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So, I'm watching CNN or MSNBC, one of those, and I see a guy being interviewed, identified as the head of the union that represents the workers at that factory down the road from Carrier. Carrier, you'll recall, was the outfit that got over three-quarters of a billion in tax breaks in exchange for a temporary hold on sending an additional 800 American jobs to Mexico, instead of the larger number of jobs that Carrier had planned to ship south of the border, down Mexico way. In exchange for that big tax break, Donald Trump dominated another couple of news cycles and became, momentarily, the champion of the working man, the indefatigable foe of predatory capitalism, and the best damn friend the working man ever had, a veritable Joe Hill for our times. Remember his famous last words: "Don't mourn. Organize"? That Joe Hill.

proletarian dictatorship

The New, New Dictatorship of the Proletariat—Jaime O'Neill

Anyhoo, this guy on CNN or MSNBC, one of those, was being asked if he wasn't a little peeved to find that Trump hadn't saved a single job at his plant, hadn't cared about the workers at Rexnord the way he did about those workers at Carrier. As it turned out, this union spokesman had voted for Trump, and though he was sorry Trump hadn't lifted a finger to protect workers at his plant, he seemed unrepentant about having cast a union officer's vote for a man who was notorious for stiffing workers. In fact, this union rep even went so far as to make excuses for Trump, and to explain to viewers how there were just lots of jobs that would never be saved, no matter what, because of things like automation. even though that plant closure wasn't going to result in Mexican robots getting those jobs that were going south. No, it was real flesh-and-blood Mexican workers who were going to be doing what those men and women in Indiana had been doing. Or so it seemed to this viewer.

But what seemed strangest of all about this was a question that continued to swirl around in my very confused head for the next 48 hours after watching that interview with that union rep. The question was: "Why the hell was that union leader doing voting for a guy like Trump in the first place?" Was this the tradition of Samuel Gompers, Walter Reuther, or even Jimmy Hoffa, all guys who knew, if nothing else, that when labor goes looking for friends, the last place to seek them out is in gold-plated towers or exclusive gated communities, or multi-million dollar Mira Lago-style mansions where the big money guys live.

In the short-handed parlance of the twitter age, WTF?

Ever since that bleak and blear morning when we woke up from the nightmare fever dream of a Trump presidency to find that it wasn't just a slumbertime hallucination, CNN, MSNBC, and most every other media source have been providing us with the narrative that Trump won because the working class was just really pissed off at the Democrats. Even ostensible liberals like Thomas Frank have been selling that story. In Frank's case, it dovetailed nicely with the tale he was selling in his latest best seller, Listen Liberal, a bit of blame-mongering of the kind liberals love to inflict upon themselves under the guise of lefty self- improvement.

But be that as it may, the point is to make libs and Dems feel guilty, one of the left's favorite pastimes. The mantra is, things are really screwed up, and it's probably something we did. In this particular story, we're to believe that "identity politics" did us in. Too many of us had gotten degrees, had lost touch with the working class roots of the party, had let down the proles that were, in fact, the raison d'etre (raisin' debt, or raisin' hell) reason for the party in the first place.

And there may have been some truth in that, though the story came wrapped in the same condescension so many liberals so often reserve for those constituencies they assume they stand for—the downtrodden salt of the earth sorts of all colors and creeds, from field to factory, all those class strugglers whose interests are best articulated by people who have at least attained a post-graduate degree or two, and hold pretty good jobs among the managerial or professional classes.

Somewhere in this narrative about the mass exodus of the working class as it fled from its own self interest was the idea that American workers had become so damn stupid that they no longer could see their self interest at all, could no longer tell shit from shinola, so they got avidly enthusiastic for shit, choosing it over the polish that would merely shine their work boots, but not quite ever allow them to patch the soles, let alone get 'em some new ones.

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So, the responsibility for the election of Donald Trump can't be laid at the door of the working stiffs, I guess, because they just weren't pandered to enough by the Democrats. They didn't get their asses kissed enough by Hillary Clinton, so what else could they possibly do except turn toward a guy like Trump, who promised them jobs promised them a nation returned to greatness and, incidentally, a place where white folks would no longer have to worry about the rights of people who weren't pretty much exactly like them. No more of that bullshit the Dems had been peddling, all that pissy concern for gay people, or women, or people of color. No more of that black lives matter crapola. And surely no more of that pansy ass stuff that took away the torture option we needed if we were ever going to show those Muslim assholes who's boss.

Working people once had a clue or two of what side they were on, what side they needed to be on, what side wouldn't trickle down on them and euphemize that piss by calling it pennies from heaven.

Though we think we're much smarter and better educated in this new century, the average American of the 1930s had a bit more savvy and common sense than do far too many of their current counterparts. Working people during the Great Depression seemed to have had a much better handle on who their friends were, and who their friends weren't. They didn't see bankers and captains of industry to have much concern for their welfare or well being. They had figured out that Republicans weren't their friends, and they weren't likely to be intimidated by the threat of being called socialists. Hell, even being called Commies didn't deter the labor organizers, and being called Commies was what they were called on damn near every editorial page in damn near every newspaper in the country.

And, when John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, he didn't worry unduly about readers figuring out which side they should take as they turned the pages that revealed the travail and trouble of the Joad family, and the brutal treatment of migrant workers by the big growers and the goons sent to tamp down discontent with wages or working condition by whatever means necessary.

Working people once had a clue or two of what side they were on, what side they needed to be on, what side wouldn't trickle down on them and euphemize that piss by calling it pennies from heaven.

But we've got us some new proles these day, the kind of proles who can be swept up into a big basket of deplorables and find their salvation in a freakish man with a spray on tan, promising them pie in the sky in the sweet by and by, in that dream-like future when the white man will again be the king of his modest castle, the little woman will get the biscuits in the over and her buns back in the bed, and those tiresome Negroes will learn once more that black lives really don't matter all that much so long at the thin blue line is strong and steady at keeping them down, and far from those lily-white suburbs known back in the days of restrictive covenants, white flight, and signs that read "Ni**er, don't let the sun set on our ass in this part of town."

So, if the pundits are right, and the union guys who voted for Trump had it figured, we've got us a new dictatorship of the proletariat, the key word being, of course, "dictatorship."

Workers of the world, united once more. One big union. They had, I guess, nothing to lose but their chains.

And their Social Security, their benefits, their right to overtime pay, and their jobs.

jaime oneill

But, by God, they knew enough to vote against Hillary, and the dream they nourished that once she was locked away, the march toward making America great again would be well under way.

Jaime O'Neill