Marshall Auerback: Will the GOP Become the Party of Blue-Collar Conservatism?

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

From the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt onward through to the 1990s, the Democrats had long been considered the party of the working class. That perception lingered long after the fact that by the 1990s, they had more accurately become the party of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, often embracing policies at variance with their traditional blue-collar supporters. As Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen outline in a paper sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking: “Within the Democratic Party, the desires of party leaders who continue to depend on big money from Wall Street, Silicon Valley, health insurers, and other power centers collides [sic] head on with the needs of average Americans these leaders claim to defend.”

So the Democratic Party, a historically center-left political grouping, has increasingly embraced a neoliberal market fundamentalist framework over the past 40 years, and thereby facilitated the growth of financialization (whereby the influence and power of a country’s financial sector become vast relative to the overall economy).

Donald Trump exploited that shift during his 2016 campaign: Not only did he proclaim his love for “the poorly educated,”but he also campaigned as an old Rust Belt Democrat—not only by attacking illegal immigration and offshoring, but also coming out against globalization, free trade, Wall Street, and especially Goldman Sachs.

As president, of course, Trump has proven incapable of “walking the walk,” even as he continued to speak about “draining the swamp” and eliminating business as usual in Washington.

But there is increasing evidence suggesting that some of the more ambitious and opportunistic politicians in the GOP are seeking to exploit the material abandonment of working-class voters by the Democrats. Both Senators Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio are trying to move the party in a more pro-worker direction, championing a new kind of blue-collar conservatism that is supportive of unions and policies that emphasizes the “dignity of work.” Likewise, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has recently introduced a tax rebate for lower-income Americans to offset the tariffs President Trump has proposed on Chinese goods—essentially an annual payment from the federal government to citizens to offset any increased cost in consumer goods that might arise from Trump’s proposed tariffs, thus neutralizing the economic impact, and countering the political argument that the president’s trade war on Chinese goods ultimately represents a tax on American consumers. As Henry Olsen notesin the Washington Post:

Cotton’s approach addresses both the economic and political challenges arising from Trump’s tariffs. Economically, giving the revenue back to average Americans offsets the expected rise in prices they will face as a result of the tariffs. Consumer spending, which was feared would decline in response to the price hikes, would now likely stay high: Why cut back in spending when you’re not losing any money? That would keep the economy strong.

In other words, it’s a tax-time Universal Basic Income.

Cotton’s proposals would augment a little-discussed feature emerging now in the U.S. labor market, as CNBC’s Jeff Cox writes: for the first time in this cycle (which started in 2009), “the bottom half of earners are benefiting more than the top half—in fact, about twice as much, according to calculations by Goldman Sachs,” using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More recently, Derek Thompson of the Atlantic cites additional work by labor economist Nick Bunker, who makes the case that “wage growth is currently strongest for workers in low-wage industries, such as clothing stores, supermarkets, amusement parks, and casinos. And earnings are growing most slowly in higher-wage industries, such as medical labs, law firms, and broadcasting and telecom companies.” Absent a significant growth slowdown, these workers might increasingly identify their economic self-interest with Republicans, not Democrats, particularly given the increasingly restrictionist stance the GOP is adopting on immigration, which will further tighten the labor market structurally and enhance the relative bargaining position of American blue-collar workers.

The one lingering question is whether or not this trend will yet supersede the power and influence of the GOP’s historic corporate constituencies, notably oil, mining and chemical companies, Big Pharma, tobacco, the arms industry, and civil aviation. On the face of it, this could well prove to be a tall order.

But it is conceivable if trade policy is ultimately rendered subordinate to national security concerns, as increasingly appears to be the case today. In the words of Michael Lind, all it would take is a national developmental industrial strategy predicated on sustaining U.S. military supremacy: “to identify and promote not specific companies but key ‘dual-use’ industries important in both defense and civilian commerce.” That would seem to be a more likely scenario for the GOP, one that would build on Trump’s steady inroads into the Democratic Party’s traditional blue-collar constituencies, while simultaneously catering to the party’s strong links to national defense interests.

Although a military-industrial strategy might run counter to some of the interests of the party’s traditional corporate backers (such as Charles Koch), it would likely prove hugely beneficial to America’s manufacturing heartland, particularly the country’s disaffected blue-collar workers. Historically, these workers have been Democrats, but their livelihoods have been decimated by decades of trade liberalization and other neoliberal policies. As Lind points out, a national industrial policy based on the model of Alexander Hamilton but married to “Cold War 2.0” could, therefore, consolidate the GOP’s efforts to become more of a party of the working class.

And such a policy is not historically anomalous: during the original Cold War, free trade and globalization were always subject to the constraints of containing the expansion of Soviet-led communism. A large chunk of the world under the enemy sphere of influence was off-limits to American trade and capital.

Today, even with the overriding influence of the Koch brothers, and the Mercer family, a number of Republicans are geopolitical hawks first, and economic libertarians second. They increasingly see that it makes no sense to go to war against wage earners while claiming to protect the same wage earners from Chinese competition, especially if Beijing becomes the new locus of an emerging Cold War 2.0. Furthermore, if they are in safe, rock-solid GOP districts, they are less vulnerable to a primary attack from corporate interests antithetical to those positions. As geo-economics is increasingly remarried to geopolitics (as it was during the original Cold War), “blue-collar conservativism” will likely gain increasing policy traction in certain conservative circles, even though Republicans still have a ways to go before they can fully shift their party’s agenda toward a modern-day equivalent of “Bull Moose” progressivism.

Donald Trump is, first and foremost, a wrecker, as opposed to a builder. Arguably, that is one of the things that got him elected in the first place. But he has set the stage for a further political realignment, especially as more educated whites and elites migrate to the Democratic Party, and traditional Southern populists reside in the GOP. There are very few Fritz Hollings types left in the party, whose views on trade, immigration and manufacturing are closer to the Democrats’ historic New Deal constituencies. This theory, though, is not watertight, and new coalitions are still very much in flux.

But as things stand today, ironically, the Democrats now have trade and open borders policies that are closer to those of the old Reagan/Bush Republicans and libertarians such as the Koch brothers, while the GOP policy under Trump is gravitating toward the old positions of the AFL/CIO on both trade and immigration, a policy combination that makes the embrace of a kind of blue-collar conservatism even more credible for the GOP.

Furthermore, as trade issues (especially in regard to China) are increasingly conflated with national security concerns, the GOP may ultimately decide to build on Trump’s attempts to re-domicile key supply chains back to the U.S. From the national security hawk perspective, this will ensure that strategic industries necessary to sustain American military power remain on home shores, even if this conflicts with the principles of free trade, limited non-interventionist government.

Sustaining permanent production on U.S. soil, not just innovation in America and production elsewhere, would be profoundly favorable to blue-collar workers (hitherto among the biggest casualties of globalization) and likely consolidate the GOP’s efforts to become the future party of the American working class, unless of course the Democrats suddenly and unexpectedly reclaim their New Deal legacy.

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  1. Chetan Murthy

    Surely you meant “white blue-collar conservatism”. There’s no evidence whatsoever, that working-class people of color are buying what the GrOPers are selling.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      There may be no direct evidence evidence yet of a wholesale move to the GOP, but there is plenty of evidence (seen particularly in the drop in vote for HRC among non-white voters), that working class non-whites are no longer a gimme for the Democrats.

      For one thing, there is a very large number of relatively poor, socially conservative Hispanic voters that are probably there for the taking by either party. If the Dems don’t let the likes of AOC make real progress, then they could well move to the Republicans for want of a real choice.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        out here, the hispanic community just didn’t vote…due to political repression(overt…sheriff) until well into the 90’s…took a while to get past the habit of oppression.
        most of the hispanic people i know who vote are republican, mainly due to culture war stuff, like abortion. The “blue collar conservative” economic reason has only lately started to appear, so far just in the white ur-conservative cohort, but it’s only a matter of time.
        it’s very worrisome…and is what i’ve feared since trump came down the escalator, sounding like a Bizarro World Bernie.
        and it gets worse….last spring break, for instance….cousin and the boys and i were taking a coffee break, flipping through the channels,and i put it on cspan. there was mike dewine sounding for all the world like a sewer socialist…without a hint of irony.
        there’s even a city councilwoman,here,—right wing to her bones, who campaigned on a city/county owned solar farm.
        the dems are toast, unless the clintonites get the hell out of the way.

        1. Susan the other`

          I think so too. The dems seem to be absolutely paralyzed. There’s no explanation for it because everything is crumbling. They must have an unspoken pact about free trade that it takes a while to get going full speed and they can’t tweak it now because they will ruin the momentum. But they fail to see that that momentum is carrying this country and the world into a polluted race to the bottom and gross inequality. Did they see that one coming? They saw it coming in at least one industry – the Medical Industrial Complex. There’s nothing free-market about it – we can’t import hospitals or drugs. The dems/congress intentionally created a perpetual donor monopoly for themselves. The dems are so ideologically conflicted they’ve put themselves in a straight jacket. Back under Reagan and into the early 90s the democrats acted like they had been bought off when it came to the decimation of US labor. I think they are as quiet about all the important subjects as they are embarrassed by their own gross miscalculations.

          1. samhill

            The dems seem to be absolutely paralyzed. There’s no explanation for it because everything is crumbling.

            A small side point, the only people that care what has happened to the Democrats are people over 50 who recall, even if from childhood, good things about the Democratic Party. Even if only toddlers in the 1960s those of us of that age group had our formative years in the Great Society, JFK, LBJ decade and were still tied firmly to our parents and grandparents FDR, WWII, and New Deal remembrances. I’m of the space age but FDR died a mere 15 years before I was born, the New Deal shaped me and the Great Society baked me in the oven. At the time and in retrospect was there a whole damn lot of patrician capitalist bs in the party’s motivations? Yes, but a lot of good too. Friends from 40 on down have none of those memories and bonds, absolutely nothing of the good, they saw only the Neo-liberal destruction of their home towns, the culture war and racist backlash from Reagan onwards in which the Democrats participated whole hog, all the while lying through their teeth about their progressive labor and social platform and the “high ground”. When you move the Overtone Window only those then looking out notice the move, young people see only the new view when they eventually walk up to the frame. Younger friends only see from Clinton onward, and the Clinton years are their formative emotional bond to the Democratic Party. For a good part of Americans these days the DNC isn’t a party that fell into the crapper and can still be pulled out in time before before the flush, it’s just simply the crapper not to fall into.

            1. L M44 E

              Suggest that Nancy and Schumer do not enlist our young peoples to be active voting democrats. They are viewed as corrupt.

              Ohio rust belt, suffering particularly from 2008 economic melt down, is Trump.

      2. Heraclitus

        If you ignore the headlines and commentary, and just look at the numbers, it appears that Donald Trump is polling between 75% and 100% better among African Americans than they voted in 2016. People may vote differently than they poll, but Trump is presiding over the lowest African American unemployment rate in history, and that has to have some impact, particularly among African American men. Unless the Democrats can increase turnout in 2020 over turnout in 2016, I think this shift in support among African Americans means Trump gets four more years.

        1. Off The Street

          Getting more African Americans, and Hispanics, into the workforce is likely to have great follow-on effects. Americans of all races, creeds and colors value working and that will pay off in many ways.

          1. Earning an income beats collecting unemployment or, these days, being homeless.
          2. Working people buy stuff, pay rent or even mortgages. Multiplier effects increase.
          3. Household formations rise when people can make money and afford to move in together.
          4. Tax revenues increase on incomes and sales, and eventually properties based on 3.
          5. Direct and indirect social costs decrease. Less welfare, greater health, lower crime.

          Who would not want the above virtuous circle? What are their aims and goals, and how do they effectuate those? K Street is full of likely suspects, in dubious congress with their fellow travelers.

      3. jrs

        Hispanics seem to like Sanders a lot, they support him in larger percentages than any other ethnicity according to polling. It’s probably not purely economic and not that easily funneled to the fake populism on the right. That fake populism is all a big lie, and I wouldn’t assume minorities can afford to be quite as gullible as some of the white working class.

        1. Lord Koos

          Don’t know about Trump’s support, but of the Dem candidates Sanders has more support among women and people of color than any other. He also leads among the young of all genders and races.

    2. Marshall Auerback

      Not sure that’s true. I’ve seen some polls indicating that Hispanic support for Trump is rising (I’ve seen some polls which indicate that it may be in excess of 40%).

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If a “dual-use National Industrial Survival Republican Part does things that cause bussinesses to create jobs where Clintobama Democrat Free Trade Policies caused businesses to destroy jobs . . . and if some of the re-created ( re-patriated? re-onshored?) jobs go to non-White workers; then those newly re-jobbed non-White workers may well be electorally grateful to a “National Economic Survival” Republican Party for re-jobbing those non-White workers who were de-jobbed by Clintobama Democratic Free Trade Treason.

      Is that what you are really afraid of? Is your comment just an effort to re-assure yourself that the old Identy Hustle still works?

    4. Altandmain

      Having lived previously in the Midwest and now quite close in Canada, I have know many in the African American community to oppose free trade deals.

      The old system was not perfect, but at it least it offered the possibility of getting a job with an income that paid for a middle class lifestyle.

      You must understand that they too were affected by the closure of the automotive plants and their suppliers. In fact, in many regards, they were hit worse than white Americans, many of whom have relocated.

      It is not a coincidence that communities like Flint have been hit really hard. They may not support Trump, but many recognize that trade with nations with much lower wages is a threat to them.

  2. Jeremy Grimm

    What working-class, white-collar or blue-collar workers? What unions? Unless Republicans or Democrats can bring back the productive capital that working-class, white-collar and blue-collar workers used to make products in this country those voter categories will soon be extinct. Besides, what do the voters matter to either party as long as the candidates on offer from both parties represent the interests of the wealthy?

  3. PlutoniumKun

    In all the Brexit ho-ha, its been overlooked that this seems exactly the way the Conservatives in the UK are going too – they seem to be quietly ditching austerity and focusing on being the protectors of ‘core’ social services – as opposed to the ones for immigrants and one legged black lesbians and so forth. There is no question but that there is a voting block there for the taking, although its questionable whether it would do the Tories much good given the geographical distribution of that vote (I.e., most of it is in very safe Labour seats, so they’d be wasted votes).

    As Marshall says, there is a long history of Republicans (and other right wing parties around the world) successfully making a pitch for working class votes – in particular socially conservative and religious working class and lower middle class voters. Much of the long term success of Christian Democratic parties in Europe has been by combining a soft pro-business message with the protection of core services to the working classes such as pensions. To an extent I think we are seeing a swing away from a political obsession with suburban educated voters (supposedly the fastest growing bloc in most countries), to more traditional voting bases. Probably because many of those educated suburban voters find themselves slipping from the aspiring middle classes to the somewhat desperate working class.

  4. Cripes

    They will buy what the GOP’s selling if their jobs, income, and communities benefit. Voters are less ideological now, I think, than in the past, they want to know what policies candidates stand for and demand they deliver on their promises.

    After about 70 years of getting the opposite, I think that will be a longshot, but that’s the mood of an electorate with a plurality of independents willing to break shit to do it. Hell, they might even elect a Sanders to get ‘er done, if the democrap party would get the fuk outta the way.

    Um, Is Trump a billionaire Yankee version of Peron without the charismatic wife? Vulgar as he is, he put stiff tariffs on imports, didn’t pull the war trigger several times on ginned-up foreign “crises” and yanked troops from Syria–MIC and their democrap lapdogs be damned. He isn’t clutching his pearls every time the MSM dials up the suffering children/brutal dictator/sad eyed puppy “news” either. Even the insincere obama pretended to be outraged I tell you! on cue every time.

    Donald is an illiterate little prick, but he’s also a bit of an idiot savant, acting more like an isolationist, national capitalist each day. Openly calling for an end to globalism, fer Christ sake. Warts and all he is filling a role–not the way I wish it were–in the historical moment that jackasses like Jeb and the execrable hillary certainly couldn’t.

    Frankly, each day I’m more surprised he’s drawing breath and sleeping in the White House. A secret part of me wants him to prevail, if only to destroy what’s left of the two-shits party system.

    PS Richard Nixon started the move towards modern blue collar republicanism, with his southern strategy and silent majority. The white shoe, country club guys like Mitt have been hanging on for years but haven’t been in the driver’s seat since ol’ Nelson died in the saddle.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “A secret part of me wants him to prevail, if only to destroy what’s left of the two-shits party system”

      that’s how i feel, but it’s far too nuanced and 30,000 feet for polite company(who suffer from TDS)
      undoing the empire, in all it’s incestuous, sunken cost complexity, was never gonna be pretty.
      i would prefer that we did it with compassion and grace…but maybe emperor caught the car will screw up enough of the aristocracy’s gravy trains that something good will ultimately come from it.

      and dammit…if the well to do don’t like this state of affairs, all they need do is stop punching Left.

    2. Marshall Auerback

      100% agree with everything said in this comment. I’m not suggesting that this realignment is something to be celebrated, so much as these are increasingly noticeable trends. People like Thomas Edsall at the NY Times have written about the basis of Trump’s support, as have Professors Kitschelt and Rehm. I think they answer the question “Who?”, but don’t really the question “How?” or “Why?”. The purpose of this short piece was to answer the latter two points. I have a longer version of this coming out soon in “American Affairs”, where I also look at this from the Dems’ perspective. In truth, I don’t think either party really is aiming to support the working class. It’s more a question of what policy mix will bring them the biggest economic benefit, which is the point that Cripes eloquently made above.

  5. Cripes

    Yeah, I timed out trying to add this point: black voters aren’t voting republican, but they can stay home instead of vote a hillary with the same result. Because they know devilcrats suck. The hyper loyal civil right era generation that fought for the right to vote at all will gradually be replaced by their progeny, who I suspect will demand results instead of being told they have no where else to go by Martha’s vineyard seditties..

    1. Another Scott

      Trump did do better among black voters than Romney. Republicans likely don’t need to win working class blacks; getting 20 or 25% on a consistent basis would likely hurt Democrat’s long-term prospects in most midwestern states. The GOP will likely have to make some changes on policy to obtain this, will they? Maybe. Could moving away from free trade and increased immigration be enough? Probably not, especially if done as haphazardly as Trump has. Republicans likely have shift on a few other policies as well.

      1. Marshall Auerback

        100% agree with everything said in this comment. I’m not suggesting that this realignment is something to be celebrated, so much as these are increasingly noticeable trends. People like Thomas Edsall at the NY Times have written about the basis of Trump’s support, as have Professors Kitschelt and Rehm. I think they answer the question “Who?”, but don’t really the question “How?” or “Why?”. The purpose of this short piece was to answer the latter two points. I have a longer version of this coming out soon in “American Affairs”, where I also look at this from the Dems’ perspective. In truth, I don’t think either party really is aiming to support the working class. It’s more a question of what policy mix will bring them the biggest economic benefit, which is the point that Cripes eloquently made above.

  6. Seamus Padraig

    Yeah, it’s all there for the taking–has been for years. But does the GOP actually want to become a pro-working-class party? That’s the question.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      They might find it advantageous to appear to do so, especially since the Ds will apparently go to any lengths, including losing to Trump again, to prevent a working class renaissance in the Party.

  7. tegnost

    labor economist Nick Bunker, who makes the case that “wage growth is currently strongest for workers in low-wage industries, such as clothing stores, supermarkets, amusement parks, and casinos

    I’ve heard this disingenuous trope a few times lately. ISTM that the laws raising min wage are most likely the reason, not a sudden come to jesus moment by republicans to garner blue collar votes. Getting in front of a riot and calling it a parade.

    1. Louis

      Raising the minimum-wage could be part of it but a lot of it is probably due to the fact that there is a genuine shortage of workers in the low-wage service sector, so wages are going up to attract more workers.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          In lots of places in the upper midwest (WI, MN, Iowa, Dakotas), there are genuine labor shortages, but no doubt in many dying communities around these parts there aren’t.

  8. macnamichomhairle

    I think part of it is that (as Frank wrote) Democrats are now the party of the managers/professionals who interact with working class people only to tell them what to do, and the nature of the systems that the managers/professionals staff are mostly now so demeaning and extractive to “clients”, that working people have come to loathe and distrust the managers and anything they advocate.

    Instead of previous managers (Republicans mostly) instructing the working classes that they should adopt mainstream Protestant virtues, the managers are now instructing working people that they must adopt neoliberal social attitudes. I don’t know what impact the old managers’ instructions really had (probably varied a lot by group etc.), but current managers’ instructions are pushing people in the opposite direction in most situations.

    1. Louis

      To a large extent I agree with Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal, and his analysis of how the Democratic Party has gotten off track.

      A not insignificant number of the Democratic Party professional class have a mentality not unlike the Republican’s “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality–the Democratic Party version evolves more around education whereas the Republican version evolves more around work but end result remains basically the same: if you are poor, you are a loser who isn’t trying hard enough.

      How many of these types with the Democratic Party will publicly support raising the minimum-wage while privately regarding low-income workers as losers who are too stupid to get an education or too lazy to move to “where the jobs are”, never-mind the fact that housing affordability is a major impediment to relocating to major job markets. If comments on the New York Times and other site are any guide–the number of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” types within the Democratic Party is a not insignificant number.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        How many of these types with the Democratic Party will publicly support raising the minimum-wage while privately regarding low-income workers as losers who are too stupid to get an education or too lazy to move to “where the jobs are”?

        Virtually all. On the other hand, they are happy they exist because it means less competition against their kids for the good jobs.

    2. Seamus Padraig

      Instead of previous managers (Republicans mostly) instructing the working classes that they should adopt mainstream Protestant virtues, the managers are now instructing working people that they must adopt neoliberal social attitudes.

      Cultural Marxism and corporate diversity management are the new bourgeois morality.

  9. The Rev Kev

    Kinda ironic that during the 216 that Trump was attacking Hillary from the left of all places. I think that move really undercut her position. The GOP must have taken note of all this. Like Cripes, I remember Nixon’s silent majority of blue-collar workers. I saw a foto once of Nixon’s silent majority and they were all wearing hard hats which was a statement in itself. If the GOP wants, these same types of voters are ready to be picked up in exchange for minimal changes to the GOP platform. I mean, its not like the GOP have a cabinet of Binders full of voters any more.

    1. Dan

      Impressive? Maybe to you.
      That voice over might appeal to 13% of the U.S. population, (minus the 8% of whom voted for Trump,) but in spite of the cultural appropriation portraits, it will probably alienate more undecided voters than it will attract.

      I support Sanders, but I fear his advisors’ minority pandering and rapping common economic issues in specific cultural junk like that is bordering on political suicide.

      It’s about winning numbers, not identeology.

  10. marym

    In the US today a discussion of the politics of the “blue collar, working class” should acknowledge whether it refers to that portion of the US working class electorate that would still be enfranchised as a result of the Republican state and national agenda for voter suppression, gerrymandering, under-counting Hispanics in the census, the impact of incarceration policies on the franchise and representation, judicial appointments and decisions, attacks on naturalization and birth-right citizenship, and death by coat-hanger.

    In a country where governing power is attained by those methods of suppression and exclusion, whether Rubio’s “dignity of work” would somehow result from his proposed right-to-work unions, deregulation of labor relations, and disallowing of union participation in politics is also a question.

    1. jrs

      And then they appoint anti-labor judges to the Supreme Court and lower courts, but yea real champions of labor they are. If one completely ignores things like that.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “making sense” or “being consistent” have never been a requirement.

        (keep your government hands…)

  11. Mattski

    When the right becomes the ally of the poor and working class under capitalism–and liberals or social democrats fail to be–that’s when you get fascism.

  12. Anarcissie

    It´s true that many Black and HIspanic people are conservative, and could easily be picked up by a non-racist conservative party, but it´s hard for me to see how the Republican Party could just sort of take a bath and wash off the racism which keeps these people out of it. Whereas the Democratic Party can still offer conservatives of a sort (for example, Biden).

    1. Dan

      8% of blacks voted for Trump. Nearly a third of Hispanics.
      But why? I posit economics. Racism is an ideology, not what’s in your wallet.

      Legal immigrants suffer more from illegals presence than to any other group, except blacks in competition for jobs and the effects of crime.

      Do Illegal Alien Workers Depress Wages and Worsen Working Conditions for Native or Legal Workers?
      “Our qualified answer to the above title question is that illegal workers do, in some cases, depress wages and worsen working conditions for native or legal workers who directly compete with them for jobs. Three types of evidence- wage data on illegal workers, wage data on workers in communities that differed on the presence of international migrants, and case study data-were used to examine the effects of illegal work- ers on the wages of legal or native workers; only one type of evidence, case study data, provided information on the effects of illegal aliens on working conditions for legal or native workers.”
      pp 16

  13. Susan the other`

    This was interesting about the Kochs being more free market libertarian than cold war. But surely they see the writing on the wall when it comes to their oil interests. One way or another oil is going to be commandeered by the state. There won’t be any libertarian choices left for them. But they’ll be OK. Oil will be rationed as long into the future as possible. (I was wondering how the Kochs and Soros were sharing a think tank – the Quincy Institute.) A new M.I. economic strategy sounds more Eisenhower than FDR. I’d go for it if it were primarily a Climate/Green military strategy. Don’t know why it can’t be. And that would also give the blue collar crowd more incentive to embrace Green.

    1. Louis

      And that would also give the blue collar crowd more incentive to embrace Green.

      Many people living on the edge, which could include blue collar people depending on how you define the term “blue collar”, are afraid of losing what they have.

      How is somebody, more affluent than they are, coming in saying they have to lower their standard of living, or more pay for gas or something else to fight climate change going give them an incentive to vote Green?

      If anything it’s going to have the opposite effect.

      Unless the more affluent are prepared to make their share of sacrifices, which is unlikely, the hypocrisy is going to drive people away from caring about climate change, or for that matter Green in general.

      1. susan the other`

        I just think there could be a synergy here. If we are going to resort to old tactics and have a new Military Industrial Economy, like Eisenhower did, we can hire up everybody who needs a job and then some and create an economy that helps the environment, not one that destroys it. I actually think a green new MIC is a good idea.

  14. Synoia

    Will any party become the representative of the Poor?

    When congressional races take $1 Million+ how can the elected be other than beholden to the donor class?

    Until the donor class will are eliminated as funding the the elected, the elected will continue to promise and lie to the working class.

    1. Louis

      Will any party become the representative of the Poor?

      This is a fair question.

      The Republicans favor the rich, give lip service to the middle-class, and hate the poor.

      The Democrats hate the rich, favor the middle-class, and give lip service to the poor.

      I’m generalizing here, as there have been individual candidates who seem to actually want to help the poor, but on the whole neither party comes close to representing the poor.

  15. verifyfirst

    Here is an interesting little article from Michigan about auto workers on strike and their feelings about Trump.

    I have been wondering what Mary Barra (GM CEO) said to Trump in their private meeting right before the strike, that persuaded him to keep his mouth shut about the strike, especially given the giant factory GM closed at Lordstown, Ohio (along with two others). GM has lots of Mexican manufacturing they could have agreed to move back to U.S. without denting their profits, but they refused.

    From this brief article it sounds like the auto workers have largely lost faith with both their union and the Democratic party. Given that Trump won Michigan by only 10,000 votes, and won due to increased turnout among whites (Macomb County) and decreased turnout among blacks (Detroit), as compared to 2012, will Trump motivate enough of these folks to either turn out or not turn out? I can’t see another neo-liberal Democrat getting more Dems out, but maybe some of the Trump voters will stay home.

  16. Dan

    “Blue Collar GOP”

    The Democrats really hope to harvest votes from the white working class?

    The same Democrats that supported losing foreign wars, higher fuel and other taxes, de- industrialized America, stress rights for tiny subsets of the population, blame white voters for their privilege, mock their ancestors nationwide economic achievements and sacrifices through recidivist lamentations of 80 year old inner city redlining, support handing their jobs to minorities first, destroy their ability to demand higher wages via high migration and now, want to spend tax dollars on historically black colleges?

    Like wow! Brilliant strategy.

    Stick with defunding the Pentagon, M4A, bringing the troops home, taxing billionaires and running candidates who look like the voters they want to attract and they would get somewhere.

    1. Seamus Padraig

      All true. As one commenter above put it (I don’t remember who), only voters over the age of 50 would have any recollection of a Democratic Party that was different from the one you are describing here.

  17. marym

    Economic Policy Institute 10/16/2019 Unprecedented: The Trump NLRB’s attack on workers’ rights

    Under the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has systematically rolled back workers’ rights to form unions and engage in collective bargaining with their employers, to the detriment of workers, their communities, and the economy. The Trump board1 has issued a series of significant decisions weakening worker protections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA/Act). Further, the board has engaged in an unprecedented number of rulemakings aimed at overturning existing worker protections. Finally, the Trump NLRB general counsel (GC) has advanced policies that leave fewer workers protected by the NLRA and has advocated for changes in the law that roll back workers’ rights.

    The Trump board has faithfully acted on a top-10 corporate-interest wish list published by the Chamber of Commerce in early 2017—taking action on 10 out of 10 items on this list (See Table 1). And the Trump board has gone beyond the chamber’s policy requests and advanced additional measures that undermine workers’ rights.

  18. Sound of the Suburbs

    Things used to be clearer in the good old days.

    Ricardo was part of the new capitalist class and the old landowning class were a huge problem with their rents that had to be paid both directly and through wages.

    From Ricardo:

    The labourers had before 25
    The landlords 25
    And the capitalists 50
    ……….. 100

    Ricardo looked at how the pie got divided between the three groups.

    The UK political system of three parties represents the three groups.

    Tory – Landlords / landowners / rentiers / old money
    Liberal – Capitalists / employers / new money
    Labour – Labourers / workers / employees

    The US only has two parties and capitalism has three main groups.

    The US political system used to aligned like this:

    Republican – Capitalists / employers / new money
    Democrat – Labourers / workers / employees

    The US political system is now aligned like this:

    Republican – Landlords / landowners / rentiers / old money
    Democrat – Capitalists / employers / new money

    The Republicans are trying to form an old money, aristocracy within the US with their policies, e.g. cuts in estate taxes.

    They are appealing to the groups not catered for by the Democrats to achieve their goals, e.g. the working class, Christians.

    This how it should be.
    The wealthy are divided into two groups.

    One is for free trade, the capitalists.
    One is against free trade, the landlords / landowners.

    The capitalists want the Corn Laws repealed.
    The landlords / landowners don’t want the Corn Laws repealed.

    “The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community” Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist

    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

    Employees get their money from wages and the employer pays via wages.

    Employees get less disposable income after the landlords rent has gone.
    Employers have to cover the landlord’s rents in wages reducing profit.

    Ricardo is just talking about housing costs, employees all rented in those days.

    Low housing costs and a low cost of living work best for employers and employees.

    The US rentiers are filling their boots, making the US less and less competitive in an open, globalised world.

    “Income inequality is not killing capitalism in the United States, but rent-seekers like the banking and the health-care sectors just might” Angus Deaton, Nobel prize winner

    The US’s high cost of living has to be covered by wages, causing off-shoring to where the capitalists can make a decent profit.

    You have the two groups that compromise the wealthy doing well, but this very bad for America itself.
    This is true throughout the West.

    We need to remember how capitalism and free trade really work.

  19. tangfwa

    I saw some comments about people of color and the GOP. Criminal justice reform is one of the very shrewd and promising ways that the GOP is building a base among working class folks of color. I can’t be upset about that.

  20. Swamp Yankee

    I knew Oren Cass, the author of the Manhattan Institute (ha!) piece on workers, in college, when he was a free-market nutjob neoconservative.

    He knows and cares for workers the way Wilt Chamberlain knew and cared for chastity.

    He was and is an opportunist, though, so it does show which way the wind is blowing, even among the wingnut welfare crew like Cass.

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