By Allison L. Hurst
Professor, Oregon State University
From the USW Blog
March 18, 2017 – This has been a rough year. After the election, I reposted a few articles on my Facebook wall, as did so many of my friends, about the “working-class vote.” Did the white working-class just elect Trump? I didn’t think so, but I also understood that the world can look very different to a working-class person than it does to a middle-class one. I knew this because I grew up poor, and it is a constant struggle speaking to both sides of my life, my past and my present, my mother and my colleagues. My mother, let me point out, did not vote for Trump. She thinks he’s a jackass. Two of her sisters did, however. I don’t know anyone else in my extended family who voted for him. There were lots of Bernie supporters, not many Clinton supporters, and a whole bunch of abstainers.
A friend of mine from college, someone raised on the less wealthy spectrum of the educated middle class, took issue with even the idea of the “working class.” What was this really? He knew a lot of blue-collar workers, plumbers, builders, who made a lot more money than he or his mother ever did. I gave him the quick sociological explanations — it’s about power, not money, but his question remained with me. Based on power at work, two-thirds of Americans can be classified as “working class” (see Michael Zweig’s excellent The Working-Class Majority). That is a hell of a lot of people. They don’t all think alike. It struck me that sociologists, myself included, have spent untold ink arguing over the distinctions within the middle class (lower-middle, upper-middle, professional-managerial, those with economic capital vs. those with cultural capital, etc.) and where the line is between wherever this middle is and the top, and yet we have spent hardly any time looking within the largest class of them all.
So, I pulled out the General Social Survey (GSS), which has been asking thousands of Americans every year or so all about their lives, political identifications, and voting patterns. I decided to see if there were differences within the working class based on type of working-class job, and not on education, race or income level. Working-class jobs are those with little autonomy and often involving the use of one’s body – to wield a hammer, carry a baby, deliver a package from Amazon, stand all day greeting customers. These jobs are held by a very diverse group of people; there are more people of color in the working class than in the middle or upper class. When I refer to “the working class,” I mean this whole diverse group, not only white male workers.
Let me give you a snapshot of five fractions of the working class: the Builders, the Makers, the Movers, the Clerks, and those who Serve (I call this category “CookCleanCare” to remind myself of the range of work within this fraction). Builders most fit the stereotype of “the working class” (three-quarters are men, most are white, and many of them do wear hard hats at work), but it is only one fraction. A more diverse lot are Makers, including assembly-line workers, tool-and-die makers, sewers, and cabinetmakers. This is the fraction that has seen the largest influx of women in the past few decades, although still mostly male. Movers include a wide array of transport jobs, from UPS drivers to ambulance drivers to long-haul truckers, also mostly men. Most of those in the other two fractions are female. The CookCleanCare group includes those who prepare our food, clean our messes, and care for our children. The Clerks are our growing retail worker category. Back in the day being a clerk was seen as a move up, but today’s clerks are generally poorly paid and even less likely to hold a college degree than CookCleanCare workers (the most educated fraction).
Here are some other interesting differences between the fractions. Builders are the most likely to be living in the same place where they grew up, Makers the least likely. Movers are the most likely to identify themselves as “working class.” Twice as many Builders as Makers think of themselves as “middle class.” Makers, in contrast, are more likely than the others to think of themselves as “lower class.” In terms of income, Builders make the most money, Movers the least. If we looked only at white men in each of the fractions, we would find the most instances of sexism, nativism, and racism among the Makers, perhaps reflecting the fact that this group has seen the biggest changes over the past few decades. But it is important to note that a greater proportion of rich white men and white male managers express racist views than any working-class fraction does.
During the past decade or two, ever since Reagan really, we have been hearing a lot about how “the working class” has turned its back on the Democratic Party. But this is only true if we limit “the working class” to white men without college degrees. If we include the whole of the working class, this claim is simply wrong. According to my analysis of GSS data, there has never been a presidential election in which the majority of the working class voted for the Republican candidate.
If we look at the working class based on broad occupational categories rather than race or education, we get a very different picture from “the working class” that political pundits have been talking about. We don’t yet have GSS data for the 2016 election, but figures from 2012 suggest the value of analyzing working-class voters based on their jobs rather than income or education.
This graph of voting patterns in the 2012 Presidential Election, arrayed by largest supporters of Obama from left to right, shows that while all occupational groups gave Obama a majority, two working-class fractions were at the polar ends of the spectrum. The Professional-Managerial Class fell near the middle.
Organizing the data by job categories also helps us understand that white working-class men don’t vote as a unified bloc. If we look only at white men, Obama’s lead lessens, with Romney winning slight majorities with Makers, Movers, and Clerks (not to mention lots of PMC support). Why were white male Movers, Makers, and Clerks swayed by Romney while white male Builders and CookCleanCare were not? For one thing, the Democratic Party may have forgotten Movers and Makers. Women and people of color in these fractions may find other aspects of the Democratic party compelling, but white males less so. All five fractions took an economic hit during the Recession and, unlike the PMC, none of them have recovered, as you can see from the chart below. Makers even saw their wages decline before the recession hit.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – PHOTOS AND HISTORY
Photos by David Bacon
This year International Women’s Day has a deep meaning because of the desperate situation in which our country finds itself. Women in earlier eras confronted problems as great, and founded International Women’s Day as a way to fight for deep social change. Temma Kaplan, distinguished professor of history at Rutgers University, and a longtime teacher, scholar, and activist in pursuit of social justice, wrote a history of the day in 1985, “On the socialist origins of International Women’s Day” – Feminist Studies 11, No. 1 (1985), pp. 163-171. With thanks to her, following these photographs, taken on the University of California Berkeley campus and at Oakland City Hall on International Women’s Day, are selections from this important work.
To see the complete selection of photos: CLICK HERE
In fight to define party in age of Donald Trump, Sanders followers want to transform it from the bottom up by taking control of low-level state and county posts
The followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders, shown above last week, are aiming to transform the Democratic Party’s power structure, starting with the lowest-level state and county committee posts. Photo: mandel ngan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By Reid J. Epstein and Janet Hook
Wall St Journal
Feb. 22, 2017 – In Washington, Democrats are grappling with what it means to be a minority party in the age of Donald Trump. In the rest of the country, populist followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders are mounting a sustained effort to answer the question from the bottom up.
In California, supporters of the 2016 presidential contender packed the obscure party meetings that chose delegates to the state Democratic convention, with Sanders backers grabbing more than half the slots available.
In Washington state, they swept to power at the Democratic state central committee, ousting a party chairman and installing one of their own in his place. Sanders acolytes have seized control of state parties in Hawaii and Nebraska and won posts throughout the party structure from coast to coast.
Those gains come from an under-the-radar blitz in a debate over the future of the party following its bruising 2016 losses. While Democrats nationwide have put the focus on President Trump, the Sanders wing of the party has engaged in an intramural fight to remake the party in a more populist, liberal mold.
“It is absolutely imperative that we see a major transformation of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview last week. The party has “to do what has to be done in this country, to bring new energy, new blood.”
The party will choose its new chairman on Saturday at a meeting in Atlanta. Some in the Democratic old guard harbor concerns that a sharp turn to the left could alienate centrist voters, jeopardize the party’s position in the next presidential election and, before then, lead to primary challenges to incumbent Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.
The Brevard County, Fla., Democratic Party’s executive committee meeting in Rockledge drew a full house last week. Photo: Jacob Langston for The Wall Street Journal
“Is the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing of the party going to push us too far to the left?” asked former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Only if they start going after incumbent moderate Democrats in primaries like the tea party did.”
Last week, a group of former Sanders campaign aides launched a super PAC with the explicit goal of mounting primary challenges to Democratic incumbents. Party leaders are urging Democrats to focus on fighting Mr. Trump and his GOP allies instead of turning their fire inward.
For now, the strategy of Mr. Sanders’s followers is to infiltrate and transform the Democratic Party’s power structure, starting with the lowest-level state and county committee posts that typically draw scant attention.
Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee chair Stacey Patel, standing, spoke at the meeting last week in Rockledge. Photo: Jacob Langston for The Wall Street Journal
“From where I come from in the Bernie movement, people believe that there are permanent obstacles to change,” said Larry Cohen, the board chairman of Our Revolution, the political organization that grew from the 2016 Sanders presidential campaign.
Progressives also need to advance a concrete agenda, and that means taking on Democrats-In-Name-Only.
Feb 16, 2017 – Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center where he and other members criticized many of President-elect Trump’s choices for cabinet positions, December 08, 2016. (AP / Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)
Donald Trump’s provocations have stirred a resistance that is ferocious, diverse, and growing, shaking Republicans and stiffening Democratic spines. Raucous town-hall meetings targeting members of Congress in their home districts are making the fabled Tea Party protests of old look like, well, tea parties. This resistance is vital but not sufficient. While it dramatizes what we are against, our challenge is to integrate it into a demand for all the progressive changes we are for.
The danger here is that the default position of resistance is reversion, a return to what was. As Trump assails all things Obama, Obama’s agenda becomes what we have to protect. Trump postures about repealing the Affordable Care Act; Democrats defend it. Trump attacks the Dodd-Frank banking regulations; Democrats protect them. But this can easily descend into the ridiculous: The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn’t suddenly a good trade deal simply because Trump opposes it. Better relations with Russia aren’t a bad thing simply because Trump proposes it.
Democrats need to fight, but they need to fight for something.
This reflexive defense of the recent status quo is bolstered by inertia, especially at the top of the party. The House Democratic leaders—all septuagenarians—were easily re-elected to their party posts. In the Senate, New York’s Chuck Schumer took over from Harry Reid as minority leader, as long planned. The big outside money is flowing to the same operators (Guy Cecil and David Brock) and the same big institutions (the Center for American Progress, Priorities USA) as before. If Representative Keith Ellison’s effort to head the DNC is defeated, the party structure itself will remain largely in the hands of those who eviscerated it (or their designees). Not surprisingly, these longtime party leaders are invested in what was accomplished under Obama, eager to defend it against Trump’s calumnies, and intent on returning to power under similar terms.
Compiled by Bob Roman
New Ground / Chicao DSA
DSA’s Taylor Jones was among the scheduled speakers at an anti-inaugural Human Rights rally, according to Sloane Smith at The Austin Chronicle. Nancy Benac at the Associated Press included DSA in a pre-inaugural report, as carried by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for example. A pre-inaugural political report by David Weigel at The Washington Post included DSA. Kristin Toussaint at Metro – Boston also mentioned DSA in coverage of upcoming Boston anti-Trump demonstrations.
DSA made Rachel Miller’s list of anti-inaugural to-do’s at Brooklyn Magazine, as we did in Madina Toure’s list at New York Observer, as we did in Eddie Pamintuan’s list at Sactown Magazine, as we did in Brenden Gallagher’s list at Merryjane, as we did in the editors’ list at Blunderbuss Magazine. Since Joseph Schwartz was included among Philadelphia’s 19 face of resistance at BillyPenn, so was DSA. DSA also made Talia Ergas’ list at Us Weekly. Now, will DSA become a fashion statement? Commodify your dissent with this decorative DSA membership! But Sarah Slamen at Texas Observer urged people to get active, and mentioned DSA, oh yes, as one of the possible alternatives.
Danielle DeCourcey included advice from DSA (among others) for first time protesters at attn:.
University of Oklahoma YDS staged an anti-inaugural demonstration, according to Hannah Pike at OUDaily. Adam Troxtell covered the same demonstration at The Norman Transcript. DSA was mentioned in Cynthia Moreno’s coverage of an anti-Trump demonstration at the California State Capitol at Vida en el Valle. John Ferrannini covered the same Sacramento demonstration and included DSA, at The State Hornet. DSA was part of the coalition of groups organizing 144 hours of protests in Sacramento, according to Dan Bacher at San Diego Free Press. Frank Torres’ coverage of an anti-Trump demonstration in Orlando, Florida, included DSA at The Orlando Political Observer. Alex Eng and Ryan Grewal included a quote from DSA’s Spencer Brown in their coverage of Boston anti-Trump protests at The Huntington News. Mass Live’s Gintautas Dumcius’ coverage of the Boston Commons protest also included DSA. The anti-Trump demonstration in New York was covered by Jake Offehartz for Gothamist, and mentioned DSA, as did Zach Williams at Chelsea Now. Sputnik News gave DSA full credit for organizing the anti-Trump demonstration in New York City, as did Jake Sigal at Pacific Press Agency. Is this the foundation for a conspiracy narrative? Well, funny you should mention it! None of this (including DSA) would be happening without George Soros, according to William Jasper at the John Birch Society’s The New American. A large contingent from DSA participated in the anti-Trump demonstrations in Philadelphia, according to Martha Woodall at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Layla A. Jones also included DSA in coverage of the Philadelphia anti-Trump demonstration at The Philadelphia Tribune. DSA was included Paul Schwartzman’s and David Weigel’s coverage of anti-Trump demonstrations in DC at The Washington Post. In India, Ruchir Ferroro Sharma mentioned DSA in connection with anti-Trump demonstrations at Swarajya magazine. The Young Democratic Socialists were involved in inaugural anti-Trump activities in Eugene, Oregon, according to Eric Howanietz at The Torch, likewise in downtown Kansas City, according to Emily Park at University News.
Gabby Bess’ interview with Winnie Wong about the Women’s March on Washington mentioned DSA, at Broadly. DSA made the photo gallery (#125 of 139) covering the Women’s March on Montana at Great Falls Tribune. Roqayah Chamseddine discussed some of the feminist politics surrounding the Women’s March on Washington at Shadow Proof, wherein DSA was mentioned. Art Forum provided several accounts of Women’s Marchs around the country, including an account from the DSA delegation in DC by Ed Halter. Paul Kengor managed to link Kim Il Sung, the Women’s March on Washington and DSA together at The American Spectator. An editorial at the Houston Chronicle mentioned DSA in connection with the Women’s March and opposition to Trump. At Case Western Reserve University’s The Observer, Eamon Sheehan and Christopher Nguyen mentioned YDS in their account of the Women’s March on Cleveland and on Washington. Nassau Weekly published a series of first person accounts of the Women’s March that mentioned YDS. Medill Reports Chicago posted an article and a photo gallery by Derek Robertson of DSA at the Women’s March on Washington. Robertson includes quotes from Clara Alcott and Peg Strobel.
Jan 21, 2017 – Civil rights activist Angela Davis spoke at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands who gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the Trump administration. Davis, who is known for writing such books as Women, Race, and Class, made a passionate call for resistance and asked the audience to become more militant in their demands for social justice over the next four years of Trump’s presidency.
Read the transcript of the speech in its entirety here:
"At a challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans-people, men and youth who are here at the Women’s March, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, hetero-patriarchy from rising again.
"We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages. We know that we gather this afternoon on indigenous land and we follow the lead of the first peoples who despite massive genocidal violence have never relinquished the struggle for land, water, culture, their people. We especially salute today the Standing Rock Sioux.
"The freedom struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.
"No human being is illegal.
"The struggle to save the planet, to stop climate change, to guarantee the accessibility of water from the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, to Flint, Michigan, to the West Bank and Gaza. The struggle to save our flora and fauna, to save the air—this is ground zero of the struggle for social justice.
"This is a women’s march and this women’s march represents the promise of feminism as against the pernicious powers of state violence. And inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.
"Yes, we salute the fight for 15. We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health care privateers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison industrial complex. Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.
"Women’s rights are human rights all over the planet and that is why we say freedom and justice for Palestine. We celebrate the impending release of Chelsea Manning. And Oscar López Rivera. But we also say free Leonard Peltier. Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Free Assata Shakur.
"Over the next months and years we will be called upon to intensify our demands for social justice to become more militant in our defense of vulnerable populations. Those who still defend the supremacy of white male hetero-patriarchy had better watch out.
"The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.
"This is just the beginning and in the words of the inimitable Ella Baker, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’ Thank you."
Reflect, Revitalize and Resist
The movement for justice and progress in the U.S. has suffered a great setback. And the depth of the reactionary movement that led to this setback was underestimated by most on the left. It’s necessary to reflect on what it has taught us and about our shortcomings but it’s also vital to assess our strength to meet this great challenge.
The majority of Americans – whether through their votes or by sitting out the election – displayed a repudiation of business as usual in Washington. We believe that Bernie Sander’s campaign channeled the anger behind this sentiment in a progressive direction. It galvanized a new generation of voters and activists. We call on progressives to continue to support such true progressive elected officials – there are a few – but also to organize around the principles of that movement and not solely around these individuals.
Unprecedented marches are happening around the country. We unite with these and encourage participation by all. We call for unity of the great progressive movement that has been disorganized. There is an urgent need of unity. We now must be humble enough to recognize that our sum is greater than our parts. We must renew our efforts at building this unity.
But perhaps most importantly, it is necessary to resist this immoral but effective minority in government and on the streets. We must repudiate the corrupt political system that has brought this about, fight the regressive efforts of that system and show that there is yet a passionate progressive majority that only needs unity to show effective strength.
The Committees of Correspondence stands prepared to join in this great task before us. We stand in solidarity with all those who are ready to fight the forces of reaction and project a future of equality of all people and justice for the many, over the enrichment of a few.
Oct 21, 2016 – In Colorado, Bernie Sanders isn’t just acting as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton. He’s also holding separate events to keep his movement and its issues alive in a state he won handily in the June Democratic primary. Now he is urging his followers to support a ballot measure to establish the nation’s first universal health care system. It will probably be defeated, yet his backers, who have settled for a bird in the hand this year, are certain they own the future.
Changing demographics may be on on their side, and what happens in Colorado could be a model for the rest of the U.S. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the European-style changes Sanders has passionately advocated for the U.S. will take place anytime soon.
On Oct. 17, about 2,000 people — few of them older than 25 — gathered on a football field at the University of Colorado Boulder to hear Sanders make an impassioned plea for Amendment 69, which would move the state to a health care system much like the one in Germany, where I live. The students shifted impatiently and made disappointed noises every time a local speaker took the microphone: They’d come to hear Bernie. They did a “Feel the Bern” chant, like the old days, and they surged forward when he appeared. They booed when he did a Donald Trump imitation, ripping into pharmaceutical companies’ “yuuuuge” profits, and they clapped when he said health care is a basic human right.
The Sanders cause is very much alive in a state where, less than eight months ago, I saw caucus organizers attempt to deal with the unprecedented crowds of millennials that turned out for their 74-year-old hero. In the Denver high school I visited, votes were held in parking lots and stairwells. Clinton lost to the Vermont senator by a 19-point margin.
Colorado was expected to be a battleground state this year. It hasn’t been. Most of the time, Clinton has enjoyed a big lead over Trump in the polls. The same people who ensured Sanders’s primary victory could do the same for her in the general election.
JoyAnn Ruscha, who was political director for the Sanders campaign in Colorado and a Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention, recalls bursting into tears when the senator moved that Clinton be nominated by acclamation.
“I’d known for weeks, months, that she would win,” Ruscha says. “But it’s like being in a relationship, breaking up and then seeing that person again. You think you’re OK, but you’re not.”
Now Ruscha is helping the Clinton campaign, though not as a staffer. She says that much of the grassroots activity that took Clinton by surprise during the caucus season has now shifted to her. “Many former staff and big volunteers are building in the Latino community what they did for Sanders,” Ruscha says.
Trump is an important reason why these young people, who mocked Clinton and called her corrupt last winter and spring, are now working for her. Trump has never missed a chance to appeal to Sanders supporters, telling them Clinton hadn’t won fairly — but he hasn’t made inroads with the idealistic young people who turned out in force for Bernie. (Continued)
Isthus Engineering, Madison WI, a robotics and advanced tool manufacturing coop with 50+ workers
By Max Ogden, Nina Gregg et al
The Next System via Portside
Oct 17, 2016 – This essay is a polemic. As such, we argue with broad strokes. We welcome debate on the broad strokes as well as the details, knowing that such an exchange will refine and improve the discussion.1
We are thinkers and practitioners from the United States and Australia. Our views principally reflect where we come from, but we are confident that our themes are an important part of a global discussion.
We are arguing here for the singular importance of advanced manufacturing. Our emphasis on advanced manufacturing is not because we love advanced manufacturing, but because we think it is necessary to achieve a next system that is democratic, equitable, sustainable, and restorative. If we thought free beer would be as important or as necessary, we would be advocating for free beer instead of for advanced manufacturing.
Advanced manufacturing is very different from the popular image of industrial production.
Advanced manufacturing is very different from the popular image of industrial production. Most modern plants are clean, generate few emissions, and are critical to industries as varied as food processing, sustainable technology in solar and wind energy, and transportation.
Advanced manufacturing requires high skills and continuing education and pays better wages than low-skill work.
Our argument for a key role for advanced manufacturing in the next system is grounded in opposition to three currents of thought:
- We oppose the current of thought that does not see the need for systemic change in order to build a productive, inclusive, and sustainable society;
- We oppose the current of thought that sees the “market,” “market forces,” and corporate structures as inherently corrupting
- And we oppose the current of thought that sees the state as the only vehicle for progressive change.
We believe, on the contrary, that the movement for the next system must institutionalize its values and achieve its objectives within the market, the state, and civil society.
First among those values and objectives, support for social inclusion must be the basis of decisions about building the next system. The world’s poor and marginalized people must be able to achieve their self-interested objectives. To that end, we must make available to everyone the ability to take advantage of local and global opportunities, to participate in community and society, and to contribute to social and cultural life. We recognize that the capitalist economy and its primary institutions have been and continue to be based on the exploitation of workers from whom have been stripped ownership and control of their work activity and their product. Moreover, our current global economy has been constructed around race, gender, and empire in ways that have systematically disadvantaged people of color, women, and nations outside the core. Signs of this living legacy are everywhere, and they must be addressed with conscious intention if we hope to reach a next system that is constructed differently—one that is democratic, equitable, sustainable, and restorative.
Our current global economy has been constructed around race, gender, and empire in ways that have systematically disadvantaged people of color, women, and nations outside the core. (continued)