NPR Saturday Edition crystallized why, in my opinion, the Democratic Party is dead and buried. It lost voters to Trump and even after those same voters feeling betrayed by Trump–or even still hanging in there with him–the Dems won’t get those voters back.
Here are three laid off steelworkers in Alabama, all Democrats I believe, who talked about how job searches and job retraining worked for them, why two of the voted for Trump, and more importantly how the see Congress (and they’re in a Democratic district) has failed them. I’ve selected some quotes to post.
SIMON [show host]: Bo, you’re 49.
EDWARDS: Yes, sir.
SIMON: So what happened when in your late 40s, you go to look for a job and people see, oh, gosh, this guy did something important and dangerous, he’ll be a good employee?
EDWARDS: Being my age, the first thing they look at, they go, oh, he’s 50 years old. And they discriminate because of age because, oh, this guy don’t have much more left in him. And then if you do get past the first part of the interview, and you go in and you have a physical, you know, they want to know, oh, what kind of medications are you on?
Well, guess what? OK, I’ve got some health issues. You know, you have to tell them what kind of medications. And then, oh, Mr. Edwards, we’re sorry. We don’t have a position for you at this time.
SIMON]: Diane, you’re in a job retraining program.
WOOD: Yes. I’m taking culinary arts at Wallace State Community College right now.
SIMON: So what’s the price difference between what you were earning and what you bring in now?
WOOD: Probably about $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
SIMON: That’s the difference?
WOOD: Yes, sir.
SIMON: That’s a lot of money.
WOOD: Yes, sir.
POWELL: I cannot type. Siegfried [referring to himself in the 3rd person] has very little computer knowledge. Somebody showed me a brochure from U.S. Steel that I was doing something. I say, heck, you know, you do the same thing for 20 years, you know, GFB, GFB, you know, the keyboard always wear out on those three keys. But it might have looked technical in the book, but it was just the same thing that we were trained.
So I knew that I had to retrain myself, especially on that computer. And once I started it – I got in the game too late. And the young people I was in school with, they still had their earbuds in their ear, and they were doing stuff on their phone. And I was, like, sitting in front of the class. And I’m like, OK, is this guy going to slow down so we can ask a question?
SIMON: The former steelworkers seem resigned and regretful now, but when you ask, they’ll say they’re angry at U.S. Steel for shutting the blast furnace in Fairfield when they say it still made money and the U.S. Congress for not protecting their jobs from foreign competition.
WOOD: Do you think Congress could have done different? I always think Congress could do different, so I don’t have the anger in me. I think things could have been different if they were done differently, but there is no anger in me.
EDWARDS: There’s a major disconnect from your working families and your people in Washington. They do not understand the working man. You know, I got an 18-year-old daughter who’s just graduated high school. College is coming up. Here I am in a situation where I have lost my job. Well, I have a child that needs to go to college. And I need to be able to provide for my household.
So what do I do? I’m in a catch-22 situation. I like Donald Trump. I’m a union man and I’m saying that I like Donald Trump. That’s completely 180 degrees from what a union man would say, but he understands us a little more right now, I think. I and my family growing up were Democrat all the way – Democrat, Democrat, Democrat – but the Democratic Party has got away from the working man.
POWELL: I think the reason Trump is so popular – I like to fight, though. It’s about time for the fight. The country had got to a point where it was – it needed somebody to show the fight. God, I hope this not racist, but every gas station you pull in, every hotel, I am still waiting for one that I see an American face behind. So where is that American face at? I’m missing something.
Everybody read that? “The Democratic Party has got away from the working man.” “It’s time for the fight.” It’s clear that these people knew nothing about Trump’s background and, they didn’t care. They just heard his (phony words) and bought in to them out of hope, because he was the only one of the two presidential candidates talking to their hopes and their fears. Hillary Clinton was all about job equality for women when she wasn’t pushing the college expenses and health plan ideas stolen from Bernie Sanders. Her hollow words fell on the deaf ears of middle-aged people struggling to make a living–even find a job–while trying to provide for their families.
And remember Siegfried Powell, who put himself in a retraining program that didn’t work out? Here’s their Democratic congresswoman, Terri Sewell, talking about her the job training program she’s pushing.
“I have my own program called Project READY. Ready stands for Realizing Everyone’s Ability to Develop Yourself. It’s about putting together all of the resources – federal, state and local – to try to help retrain and focus my constituents on jobs that are here now and the jobs that we’re trying to recruit in the future.
It’s actually not a government program, that’s the whole point. The reality is that we’re actually leveraging resources that are already being spent locally, federally and statewide. So we bring together the Alabama Career Center. We bring together, you know, Jefferson County industrial development training as well as Jeff State and Lawson State. And we try to – these are community colleges that are located here – trying to leverage the resources that we were already have.
But it’s also important that we don’t sell a bag of goods. Look. There are a lot of jobs that are not going to come back to America, but that doesn’t mean – or back to the Deep South – but that doesn’t mean that we don’t promote the opportunities that are coming this way. I think that it’s so important that we leverage the fact that we have Mercedes Benz and Hyundai and all of these amazing manufacturing opportunities to retool, meaning the future of work is automation.
So we have to be able to get our workers trained and – for the jobs that are here now and the jobs that are here in the future. But look. I’m not going to make any excuses. The Democrats lost the last election. And if we do not listen to Americans and actually put forth policies that make sense for average everyday Americans, we’re going to be in this quandary again in four years.”
The three ex-steelworkers, one aged 50 and the other two in their late 40s, aren’t going to be hired by Mercedes Benz or Hyundai, and those jobs wouldn’t pay anything near the $40,000+ they were earning an union steelworkers. Diane is training to be a chef, and her starting salary in a small town in Alabama–or elsewhere–is most likely going to be minimum wage, or perhaps $11 an hour. Bo and Siegfried both have their ages and lack of marketable skills for “the jobs that are here in the future” against them. Sewell and the rest of the Democratic Party have nothing to offer them, no words of hope, not even the phony “I’ll bring the jobs back” claim they voted their hopes on. And they sure don’t care about Trump’s ties with Russia or what really happened between him and James Comey.
And this is why I believe the Democratic Party is finished, why I believe that if the Democrats fail to remake the party from the ground up so that it is once again relevant to its traditional base of working class families and young adult voters–including students–it was never, ever regain control of Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court.
The lasting legacy of the Hillary Clinton’s and the DNC defeat in the 2016 Presidential Election. Yes, she won the popular vote. But if the Democrats had actually had a plan to win, they would have targeted the Electoral College vote. That’s what the Trump campaign did.
So, take a good look at the smug smiles of the glib Republicans now running the show: Trump, Pence, Bannon, McConnell, and Ryan. They will continue to remain fully responsible and in control of everything the federal government will inflict on us now and in years to come because there is absolutely no political party left to challenge and to beat them.