By Peter Certo
There’s an image burned into my brain from childhood: the graffitied train tracks along the intersection of Fifth and Patterson in downtown Dayton, Ohio.
It’s a slightly shabby landscape dotted by warehouses, churches, fast food restaurants, and — at the margins — an old arthouse theater. If you look closely, you can see the building where I went to kindergarten, and maybe even the dive bar where my wife and I had our first date.
A photo of this familiar landscape greeted me recently in an unfamiliar place: at the top of a New York Times feature headlined, “How the G.O.P. Became the Party of the Left Behind.”
It followed an out of work union teamster in nearby Moraine who’d voted Democratic for years, only to shift to Republicans in the wake of plant closures that left him adrift. In 2016, the story goes, Dayton’s Montgomery County — population 530,000 — swung narrowly for Trump. It was the first time the county had gone red in nearly 30 years.
We’ve met these voters in countless articles since 2016. And they’re exactly who President Trump was pitching in his recent State of the Union address, where he boasted of “a great American comeback” and a “blue collar boom,” crediting himself generously.
First, let’s be clear: There’s no “great American comeback.”
Low overall unemployment means little when half of Americans now work low-wage jobs. Manufacturing remains in decline, farm bankruptcies are spiraling, and union membership just hit an all-time low. Even as 140 million Americans are poor or low-income, the administration is working relentlessly to shred Medicaid, Social Security, and the food stamp system.
Trump has little to offer this class but half-truths about the economy and hateful lies about immigrants. Still, he’s only accelerated a partisan realignment along class lines for white voters.
In the 1990s, the Times story observed, Republicans “received roughly the same share of the vote in richer and poorer counties.” Yet by 2016, the GOP “won almost twice the share of votes in the nation’s most destitute counties… than it won in the richest.”
And the Democrats? After their sweeping midterm victories, GoBankingRates.com reported, they found themselves in control of each of the 10 wealthiest U.S. congressional districts — and 41 of the top 50.
Democrats still outperform Republicans among voters making under $50,000 a year, while Republicans still dominate the $100,000-plus crowd. Yet the gaps have narrowed since 2012, as Democrats have seemingly traded many white working class voters for more affluent ones.
It speaks to the power of Trump’s nativist scapegoating that he’s accomplished this working class coup even as the GOP has embraced its most overtly plutocratic agenda ever.
Thanks to Trump and the GOP, those blue collar Moraine workers now pay higher tax rates than Trump and his fellow billionaires. Republican lawmakers made millions off the corporate tax cuts they passed, while companies like GM took their tax cuts and laid off tens of thousands of workers anyway.
These are huge vulnerabilities. Yet to date, the most visible Democratic case against Trump has focused on comparatively arcane subjects like abusing aid packages to Ukraine — an issue that plays better in affluent suburbia than in lagging Montgomery County.
As Trump made clear in his speech, he will almost certainly try to get the Democrats’ left on trade and jobs — and cover his tracks with nativist nonsense — if they let him. They shouldn’t. With the Ukraine mess ignobly disposed of in a sham Senate trial, what progressives need is a multiracial, working class-led case against the administration’s policies.
That would be a “blue collar boom” to be proud of.
Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of OtherWords.org.
Blue collar worker who loves the Trump economy. Best raises in years. My 401k and personal investments and value of my home have grown leaps and bounds.
me too , I have made more money in my 401K in 3 years of trump than 8 years of obama, I dont really care for either one of them ,however I love money and for that reason alone will vote for trump.
Name (required) says
The value of your 401k and the value of your land are based on NOTHING but speculation. Fact. Sorry to break the news.
Its only worth what another Party will give you at time of Sale
john parker armbruster says
So why do my property taxes keep going up?
Intrinsic value based on sales of other comparable homes in that area on an annual basis.
Trailer Bob says
Sorry to break the news to you (required), but as a Certified Financial Planner for 32 years, if you were to liquidate your 401k plan today, and it is worth…let’s say $350,000 you would receive that amount, unless the markets dropped while the liquidation was still processing.
Name (required) says
Case in point. Retire while the getting is good. And as a “CFP” for 32 years, I’m sure you see a “reset” coming. Cash in folks!! I won’t retire for 30 years, so that’s at least 2 more booms and 2 more crashes… hope the timing is good, since it only takes a single day for everything to change.
OH how true for a young Investor . May your profits grow large over the years. Remember dollar
cost average, reset annually if needs be and do not come complacent, adhere to the rule of 100.. Obviously folks become to close to the Forest to see the trees. THIS test will Test the nerves of all who engage it. GL
We need to people who will give us so called free stuff while controlling every aspect of our lives to fix the “no comeback” for America Republicans. Very logical thinking.
Rick G says
So true Mr. Certo. You’ve hit the nail on the proverbial head.
“Trump has little to offer this class but half-truths about the economy and hateful lies about immigrants.”
Definitely 1/2 truths about the economy, but tell me, how does letting more immigrants (regardless of whether they are legal or illegal) into this nation into an economy where “there is no great American comeback” for US citizens as any more sustainable ? You’re simply going to have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands more in population in areas where there infrastructure simple isn’t capable of handling that. Wanna see it in action, Miami & South FL gridlock traffic, sewage and county dumping for trash and the pollution is out of control. Water quality suffers with increase development. Just saying that it’s disingenuous to say Trump did this, it’s decades of Bush, Clinton, Bush & Obama leadership. He inherited the USA in 2017. This didn’t start to happen that day in January when he was inaugurated. And USA citizens with their own population growth has also contributed, so it’s not all on the immigration increases. It doesn’t matter where you put anyone either, they start polluting there and that resource flow of fresh water flows to areas that are already over developed. If there is any blame, it falls on the individuals that keep breeding more mouths to feed, bodies to shelter & clothe. It’s about those individuals & their children’s carbon footprint. Are you driving a gas guzzling Camaro/Mustang/Challenger ? Own that carbon footprint. Each head count needs a minimum amount of fresh water, communities use pesticides that run off. Another example is the Space coast, NASA has been dumping toxic waste there for decades. And that’s where FL is growing to the rural counties.
Look at St Augustine. I went to college at FSU in the late 70’s/early 80’s. St Augustine was a bump in the road. By the early 1990’s the Golf World tourism had taken over, that was a decade later ? And it’s getting worse there, as it has been for 25-30 years now.
What do the democrats have to offer? Free healthcare for illegals? Pay off student loans with other people’s money? Continuation of the broke healthcare system? Fewer jobs? Lopsided trade deals? I know, change the Constitution so they can win an election. How about destroying our economy by enacting laws and policies to change the climate (yes, only we can save the planet by giving away more money). I know an even better idea, lets kill more babies, even after they are born!
@Things of a kind – please
Malthus’  ghost telling the world I told you so (sadly all too true) deserves attention – but it has nothing to do with an even greater immediate threat; The unscrupulous infantile ignoramus psychopath  with a nuclear arsenal that Republicans have given absolute power. The leapers and snake handlers that have become an actual and significant portion of all ELECTED Republicans ACTUALLY look forward to the end of the world. 
The lemmings’ blather about the ‘great’ economy comes from chickens eating at KFC – who literally think Colonel Sanders is a god.
Take with a grain of salt anything that comes out of Trumps mouth. His scoundrel meter has reached Defcon 1.
The “working class” your so-called blue collar workers were killed off by greedy unions that eliminated the manufacturing base in the USA now the country is a service-based economy that wants $15.00 an hour but does not realize that they will drive up the cost of the goods they need You have no idea how business work. The balance sheet is COGS which includes wages! You are an idiot!
So what you’re saying is is that the blue collar union workers are the greedy ones and their greed caused their own self destruction? They voted to have unions represent them and the members vote to approve the contracts the union management negotiate.
Steve Smith says
Really. Greedy unions? or Greedy Employers who want to pay wages that don’t allow the workers they depend on for their profits to live comfortably.
And yet more “bullshit” from the left. Here is the reality for my brother-in-law: He and his family were life-long Democrats; his mother was the mayor of a small town, and she was a staunch Democrat. He works in the steel polishing industry. Since Trump came along his factory is busier than ever. He is doing as well as he ever has, and, get this: he has a “TRUMP” bumper sticker on his truck. My other brother-in-law also works in the same industry and he is a plant manager doing quite well. In spite of all the propaganda and self-delusion the Democrats spew, the real workers of America see themselves doing well, with the promise of more manufacturing returning to America because of the lower corporate tax rates. They also see a Democratic party that promises to open the flood gates on our borders to bring in wave after wave of cheap labor just itching to take away their well-paying jobs. While the Dems are talking, again, a good game, Trump is actually getting things done for the American worker. The Dems really have nothing to offer besides more broken promises, and real Americans are seeing through it.
Hows Coal, Farming. Manufacturing over all doing. Hows Climate change working out for USA. Talk about increased COGS bring Manufacturing jobs all back to USA Inflation would spike. Minimum wage at 15/Hr. would be peanuts to prices on a large scale. Glad your Family is doing well. Some facts thrown in would be realistic
Ned Faith says
OH NO! WE didn’t see growth in EVERYTHING?? Better tear the whole thing down!
Typical liberal idiocy.
How’s climate change working out? It’s working as fine as ever. If you’re talking about the weather changing, well that’s what the weather does. Maybe we should “go green” and starve the 3rd world to death! Now THERE is a great solution!
The left has not only left, it’s GONE, baby. Trump, as much as I dislike the guy, is going to blow away these insane liberal morons.
Stanley Wolak says
Better to have people working low paying jobs,instead of sitting home getting welfare and food stamps for doing nothing.
If your unhappy with your low paid job, it’s probably 99% your fault. Maybe you should had graduated high school and went on to some form of higher education or special training. where those jobs pay a living wage. Don’t cry to me because you were too lazy to get the skills to compete in today’s job market. The unskilled, uneducated will always be underemployed. That’s a fact of life. Don’t blame anyone but yourself.
Gary R says
Well, you could fool me with all the housing and commercial construction going on in Palm Coast.
Land of no turn signals says says
Minimum wage is better than no wage,unless you like to live off the government.
Prof. Artimis says
It all makes NO DIFFERENCE anyways. The planet will be destroyed in 2021 by the return of the 10th planet Nirubi. Earthquakes, Volcano’s , Floods, Wildfires, Extreme Heat, Social Violence, Plagues, Viruses ………… It will all be over soon humans, and the planet will go thru its 4th extinction .
Party likes its 2021
Trailer Bob says
Guess I don’t need to comment really, as almost all others disagree with the article. As a former Certified Financial Planner, I think I am much more qualified on this subject than the author. Savings are up, investments are up, if you want to work there are jobs, it has never been easier to start your own business, you get the point.
But of course some folks will continue to try and fit their intended results into reality one way or another. Very disingenuous.
So having been in the Business myself for over two decades I can relate to your understanding of current conditions. There are many ways to seek Valuations in Financial Markets. Analysis by others, PE Ratios, Debt v Equity, Interest rates, Consumer Sentiment, the list goes on Ad Infinitum. But one metric that has never failed me. When the common Individual Investors continuously tout how well they are doing, Wine and Roses, Its a sign to me a top of some kind is imminent. 100% of the Retail Investors are wrong 75% of the time IMO. Timing is everything. GL
Trailer Bob says
I guess I should suggest that the author of this site subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter. I have been using it for about 35 years to get an honest and pretty damn accurate picture of forecasts for executives and investors.
In their view from their non-partisan research and data crunching, the economy is doing extremely well, and should continue to do so in the near future as well, at least.
For example, January brought yet more proof of the underlying strength of the U.S. economy, which added 225,000 jobs last month. That’s in one month. The usual pockets of weakness remain in industries like retail, manufacturing and autos. But overall, the picture is still bright. More employers are actually facing worker shortages, and more bodies are needed wherever they can be found. In other words…it’s about as good as it gets. There is NEVER zero unemployment and there is never a time when people without job skills earn $20 an hour.
I really do enjoy all these posts about “drumpf made me richer- I’ze gonna get me a bigger truck and then vote for him!”
Yeah let’s ignore this cretin who doesn’t understand the difference between an economy car and a nation’s economy. A creature that attacks and then fires anyone who dares speak the truth about him. A slime that is destroying the constitution and congratulating himself for it. Look at some of the video clips of this guy (complimenting Neo-nazis, not understanding what school busing is, calling people scumbags, losers and idiots) and then tell me how “he’s the greatest president since Lincoln”.
It amazes me that in America, the average voter does not look beyond there own life. As long as Satan did me right, then he is OK with me! It really sickens me as a human being.
US debt exceeds $23 trillion, having increased by $3 trillion (more than 16%) during Trump’s 3 yrs of presidential incompetence & fiscal irresponsibility. The economy is not sound if we are not paying down the debt. Remember when Republicans cared about fiscal responsibility?
What did you say when Barry was spending like a lottery winner?
Most reasonable individuals like to live in the here and now. We look back to learn and not repeat the same mistakes which if not achieved is a form of Political insanity. “Barry” is long gone. Accumulating Debt to the tune a Trillion USDs is no joke. If Federal Govt. were paying down Debt with 4-6% growth I would say AOK. Its not. GDP is about 17 Trillion. So soon we will be in Debt to the tune of 150-200% of GDP. Unsustainable. I.E. EU Countries. Take a screen shot of your beloved 401 K values and save it for future envy. It wont last IMO
Except for something lie the economy right. That was all Barry’s work eh? Anything good happens, it’s due to Barry’s terms, anything bad is Trump’s fault right? For the record, politicians LIE, regardless of their party, key is being unbiased enough to see it.
Name (required) says
I wish more people would realize just how doomed the American populace really is. At any moment, it’s could all turn ugly. Hell, whisper the work “hurricane,” and this entire town turns to gridlock. The precious balance that is what makes it all work is a mere breath away from collapse at any given time. People should put down their politics forever, and realise that it’s THEY, that make America great. It is WE that improve our quality of life. Not some asshat spewing verbal diarrhea from mountain high, there is no Oz. We are the problem and the solution. We have to see life in a different way than currently; an overload of useless information and perpetual distraction from the true renaissance that we should ALL be experiencing, times have changed, and commerce is different now. If anything, we should stop answering so handily to our corporate overlords. They are the true reason that we’ve got to have this discussion to begin with. From the comments above, and the article as well, the true status quo is nothing more than opinion. Wake up, this isn’t wonderland anymore, Alice!
steve Ward says
Exactly. No WiFi, ATM, fuel, stores, phones, etc. for an extended time would be chaos
Look folks keep it real. First due to the worst Economic downturn since the Great Depression Central Banks of the World have brought the Ponzi Scheme to a whole new level with low or even negative rates. 17 Trillion in Negative Bond yields allegedly last I read. Who else could issue there own Bonds put them in the coffer and print Money endlessly to provide liquidity. Given no other alternatives to Investing available dollars or currency has pushed Equity Markets far and above where they really should be. IMO. Trading at 160 % of GDP is Historically an overvalued situation. When will it happen , I don’t know but a significant selloff will occur and for those who count their money daily or weekly etc. and Vote according to that metric will find the Administrations of either Party ultimately have very much influence. One can rest assure no bell will be rung to sound the alarm. With Debt levels around the World at levels never seen or rarely The FED is now printing nightly 100s of Billions in the Repo Mkts just to keep up.
So I am usually wrong but stimulus only has an effect for a time and when the adrenaline wears off its not pretty. Being into the tail end of an 11 year expansion with all the Banks printing and achieving paltry growth by it tells me we are hitting the wall. Hedge accordingly.
Very real description of what is going on…and now most of us can see clear in spite of the one’s in power telling us otherwise. Just look at the inflation just shown in the claiming price of food.
@trump is juicing the market for piano wire and meat hooks
And, that too, is okay with der swineheart’s lickspittle. Night is falling.
Alphonse Abonte says
With all this being said, the Democrats are in for rude awakening on November 4th. Not only will Trump be elected for 4 more years, they will loose the House and 4 more seats in the Senate. Their platform is BEAT TRUMP! They do not care about Americans, only their failing party. More winning!!
Trailer Bob says
No one can claim that Trump doesn’t say stupid stuff. Ok, and no one with a brain can say the economy is doing poorly. When you politicize everything you believe, you are an idiot. Have a nice day in “your” world, my world is quite lovely today.
You seem to have a better take on Psychology than the Psychology of Markets for a 32 year Vet. Good Luck