier to blame “those people taking our jobs” than the bosses for automating what can be and off shoring what cannot.

        • sergiol652

          A lot of non-white working class people did not buy into that narrative.

          • Dilan Esper

            When I read comments like this, I wonder if the commenter has ever talked to working class blacks in Los Angeles about Korean small business owners.

            • sergiol652

              I know they didn’t vote for Trump

              • TVTray

                In general they don’t vote at all.

          • DrDick

            They mostly voted for Clinton. However, there is very strong antagonism toward immigrants among the African American community.

            • ΧΤΠΔ

              Don’t black immigrants (i.e., from the Caribbean and Africa) also tend more conservatively than native-born African-Americans? At the very least, I remember reading somewhere (and have some personal experience of, being a 2nd-gen Jamerican) that black immigrants have more faith in American meritocracy.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                They just haven’t been here long enough to learn otherwise. They lack generations of people working their asses off for nothing.

    • Linnaeus

      Part of the problem is that many of these people don’t just want good jobs, they want good, macho jobs. Nurse or teacher isn’t an option.

      I read this from time to time, and while it wouldn’t say this is never the case, it sometimes strikes me as a convenient cultural explanation for what is still substantially a structural problem.

      The problem with “just become a nurse or teacher” as a solution is that:

      1. We can’t assume that such jobs are necessarily available where the workers live.
      2. We can’t assume that everyone is able to make that transition.
      3. We have not been truly willing to commit the necessary resources to make an effective retraining program happen.

      • Nobdy

        Teacher is also not a stable easy to get job. It’s under constant attack from everything from MOCs to charters, it doesn’t pay ALL that well for a job that often requires a master’s degree, and it has a high burnout rate.

        Nurse is somewhat better for now, but is also vulnerable to automation in some areas and is not a good choice for older workers because it’s an extremely physically demanding job that also requires a lot of science education.

        There are basically no areas of the economy where you can be guaranteed a good paying stable job if you’re a decent performer anymore. Even computer programmers face age discrimination and in some cases potential automation. The structural problems are everywhere.

        • DrDick

          Nursing is also a very demanding job with a high burn out rate.

      • To emphasize point 2, we can’t expect that everyone will be cut out to work as a teacher or nurse. There needs to be a wide of variety of jobs available.

      • DrDick

        Exactly. What is needed is good paying jobs that do not require a college education. College is not for everyone. A comfortable living should be.

      • Brett

        Would men without high school education really turn down lots of these jobs forever even if they paid decent wages and there were no “macho” alternatives? I suspect they’d get over it and take the jobs, if they’re capable of doing them.

  • Michael Masinter

    The building and construction trade unions were racist organizations long after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 took effect. The history of Title VII litigation was as much a history of litigation against the building trades unions as against employers. Sheet Metal Workers v. EEOC is an instructive refresher course; its recitation of the union’s resistance, culminating in contempt findings, is a good starting point for anyone who thinks the building trade unions were the repository of virtue.

  • sapient

    For all of the reasons the commentators here have stated, I wish Erik would quit saying this: “Beginning under Carter and then Clinton and Obama, they never had a good answer for the working class. ”

    It’s not true. It’s a lie. It’s especially annoying now.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Humphrey-Hawkins passed at the exact middle of the Carter presidency

      • Carter eviscerated Humphrey-Hawkins to the point of uselessness before he would sign it. This is evidence for my point, not yours.

        • imwithher

          Yeah, Carter eviscerated it because he knew the political tide, even back in the 1970’s, was turning against massive New Deal type programs and the taxes needed to pay for them.

          In your world, the Reagan Revolution never happened. Nor Prop 13. Nor the full bore capitalist propaganda effort of the last three quarters of a century, if not more.

          No, just feckless Democrats, who, for no good reason at all, just refuse to back to the hilt new WPA type programs.

        • Brien Jackson

          Maybe a minor point, but Jimmy Carter is not interchangeable with “Democrats.”

    • Linnaeus

      Erik has a point, even if he may be overstating it a bit.

      The Republicans of course carry a great deal of responsibility for the problems that a lot of communities face economically because of their general ideology and their subsequent obstructionism with respect to any solutions for economically struggling communities.

      That doesn’t mean, however, that Democrats bear no responsibility at all. Their historical commitments have been compromised to some degree by their embrace of, yes, more neoliberal economic ideas and policies, with ramifications that they did not account for, figuring the problems created would be almost self-correcting.

      • SIS1

        So your claim is that the Democrats failed by going along with a Republican-lite economic program, which is why white male union workers favor a real Republican economic program instead…..one that will destroy their communities even faster….

        Yeah, those damned Dems!

        • I think the claim is a little more nuanced than that. It is this:

          1) Trump claims that decent working class jobs are going because of those damn foreigners and he’s going to fix that

          2) The Democrats’ response is to say that people losing their jobs should retrain for other jobs

          A lot of people prefer to hear 1 rather than 2. Is 2 really the best answer the Democrats can come up with?

          That’s the claim.

          • sapient

            Is bringing back coal a good answer? No.

            Is bringing back factories, most of which are being staffed more and more by robots? No.

            Is education and job training the best answer? Yes.

            Do people care about good answers? No. Look at Kentucky, Medicaid. Done. It’s tribalism and racial resentment, not a legitimate beef with Democratic policy choices.

            • Linnaeus

              Good answers will also cost money. A lot of people don’t want to pay it.

          • SIS1

            So:

            Trump lies….

            Dems provide realistic but unpopular actual plan.

            If people think the Democratic party should start lying and try to appeal to the predominant but declining White demographic, then by all means they should argue that, once they establish why the Democrats should abandon their current values and embrace those that make such a plan acceptable.

            • Lit3Bolt
              • sapient

                When’s he going to run?

            • In response to sapient and SISI:

              Are you saying that there can NOT be decent work for people without a college education, and that therefore the only way to promise anything to the sort to those without college degrees is to lie?

              I suggest, respectfully, that we look for alternatives to lying and to bringing back coal. That is why I referred to the New Deal in my comment above. Why leave job creation to “the market”?

              See, I’d like to find a way to co-opt Trump’s appeal on jobs, not his appeal on racial resentment. Leave the racial resentment to the reactionary party. Let the progressive party make progressive proposals on jobs as well as being progressive on diversity. Why not? It’s the right thing to do.

              I also find it odd that people seem to think that other people are so one-dimensional that they are only motivated by one thing. If someone has racial resentment that is a bad thing, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that you can only appeal to them through their racial resentment.

              • Linnaeus

                Agreed. There is zero reason for the Democrats to appeal to racial resentment for both moral and political reasons. What’s more, they don’t need to in order to create a winning coalition.

              • SIS1

                “That is why I referred to the New Deal in my comment above. Why leave job creation to “the market”?”

                The white working class has refused to buy into any new “government job” plans – as some have noted, there was vast opposition to the auto bailout. Those people you want to reach SUPPORT THE LIE THAT ONLY THE MARKET CAN CREATE REAL JOBS. They don’t want “government spending” to be the way jobs are created. Instead, they fully buy into the myth that if only you didn’t suck good businessmen dry by having them pay taxes to support the minorities and illegals on welfare, and if you only muzzled the trial lawyers and greens who create unnecessary regulations, and if only you didn’t allow foreigners to steal their jobs, all would be fine.

                • efgoldman

                  The white working class has refused to buy into any new “government job” plans – as some have noted, there was vast opposition to the auto bailout

                  Fuck. The cognitive dissonance is beyond maddening. These same people are perfectly fine with their roads and bridges crumbling, their public services going to hell, their hospitals closing….
                  No, they’re not. They bitch and moan about it all the time.
                  No less than George Fucking Will wrote about it, fairly regularly, in the 70s.
                  THEY DO NOT MAKE THE FUCKING CONNECTION BETWEEN TAXES AND THEIR OWN PUBLIC GOODS.
                  And I’m damned if I know how to educate them.

              • sapient

                Trae Crowder’s piece is a joke. But, yes, some folks have to be willing to get training and new job skills, not necessarily college (although free or low-cost community colleges are highly recommended). Let’s quit valorizing ignorance.

                • efgoldman

                  Let’s quit valorizing ignorance.

                  Easy for us to say, when half the population, most certainly following their political and religious leadership, is willfully ignorant and becoming aggressively more so.

                • Linnaeus

                  No one’s arguing for valorizing ignorance – at least not here at LGM. Training, education, acquiring new skills, etc. are great and should be encouraged and supported. It’s just not sufficient.

                • sapient

                  when half the population, most certainly following their political and religious leadership, is willfully ignorant and becoming aggressively more so.

                  We shouldn’t encourage it.

                  It’s just not sufficient.

                  Then UBI.

                • efgoldman

                  We shouldn’t encourage it.

                  How the hell do you deal with people who won’t take “yes” for an answer?

              • DrDick

                Yes!

        • Linnaeus

          Here’s the thing: it isn’t that some Democrats simply went along with a “Republican-lite” economic program, it’s that they actually believed it and promoted it.

          So when some communities who were already trying to weather economic change looked for answers, they were told that the old jobs are gone (which they are) and that they needed to get new jobs. Okay, great, but how do you do that?

          There’s the rub. Because at the same time our nation is telling displaced or soon-to-be-displaced workers to get new jobs, we’re also committed to reducing taxes, cutting deficits, etc. Essentially trying to do this transition on the cheap. I fault mostly the Republicans for this, but they got an assist from some Democrats, too.

          Let me be clear, though, that I’m saying that this is only one part of the problem. Obviously the Republicans are more to blame, not to mention the presences of large-scale shifts and trends that are beyond what any one politician can do about them.

    • The Lorax

      And the data say the late 90s were good for working people. Not all, but the median.

    • I know–Democrats have an awesome strategy for Flint, for Youngstown, for Cleveland, for Scranton, for Erie, etc., etc. Carter and Clinton and Obama totally turned those places around!

      • sapient

        Is it possible that if they’ve had a problem since Carter, they should figure out a way to stop relying on the 1960’s?

      • imwithher

        What should their strategy be? Invent a time machine, so we can go back to the fifties, when Europe and Asia were in ruins, and there was no international competition for industrial products? And there were no robots or computers, and many more workers were needed?

        Maybe, just maybe, there really is no way to turn those places around. If by that you mean recreating the exact social and economic systems in place when, in a rare conjunction of world historical and technological development, semi skilled and even unskilled blue collar workers could make a great living.

        You scoff at retraining. You scoff at education. You scoff at migration. You ignore all the things that the Dems have done for the working class over the last fifty years.

        And yet you admit you have no plan, no answers, yourself.

        You are admiring the problem, at best.

        • Brien Jackson

          And again, when you talk about the white working class, you talk about people who pretty roundly reject the things like strong unions, active government investment, etc. that created the conditions necessary in the first place. This seems to be the real tension at the heart of Erik’s argument, and why there’s no apparent solution for it.

  • Davis X. Machina

    moved…

  • Rusty SpikeFist

    Bit surprising to see this posted at LGM, which retooled itself from top to bottom as a neolib house organ during the election and almost to the same extent during the primary. Hard to see how it’s consistent with your “not a dime’s worth of difference between Sanders and Hillary Clinton” dogma, so I guess we can safely assume this post amounts to a retraction of nearly everything you said on the subject for the past year or so.

    On behalf of the citizens of the world and the US in particular who will suffer for the next 4+ years as a result of your shameless Clinton fluffery during the primary, apology grudgingly accepted, and welcome to the reality-based community.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Suggestion — define ‘neo-lib’, so we can see if it squares with actual LGM posts or not.

    • Nobdy

      he citizens of the world and the US in particular who will suffer for the next 4+ years as a result of your shameless Clinton fluffery during the primary

      This is UNCONTROVERSIALLY true. If Erik Loomis had supported Sanders during the primary (Which I think he did? I don’t remember, but many LGM people endorsed him) then Sanders would have won the millions of additional votes needed to make him the nominee and become president. It’s as simple as 1+1=cat.

      The rest of your comment is hot garbage too, but that one is a real corker. Erik Loomis, kingmaker. I mean I respect the guy tremendously but…

      • efgoldman

        Sanders would have won the millions of additional votes needed to make him the nominee and become president. It’s as simple as 1+1=cat.

        You forgot the sarcasm font.

        • N__B

          This blog is a font of sarcasm.

          • Thom

            Dog knows we try.

    • Gwen

      Don’t read too much into this.

      Sometimes Erik just needs someone to help him with his ketchup/catsup problem.

      https://youtu.be/P2-1basQhX8

    • busker type

      troll

    • Clearly you are new to LGM, or your selective hearing has prevailed until this very moment. This is far from the first such post Erik has posted – indeed, he posted several during the election campaign where he openly worried that Trump could win because of these issues. If you cannot be bothered to do the research to ground your generalizations in fact, your generalizations are worthless.

      • Rusty SpikeFist

        I am not suggesting Erik was as bad as the average of his LGM co-bloggers. On the contrary, he was probably one of the least objectionable in that regard. But even so, he’s offered a lot of silliness about the supposed approximate equivalence between Clinton and Sanders throughout the year, and then doubled down with the same transparently nonsensical spiel about the Perez-Ellison contest.

    • Karen24

      Fuck off.

    • Bit surprising to see this posted at LGM, which retooled itself from top to bottom as a neolib house organ during the election

      LOL. Where neoliberalism = “anything someone in the Democratic Party says that I don’t like.”

      Also, three LGM writers announced their primary votes. Steve, Paul, and I all voted for Bernie Sanders. 0 LGM frontpagers announced they voted for Hillary Clinton.

      • Rusty SpikeFist

        As I said above, none of your opinions during the primary rose to the level of badness of your co-bloggers’, Scott’s especially. But I think any honest re-evaluation of LGM’s destructive actions during the primary would have to rate your “Well, Sanders is a little better than Clinton but there’s not much difference really. Oh, and neoliberalism doesn’t exist BTW” as silly at best, and really quite a bit worse than that, since a labor historian really ought to know better. And, today’s post makes it quite clear you do and did. Why not just admit you lied in the service of getting the Democrat elected, that you thought it was for the greater good, you were wrong, and you won’t do it again? Why is that so hard?

        • Nobdy

          The #1 skill of professor Eric Loomis is strategic communication. The man is KNOWN to carefully consider the [incredibly powerful] effect of his words and focus test and modulate his message with extreme precision in order to more effectively command his hordes of followers.

          Like, who the fuck have you been reading? Loomis is, for all his merits (and there are many) kind of a hothead who writes prodigiously and does construct long intricate history posts but also dashes off whatever thoughts occur to him, often blogging half a dozen times a day (WHICH IS NOT HIS PRIMARY JOB!)

          He doesn’t have the time or temperament to run the propaganda campaign, and his posts during the election cycle were no different than in the years before it.

          I’ve been reading his stuff for years and the person you describe bears no similarity to the hypergraphic writer who has filled up these virtual pages for a long time (and did not change his tune appreciably during the election.)

          • Abbey Bartlet

            The #1 skill of professor Eric Loomis is strategic communication. The man is KNOWN to carefully consider the [incredibly powerful] effect of his words and focus test and modulate his message with extreme precision in order to more effectively command his hordes of followers.

            This is gold, Nobdy.

          • Origami Isopod

            The #1 skill of professor Eric Loomis is strategic communication. The man is KNOWN to carefully consider the [incredibly powerful] effect of his words and focus test and modulate his message with extreme precision in order to more effectively command his hordes of followers.

            That would explain all the heads on spikes lining the main drag I saw today.

      • nixnutz

        I think vacuumslayer may have. Although it doesn’t even matter because he seems to be openly saying that endorsing Bernie without sufficiently demonizing Hillary is why Trump won.

        I still sometimes feel bad for blaming Bernie for having such dumb fans but I really do think it’s more than a coincidence somehow.

        • TVTray

          Go on…

        • Brien Jackson

          I don’t think Bernie helped the problem much, but these are people who were anti-Clinton more than pro-Bernie. Anyone in his position would have dealt with the same bullshit.

  • NewishLawyer

    I am not sure how to combine this post with your Boeing post and general posts about the white supremacy and general conservativism of building trades.

    On another blog, we were discussing what a true working class party would look like from springing off a Jacobin article. I theorized that a true working class party could be economically left but socially conservative. On paper, this is how Trump presents himself. I think he is a big fat liar and the working class are going to get screwed but it is what it is.

    I think we just need to continue what we are doing and focus on the working class who are with us already and getting like minded people out to vote.

    • busker type

      Yeah, I think this is pretty much it. The existing democratic coalition of white liberals and POC is not as big as I would like, but trying to reach the white working class by appealing to their racism would blow it up, so we plug along as best we can, and hope we win more than we lose.

      I think the biggest danger is that non-racist/businessy republicans fleeing the party of Trump start to pull the democrats back into a third-way/neoliberal stance and cede the economic populism to the Trumpers. That would be extremely bad for a variety of reasons.

      • The Lorax

        And (not that you’re saying this, but it should be said): we’re not racists. Or we’re trying not to be. There is a reason progressives have attracted PoC back to Eleanor Roosevelt, at least.

        • busker type

          totally agree

    • Karen24

      I completely endorse this. The Boeing union election is the truest expression of white working class attitudes — ie, the only good jobs are macho jobs for MEN. All you dirty hippies with your women’s right and decent treatment for black people can fuck right off. We want to beat our wives and kids and call all black men ‘boy’ and will allow the bosses to piss on our shoes and tell us it’s raining just fine thankyouvermuch.

      You know what a Dem jobs program should be? Nurses, teachers, solar installers, all in places with an inclusive culture. We design the program for our constituents and the coal rollers can die of opiate addiction and rage-coronaries in their filthy trailers.

      • I don’t think you can say enough about why Boeing workers voted no for the IAM to make this claim.

      • dbk

        I found this a pretty balanced analysis of what happened in SC for anyone who’s interested:

        http://labornotes.org/blogs/2017/02/viewpoint-boeing-vote-was-not-referendum-organizing-south

        The same rules that apply to voter registration (knock on doors, pound the streets) apply to union recruitment, and that is especially true in South Carolina, with the lowest union membership in the country (1.6%).

        The Machinists’ Union for whatever reason didn’t put in the legwork to win.

        • Brett

          Mike Elk of Payday Report has called bullshit on some of the Labor Notes article claims (that they didn’t do any door-knocking or leg work).

    • Bri2k

      Will stand by anyone who shares this goal. Spot on!

  • stonetools

    Obama and the Democrats sucked at selling the stimulus and the auto bailout as the greatest jobs program of all: saving the world from a second Great Depression. Sometimes politicians have to sell stuff, especially when confronted by counter propaganda, and Obama just did not sell the programs he passed. As a wonky type, he apparently did not like the process of salesmanship: simplification, slogans, repitition, maybe some razzle dazzle. As a result, he did little of it, and just wasn’t good at it. It did not help that he had to face also attacks from the left that he “mismanaged” the economic crisis by not delivering democratic socialist nirvana ( See Bernie Sanders, Matthew Stoller, and the Jacobins).
    Going forward, it seems like Germany has the best answer. They have managed to combine a robust manufacturing economy with strong unions, universal health care, and apprenticeship programs for those who want dignity and good living standards along with a livelihood doing skilled manual labor.
    The Democrats did have the elements of the German solution in their message, but they didn’t say it loud enough and they didn’t have a coherent message.The white working class fell for Trumps loud, coherent, fantasy of “Vote for me and I’ll take you back to 1956, racial & sexual caste system included”.

    • kvs

      What? This is willfully ignoring years of Obama being criticized for being too much of a salesman.

      You’re also ignoring that the bully pulpit doesn’t work like that. Presidents polarize issues. That’s why, for example, most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are popular and “Obamacare” is not.

    • IS

      And yet the Germans still lost almost as much manufacturing employment ratio as the US.

      • Steve LaBonne

        This. The people who seem to think this is a US-specific problem are enormously frustrating.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      Yeah, I wish Obama did a better job of selling. Yeah, I wish the other Democrats were better, too. Yeah, I wish the so-called liberal media didn’t have conservatives on their shows in a two- or three-to-one ratio with liberals. But you go to election with the Party you have, not the Party you wish you had, to paraphrase.

      It seems to me where Republicans excel is in slogans (it’s no accident that their leader prefers 140 characters or less) and in appealing to emotions. Democrats favor complex answers and rational appeals. Maybe we can do more slogans and emotional appeals- it’s worth considering. OTOH, “Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive” sounds like a good slogan to me, but it got little traction beyond Democrats.

      I agree the German model is worth pursuing, but kind of like the advantages the US had after WWII explained much of our economic dominance in the 1950s or so, the German economic dominance depends to a fair degree on the structural imbalances in the EU.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        German economic dominance depends to a fair degree on the structural imbalances in the EU.

        Which is to say, on economically looting Italy and Greece.

      • Ronan

        “German economic dominance depends to a fair degree on the structural imbalances in the EU”

        Do you mean in the euro? Ianae but if so I don’t think that’s true. One of the main driving forces behind the euro was to contain German economic dominance, which would have occured independently of the euro. My understanding is that a lot of German export dominance is because they make high quality, price inelastic goods, growth in Asian trading partners in the OOs, and labour costs kept down by German unification and then wage bargaining agreements. (Plus shifting some parts of the lower skilled production to the east)
        If youre talking about the eu specifically, The problem of German “economic dominance” of the eu is just the problem of German economic dominance of Europe (ie being the major industrial continental power, which has deep historical and institutional causes and can’t be reduced to the politics of the eurozone crisis)

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          The driving force behind the euro was to contain German MILITARY dominance by bribing them with economic power instead. They entered the Euro with a deliberately undervalued Deutschmark to give them an export advantage over the rest of the Euro countries.

          And today the German euro still remains undervalued, helping to give them a huge export surplus, aided by the German policy of exporting deflation to the rest of Europe (by deliberately throttling wage growth – which is NOT a worker-friendly policy!)

          http://www.middleclasspoliticaleconomist.com/2014/12/basics-german-euro-is-undervalued.html

          • Ronan

            Joining the Euro wouldnt be the way to contain German military power(which is negligible as is) One of the main reasons driving French support for the Euro was explicitly to contain German monetary power.
            There are a number of factors(afaict, as I put above)driving German exports which cant be reduced to an undervalued Euro. (this isnt the problem anyway, afaik, it’s more as you say:

            “by deliberately throttling wage growth – which is NOT a worker-friendly policy!”

            German workers could do with a raise, German pensioners could save less, the German state could spend more etc and the German market could provide demand for other European countries exports, which would begin to tackle the eurozones trade imbalances. (the concentration on the problem being with German high end manufacturers is wrong imo)

            As I said though, i am not an economist, so Im happy to be corrected. (but the general point that all of this is not the result of a German quest for European hegemony is true)

  • SIS1

    These people want jobs without a real future. Any party in sinc with reality can’t provide people with fantasies – and Trump won’t.

  • LosGatosCA

    Your points have a certain amount of validity but the Democrats have problems that would have easy to solve earlier.

    1. They can’t message their way out of a paper bag – see Obamacare. Say what you will about Republicans, it’s clear they stand for tax cuts and hate.
    2. They have no understanding of the concept of brand differentiation. Otherwise card check and proposals at all levels to raise the minimum wage would be pillars of their platform since forever.
    3. Because their messages and brand are not clear they are perceived as weak. And then they confirm that with giving the conservativr Republicans the Daddy jobs in Democratic administrations .

    Hopefully they are learning but I’m not sure. When a politician says

    “So for example, I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?”

    She thinks her national audience hears – ‘I’m the progressive, committed to the sustainable energy future including new jobs that you can depend on.’ Sure, in California that works. But in coal country (incl PA) and the rust belt the message heard is ‘If you’re not hip, living on the coasts, I’m not really the person you want to vote for.’

    The reason Clinton lost was Comey. But the reasons the Democratic Party doesn’t compete at the state and local level is pretty straightforward – being the ‘not the Republican, most of the time’ just isn’t good enough to attract voters to support you on an emotional level.

    • Lit3Bolt

      I wanted to write about that in my post. Democrats have become the SF/Chicago/NYC/DC party. Not by design or desire, they just let it happen.

      And if you live/work/grow up in a large city, there’s not much to hate about finance capitalism, globalization, and technology. And it’s easy for them to not focus on people who live in Brewmeth, KY.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Nothing will bring jobs to Brewmeth, KY except a massive government jobs program. Which would be bitterly opposed by the people of Brewmeth, KY.

        • Linnaeus

          Not to mention a good chunk of people who don’t live in Brewmeth.

        • science_goy

          The people of Brewmeth would be perfectly happy with a government program that brought jobs just to Brewmeth. But they’d fiercely oppose any broader program on the inevitable rumors that it was bringing easier, higher-paying jobs to Swarthberg, Alabama.

        • TVTray

          Steve do you think people in cities don’t have much to hate about finance capitalism and globalization?

        • djw

          In Kentucky, I think they’d be OK with it, as long as you can rebrand it in such a way that is Democratic origins are sufficiently obscured. (Kynect, not Obamacare!). But they’d never give Democrats credit for it, and if Republicans promised to take it away, they’d vote for them anyway.

      • TVTray

        “And if you live/work/grow up in a large city, there’s not much to hate about finance capitalism, globalization, and technology.”

        This is an amazing comment!

      • Dilan Esper

        I wanted to write about that in my post. Democrats have become the SF/Chicago/NYC/DC party. Not by design or desire, they just let it happen.

        I don’t think they just let it happen.

        There’s a whole bunch of reasons why this has happened, and plenty of them connect very explicitly to the ideologies and prejudices of modern liberals.

        And I say that as someone who shares those ideologies and prejudicies. Honestly, if I could be in a political coalition that shared the basic values of San Francisco young liberals and could win presidential elections, I would much prefer that to a strategy that had to appeal to large groups of voters that I have pretty fundamental disagreements with. But it doesn’t work that way.

        Here’s a partial list of reasons why the Democratic Party has tilted towards the coasts and away from the Rust Belt:

        1. The fundraising base of the Party is located near Wall Street, Hollywood, and the Silicon Valley.

        2. Post-1960’s liberals tend to live in major cities on the coasts.

        3. Post-1960’s liberals tend to have college degrees, often from top research institutions, and much of the center of liberal activism has moved away from workplaces in favor of colleges.

        4. Urban liberals tend to have social attitudes one might characterize as “hipster”– they see themselves as the “cool kids” and have somewhat snobbish attitudes towards people who live in the middle of the country, especially the less educated.

        5. Liberalism has shifted towards a stronger position on civil rights over the last 50 years, and lots of minorities of all sorts (not just racial, but also groups like gays and lesbians and non-Christians) have large concentrations in coastal cities.

        6. The decline of socialism as an alternative ideology has lessened the traditional distrust of liberals and Democrats towards capitalism, making large amounts of money, and the lifestyles associated with it. Thus, many liberal elites are wealthier members of the knowledge classes living on the coasts now, whereas shop stewards, farmers, etc., have less power in the coalition.

        7. Liberals have embraced immigrants, who are an integral part of coastal cities but are seen as a threat by many people who don’t interact with them on a daily basis.

        Given all those factors and more, I think a shift towards serving the interests of those on the coasts (and a decline in votes gained from the middle of the country) was inevitable. Bear in mind, I think most of the things I listed are very good things (the only things I really have a problem with are 1, 4, and 6). But a coalition going in that direction is basically 100 percent likely to embrace policies that are oriented towards the coasts more than the middle of the country.

        • rea

          That’s just completely blind to the mass of the party–all the rest of the coalition.

          • Dilan Esper

            I think the mass of the party has relatively little agenda setting power.

            Not none, but little.

            The most obvious example of this is that police brutality against black people has been a problem since forever, but the party has literally done absolutely nothing legislatively or through the executive about it, also since forever. Given the importance of the black vote to the party, that shouldn’t have happened. But it did. It’s only been in the last 3 years that major white party leaders even started talking about it as a problem.

            Also, the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity persisted for years later than it should have.

            And people who oppose the death penalty still can’t get any traction in the party.

            Or how about how teachers’ unions are basically ignored by Democratic politicians and the party in education policy debates, in favor of reformers like Arne Duncan?

            The fact of the matter is that the agenda of the Democratic Party is very much set by mostly white mostly wealthy coastal liberals and very much reflects their prejudices and priorities.

    • stonetools

      1. They can’t message their way out of a paper bag – see Obamacare. Say what you will about Republicans, it’s clear they stand for tax cuts and hate.

      Indeed. I went back and looked back at my posts on the original ACA debate in 2009. My first post was that “the Democrats’ messaging is terrible.”That did not change right through 2016. Obama and the Democrats simply never came up up with a simple, unified pro ACA campaign, and that allowed the Republicans to successfully run against it all the way to unified control of government.

      She thinks her national audience hears – ‘I’m the progressive, committed to the sustainable energy future including new jobs that you can depend on.’ Sure, in California that works. But in coal country (incl PA) and the rust belt the message heard is ‘If you’re not hip, living on the coasts, I’m not really the person you want to vote for.’

      • stonetools

        Sorry, my reply got cut off. Summary: no easy solution for the coal industry needs to go away and is going away anyway due to natural gas. Maybe tax credits for building solar panel factories in coal country?

        • N__B

          The Appalachians are filled with good spots for wind farms – a lot of updrafts. But they don’t create jobs locally to speak of. Most of the jobs are in the factory making the windmills.

    • Solo Law

      Ding ding ding, someone who gets it, except the Comey part, but close enough.

  • Lit3Bolt

    Whenever there has been a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress,

    there as been an economic crisis that leaves the entire nation spending-averse and budget-conscious.

    Carter was a goofball who vetoed his own Party’s bills.

    So that leaves

    Bill Clinton from January 1993 to November 1994

    and

    Barack Obama from January 2009 to November 2010

    as the only opportunities for Democrats to change the tides of finance capitalism, globalization, automation, etc.

    So that’s the lack of time/opportunity. Then there’s the modern public perception that every time Democrats spend money, it’s wasteful.

    Saving the auto industry? Remember the sheer amount of shit Obama got for that?

    There’s a lot of other factors I wanted to post, but I think the thesis that “People wanted to work, and the Democratic Party solely and willfully denied them the dignity of toil.” is silly enough to fall apart on its own as a historical claim.

    As a PR/messaging thing, though, I get it. Focus on jobs/economic security, and not get bogged down in technocratic gobbledygook that’s incomprehensible to the majority of voters.

    • When people talk about whether or not the Democrats are generally “neo-liberal” here I think it leads the debate off the rails. The Democrats are generally much less neo-liberal than they were twenty years ago. In some respects, in fact, they are more progressive than they have ever been. I think Erik’s point though is that on this particular issue – assuring decent jobs for the working class – they are still pretty much on the neo-liberal page, which is basically telling people who’ve lost their jobs “well, you’ve got to retrain and relocate to and for the jobs the market now provides”.

      • Ahenobarbus

        The block quote mentions four issues of which Trump (apparently) listens to unions: TPP, NAFTA, Keystone XL and Dakota Access. So it’s never entirely about neo-liberalism anyway.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        Whereas the Republican argument is “If we just cut taxes for the wealthy, those jobs would return to your towns!” And somehow that works…

        • Ahenobarbus

          They also bash environmentalism, which resonates.

      • Lit3Bolt

        From an urban perspective, the neoliberal page is great.

        From a rural perspective, not so much.

        And where do Dems come from these days?

        So I think Democrats will focus more on HRC’s negatives than actual change in policy.

        But the idea that this was calculated and planned by the Democratic Party is ludicrous. I think they just let the neoliberal chips fall down and hoped to get ahead. They never imagined that spending by the government would become completely forbidden.

        • sapient

          How can you say that “neoliberalism” is the problem Democrats have with rural voters, when rural voters are more than happy to vote for Republicans, and have been for awhile?

          • Lit3Bolt

            I type “neoliberal” as shorthand for the three extremely complicated issues of finance capitalism, automation, and globalization. If you live in a big city, these can be extremely good things, but if you’re poor in rural Pennsylvania and can’t/won’t move, not so much.

            2012 vs. 2016 will be instructive I think. Obama ran against Romney as a suit-and-tie capitalist. Hillary Clinton ran against Trump’s character. She lost, ergo, the American people don’t care about character and/or are angry/desperate enough not to care.

            Also, is it a PR problem, or a policy one? Both. It’s hard to craft policy when a Democrat spending a dollar is tyranny.

            • sapient

              Hillary Clinton ran against Trump’s character. She lost, ergo, the American people don’t care about character and/or are angry/desperate enough not to care.

              And misogyny, and Putin (echoed by Sanders dead-enders), and Comey. Let’s not ever make the 2016 election about Democrats, and their bad economic choices. They made wonderful economic choices and were defeated because of an ignorant blowhard who had friends in the right places.

        • TVTray

          “From an urban perspective, the neoliberal page is great.” What???

          • Spider-Dan

            You keep repeating this question. I’d like to hear exactly who you believe the neoliberal constituency consists of, and where this cohort lives.

            After all, it has to consist of somebody, right? Some misguided group of people who are all about that global finance and incrementalism. So where are they from?

    • Davis X. Machina

      Saving the auto industry? Remember the sheer amount of shit Obama got for that?

      It wasn’t all from the right, either. I remember reading how the bailout would just entrench auto-centric patterns of work and development that would destroy the environment anyways, plus the $$ would just reward incompetent/corrupt auto execs who had destroyed the competitiveness of their own industry. Something in there about tiered UAW contracts, too.

      Also how when the larger economy collapsed, the ties we made exchanging seeds and practicing subsistence agriculture would strengthen communities, and doom consumerism.

      • Linnaeus

        I’m guessing this point of view came from, ahem, “educated” folks.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Very much so.

      • Lit3Bolt

        Which is why neoliberal critiques are worse than useless IMO. The globalization/automation/finance genie can’t go back into the bottle. It’s like wishing nuclear weapons away.

        • TVTray

          I’m curious–about how much do you make in a year?

  • rlc

    To the people complaining that Dem’s get zero (or negative) credit for the *implicit* jobs programs from stimulus or infrastructure projects, and therefore fuck you WWC, I present to you, once again, the self described “ALEC Killer” organization tasked by the Democratic Party establishment with reversing the catastrophic state electoral situation.

    Behold its issue page, once again:

    https://stateinnovation.org/issues/

    Wait what? What happened to the $15 minimum wage issue?

    Now there is exactly *zero* text about support for jobs providing a living wage. This is *not* going to fly well in non-urban America, and I will remind you again that nearly all those rotten maleducated drug addled racists we all love to hate are embedded in families and communities. They vote too. Fuck you WWC has a lot wider effects than you’re appreciating.

    Website text is free mates. Yadayadayada can’t pass anything through Congress, therefore abdicate completely? WTF is going on with the Democratic Party?

    I need to start taking bets on the 2018 races. I’ll probably score some serious cash but understand that I do believe losing all my stakes would be a fabulous development.

    I agree with everything Eric says in his post. Thank you Eric!

    • stonetools

      Wait what? What happened to the $15 minimum wage issue?

      Note that Mr “$15 minimum wage or you’re a corporate sellout” is reduced to hoping “Trump will cooperate to raise the minimum wage to $10.”

      One thing is certain. The Democrats need a simple, unifying message for 2018. I think it can be as simple as “stop Trump from turning back the clock to the 1950s.” We also have to point out that the wonderful days of the past weren’t so wonderful.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        I’d go with “Stop Trump from fucking everything up”.

        People who want everything fucked up are still in the minority.

        People who support Trump will have a hard time arguing he isn’t fucking everything up.

    • Solar System Wolf

      Who said the WWC supports a rise in the minimum wage? All I hear from those folks on the subject is how they “know” it kills jobs, and how burger flippers don’t deserve a living wage.

      • TVTray

        How many working-class people do you actually interact with?

        • Davis X. Machina

          It’s not uncommon. My students — rural, Maine high schoolers — will, when choosing sides in a debate class, often need pushing to go with an affirmative case for increasing the minimum wage. Despite being up to their armpits with people who make the minimum wage. Or making it themselves.

          It’s what they hear at home. It’s what the small-business-American-Poujadists who are their parents, and their parents’ friends, constantly espouse.

          • TVTray

            Small business owners aren’t the working class.

            • Davis X. Machina

              What do you call a one-truck drywall contractor?

              • sapient

                Honestly, that’s a very good question. They are tradesmen more than “working class” in the Marxian sense of being exploited. It’s a very good example of how non-college-educated people can write their own rules. (And, by the way, they’re hard to come by – the good ones who show up – and well worth their asking price).

                • Davis X. Machina

                  When things are slow, and he works without a helper, patching holes, he’s working class. And when he’s busy and hires a couple of guys, doing a duplex, then he’s a capitalist.

                  I’m sure for debating purposes we can shoehorn them into a framework of political economics that’s a century-and-a-half old…

                • sapient

                  Right, and I didn’t really mean to go there. But people are able to make a living doing skilled work, although it’s true that sometimes things are tough.

              • efgoldman

                What do you call a one-truck drywall contractor?

                A Republican voter

        • Solar System Wolf

          Would giving you a number actually satisfy you?

          • TVTray

            I’d like you to slowly count them out on your fat, greasy fingers bud!

            • Solar System Wolf

              That’s what I thought. Fuck off.

              • TVTray

                One, two, three…

      • djw

        Nah. Raising the minimum wage is overwhelmingly popular across the board, except for ideologues. Look at Arkansas 2014: An increasingly conservative electorate gives Tom Cotton a win over a moderate incumbent by huge margins, but still votes 2-1 to raise the minimum wage.

        The polling has been overwhelming on this for ages. Democrats support it more, of course, but for modest increases you’ll still get majority Republican support.

        • SamChevre

          I’m less sure that raising the minimum wage going to help. The people in my experience who are most hostile are (1) business owners and (2) the guys who made minimum wage a decade ago and make twice the minimum wage now. It’s that second group that’s the swing vote.

          • djw

            (1), of course. I suspect most people in category (2) have been in the low-end job market long enough to understand the ripple effect.

            But we don’t need to speculate here; there’s a wealth of public opinion data and referenda that suggest raising the minimum wage is very popular, in red and blue states alike. There are millions of Americans who oppose it, but they’re very clearly in the minority, and it’s not close.

        • Spider-Dan

          I compare this to polls showing public opinion on background checks for gun purchases, in that there is a vast difference between “I support this policy” and “I will vote against someone who does not support this policy.”

          So raising the minimum wage can get great polling numbers in poll after poll, but at the end of the day, the same voters who support raising the minimum wage will vote against the candidate who promises to raise the minimum wage, as they vote for the candidate who promises to end government handouts to those who are “takers, not makers.” And those who support background checks for gun purchases will vote against the candidate who promises background checks, as they vote for the candidate who promises to stop the government from coming and taking all your guns away.

          It’s not enough for polls to show “support” for a position. The only thing that matters is which positions are dealbreakers.

          • djw

            I’m not claiming it’s a tremendously salient issue in voting for candidates, driving who people do and don’t support. (There are very few political issues that claim that status for more than a handful of people.)

            I was responding to the following characterization of a standard WWC view on minimum wage, specifically: “All I hear from those folks on the subject is how they “know” it kills jobs, and how burger flippers don’t deserve a living wage.” The best evidence we have suggests this is not the case, and this kind of conservative economic thinking doesn’t dominate the WWC worldview, at least on this issue. See, again, the referendums of 2014. We know Arkansas likes Tom Cotton and Tom Cotton hates the minimum wage, but we also know that doesn’t mean Arkansans buy Tom Cotton’s nonsense, since fully half of the people who voted for him also voted to raise the minimum wage.

    • sergiol652

      Do you think the WWC will vote for Democrats if they don’t abandon Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ? The $15 minimum wage did not move one WWC voter to Clinton. They voted for someone who said that there should be no minimum wage! And the $15 wage was explicitly promoted by the Dems and HRC.

      • TVTray

        Those people voted for Obama! They were part of the Obama coalition. What happened?

        • sergiol652

          Obama did not run on race, police brutality or LGBTQ issues!

          • TVTray

            I’m sure Obama would be surprised to learn that race wasn’t an issue when he was running for President.

            • sergiol652

              You’re right, electing Obama destroyed racism in this country! my eyes have been opened!

              • TVTray

                ??

            • UncleEbeneezer

              Obama was elected twice before BLM even came into existence and before White people lost their ever-loving shit about those angry, skeery Black women marching in the streets. No one said race didn’t play a factor, but it clearly played a much bigger role in 2016 than in 2008 or 2016 despite the race of the Dem candidate. Trump has been dropping poorly coded “law and order” dog whistles from jump, and Hillary hired a bunch of awesome Black women to help direct her, and spoke about Reproductive Justice, Intersectionality and Privilege. Obviously race was more at the center of Obama as a person, but it was more at the center of HRC’s actual campaign.

              • TVTray

                His full name is Barack Hussein Obama! He’s still very popular; people in this country love him. They didn’t like Hillary too much, though.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            It’s a lost cause, sergiol. You’re right, but it’s a lost cause trying to explain that to the anti-identity politics crowd.

            • TVTray

              Why do you think I’m against identity politics?

              • Abbey Bartlet

                Just a guess based on your other posts.

      • “Did not move one wwc voter to Clinton”

        So we know how they all voted and why, do we?

        Seriously though, how many people even knew the Dems supported a $15 minimum wage?

  • kvs

    What do the Democrats need to support that they don’t? What message do they need to deliver that they’re not?

    I think this repeated refrain misses two things. First, that this was the biggest argument during the primary and the progressive stance won out even though Clinton became the nominee. Progressive economics and messaging dominate the party platform from the DNC. And, for example, Clinton’s DNC speech delivered a message of economic fairness and justice.

    The second thing it misses is that the media coverage of the campaign didn’t focus on policy differences.

    • The Lorax

      Yep. Clinton talked a lot about these issues. Media covered the Trumpster fire.

    • They need to have a plan to bring Rust Belt cities back to economic prosperity. That’s what they need. And no, I don’t really know the answer, although I am working out part of it.

      Just because college educated liberals think that Democrats have good job plans doesn’t mean that they actually have good jobs plans for people without college educations.

      • imwithher

        Any semblance of prosperity, or even basic survival, that exists in Rust Belt cities exists b/c of Dem Party policies and laws. And yet you just ignore that. Over and over again. Stimulus? Auto bailout? Food stamp expansion? Obamacare? Do those things exist, in your world?

        Moreover, “Rust Belt cities” (Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, etc) already vote Democratic. It is outlying, more rural, rust belt areas that don’t.

        And, of course, you admit you have no answer. Doesn’t that tell you something? Perhaps, outside of some massive, politically impossible, interregional wealth transfer, there is no way to make the rust belt prosperous again. Manufacturing is declining everywhere, in terms of people employed. Things last longer now. And automation means fewer employees, particularly blue collar, assembly line, unionized workers.

        The rust belt is what it is. It is devoted to an economic sector (manufacturing) that is in long term decline. And it has little or nothing to fall back on. The rust belt has no seacoast, no mountains, and bad weather. It is never going to be a tourist mecca.

        Finally, don’t you have a college education? Isn’t any plan, by definition, going to be developed by people with college educations? And, assuming you ever get around to finishing “working out” any “part” of your plan, aren’t you going to be running it by other college educated people?

        This salt of the earth, blue collar chic, oh the economic anxiety of the White workers, stuff is really grating, particularly coming from members of the very liberal, educated elite that is supposedly to blame for their alienation.

        Trump promised them pie in the sky. We can do that too, I suppose. Maybe that should be our “plan.”

        • TVTray

          We’re going to have to promise them something! Or else Dems will keep losing.

          • imwithher

            What do you have in mind?

            So easy to say, “We need a plan!” Not so easy to actually come up with one.

            Of course, again, empty promises are easy, and they seem to win. Which is your sole focus. So, maybe we should go that route.

            • TVTray

              Glad you agree! Let’s get people excited.

              • imwithher

                You first. What’s your phony plan/empty promise?

                • TVTray

                  Medicare for All, Free College for All, Increase Social Security, A Job Guarantee, etc. I think this is a platform that can win.

                • imwithher

                  Well, I asked for empty promises, phony plans and pie in the sky, and you provided it.

                • TVTray

                  I’m just happy to be helpful!

      • Nobdy

        Why don’t Republicans suffer for not having a plan to bring these cities back to economic prosperity. I mean they don’t, and I am confident that you don’t believe they have such a plan*, so why isn’t that a dealbreaker for them? Why do only the Democrats have to have good policy?

        *It’s possible that you’ll counter with “They SAY they have a plan” and that’s true, but they have been saying that for years and whenever they get power they do nothing to help these communities.

        Why do you believe this is so asymmetrical?

        • SamChevre

          Why do you think Trump is President, and not Rubio? The obvious fact that the traditional Republicans DON’T have a plan is the reason that a not-very-traditional politician won the Republican primary and the Presidency.

          • imwithher

            But Trump has no plan either. Just saying, “Well, I, and the people who I will appoint, are so fucking great that we will be able to renegotiate NAFTA, unilaterally, to the advantage of Johnny Lugnut in Rust Belt City, US of A, unlike what that stupid Obama and Bush and Bill Clinton, and their appointees, did, or what that stupid Rubio, Cruz, or HRC, or any of their appointees, could do,” is not much of a “plan.”

            Again, Trump promised them pie in the sky. The classic three part underwear plan…step one, elect Trump….step three, prosperity…and step 2? Well, that’s blank, for now!

            That should be our plan too! We will make America great again. How? Who knows! But elect us and we will do it. Believe me. Bigly.

          • Nobdy

            You act like economics are the only area where Trump varied from the Republican mainstream. It’s not. He was racist and misogynist in a very open way that they were not, and he was more entertaining and, in a disgusting way, charismatic. You can’t just chalk up his victory to his alleged plan.

            And he obviously doesn’t have a plan. He has never had a plan for anything in his life. Now you can argue that they are fed up with business as usual and “just want change” but Loomis isn’t saying the Democrats need to arglebargle about “change” while rabidly ranting like a brain damaged mongoose. He is saying they need a plan.

            Trump does not have a plan.

      • sapient

        So why don’t these “rust belt cities” come up with local government solutions for jobs? We (Democrats) have to claw our way to victory there-where the hell are their homegrown solutions? Why are they asking for the Federal Government (or, God Help Us! the global community) to help them out? Aren’t they pull ourselves up by the bootstraps type people?

        No, they’re racists. Pure and f’ing simple. There. Done.

        • Happy Jack

          Detroit and Gary and Toledo are governed by racists? Or are your scare quotes referencing someplace else?

          • imwithher

            Detroit, Gary and Toledo all went for Clinton. Places like that are not the problem, despite the hang wringing re “Rust Belt cities” by Loomis.

            The racists run the show elsewhere in the Rust Belt. Outside the cities.

            • Linnaeus

              Which, sadly, includes a lot of affluent suburbs.

              • imwithher

                Which, of course, is another factor not mentioned. Hillary actually won the low income vote.

                If only working class people could vote, she would be president. White working class people are special, however, and need something more than the obvious fact that she and the Dems generally favor them more than the Repubs and Trump do. What could that be, I wonder?

                Why would they vote alongside their rich White coracialists, rather than with their Black and brown co class members? What could that reason be?

                • Linnaeus

                  Certainly race and racism were particularly salient in this election, as they usually are in American politics. We’re pretty much all in agreement here about that, including Erik.

                  What I sometimes find a little frustrating about discussions like these is that it seems a lot of folks talk past each other. On top of that, I think the Trump phenomenon, if it can be called that, is more complex than a lot of people make it out to be. We can’t ignore the racial element to it, but I also don’t think we can dismiss the economic element to it, although the relative importance of these elements can vary from place to place.

                  Trumpism is to some extent a cross-class phenomenon, which presents a problem for those who would argue that economic factors are primarily responsible (I don’t think that they are, but I don’t think they’re absent, either), but it’s also a problem for those who would locate the problem of Trumpism exclusively in white working class communities.

            • Happy Jack

              Sapient specifically mentioned cities, not suburbs or areas outside cities. I’m trying to figure out what point he/she is making.

              • imwithher

                Sapient was merely following, and explicitly quoting, Loomis, when he mentioned “Rust belt cities.”

      • Brien Jackson

        But the problem is, to have a jobs program largely targeted at one region, a bit part of the onus for making it work falls on the peole in that area as well. National Democrats can do a lot, but if the people in exurban Ohio where I grew up just refuse to be a place that develops the kind of communities and welcomes diversity, you’re not going to get skilled workers who want to locate there, which means you’re not going to be able to create the kind of working class work that comes along with it.

  • jpgray

    The problem is, as productivity increases, the “real jobs” that the unskilled fantasize about are going to be less and less necessary. Fewer and fewer “work with your hands” jobs are going to be available, outside of lifting old people and picking strawberries.

    That those two are seen as “undignified” is as intensely stupid as the idea that the “real jobs” are “dignified,” and neither association is inevitable – there is a strong instinct of workmanship in human beings, but it doesn’t need to be tied to a horrible job where you do repetitive manual labor standing around for nine hours in a hazardous environment.

    The idea that mindless labor has inherent dignity, or is necessary to obtain self-respect, is just idiocy. People love them some Periclean Athens, but forget it was quite possible for those weirdos to have outsize self respect and an engorged (ahem) sense of dignity every moment of every day, yet meanwhile a slave class did most of the useful work. That automation can’t replace the slave class and leave us freer than ever to do work we enjoy is flatly contradicted by so much of what we know of the past. It seems to me that this idea of dignity through drudgework should be better demonstrated before we assume it is true. Isn’t it dignity despite drudgework?

    Somehow when it comes to modern humans, the idea is that workmanship can find no expression outside of a meaningless repetitive job, and self-respect and dignity are nowhere without the equivalent of turning some widgets 1,000 times a day.

    But glorifying mindless work loses its main purpose when mass unskilled employment is less and less necessary for production, no? Associating it with dignity just means you are denying dignity to a larger and larger group of people as more and more of them become unnecessary.

    If we’re dreaming, wouldn’t it be better to argue against these anachronisms rather than grope after them? Even as lies go, it’s soon to become an outdated lie, no?

    • Steve LaBonne

      Until our “civilization” collapses (probably not too many decades away), mass unskilled labor will never again be in demand in developed countries. Promoting a fantasy, which is what I’m afraid Erik, well-meaning though he obviously is, is doing, helps nobody.

      • Lit3Bolt

        I say we replace all lost union jobs with community theater productions of “The Cradle Will Rock” and “Golddiggers of 1933.”

        And of course, “Of Thee I Sing.”

        • TVTray

          Tee hee!

    • stonetools

      The fact that you characterize it as “mindless labor” is a huge part of the problem.
      Note that Germany doesn’t characterize as “mindless labor” and have apprenticeship programs for just those types of jobs.

      • jpgray

        The strength and determination necessary to be a traditional coal miner was awe-inspiring and had great beauty in the skill and ability of its workers.

        At the same time, a lot of the required manpower did mindless drudgework and became horribly maimed/diseased/killed. I say bring on the conveyor belt, you say what, bring back the shovel brigade?

        • sapient

          This is a lovely comment. Anyone who’s had a working class job knows that there’s a lot to be thankful for when some of the more dehumanizing aspects of the work can go away.

      • Little Chak

        Germany has also seen a huge decline in manufacturing as a percentage of overall employment, over the same time period. To the extent that they have done better than we have in that regard (a much smaller difference than the overall decline), it is not because they have engaged in aggressive protectionism to somehow increase the demand for low-skilled labor.

        We can fight for better labor standards across the globe all we want (and we absolutely should), but that won’t bring back the demand for low-skilled manufacturing jobs such that they will pay the kind of middle- or upper-middle class wages that they did before automation. Even with higher labor standards, workers in less developed countries can live on much less than U.S. workers. Unless the demand for those jobs is increased to such an enormous degree that they can pay that same U.S. middle-class wage globally, there will not be demand for them here at our wages. And that’s just not possible without some kind of apocalyptic war that resets our technological progress.

        We can fight automation all we want, but we aren’t going to stop it. And to the extent we can, all we will do is help other countries to pass us by. Self-driving vehicles are coming, no matter what we do. We can preserve trucking jobs temporarily as the technology matures; presumably, truckers can take on more of a “train conductor” kind of role and work on other things while on the road. But eventually, the demand for trucking jobs will sharply decline, and promising that we can preserve them in perpetuity, when we can’t, doesn’t seem like a winning position to take.

        Yes, we can and should invest in our human capital, as Germany has done. (I.e., helping people to move from low-tech manufacturing jobs that are over-supplied to high-tech manufacturing jobs that are not. You know, that awful plan of the neoliberal Hillary Clinton who offered a plan to invest in the working class that could actually help, rather than the beautiful lie of protectionism.) Yes, we can and should also invest in rebuilding and expanding our infrastructure, but these jobs are temporary (and, anyway, Democrats ran on this, and have consistently supported and fought for increased infrastructure spending).

        jpgray has made a great case for what I see as an essential piece of the way forward: it is imperative that we win the culture war over what gives a job, and what gives a person, dignity. That is a fight that we can’t afford to roll over on.

        We don’t have to tell people that their economic concerns are invalid, but neither can we promise to reset the world economy fifty years.

    • I know, the enormous dislocation, poverty, and racialized violence this is all going to lead to is going to be the best.

      • sapient

        That cat is out of the bag. Or horse out of barn? Third wine.

        • Yep. And the 2016 election is the beginning of what comes from it.

          • sapient

            Oh, no. Don’t blame that on anyone but Putin, Comey and Republicans. Don’t you dare blame that on Democrats.

            • I’m sorry to challenge your comfortable narrative, but while the particulars of how Trump pulled it out in the last 5 days before the election are Comey and Putin, the larger Trump phenomenon is much more complicated, and related, albeit not entirely, to large-scale economic instability.

              • sapient

                And also on racism, misogyny and Republican tribalism.

              • imwithher

                Unemployment at five percent.

                Inflation next to zero.

                Health care available to more people than ever before.

                “Economic instability?” No. Racism, misogyny, anti intellectualism, xenophobia, celebrity culture, stupidity, ignorance, racism, homophobia, religious bigotry? Yes.

      • jpgray

        Where are you getting any of the above out of any part of my post?

        We need to redefine what is necessary to live a decent life, because if industrial/unskilled work is the standard of decent living, you’re talking about consigning millions to indecent life, more and more, year after year, since they are simply not necessary for production.

        Trying to bring back the manufacturing employment figures of yesteryear would mean a retreat into hopeless anachronism – hazardous, mind-numbing, reality-denying work. If we don’t need everyone to drudge, and we retain the production to support everyone, why set up an artificial potential-stunting economy?

        It makes no sense. It’s bringing back the coal shovel when we have conveyor belts because some academics feel a wistful nostalgia for the values of those past times. But those past times represent dignity DESPITE drudgery, not dignity because drudgery.

        You think the best an “unskilled” worker can do with his/her sense of work and its value is no more than what a robot can do. Freed of the need to do all that nonsense, I think far more could be done by these workers.

        • DrDick

          We need to redefine what is necessary to live a decent life, because if industrial/unskilled work is the standard of decent living,

          What is needed is good paying jobs with good benefits and reliable hours for people without a college education, as Erik and I have said repeatedly. All of those factory jobs have been replaced by low wage/no benefit service sector McJobs.

          • Brien Jackson

            Ok, so you need good unions who can demand a bigger share of McDonald’s more than sufficient profits. Now tell me how you’re going to get the WWC voters you’re after to support that!

      • Brien Jackson

        I suppose the 2020 platform could be destroying modern society altogether and returning Americans to a life of working 16 hour days of subsistence farming? That seems like it would solve the problem and give everyone lots to do!

    • NewishLawyer

      A lot of people seem to have a general bias against intellectual work or paper work for the real. I don’t share this bias but I might be a weirdo. People think that if you work in a factory or in construction, you can come home and say “I made three sofas today” or “We completed one level of the house.”

      For some reason a lot of people, including white-collar workers, have a hard time getting satisfaction out of “I wrote a 10 page motion today….”

      You see this on the left as well in concept like “Shopcraft as soulcraft” or an essay on “Bullshit jobs” that was going around a while back. Some elements of the left think of office work as being nothing more than elites keeping the rest of us in control.

      Now I’ve never shared this bias and I tend to be a bookish sort. I actually like looking up case law on lexis and reading the decisions. Nor do I think going through lots of files and evidence is a waist of time producing intangible goals/goods.

      • A lot of people seem to have a general bias against intellectual work or paper work for the real.

        A lot of people seem to have a general bias against blue-collar labor for the real.

        • dbk

          Yeah, and a lot of it (not all–there are plenty of people who see the point) seems to be showing up on this thread, which I find incredibly disheartening from a largely-progressive group of commenters.

          What you said above, basically: They need to have a plan to bring Rust Belt cities back to economic prosperity. That’s what they need. And no, I don’t really know the answer, although I am working out part of it.

          A few notes:

          (1) Medicaid expansion and SNAP benefits are not job creation programs
          (2) Those who have shown such hostility to working men and women on this thread are demonstrating a class bias which, frankly, is not all that different from what they’re accusing those in the Rust Belt of displaying.
          (3) You don’t have to agree with these persons’ political choices, but they’re still your fellow-citizens last I checked. It is possible to understand why they voted the way they did and respect them as fellow-citizens or in the final resort, as human beings.

          (4) I have yet to be directed via any links here to an actual strategic plan for meeting the challenges of 21st-century work. I’ll look forward to reading Erik’s first thoughts about this, but what I have in mind might be something like

          a) renewable energy by 2030 – build new infrastructure
          b) create 2-3 production hubs in each Rustbelt state, linked by high speed trains. Goal: no one more than an hour away from a production and/or service hub.
          c) retrofit inner cities’ housing and work spaces to minimize energy consumption
          d) reduce the work week to 30 and then 24 hours over the next couple of decades
          e) national service for all, to be performed at any stage in one’s working life through to retirement
          f) free pre-K on public education through junior college/technical-professional training level

          And yes, I know this is idealistic and can’t be accomplished tomorrow or in the next whatever years, but if you don’t promulgate a powerful new vision, you’re electorally dead in the water, period. And this needs to be conveyed by more people than the candidate for President.

          There are plenty of other options, but none include (a) continued reliance on carbon-based energy; (b permanent marriage to the 40-to-50-hour work week, or (c) writing off about 40% of the total continental land mass of the country by telling people neo-liberal economic policy is their own fault and they should get with the program.

          • sapient

            Democrats have spoken about all of those items, especially renewable energy and infrastructure (which have been included in their platform, and in legislative initiatives).

            To say that people disrespect blue collar workers is not correct if you’re talking about anything I have said. What I don’t support is having people asking for the world to be turned back a century just because they are suspicious of “the coastal elite”.

            Also, I think the cult of “no one really needs to pursue an education; people just need to sit in the town they were born in and hope a corporation moves to that town to give them job making widgets” is disempowering and disrespectful in a much more profound way. You aren’t part of that movement, but plenty of people are.

            • dbk

              Fair enough – I’m aware of the various bits and pieces of what the Democrats have proposed, and heartily second them and third them.

              What I want to see is a coherent vision for the future strongly articulated and expressed by Democrats from county to national level, and not just during election cycles.

              You can’t return to a (non-existent) golden age, but you can move forward to a more equitable and less environmentally destructive future.

              Am I missing out on something in all the cacophony?

              • sapient

                I agree with what you’re proposing and saying. What I’ve been fighting against is the idea that the WWC has no political responsibility for their own situation, and that our trade policies are responsible for all of their woes. A lot of the problems with trade after-effects could have been mitigated by Democratic policies, but they vote for Republicans.

                In terms of election rhetoric, and broad vision, I’m for whatever gets Democrats (with the values we agree on) elected.

                • dbk

                  I think we’ve arrived at agreement, despite this being an LGM thread. Thanks for listening.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  I think we’ve arrived at agreement, despite this being an LGM thread.

                  Shit. We can’t have that. Ummmmm.

                  CHAFEE WOULD HAVE WON.

        • Brien Jackson

          “A lot of people seem to have a general bias against blue-collar labor for the real.”

          Bwah?

      • Marshall_timbers

        My hypothesis about this (and I know people are going to jump in with their own personal life histories to try and criticize what I’m going to say) is that a lot of white collar professionals who haven’t had the experience of working crap jobs as an adult to get by (I’m not talking about working at Burger King during your undergraduate years), tend to denigrate their jobs (tech, law, accounting, whatever) as being pawns of corporate Romney-esque raiders. If people think that being a lawyer or software engineer is so soul crushing and worthless, they are free to get 2 or three jobs working in retail to try and make ends meat.

  • pillsy

    If people want to work, and it’s essential to dignity, why is there an endless drive to stigmatize social spending, to racialize welfare, and to attach humiliating conditions to means tested programs?

    Our whole cultural attitude to welfare comes off as protesting too much. “Oh, no, people really want to work, which is why we spend so much money and effort making not working gratuitously unpleasant!”

    • Because welfare isn’t work. That’s the point. We accept social programs if they are tied to work. If they are not tied to work, Americans don’t accept them.

      • sapient

        Work is great but doesn’t have to be remunerative.

        Do you get how corporate you are? Only if “the man” is paying you it’s worth anything? I work outside my office every day, which counts for nothing monetarily, but I need to count it as something for self-worth.

        • I am so fucking corporate.

          • sapient

            Haha. Obviously blind to it.

          • nemdam

            Face it Erik, you basically root for Wall Street you NEOLIBERAL!

        • Ahenobarbus

          I don’t think Erik is talking about self-worth. He’s talking about policy. Americans in general are reluctant to support social spending that isn’t tied to work.

          • sapient

            Erik is. I support UBI. He does not.

            • Ronan

              But self worth also comes from how society and others view you. I agree in theory a persons worth shouldnt be tied to employment, but this is the world we live in. A culture where work is valued so highly is not going to transition to a culture where a significant part of the population living on longterm, high income welfare will be valued.

              • DrDick

                Exactly and the workers themselves have internalized those values.

              • Brien Jackson

                I mean, this isn’t true at all, really. People who have to work more are almost universally held in lower status than people with an ability to work less. Households holding 3 jobs and working 100+ hours between two adults are clearly lower status than one where the husband makes $150k a year with lots of guaranteed time off and vacations, and the wife doesn’t work because they don’t need a second paycheck to thrive.

                There may be a lot of personal dignity or respect from the working class in busting your ass around the clock to make ends meet, but society at large certainly doesn’t valorize you for it.

                • Ronan

                  I dont really know how far this goes. The basic point, in the context of a UBI, that people who dont work but do receive welfare payments do not have a high status in society seems self evident. This also applies, for example, to a much lesser extent and in a different way, to the idle rich living off trust funds.
                  Whether there’s some finer distinction within the working population I dont know.I still think society valorizes the ‘Household holding 3 jobs and working 100+ hours.’ The fact that they hold lower status than an upper middle class family isnt (afaict) much to do with the amount of hours they put in, but other signifiers of class.

                  eta: im not saying people are generally compensated accordingly, but culturally the society values it.

                • Brien Jackson

                  People might joke about trust fund kids, but there’s no real social stigma directed towards them unless they’re young, female, and publicly visible. And even then they maintain enough of a fanbase to earn lots of money off of nothing but they’re identity.

                  And the “other factors” that signify class is the amount of money they make. Which is the point: there’s no cultural status applied to *working* it stems from how much money you make, how many benefits you get, and how much leisure time your job affords you while still earning all of that money.

        • Ronan

          It seems to be a general fact that in (industrialised and post industrial anyway)countries where welfare isnt tied to work it isnt popular.
          The countries with the most generous welfare systems (northern continental europe) also have the most extensive back to work/further education programs. Those with weaker welfare states (the UK, US) also have some of the most vitriolic anti welfare politics.

        • DrDick

          Work is great but doesn’t have to be remunerative.

          What planet do you live on? What Erik refers to is the desire to know you are supporting yourself in a comfortable manner through your own efforts. This is not difficult. People want jobs that pay good wages.

      • pillsy

        “I resent people I think are free riders,” is a different sentiment from, “It’s important to me to have work to do.”

        Conflating the two seems unhelpful.

        • DrDick

          Yet they are inextricably linked.

      • imwithher

        Americans view any new WPA type project as welfare. And don’t “accept” it for that reason.

  • AMK

    WWC racists will vote for the GOP regardless–they’re not reachable. But the election did not turn on WWC racists; it turned on WWC protectionists who had gone Obama twice and glommed onto Trump because he put the issue front and center while Hillary was the least credible candidate on this issue Dems could have nominated. This wasn’t a secret, but the Dem party spent years convincing itself that WWC no longer mattered to the coalition because data demographics millenials etc etc.

    It’s a pretty sure bet that the next Democrat will take a vocal position against trade deals and not be the wife of the NAFTA guy, so this is a problem on its way to solving itself….unless Trump has managed to turn the protectionists more racist.

    • sapient

      The election turned on Russia, who put out the “crooked Hillary” message, which was taken up by Bernie dead-enders. It also turned on Comey. Also on the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

      Could we quit pretending that if only Democrats were perfect (in a way some of us don’t really want them to go) they would have won?

      We need to win despite all of this, but let’s not do it by valorizing ignorance, ignoring facts and data, and losing our principles.

      • TVTray

        Dems simply can’t ever win!

        • Dennis Orphen

          I’m stealing your nym and putting it on all three of my most important lists: Band Name, Strain Name, and Porn Actor Name (as T.V. Trey). That’s a hat trick.

      • AMK

        Russia, Comey, Bernie dead-enders etc were decisive, but don’t change the fact that (1) Trump made opposition to trade deals a central part of his program while Hillary had no credibility on the issue and (2) Trump won the rust belt and ran up the WWC score by enough of a margin to win because he swung a relatively small but critical % of people who went for Obama. So either these people became serious enough racists in the span of four years to vote white nationalism after voting for Barack Hussein Obama instead of Mitt “Brooks Brothers Catalogue” Romney, or they voted for Trump for other reasons. Aside from racism and verbally fellating Putin, opposition to trade deals was the only other consistent and obvious part of the Trump platform.

        • sapient

          Opposition to trade deals was stupid. 1) WWC were duped about trade deals, and Erik is partially responsible for that. So we should lie? If that’s what it takes, but i really don’t think that is the answer. 2) Misogyny and Putin/Bernie crooked Hillary message.

          • TVTray

            What?

            • sapient

              Trade deals, including the TPP, have not been the problem. I don’t support our pretending that they have been the problem, despite evidence. Erik keeps singing the anti-trade song, but its notes are flat.

              • TVTray

                The American public seems to disagree with you!

                • sapient

                  But they are misled.

                • Ahenobarbus

                  The American people don’t always see things clearly. Many of them are convinced immigration is a big economic burden. And regulation.

                  The gap between perception and reality is a problem.

                • TVTray

                  If only the people could see the beauty in their towns and communities getting gutted by trade deals and offshoring! Why can’t they open their stupid, blue-collar eyes!

                • sapient

                  If only they were able to read the data that shows that trade creates more jobs than are lost. Even my own industry “suffered” from outsourcing abroad, but because I know how to read, I get it that new jobs were created.

                • TVTray

                  Yep. They need to take a cold, hard look at the data and start reading more of it.

                • djw

                  The thing is, rightly or wrongly, there’s some real evidence that that’s becoming less and less true. It doesn’t mean Trump’s trade message didn’t resonate with a small slice of the electorate that turns out to be really important. But the anti-trade message a) doesn’t resonate as anywhere near as broadly as it did in the 90’s and b) is going to become less popular, insofar as we’re successful in making Trump unpopular, which will continue the process of making the policy ideas he’s associated with less popular.

                  A certain kind of superficial way of viewing the dynamics of the Democratic primary really obscured the underlying dynamic here for a lot of people. I know a lot of people have convinced themselves that Bernie > Clinton would have been all upside, no downside, but it’s really not true.

                  http://www.gallup.com/poll/204044/record-high-foreign-trade-opportunity.aspx?g_source=WWWV7HP&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles

                • sapient

                  Hey thanks, djw.

              • “Trade deals have not been the problem”

                Even generally pro-free trade economists have conceded that “free trade agreements” have led to job losses. They ‘ve also led to job gains, and the argument these economists make is that on balance there is a net gain of jobs.

                Even then, however, there is the fact that companies routinely use offshoring and the threat thereof to bring down wages and benefits.

                Given all this admitted disruption, surely we can all agree that more could be done to help workers who lose out in the process of globalization and to counter the increased corporate power and income and wealth inequality that appear to result.

                • Linnaeus

                  We can and should do more. The benefits of free(r) trade tend to be spread out, while the costs are more concentrated, and the US hasn’t done enough to pay those costs. Indeed, the initial argument was that those costs wouldn’t need to be paid, because the benefits would take care of that themselves.

              • NewishLawyer

                @djw

                Did anti-trade rhetoric really resonate with working class voters in the 1990s? Maybe it is just my circle but almost everyone I know who has been attracted to anti-trade rhetoric was a college educated person from a solidly middle-class family who happened to develop radical politics for whatever reason. Perhaps a sense of guilt over being trust fund kids.

                • Were working-class people in the 90s angry over trade? God, yes.

                • sapient

                  Yes. I’ll agree with Erik on this. They had no reason to be though. They were propagandized by Perot.

                • Uh huh. Clearly they had no idea that their factories were closing and moving to Mexico.

                • nemdam

                  Sure they were angry. But Mr. NAFTA won reelection in the biggest victory for his party since 1964 and did it by winning over WWC in the South. So if they were angry, they sure weren’t angry enough for it to matter politically.

                • TVTray

                  And now 20 years later Donald Trump is president!

                • djw

                  Remember Ross Perot?

          • Lit3Bolt

            I’m so old I remember when Wikileaks was great for leaking about the TPP in December of 2014.

            • sapient

              Hmmm. Forgot about that.

          • I am so fucking responsible for telling the truth about shitty trade deals that empower corporations at the expense of the working class.

            • sapient

              Numbers don’t lie. Total jobs have increased. Present the counterfactual where the wonderful Trade Barrier World would have created jobs.

        • nixnutz

          I think there are lots of alternative explanations. First of all, characterizing Trump’s appeal strictly as “racism” is way too simplistic. Most Americans, meaning essentially all white Americans at least, are much more racist than they want to believe or are capable of understanding. Almost nobody will admit to being racist and are willing, even eager, to accept African Americans who make themselves acceptable. There have been 50+ years of celebrities to attest to this. Immigrants are another story and that’s where most of Trump’s overt (and yes, often quite racist) xenophobia was targeted. That somebody could vote for Obama, insist they’re not racist, and be deeply concerned that the Somali refugees that have moved into their area aren’t assimilating fast enough is not a contradiction.

          Secondly, a lot of voters are not particularly deep thinkers. They vote for the personality that they like and God help us a lot of people like Donald Trump. His “platform” was incoherent, “trust me, It’ll be great.” I wouldn’t give it too much credit.

          • NewishLawyer

            I think it is the “capable of understanding” that is the real problem. I believe in structural racism, I’ve never been able to convince anyone but the choir that structural racism exists.

            So people really are clueless generally when and if they say something offensive. I’ve certainly done it and probably not been great in the immediate moment because people tend to go on the defensive when accused of saying something dickish or wrong.

            • nixnutz

              In addition to structural I think there’s a perceptual thing, like prejudice is a kind of cognitive deficit, my working assumption is that I’m an average amount racist but I’m not the best judge. All I can do is try to be self-critical and to be better.

              But it’s definitely difficult to communicate that to someone without them being defensive that you’ve put them in this evil “racist” category. We’ve progressed enough that people really do think racism is evil, while still being pretty racist. And of course it’s complicated by the fact that the people who complain that it’s the worst slur of all are generally racist enough to deserve the noun rather than the adjective.

        • humanoid.panda

          Russia, Comey, Bernie dead-enders etc were decisive, but don’t change the fact that (1) Trump made opposition to trade deals a central part of his program while Hillary had no credibility on the issue and (2) Trump won the rust belt and ran up the WWC score by enough of a margin to win because he swung a relatively small but critical % of people who went for Obama.

          All this is true, but as far as politics go, it stumbles on very importatn point: in all probability, had Kasich and Rubio were running against a candidate as unpopular as Hillary was at the end, they would have won the election by a significant margin..

          • Spider-Dan

            That’s not a very useful metric. Bernie was more popular than Hillary and he lost, Hillary was more popular than Trump and she lost.

            Would Romney have beaten Hillary? Would Gore have beaten Trump? Favorabilities just don’t work like that.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            I think she would have beaten either of them.

      • Spider-Dan

        If you are looking at the election as a binary pass/fail outcome, then sure, Comey turned it.

        But it’s not like America Is Just Fine if Trump wins 45% of the vote and 175 EVs. There is an enormous problem in this country, and Trump’s election was just the dam breaking.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      Let’s see, Hilary opposed the TPP, but of course you’re sure she really didn’t mean it. Obama campaigned for it, even after it was clearly a lost cause, but I guess you think he really didn’t mean it.

      If TPP was a defining issue, Obama would have lost and Hilary would have won.

      Lots and lots of other issues in the election were more important.

      • nemdam

        Everyone knows anti trade rhetoric is why Iowa is now more Republican than Texas even though Iowa, as an agriculture state, benefits immensely from trade deals.

        • humanoid.panda

          Here is the thing: there is no doubt the xenophobia was an enormous part of his appeal. To the extent that trade talk is a component of his xenophobia, then yes, it was a significant element of why Iowa became republican. The problem for Democrats is that its hard to believe that trade talk without xenophobia is a very appealing message to Iowans (but Sanders style trade talk as component of general assault on corruption and elites might be). The point is though is that trade talk is not about economics per se- its about anger about a changing world, and the growing insecurity of middle class life.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      WWC protectionists

      If by that you mean people who wanted to be protective of white people.

  • Chip Daniels

    I’m coming to the conclusion that only a UBI will be able to restore a middle class.
    I think jobs themselves are being structurally made extinct. Between automation and AI, I see the demand for labor declining, in every field, everywhere, with nothing to replace it.

    • Lit3Bolt

      Bottom-wiping futures are up!

    • Linnaeus

      I’m not against a UBI in principle. Are we willing to pay for that?

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Tax the robots to the max!

        I mean they can’t vote, so politicians will pay them no heed.

        • Linnaeus

          What about their owners?

          • If you look at the increase in productivity per worker in manufacturing over the last decade or so, it is huge, mainly due to automation. Where has this gone? Not into increased wages or benefits, I’m pretty sure. Wherever it’s going, that’s what’s got to be taxed.

          • econoclast

            We build robot owners, and tax those.

    • I’m coming to the conclusion that only a UBI will be able to restore a middle class.

      Good luck with that in this nation

    • Ronan

      A functioning welfare state committed to providing decent across the board education from early in life, extensive childcare system, functioning universal healthcare, generous unemployment benefits+ back to education/retraining opportunities , is the only game in town.
      I used to be a fan of a ubi but it’s pie in the sky that(if even feasible) would just increase a class division between those who can get work and those who can’t.

  • Connecticut Yankee

    There a bunch of things that we understood really well in 2009 that Trump has made us forget. In 2009 we understood that the problem with “retrain or move” as a solution wasn’t that it’s impossible or unreasonable for people to respond to the decline of a sector or region by moving or retraining (as though they never did in the WWC postwar golden age – they did, more than now!), but that you can’t retrain for or move to jobs that don’t exist. People speak cogently and correctly about how much more Obama did than Bill to shift resources from the rich to poor, and that mattered, but one thing he didn’t do was appoint people to the Fed who were willing to risk half a year of 2.1% inflation if it meant rising demand. There’s plenty of things non-college whites could learn to do in plenty of places if there were more demand for their labor. Wouldn’t turn them back into labor liberals again but it might well have made them decide to not vote at all instead of voting for Trump

    • rlc

      Right.

      But messaging is important too. “No positive jobs message at all” vs. “MAGA” and “I’ll work the phones (see, I did that)” is a no contest comparison for too many.

      I count “We’re For a 2.9999% inflation target” as not a positive message at all.

    • nemdam

      I guess the Fed should’ve set negative interest rates?

      Interest rates were at 0 for almost all of Obama’s term and because it wasn’t doing enough, the Fed did multiple QE programs. You can’t blame tight monetary policy on the economy.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    Loomis seems to prize particular categories of “working class” votes/voters, especially the “Regan Democrat” type voters who also previously voted for Nixon and subsequently voted for W and most recently Trump, over other votes/voters. Yes Dems needs more votes, but peeling off more suburban soccer moms and rural voters conceivably involves less compromise of Democratic goals than the narrow economic favoritism (aka bribes) necessary to wean the types of privileged working class voters described in this post away from what I’ll charitably refer to as their nativism and chauvinism. Yeah it’s certainly possible to do that — see Bill Clinton and Obama — but they’re always going to be shaky members of any progressive coalition.

    • Davis X. Machina

      …but they’re always going to be shaky members of any progressive coalition.

      Promise them vicarious participation in a great tribal victory, and they’re off like greyhounds after a rabbit.

      Stuart Hall’s work on working-class Thatcherism is always worth a read.

      • Thom

        Thanks, that Hall interview is great.

    • TVTray

      Lawyers Guns & Money Bush-era Dem-blog is truly the place to come for intelligent, pragmatic commentary on American politics!

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        if only you had something more to offer

        • TVTray

          Try to focus, jim.

      • humanoid.panda

        Lawyers Guns & Money Bush-era Dem-blog is truly the place to come for intelligent, pragmatic commentary on American politics!

        Which I why troll it!

    • What bribes did Clinton and Obama give to those voters?

    • How is it going to be easier to win over rural voters?

      Let’s face it, the margins in these elections are thin enough. Saying hey, “let’s just bet the store on getting more suburban soccer moms” is about as realistic as going only after wc votes in Michigan, Ohio and Penn

    • Loomis seems to prize particular categories of “working class” votes/voters, especially the “Regan Democrat” type voters who also previously voted for Nixon and subsequently voted for W and most recently Trump, over other votes/voters.

      Citations omitted.

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        Well, you probably do about 3 posts a week on what it would take to attract voters from the sainted “working class.” I don’t recall ever seeing one from you on soccer moms, maybe you have done a few on rural voters but I also don’t recall them. Your writing here seems to indicate an ideological predisposition that the “working class” is the vital ingredient in political victory. It’s an unrequited attraction.

        • TVTray

          Not getting the working class to vote for Dems was a big factor in their most recent political failure. Dems just had their clocks cleaned.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Dems just had their clocks cleaned.

            Citation needed.

            • TVTray

              Citation for what?

              • Abbey Bartlet

                The claim that the party picked up four seats in the Senate, six seats in the House, and got 2.8 million more votes for the presidency “got its clock cleaned.”

                • humanoid.panda

                  C’mon. The party gained less seats in the House that it lost in a Republican wave year, gained 2 seats when the universe of winnable seats was about six, and lost the presidency to the most unpopular candidate ever. To pretend all was fine and dandy if not for Comey is silly.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  I’m not pretending all is fine and dandy. I’m just not gnashing my teeth and pulling at my hair and wailing at the terrible unpopularity and failing of the Democratic Party.

        • nemdam

          Considering his beat is labor issues, it makes sense for him to talk about how the party friendly to workers can win the working class from the party hostile to them.

          • brewmn

            But he doesn’t do that, unless you think telling Democrats they’re doing it wrong counts as talking about “how the party friendly to workers can win the [white] working class from the party hostile to them.”

  • Great post, Erik.

    It is amazing to me how many people in the online left really don’t want to hear this stuff.

    We’ve been getting our asses kicked on the national level, to the point that we are basically a rump big-city party. The evidence in front of our eyes strongly suggests that we need a major re-think of not just our messaging, but the policies that messaging is selling, and who the pitch is aimed at.

    Godspeed.

  • dbk

    I haven’t managed to read all the comments carefully, but generally:

    (1) I agree with Erik – what the working class in the Rust Belt need are decent jobs and some hope for the future.
    (2) Telling 60 or so million people to “move to South Carolina” or “go get some more training” won’t cut it another election cycle.

    Also:
    (3) I don’t see a coherent strategy articulated for addressing this problem, which is not a Democratic issue but a national crisis which has manifested itself politically and will only grow more acute
    (4) The forms such a strategy could take are numerous, but they need to be articulated fully and presented coherently
    (5) There are solutions–entire fields of study are devoted to cities/communities/economies of the future

    Miscellaneous observation:
    (6) The working class = most of us, and encompasses all races and ethnic groups.

    And:
    (7) The consensus upthread seems to be that automation is responsible for the death of the Rust Belt. I think it’s likely a combination of automation, offshoring, and outsourcing. Automation, however, as noted above, will probably make nearly all production jobs and a great many traditional service jobs obsolete within the next 20-30 years. We should already be planning for this.

    I hate to sound strident, but this is a really serious issue, and the Democrats are going to have to face it squarely.

    • +1

    • sapient

      what the working class in the Rust Belt need are decent jobs and some hope for the future.

      Maybe a nuclear holocaust or whatever else Trump brings isn’t the answer? Maybe ‘bringing jobs” is a weird problem, for so many reasons?

      (2) Telling 60 or so million people to “move to South Carolina” or “go get some more training” won’t cut it another election cycle.

      Are there 60 or so million people who have to move? Or maybe their stupid, moronic state governors could attract some tech industry. No? Because tech industry people don’t want to move to racist backwaters? Hmmm. Such a surprise.

      (3) I don’t see a coherent strategy articulated for addressing this problem, which is not a Democratic issue but a national crisis which has manifested itself politically and will only grow more acute

      Well, what Democrats actually did was good (ACA, Medicaid expansion), plus what they tried to do, like infrastructure, increased minimum wage, etc.

      (4) The forms such a strategy could take are numerous, but they need to be articulated fully and presented coherently

      Well, they were. Maybe not racist enough.

      (5) There are solutions–entire fields of study are devoted to cities/communities/economies of the future

      Good luck presenting those solutions to climate deniers, much less Erik who is wedded to his capital mobilization as enemy theory.


      (6) The working class = most of us, and encompasses all races and ethnic groups.
      and

      (7) The consensus upthread seems to be that automation is responsible for the death of the Rust Belt. I think it’s likely a combination of automation, offshoring, and outsourcing. Automation, however, as noted above, will probably make nearly all production jobs and a great many traditional service jobs obsolete within the next 20-30 years. We should already be planning for this.

      Sure.

      • 1) The ACA and raising the minimum wage were all good things but people want good jobs. To my knowledge, there was no clear strategy for helping those without a college education have decent work.

        2) You say “let the governors attact industries”. The strategies governors generally have for attracting industry tend to involve eviscerating unions, cutting business taxes, relaxing regulations, etc. That is the Republican model for attracting industry and that is what tends to come of saying “let the states deal with it”.

        3) You say Republicans aren’t interested in any progressive solutions to the problem. True. Now, are we? What is our alternative?

        4) Pointing out that Trump is in fact a dangerous fraud doesn’t mean we needn’t present an alternative.

        • sapient

          Not sure what you’re arguing here. Anything that’s been done for anyone in Dumbfuck, KY has been done by Democrats, but Dumbfuck residents still vote R.

          Maybe they need to learn some stuff instead of expect to get rich from being ignorant and voting for fascists. Just putting it out there.

        • efgoldman

          The strategies governors generally have for attracting industry tend to involve eviscerating unions, cutting business taxes, relaxing regulations, etc. That is the Republican model for attracting industry and that is what tends to come of saying “let the states deal with it”.

          Surely Snotty Walker turning down basically free money for a railcar factory that could only have been an economic positive is a lesson to all.
          Shorter: Fucking ideology over reality, how does it work?

      • humanoid.panda

        Are there 60 or so million people who have to move? Or maybe their stupid, moronic state governors could attract some tech industry. No? Because tech industry people don’t want to move to racist backwaters? Hmmm. Such a surprise.

        Yeah, there is no high tech industry in Texas or North Carolina or Utah, whatsoever..

    • Ronan

      It’s mostly the result of productivity increases and changes in consumer preferences

      http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/2017/01/what-did-nafta-really-do.html?cid=6a00d8341c891753ef01b8d258cad8970c#comment-6a00d8341c891753ef01b8d258cad8970c

      “The U.S. went from 30% of its nonfarm employees in manufacturing to 12% because of rapid growth in manufacturing productivity and limited demand, yes? The U.S. went from 12% to 9% because of stupid and destructive macro policies–the Reagan deficits, the strong-dollar policy pushed well past its sell-by date, too-tight monetary policy–that diverted it from its proper role as a net exporter of capital and finance to economies that need to be net sinks rather than net sources of the global flow of funds for investment, yes? The U.S. went from 9% to 8.7% because of the extraordinarily rapid rise of China, yes? The U.S. went from 8.7% to 8.6% because of NAFTA, yes?”

  • Donna Gratehouse

    Democrats became the party of the working class because they promised and delivered on jobs and then on working class security through the FHA, the GI Bill, and other core legislation of the postwar period that turned the white working class into the middle class, while offering the black working class at least more than the Republicans did.

    Basically describes what Brocialists want in 2017.

    • TVTray

      What’s a Brocialist?

      • Dennis Orphen

        Broseph Stalin and the dictatorship of the broletariat.

        • TVTray

          Yikes.

        • busker type

          Gotta seize the means of broduction

  • e.a.foster

    as the saying goes, “in tough times you can get half the working class to kill the other half”. Trump must have remembered the line and decided it would be easiest to have the labour leaders meet with them and ask them to do the dirty work. What these labour leaders seem to forget oh so quickly is Trump has never done anything for working people. He is one of the financial elites and that is where his interest lies.

    It boggles the mind how politicians can get labour leaders to pose with them when there is not a dam thing those politicians have ever done voluntarily for the working people. Trump must be taking another page out of British Columbia’s Premier, Christy Clark. Yes, America, there is some one much like Trump and she’s been around for some time in B.C.

    They promise jobs but never deliver them, blaming something/one else when they don’t materialize. Cutting back on education, health care, not raising min. wages so people work subsidizing major corporations, low wages means more child poverty.

    Those labour leaders would have been better to stay at home than meet with President Trump. so you never got invited to the white house by any president. Consider that a good thing. Politicians are no one in labour’s friend. You learn to use them before they use you. You need to know where to place your vote so you can get the best deal for your members and that has never been with a right wing organization.

    The House of Labour: please take a course at the local community college on Labour History. see why labour unions were formed. Then re consider the invites to the White House.

  • Breadbaker

    The perceived need to cater to the WWC (as opposed to the WC in general) is that they are less likely to be the targets of voter suppression activities or to be in gerrymandered districts.

    The GOP has been gerrymandering the country since 1889, when they divided the Dakota Territory into two states. Keeping the House at 435 when the population has tripled since that number was put in place (and the Democrats have never really tried to change that) continues the electoral imbalance. Purposive gerrymandering, particularly after the 2010 Census, plus voter suppression, particularly after Shelby County, have diluted Democratic demographic gains. Trump and Sessions, of course, are likely to support even greater means of ensuring that people who might otherwise vote Democratic don’t vote at all.

    Does Hillary win without Shelby County? She lost North Caroline, the queen of voter suppression tactics, by about 180,000 votes. She lost Florida by less than 113,000 votes. Yes, in North Carolina, she trailed the Democratic gubernatorial candidate by enough for him to win, so it’s hard to make a clear case there, but she led Patrick Murphy in Florida by over half a million votes. She similarly led both Russ Feingold and Katie McGinty.

    Point being, there are likely structural reasons the Democrats lost in 2016 that have nothing to do with message, but those reasons must be overcome by winning elections before they can be institutionalized even further. Particularly, the 2020 state elections that will determine how reapportionment will be accomplished, are critical (we’re already screwed by who Trump is likely to appoint to run the Census and what Congress will do to ensure that people are not counted).

  • Brien Jackson

    I’m sure it’s been said already, but I’ll add anyway: The big problem is that a large portion of the WWC only wants “help” on their own highly secific and largely impossible to meet terms. They don’t want strong unions, they don’t want government funded programs or wage subsidies, they don’t want good working class jobs in the public sector, they don’t want non-white people to benefit from this working class renaissance, etc. It’s just not doable. On a similar note, there was a great (if harsh) Tweetstorm on this awhile back, basically to the point that a big part of the problem with the Rust Belt/Midwest is the people who still live there, and the backwards communities they want to have. They’re racially homogenous, opposed to any kind of density or walkability, hostile to non-white, non-Christian, gay, etc. people, park systems are virtually non-existent, there’s no public transportation, school systems are underfunded, and so on and so on. These communities just aren’t going to attract the sort of business investment that can anchor a community AND drive away a bunch of their own young people who get college degrees and then move to more diverse, progressive, *interesting* communities. And confronting this reality only leaves the rump angrier and MORE resistant to changing their own little worlds.

    I’m not saying that Democrats have been perfect since the 1990’s on these scores by any means, but there’s a whole lot going on here that they just can’t do anything about short of taking the Trump-esque approach of just shouting a lot of bullshit that they know is a lie for expediency.

    • brewmn

      This. We have to write these people off and turn out our constituencies in greater numbers. And, we have to start fighting back against the increasingly-lopsided over-representation of red acreage instead of blue human beings in our federal government.

      Something which Obama has identified as a priority for his post-presidency, showing once again his political savvy outstrips his critics on the left by several light-years.

    • GCarty

      How much of the opposition to density and walkability among working-class Americans is down to the fact that in the United States (indeed, in most anglosphere countries) “dense” equates to “unaffordable”?

      The 2016 electoral map correlates strongly with Paul Krugman’s “two Americas” (with Trump winning Flatland and Clinton winning the Zoned Zone) and affordable dense housing in mainland Europe is usually a result of mass public housing and/or nationwide rent control (which American notions of property rights wouldn’t stand for).

  • @A lot of people seem to think themselves pretty expert on what will and will not appeal to the “white working class”. I do not claim such expertise, but I do wonder what others base their claims of expertise on. First of all, what is the “white working class”? Is it a homogenous entity? I think not. Even the concept of “working class” is vague. Many analysts equate it with education level. In short, people who can work jobs that don’t require a college education. Let’s, for the sake of argument, adopt that working definition for now and talk about white people in this category.

    From polling we know that nationally Trump won big among this group. Did Romney in 2012? If not, why not? What of regional differences? We know there were large swings to the Republicans in 2016 compared to 2012 in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. What accounts for this? Did Trump promising to “bring jobs back ” account for any part of this shift?

    People say they know that anyone who voted for Trump is so caught up in tribal and racial politics that they will never vote Democrat unless the Democrats adopt Trump’s xenophobic nationalism. How, then, did Obama win all those states by comfortable margins (aside from Ohio, which was close) in 2012? And now, only four years later, are Democrats supposed to just write these states off? How does this make sense?

    Someone up thread argued that the Dems should be appealing to suburban soccer moms rather than Midwesternern wcw’s who aren’t reliably progressive. By definition, increasing the number of voters for the Democratic Party requires winning over people who have either not been reliably progressive or not reliably supportive of the Democratic Party. Who are these soccer moms voting for now?

    I do not claim to have the answers. I think proposing a modern equivilent of the New Deal is a promising avenue to explore but I don’t pretend that success would be guaranteed. Should we not try something different, though? What is the alternative? Everywhere it seems center left parties are struggling to respond to far right demagogues. Technocratic competence and cosmopolitan liberalism doesn’t seem to be enough. Falling back on traditional left wing ideological certainties, as Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the British Labour Party has done, seems to do no better. There must be another way.

  • Brett

    I used to think that the US couldn’t do anything to save Midwest towns and cities, etc, and people should just move (and we should help them move). Now I’m a bit more optimistic.

    I still think a lot of towns below a few thousand people are probably not salvageable unless they catch on as tourist traps. But for cities of say 30,000-40,000 or bigger, they’re big enough for jobs programs to save them in the short run and build space for them to economically diversify in the long run. The US government could help by building up their physical infrastructure (new broadband, new roads, new plumbing), guaranteeing they all have a hospital, encouraging public colleges to have satellite campuses there, and embarking on federal R&D projects with distributed manufacturing (as with defense spending) to further boost them. Make them nice, clean places to live with cheap housing and rent, and they’ll have a stronger shot for recovery – and they’ll pull up the surrounding areas (although people in some of the smaller surrounding towns might have to commute to work).

  • postpartisandepression

    The Democrats however embraced capital mobility and the growth of financial capitalism with a gusto nearly that of Republicans. Beginning under Carter and then Clinton and Obama, they never had a good answer for the working class. Job retraining for lower-paying jobs, reeducation assistance, and telling people to move to Texas are not answers. Economic destabilization makes both racialized nationalism and lies about job creation increasingly appealing to the white working class. Until we have answers about how there are going to be good jobs for people in the places where they live, we are really going to struggle holding on to the union members still voting for Democrats, especially the white ones, many of whom live in states that Democrats narrowly lost in 2016.

    This may entirely true but you are going to have to explain to me HOW THE HELL republicans got a reputation of helping unions or anyone to get and keep good jobs???

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