By Chuck Jones
Huffington Post (3/17/17)
A few weeks back, I spoke to the Democratic National Committee Forum in Detroit about how the party lost a lot of Midwest blue collar voters – and with them, the presidency. My union – United Steelworkers Local 1999 ― represents the Indianapolis Carrier plant that loomed large in the presidential showdown. Our role grew even more prominent after Trump attacked me on Twitter for having called him out for lying about the Carrier jobs.
But it wasn’t just Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Carrier that got the Democratic Party in a ditch. A lot went on over a long time to get us here. I dealt them some tough medicine in Detroit. I don’t know if it took.
Democrats need to roll up their sleeves. Confront the corporations, donors be damned. Working people will take notice. My message to the Democratic Party is that we need leaders with the guts to stand up to Wall Street and defend working people.
A map of Indiana can show you what went wrong for the Democratic Party and what’s going wrong for the country. Not just the Carrier plant, that’s shipping 550 jobs to Mexico, but another one of our local’s plants, Rexnord Bearings, has 300 jobs headed to the same city, Monterrey. In Huntington, near Fort Wayne, 700 jobs from the same corporation as Carrier – UTC – are headed there as well. Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes South Bend, has two Elkhart plants, Harman International and auto-parts maker CTS Corp., shipping more than 350 jobs overseas. The 2nd District used to be a lock for Democrats, and was at least competitive the past 30 years. Now it’s elected a Tea Party Republican to her third term.
The DNC wanted to know why traditional Democratic areas in the industrial Midwest have gotten away from them. It’s because too many manufacturing plants have been getting away from us – and too many Democratic leaders have been AWOL. When it comes to how they and their families are going to survive, too many workers can’t tell one party from the other. Yes, we’ve stood up for the safety net and social justice – we’re not one-issue Democrats. But Indiana, along with much of the industrial Midwest, has been getting hammered by rigged trade deals that have left thousands of Hoosier families stranded. It’s upended our world.
We’re not against trade. But the trade deals we’ve been given by Republicans – and too many Democrats ― have betrayed people who work for a living. …