Heroes Don’t Wear Capes
During the 2008 presidential election, it was only one candidate who dared to utter the words ‘poverty’ or ‘working-class.’ It was disgraced Democrat, John Edwards. Fast forward to the election of 2016, with the surprise win of the Twitter drama queen, Donald J. Trump. The media went into a frenzy blaming everything for Trump’s election win. One thing that constantly touted post-election is that Trump tapped into the ‘working-class’ resentment against the political status quo. The working class people these media outlets were talking about were usually always white and male. They were mainly depicted as coal miners and factory workers. The Democrats, being inept, short-sighted, and basic, have spent the last two years trying to court these mythology working-class Trump voters to switch sides by offering a ‘Better Deal.’
There are some significant issues with this perspective. First, the average Trump voter was staunchly middle class, white, and lived in suburbia. They were not all from the backcountry or the trailer park. They were not a bunch of auto workers from Michigan or coal miners in the mountains of West Virginia. I’m sure some of them voted for Trump, but they might have not voted at all. Secondly, the mythology working-class white dude troupe leaves out a considerable portion of Americans that make up those on the lower end of the economic hierarchy. These folks don’t run America, but they make America run. These folks are women in service sector jobs, migrant workers who pick our ‘organic‘ Whole Foods fruit and veggies, the Middle Eastern cabbie in New York City, or the young black man who breaks his back daily from loading UPS trucks six to seven days a week. Of course, there are some white men who make up the working class, but it’s a hell of a lot more diverse. As demographics continue to change (to the dismay of the always angry MAGA crowd), it will only become more and more diverse. Today a working-class job is more likely to be someone working at Wal-Mart or as a daycare provider than on a person on a factory floor.
Working Class Heroes
I grew up on the Southside of Chicago. My family was low-income and working class. We made do with what we had. I’m new to the middle-class thanks to an education, and my military service (An honorable mention to my all student loans too!) I’m still connected to working-class struggles though. My partner and I have many family members who work hard for low wages, no vacation time, and few employee healthcare benefits every day.
The Democratic and Republican parties can fight tooth and nail over who gets the ‘working-class’ vote. Trends are changing in the United States of America, the first two decades of the new millennia we’ve been through 9-11, the Great Recession, the first black president, and rise and fall of Myspace (Thanks Zuckerberg!) The country remains a plutocracy, and under the current administration, it’s become apparently transparent.
The rise of Senator Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. And the surprise political ascent of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York City has shifted the political landscape. People are demanding economic justice in a system designed to favor those with the most resources. As the corporate wings, of both the Democratic and Republican party deal with the fallout from the 2016 election. They’re scrambling to maintain the status quo, but the uprising continues. Socialism is no longer a dirty word. Countless hardworking Americans are fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Medicare for all is being touted as a solution to our nations broken healthcare system. Infrastructure upgrades and green jobs are the next big thing. Folks are starting to demand affordable childcare and education.
We have some significant challenges ahead of us. The political and racial tensions in America at this moment have not been this precarious since the volatile 1960s. The only thing guaranteed in the future is change. The biggest change needs to be recognizing the new economy and finally acknowledging who the real working class heroes are. Because they come in all genders, ages, colors, and shades. Like, said before, they may not run America, but they damn sure make America run.