by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“Democrats are the party of working people.” So states Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) in a “guest essay” — it isn’t an essay at all; it is ordinary campaign literature — in the New York Times. Senator Warren could have used some editing. The first thing her New York Times editors should have asked:
Is that true?
Let’s think about that phrase, “working people.” You would think that “working people” would mean “people who work,” but that is not what Senator Warren wants it to mean. Hedge-fund managers are working people — it is fashionable to sneer at people working in finance, but if you think that it isn’t work, try doing it. You think they’re giving all that money away? Doctors are working people. Lawyers are working people. College professors and novelists and movie producers are all working people, too. Even some journalists are working people, though not very many of them.
So, if “working people” does not mean “people who work,” what might it mean?
Maybe it is supposed to mean blue-collar workers, the industrial and manufacturing workers who make up what at least a few of Senator Warren’s colleagues at Harvard still refer to as the “proletariat.” It certainly is the case that the Democratic Party once was the party of factory workers and farmers — that’s why the party in Minnesota is still known as the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. The word “union” used to have a distinctly lower-middle-income taste to it, but it doesn’t really anymore. Most unionized workers in the United States today are government employees, with incomes that range from the upper-middle to the high. …
… [O]rdinary workers act on the most obvious of all political facts: that the interests of the union bosses, who have been entirely captured by the Democratic Party, are not precisely the same as the interests of the union workers themselves.