It’s been taken as an article of faith among political experts that the Democratic Party is the party of the working men and women of America. What’s more, the media has spent the last three years shaping President Joe Biden’s image as the protector of the working-class since he initially ran for the presidency in 2020.
But is that the truth?
Could it possibly be that the Republican Party, specifically former President Donald J. Trump are the real defenders of the working-class?
The Summer of Strikes and Joe Biden
After all, we are currently living through what many have nicknamed as the “summer of strikes” by a variety of labor unions. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and other fellow labor unions in the entertainment industry have ground all American-based film production to a halt until they get concessions from entertainment executives.
Meanwhile, an even more important sector is set to strike in September—and these strikes could eradicate Biden’s carefully crafted image as a defender of the working-class, if the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party fail to respond adequately.
I’m talking about the pending strikes at the big three automakers in the United States. The United Auto Workers (UAW) is the largest union representing the working men and women of America’s automobile industry. They are in tough negotiations with Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis. Should those automakers fail to reach an agreement with the UAW, the union will strike beginning Sept. 14.
That will place President Biden in a bind, as he needs the UAW’s endorsement to solidify his image as the pro-worker president that his predecessor, and most-likely Republican challenger in 2024, Donald Trump, claimed to have been as president.
Joe Biden’s Green Agenda at Odds with Workers
The Biden Administration is running into a political wall of its own making, though. It wants to be the pro-union, pro-worker presidency yet it also wants to preside over the much-ballyhooed national transition from dependence on supposedly “dirty” fossil fuel energy to “clean” energy. One of the biggest components of that policy is to get the automakers of America to create climate friendlier vehicles.
To do that, the Biden White House has had to cozy up to the big automakers, such as Ford and GM, giving them millions of taxpayer dollars to support the efforts of those companies to transition from fossil fuel-based to clean energy-based products.
Thus, the automakers have leverage over the Biden Administration. Should talks collapse between the automakers and the UAW, as the union seeks backing from the Biden Administration against the corporations, those union members may be shocked to find the Biden Administration waffling in publicly supporting the union. After all, President Biden and his team believe they alone will save Mother Earth from destruction.
To do that, they need Ford and GM (and many others) onboard with their ambitious climate agenda—and the workers of the world just might be the sacrificial lamb they need to make to keep those corporations onboard.
The 2009 Auto Bailout
The reason that the UAW is even threatening to strike in September goes back not to the Trump Administration but to the Obama-Biden Administration. When Barack Obama first became president of the United States, with Joe Biden as his stalwart vice-president, the country was reeling from the Great Recession of 2008. Part of the Obama recovery was a massive bailout of America’s ailing automakers.
Interestingly, the UAW remembers the Obama era bailouts of their industry much differently from the reality of what happened.
The UAW argues that, while Obama bailed the corporations out, it was the workers who were made to endure painful pay cuts, new hires were denied the same lasting benefits that older hires had been promised (the kinds of benefits that attracted people to those tough factory jobs). Job openings themselves were reduced, permanently cutting out a large slice of Americans from decent jobs.
President Obama’s bailout of the auto industry did secure the jobs and the pay for UAW workers in the auto industry. It just destroyed the livelihoods of all non-unionized workers in the auto industry. The UAW was made to give up cost of living adjustments for their workers’ pay and made a no-strike rule that helped to insulate Obama politically, but that paled in comparison to what non-unionized workers in the auto industry were made to endure.
Former President Obama bailed out the auto industry in 2008-09, in part, because he had accepted upwards of $400 million in campaign donations from the UAW and other affiliated unions in the 2008 Presidential Election.
According to the financial journalist, Liz Peek, the Obama bailout of the auto industry in 2008-09 was nothing more than a payoff to the UAW for their political support in 2008 against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was the Republican Party presidential nominee that year.
Nevertheless, the UAW today is displeased with their current treatment. They want a better deal from both the corporations they work for (who were bailed out by Obama and Biden a decade ago) and they want the Biden Administration to back their play, if they do strike next month. But Biden’s commitment to his Green Energy agenda means that he will likely hesitate—and that hesitancy may cost him in 2024.
Donald Trump vs. Biden on Workers’ Rights
Consider the way in which former President Trump handled workers’ issues when he was in office. Trump was the first Republican candidate in decades to overtly champion the cause of working men and women. Not only that, but he enacted policies that were aimed at restoring American manufacturing and ending the “free” trade policies that had done so much damage to America’s workers for decades.
Specifically, Trump championed the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Free Trade Agreement as a replacement for the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Democratic Party President Bill Clinton enacted in the 1990s. This was his greatest contribution to the working-class.
Indeed, the now-deceased union leader and long-time Democratic Party stooge, Richard Trumka, took to the press after he helped get USMCA passed and called the Trump trade agreement with Mexico and Canada the most “pro-worker agreement possible.” That’s high praise from a man who had long loathed Donald Trump and everything he stood for.
What’s more, Trump was a skeptic about man-made climate change. Whatever your opinion about that issue may be, the fact remained that Trump placed American workers ahead of any notional climate change program. If he were president today and the UAW were on the brink of striking against the automakers in America, who do you think Trump would publicly support?
Joe Biden’s Corporatism
It’d be the striking workers, because he would have never been so dumb as to become enmeshed in the “great transition” policies that Joe Biden has become ensnared by.
Joe Biden has made common cause with the very corporations that he accuses the Republicans of being in the slavish throes to. Very soon, the Biden Administration may find itself in the unenviable position of having to choose between its obsession with ending manmade climate change (via corporate welfare) or standing with the workers, whose votes Biden desperately needs to remain in power.
Donald Trump, therefore, is likely the most pro-working-class president we’ve had in years while Joe Biden remains subservient to the corporations against which the UAW is set to strike. Interestingly, though, Donald Trump should not expect any official union support simply because he has an “R” rather than a “D” beside his name.
Still, Joe Biden might lose at least some of the working-class vote in 2024 and that could prove devastating for his reelection campaign.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.