Response to Peter Olney and Ruth Needleman
http://www.portside.org. January 9, 2017
Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Bob Wing
We appreciate the comradely tone and content of the responses of Peter Olney and Ruth Needleman to our essay, “Fighting Back Against the White Backlash.” Both of them are longtime colleagues, and our agreements are far stronger than our disagreements. In this discussion we find ourselves quite aligned with Ruth on the composition and racial politics of the working class and will not repeat some of her cogent points, but will instead focus on Peter’s observations about white worker voters and proposals for trade union action.
Peter believes we missed the critical role of white worker voters in Trump’s victories in the battleground rust belt states. It’s true that the 77,000 vote victory by Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania was so narrow that it can, in fact, be ascribed to any number of factors, though certainly Trump’s gains with white workers was one of the strongest.
Underscoring this point, a piece published subsequent to our essay argued that Trump received 335,000 more votes from whites with incomes less than $50,000 in the five Rust Belt states than did Romney. (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/12/the_myth_of_the_rust_belt_revolt.html ) That is a big swing and if it continues into the future, we are all in big trouble. Continue reading