The Democrats and Social Class

by Jack Metzgar

It’s more than a little frustrating trying to follow Democrats’ analysis of social classes in this country.  Most of the time now, there are only two classes – the rich (very precisely defined as those with at least $250,000 in annual family income) and the middle class, which includes everybody else.  But in the analysis of elections a “working class” shows up, one which is invariably “white” and, it seems, predominantly male.

Most Democrats, and especially the more progressive ones, know that moving the white working class away from its decades-long lopsided loyalty to the Republican Party is crucial to achieving a long-term governing majority.  But instead of appealing to this demographic electoral block directly, it seeks to lump them in with what Dems think is a universally beloved “middle class.”  This is a tactical mistake, as in many working-class precincts calling somebody “middle class” is meant as a put down and an insult – somebody who doesn’t live “real life,” lacks common sense, and yet thinks they’re “all better.”  Believe me, I’ve been on the front end of this insult, sometimes deservedly so.

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GRITtv: Thomas Frank: Voting to Make Problems Worse

Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas and The Wrecking Crew, was interviewed by Laura Flanders of GRIT TV, the day after the Nov. 2 elections.  Among the insights, Frank says the Democrats “aren’t the party that speaks to working class Americans anymore…they’ve got to figure it out in a big hurry.”

“If there was ever a case of voting for something that is going to make the problem worse, this is it,” says Thomas Frank of the 2010 midterms. We’ve gone from voting for Democrats to fix the economy to kicking them out in favor of Republicans calling for more of the policies that created the crisis: deregulation, tax cuts, and nebulously-defined “freedom.” With those people in charge of the House, what’s going to happen next?

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AFl-CIO President Richard Trumka on labor and the 2010 elections

Richard Trumka
AFL-CIO President

Today’s a day to be honest.

Yesterday’s election results are deeply disappointing to the millions of voters who supported working family candidates this year. Voters in this election were angry, and for good reason. They’ve felt the pain of economic collapse. And they’ve paid for it with their jobs, their homes and often their hope. Many working people knew in their gut that Washington insiders did too much to help Wall Street and the banks, and not enough to help average people.

But this election was not a mandate for an anti-worker agenda. Voters in swing congressional districts overwhelmingly reject privatizing Social Security and raising the Social Security retirement age, they oppose tax cuts for the top 2 percent who make more than $250,000 a year, they reject abolishing the Department of Education and they oppose reducing or eliminating the minimum wage.

Now that Republicans will be in control of the House of Representatives, their leaders have to step up to the plate. If they keep saying “no,” we’ll make sure voters know exactly who failed them on jobs and fixing the economy in 2012.

President Obama inherited two wars and an economy teetering on the brink of a second Great Depression. He took immediate steps to avert catastrophe. Years from now, we’ll look back and see these two years as the most eventful for working families in 40 years.

But the economy is still a mess, and we have difficult work ahead. It’s up to us to force these new members of Congress to move bold initiatives to fix our economy and put America back to work—or force them to pay the price for inaction in 2012.

America’s labor movement fought tirelessly for working families until the last polls closed on the West Coast Tuesday. I’m proud that I can count on you to jump into the fight for working families all over again, starting right now. With your help, we’ll work harder than ever to build an economy that works for everyone.

We expect critical legislative battles to take place in the coming weeks and months, with as little as 24 hours’ notice. We’ll need to alert you right away. Once you’ve watched my video, be sure to sign up for occasional, timely text messages. Just text NOW to 225568. (Message and data rates may apply.)

Unions Create the Silver Lining

By Amy B. Dean

Amy B. Dean

Whatever results come from today’s election, Democrats will largely have the Labor movement and workers across this country to thank for any silver lining they find. I have written recently about the critical role unions play in supporting democratic candidates.

For those who question whether the labor movement is still relevant in the United States, the last two months before an election should clear up any doubts. This is the time period in which Democratic politicians desperately seek help in getting elected. Organized labor, with its significant resources and savvy field operations, is by far their best hope–if not their only one.

It’s not just because of the millions they have invested in campaign contributions and paid communications. There have been a multitude of ads crowding the airwaves across the country and endless reams of mail have hit voters’ mail boxes. However, as it has always been, elections come down to boots on the ground and no one is better at getting out the vote than the labor movement.

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