This photo was taken in 2011! Caption: "Opponents of Senate Bill 5 celebrate in Columbus, Ohio, after the bill, restricting the collective-bargaining abilities of public-employee unions, was defeated on Tuesday, November 8, 2011." (AP Photo / Tony Dejak)
I read this article and it gave me much to think about in regard to our country and the election of Donald Trump. I realize that I cannot exempt the "corporate Democrats " from blame for our present situation. It's a situation that has been brewing for a long time, and it's the fault of both parties.
The following are excerpts from a much longer article in The Nation by Kirk Noder entitled "Why Do White Working-Class People Vote Against Their Interests? They Don't"
( I think this article shouldn't be limited to whites. All American Working-Class People, especially those who live and work away from the coasts, are suffering)
"...The first step was the collapse of the industrial heartland. This hit white working-class people incredibly hard—and it remains a phenomenon that is not understood on the East and West Coasts. It is painted as a natural evolution of our economy and as if the onus is on people to adapt to it. This fails to capture how many families and communities were dependent on the industrial economy. Many Ohioans are now staring at a future where they themselves and their kids have less opportunity than their parents. In a place like Youngstown, that means not only an inability to get a well-paying job at the steel mill; it also means owning a house that has failed to appreciate in value for 20 to 30 years, in a city that continues to lose double-digit percentages of its population every 10 years. It is not just a stripping out of economic opportunity but a stripping away of identity for these communities. It is the sense of abandonment and perpetual decline that people feel mired in. Resources, jobs, decent housing, quality neighborhoods and schools are all in decline. It creates a “scarcity mentality” for white working-class people and others who live in the heartland.
Two narratives emerged about the collapse of the industrial heartland in America. The one from the far right has three parts: First, that industry left this country because unions destroyed productivity and made labor costs too high, thereby making us uncompetitive. Second, corporations were the victims of over-regulation and a bloated government that overtaxed them to pay for socialist welfare systems. Third, illegal immigration has resulted in the stealing of American jobs, increased competition for white workers, and depressed wages. Together these three factors led to the collapse of manufacturing in America. This, sadly, is a story that many Americans believe. The second narrative, promoted by corporate Democrats, is that the global economy shifted and the country is now in transition from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy. This story tacitly accepts the economic restructuring of the heartland as inevitable once China and other markets opened up.
The most accurate narrative is one we never hear—and that I think is illustrated well in the collapse of Youngstown’s steel mills. When the corporations who operated the mills shut them down, the community organized en masse. Key religious and community leaders stood up against “the severe consequences when corporations decide not to modernize older facilities, view relocation of industry as a logical result of corporate opportunities for profit, or shift capital altogether to other investment opportunities.”
A coalition organized to reopen the mills as cooperatives owned by the workers, community members, and private investors. After a feasibility study showed that reopening the mills was economically viable, the coalition appealed to the federal government for loans to purchase and modernize the plant. Despite an initial commitment, the Carter administration backed off. Apparently, Jimmy Carter worried that supporting the project would jeopardize his reelection bid and bowed to lobbying by steel corporations who saw it as a threat, which was countered by only tepid support from the national Steelworkers Union leadership, who worried worker ownership might undermine the union.
... The collapse of the industrial heartland resulted from a choice about whether we would reshape our economic models to serve workers and communities over profits—or continue to serve corporate interests that painted the global movement of capital as inevitable. The right blamed unions and regulation. The Democrats tried to explain the collapse as a weather phenomenon that we all needed to adjust to. Efforts to reshape the economy were marginalized and defeated by both parties; business and organized labor each supported the collapse of the city of Youngstown.
...The issue of race is intertwined with the phenomenon of
decreased opportunity for white people, scarcity of resources, and the clash of two Americas—weak market and strong market. Immigrants, by and large, are not moving to places like Ohio. In fact, a study a few years ago showed that out of the four US metro areas with the lowest immigration levels, two were in Ohio: Youngstown and Dayton. Immigrants are moving to places that have opportunity, strong local economies. White working-class people in Ohio don’t understand how those economies work, and see immigrants having more opportunity than they do. There is truth to this, in that weak-market cities offer far less opportunity than strong-market cities.
This is toxic mix for white people—little to no engagement with immigrants and people of color (Youngstown is also highly segregated), increased pressures on their family, and no one offering a clear vision forward. It is easy to see why the right-wing narrative is so compelling—it offers formidable enemies (government and unions) and an economic vision that corporations will create new jobs if those enemies are defeated. In that narrative, white working-class people will have opportunity again. The left offers no such clear enemy—and we’ve been immersed in identity politics that have further alienated white working-class people. Imagine how different the world could be now if Democrats and unions hadn’t sold out steel workers in Youngstown.