Beyond Trump: The Forgotten White Working Class Communities

Part of the White, Working Class, and Worried about Trump (#WhiteWorkingClassVsTrump) Campaign*:

zoeI drove through my hometown last night. It’s a little suburb just outside of Denver, Colo., where the bulk of my family lives. It’s the kind of town that lost all of our union manufacturing jobs in the ’80s and ’90s. Now our biggest employers are Walmart and Hobby Lobby.

Each time I go back home, I see another Trump sign pop. There’s hardly a Democratic candidate sign out, even though the election is less than a month away. That isn’t because my community is Trump territory, though. It’s because we’ve just been forgotten.

The Real Conversation

It’s sad for me to hear election coverage, because I keep hearing my neighbors, former classmates and family getting dragged under the bus for the rise of the Far Right. I never hear the stories I know so well – like the way my dad will talk to everyone on a construction job site about how racism isn’t going to alleviate the pain of the working class.

No one is talking about unions passing statements in support of Black Lives Matter. Instead I hear the Right and the Left saying that “uneducated urban and rural whites” or “blue collar workers” are carrying the Trump agenda. People I went to school with have reached out to find out how their church can fundraise for Black Lives Matter, or what they can do to support Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance.

It’s sad for me to hear election coverage, because I keep hearing my neighbors, former classmates and family getting dragged under the bus for the rise of the Far Right.

Where Is the Left?

I’ve asked a lot of white progressive groups about what their election outreach in working-class communities, particularly white working-class communities. They’ve told me one of two things: working-class white people don’t exist in Colorado, or those are “Trump people.” Many left-leaning candidates won’t touch working-class neighborhoods or talk about issues relevant to them.

This is happening in a Metro Area that is being crushed by reckless development. Rents are soaring, and people are being forced out of the communities they have grown up in. Data from CityLabs shows that a single person has to make $35 an hour to survive in a one bedroom apartment in Denver. Meanwhile the fastest growing job sectors are the lowest paying. People still don’t have access to basic health care, not to mention mental health services, or food. Transit costs are rising, bus services are being cut, and the working-class is drowning. Until the Left, both the Democratic Party and progressive organizing groups, pay attention to our crisis, we are live bait for the Far Right.

I work two jobs, and my partner works 80-hour weeks as a teacher in my former school district to keep our family afloat in our fast growing city. We know that the reason we struggle is because Wall Street, banks, billionaires, big business, and many politicians carry all the wealth and power. We know our Muslim, immigrant, Latinx and Black neighbors have been in this fight with us, never against us. We are a working-class family that, like so many others around us, opposes the rise of Trump.

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