Once upon a time, Democrats were the party of the little guy: The wage-earner, the lunch-pail set, the coal-mine worker.
The little guy needed a political party. Unions were a Democratic Party invention of pure necessity.
In the post-industrial, pre-regulatory wild, wild west of early American capitalism, the exploitation of American workers, and the newly immigrated, was just as bad or worse as the worst unregulated sweat shops that exist in other countries today.
If it was your job to stand on a slippery platform and stir a giant vat of melted fat and you fell in, the workday would've gone on for everyone but you. You would've been turned into soap or tallow for candles and your employer wouldn’t even have incurred a fine.
Women were burned alive inside unsafe factories where they were locked inside to work. The first workers who painted luminescent numbers on watch-faces died in squalor with hideous disfigurements from the toxic substance.
And all that is to say nothing of life in one of the early coal mining towns. The company owned the whole town; houses, the store, the only employment, everything.
What happens when a ruthless company controls how much people make AND how much they have to spend to survive?
Wages would go down, costs would go up. A workers strike would be met with violent repression via armed mercenaries hired by the company to scare everyone back to work- by murdering a few of them.
Thank goodness for the early unions.
Today, of course, we have worker’s rights and protections and legal recourse and individual rights and everything. Employment in the U.S. is far from perfect, but it has certainly come a long way thanks to Democrats.
Improving the lot of the average person, the everyman, or everywoman, was part and parcel of the Democratic Party. Quality of life; a safe work environment, a fair wage, financial security; these were the promises of the Democratic Party.
They were modest promises, yes: For modest people of modest means.
Wealthy elites and their ilk had Republicans. Regular folks had Democrats.
In contrast, these days blue-collar Democrats are treated to progressive elitists promising to cancel all college debt on the backs of the non-college educated working class while decrying vocational and technical school as something for poor people.
An article in the left-leaning Atlantic sums the progressive-liberal, white college educated bourgeois of today’s Democratic Party: Welding Won’t Make You Rich.
Meant as a criticism of the Republican trend towards alternative educational paths, the article instead reads as tone deaf and elitist.
While it may be true that a stock broker or lawyer might make a great deal more money, have more opportunities, even globally; while it may be true that their earning capacity over the course of their lives might be improved significantly: That isn’t the whole truth.
Money isn’t everything.
Speaking of pre-regulatory, post-industrial working conditions, consider the hours expected of someone who wants to make partner in a prestigious New York law firm. For some people, there isn’t enough money in the world that could compensate for the kind of stress they would have to endure or the personal sacrifices required for that job.
Some people want to leave their jobs at their jobs; I doubt welders spend much time stressing about their workday once they clock out. I’ve known plenty of lawyers that do, though.
This may also surprise progressive liberal elites a great deal but…
Not everyone wants to live in New York City. Or L.A. Or any other major city.
Some people in this world would prefer to raise their families in a small midwestern town of 20,000, close to their family, where they grew up. In a town like that, a welder is making good money.
Are they “rich”? Rich by whose standards?
By the standards of the Ivy League educated set, no. By the falling standards of small towns across the U.S.; definitely, yes. For some people, being able to pay your bills on time, being able to afford your rent, being able to afford a nice vacation from time to time, being able to afford to give to your church, is considered rich.
Not everyone wants a 10,000 square foot mansion; not everyone wants to meet that overhead every month. Not everyone aspires to make six-figures. Sure, it would be nice. But it sounds exhausting.
Some people would prefer to have time to invest in other things; like making art, pursuing a passion or hobby, raising a family.
Only progressive liberals seem to be interested in dividing the world into rich people and everyone else. These elitist attitudes are flying in the face of everything the Democratic Party once stood for.
According to the new liberal elite philosophy, if you aren’t an Olympic athlete, you don’t deserve to play. Why would you even bother playing?
The truth is that being an Olympic athlete takes an enormous amount of investment and sacrifice. It isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t mean anyone can’t enjoy the game or sport in a way that enriches their life.
Liberal elites seem to be genuinely mystified as to why anyone would want to do any job that won’t afford them a new BMW, or a house in the Hamptons, or an Ivy League education for their children.
It’s pure snobbery. Not everyone even wants those things.
It reminds me of a time I watched Bill Cosby speak at an event. Long before his fall from grace into disgrace, he was tone deaf and elitist.
Pulling a young female fan onstage to ask about her career plans, he shamed her in front of the entire crowd when she told him she was studying to be a nurse. After an excruciating, patronizing few minutes of grilling her over it, Cosby revealed his improved plan for her life:
Wow. Thank you, Dr. Huxtable. But becoming a doctor is a great deal harder and more expensive than playing one on television. Not everyone who wants to be a nurse is a failed or wannabe doctor.
What is wrong with nursing?
Is being a doctor better than being a nurse? According to who? Of course a wealthy and powerful member of the elite like Bill Cosby would think that. Anyone who has ever worked at a hospital knows better.
And so should every card-carrying Democrat.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)