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Yes, there are lots of blue-collar Republicans. But why?

ASK THIS | July 25, 2005

Before moving on to the 2006 and 2008 elections, let's understand 2004 a little better. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild has some questions that need to be addressed.

By Arlie Hochschild



Q. The blue-collar male voter used to be, of course, the mainstay of the Democratic Party. Why is he now one of the mainstays of the Republican Party? 


Q. Bush's tax cuts favor the rich and his budget cuts hurt the poor. The question this transfer of money to rich and from poor raises is: Why did Bush succeed among voters harmed by many of his policies? Is it all about 9/11 and social issues? What else accounts for it?


Q. According to polls, blue-collar workers have been more pro-Bush than professionals and managers. Painters, furniture movers, waitresses and sewer repairmen were more likely to be for our pro-big business president than doctors, attorneys or CPAs. High school graduates and drop-outs have been more likely to favor him than people with graduate degrees; people with annual family incomes of $30,000 or less were no more opposed to Bush than those with incomes of $75,000 or more. What is going on?


Q. Carrying the question farther, we can ask whether pressing economic issues take a back seat to "social issues" – gay marriage, abortion – and the inclination to follow the leader in time of war? If so, to what extent is this true? For what particular groups? What makes the difference between those economically hard-pressed blue-collar voters for whom economic issues are primary and those for whom social issues are? Among blue-collar evangelicals, some are Democrat and some Republican; what makes the difference?


Q. Was 2004 the first time in U.S. history when a majority of blue-collar workers voted against the party traditionally identified with their class interests? It is often said that Americans, whatever social class they're in, often "identify up," and so tend to ignore class differences. But has this become more true just as the gap between rich and poor has, in fact, greatly widened?


There are many ways to approach these questions. An enterprising reporter, for example, could interview a set of families in which the father was a blue-collar Democrat and the son a blue-collar Republican, and ask each father and son: What happened?


The extent to which people voted against their own financial interests is almost freakish. Many well-paid, union-protected, blue-collar jobs have for years been automated out or shipped out of the United States. Now jobs in the service and information sectors are going too. Recently, Bush's economic advisor said outsourcing was good for the American economy. Bush has cut funding for job retraining and declined to extend long-term unemployment insurance. Studies show that when workers lose such jobs, one-third soon find a job that pays at least the same. But another third find a job at lower pay, and another third remain jobless or work involuntarily part time. Thus, two-thirds of displaced workers end up between a rock (Administration-sponsored outsourcing) and a hard place (Bush's service cuts). A worthwhile assignment for reporters would be to find some of those caught in the middle, and determine why it is that they support Bush anyway.


Reporters also might try to make clearer just how some Bush policies disadvantage those blue-collar workers most loyal to him. For example, Bush has loosened Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations and reduced funding, forcing the agency to cut staff, making it more likely that the plants people work in are less safe. Bush's agricultural policies favor the mega farms and put many medium- and small-sized farms in jeopardy. His tax cuts create state budget shortfalls which hit the public schools blue-collar children attend and erode what services they now get. He has put industry personnel in environmental watchdog posts, so that the air and water working-class people (and everyone else) breathe and drink are likely to be less pure. His disregard for the severe understaffing of America's nursing homes means worse care for elderly parents of NASCAR fans. His invasion of Iraq sends proportionately more blue-collar children to the front.


Despite these very real disadvantages, many blue-collar voters still approve of Bush's actions on these issues. How much of this fact is due to what blue collar workers are actually told by the sources of news they consult about the policies of – as opposed to – of the man they helped vote into office?


What makes the difference between those who do approve, and those who don't?

I think you missed something
Posted by Leonard Sauer -
09/12/2005, 04:47 PM

I think you article has missed one entire category of why blue-collar workers are voting for Bush. That is, the frightening anti-American candor of your articles, as well as those of many other university professors and professional intellectuals who feel they have the best interest of Americans at heart.
I also think you under estimate the common sense of most blue-collar workers. The majority of blue-collar workers are not so feeble minded that they cannot understand that “if you make more money, you pay more taxes, and if the government decides to give a certain percentage of the tax money back, then the person who paid $50,000 in taxes is going to get back more than the middle income blue-collar worker who paid in $12,000.00 in taxes.

Posted by Random Reader
05/03/2011, 07:44 PM

I can't agree more, more then not blue collar workers seem to be the majority of of republicans now. Social issues seem the be reason Bush got into office, since at the time everyone was so anti-gay since that was a big part of the elections, among others...

Many times, blue collar urban, or blue collar rural area people join the military....Once they can finally establish themselves and "get off the system" of food stamps, welfare, etc. They don't want to give back.

Course that's not always true, there are many fine military families out there, but most enter in to get a hand up, ironically & that's your highest demographic of people who join.

More and more I am finding that democrats are generally white collar, educated, higher earners. They don't mind paying more taxes and that's why they are voting that way, to help those in need-as they have always done.

Seems like a case where the blue collar worker wants to pretend they were never there and did it on their own. I can understand being greedy if you never had it to give before, sadly his will be the demise of our country, people who have taken not giving back.

The white collar worker/democrat is happier to give, since they are accustomed to a lifestyle that always permitted it, beyond that-a better educated person knows a society with starving people, homeless mothers, is not at all logical.

Role reversal
Posted by Role reversal
05/03/2011, 07:56 PM

Role reversal took place because a lot of people would rather not see a women or African American in office, and switching parties is more comfortable to them then admitting that. Those people who are most uncomfortable are blue collar most times.

Higher educated people, democrats, aren't liberal, "Hey everyone, let it all hang out, party all the time-woohoo" more as they don't have the same prejudices. Other then that, you have a small percentage of old schoolers who are still what they have always been, and you wouldn't catch the old-school rich republican having steak with the new young blue collar republican, you'd likely see them out with a better off democrat before that would happen.

Dear Blue Collar
Posted by John
05/03/2011, 08:15 PM

The reason everything is going so badly is because you made poor decisions in your presidential choice leading up to this.
Some of those blue collar workers are too uneducated to actually learn about and understand political view points. Therefore they go with whatever side their communities vote for, someone they admire is doing or they pick whichever party they see as exemplifying their way of life.
Some poor people vote for measures which help the rich because they'd like those measures to be there when they get rich. Any day now.

Some rich people vote for measures against the poor, because it never crosses their mind that one day they could be poor. Some people are foolish enough to respond to the fear tactics candidates will use that other peoples/religions will supercede and do away with their own, that the left will assert their will to take away their rights to bear arms or other non essential ways of life. As a result of that now, the economy is one fine example of poor political choice leading up to know, guns, and being anti gay was more important then the economy. Now the economy is bad and they are too blind to see how it happened, but again, that would be expecting a person of this nature to be open minded enough to bother to research, which of course they are not. It is against the middle classes interest to vote Republican. Everyone is sold on the idea that one day, if they work hard enough, they will be the multi-million dollar CEO. The fact is, voting Republican makes that more and more impossible to happen.When I was upper middle class - making 6 digits a year, the biggest expense in my monthly budget was health care. Bigger than my taxes and bigger than my mortgage!

I was dying for some type of reform and relief. Blue collar workers, republicans, probably getting some assistance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5OJTWrdV3s ...

Just plan funny
Posted by Lowell
05/03/2011, 10:19 PM

Blue collar republicans are voting against their own best interest, that's the point, they don't know well enough. Other then comfort levels of racial issues, gender issues on who is president, the other factor is religious. I know a lot of people who would vote a certain way because that's what everyone in their church is doing, even if in the end it hurts them and their family. Lastly,a person votes that way because they sincerely hope that will make them a part of a class of people, ironically, so many blue collar workers are becoming republicans now, that they are apart of exactly what they were trying to escape.

My biggest issue with the right is that its politics are based on irrational fears and the villification of anyone who dares a theory of what could be instead of what is.

Posted by Tracy
05/03/2011, 10:33 PM

From what I am seeing, more and more this makes much more sense to me. It's definitely a role reversal. Rules that once applied do not anymore. I agree with this article completely.

laughing all the way....
Posted by Random
05/11/2011, 04:15 PM

Blue collar voters are the new republicans, because they are the only ones naive enough to buy into it. Educated people wouldn't do such a thing.

on a side note http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php ...

The Chauffeur's Dilemma
An article by Arlie Hochschild in the American Prospect

'Arrested Development'
A New York Times Op-Ed by Hochschild on Iraqi and other children imprisoned by the U.S.

'Let them eat war'
A 2003 piece by Hochschild on the phenomenon of blue-collar males supporting Bush.

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