Christine Flowers | Demonizing Our Blue Collar Values


By the time I knew what the term “blue collar” meant, I wasn’t.

I come from a long line of blue-collar people, proud Italians and Irish who were carpenters and cooks and iron workers, and in the case of my beloved Pop Pop, a trashman.

My parents were able to move way up in the social and economic ladder through lots of sweat, even more tears and dedication to each other.

And while my maternal grandparents will always be two of the four most important persons in my life, I grew up relatively privileged.

But being blue-collar adjacent, so to speak, has formed my conscience and my view of the world. To me, class has always been more divisive than race.

Donald Trump figured that out, and here we are today.

The upcoming elections, like the last few, are about how people see themselves, and how they think others see them.

More specifically, it’s about the respect they believe is owed to them simply because they are Americans who pay taxes, obey the laws and raise their children to salute the flag, figuratively if not literally.

Unlike some political observers, I don’t really believe that people will be voting about discrete issues like abortion, the war in Gaza and whether Joe Biden is senile or Donald Trump is a fascist.

I know this is what the pundits want us to believe is important, and I’m sure that some people place these issues at the center of their electoral decisions, but I honestly believe that the way we vote has more to do with how we look at ourselves than with any separate or distinct controversy.

For example, the most important issue for me is abortion.

I just came from speaking at a rally in Philadelphia celebrating the second anniversary of the Dobbs decision.

It is an integral part of who I am, this need to save babies from annihilation in the mother’s womb.

And yet there are many other things that matter to me, including immigration, the economy, protection of law enforcement, respect for the role religion plays in society, and how much money I have in my bank account.

When layered on top of one another, these issues help build my sense of self and track my priorities. 

And when I look closely, I realize that my priorities were set by my blue-collar grandfather, who worked almost until his dying day at a grueling job to raise the family that he loved.

He asked for no handouts and was humble in his needs.

A pack of Chesterfields, a cold glass of Ballantine beer, and the love of his family.

I don’t smoke, I hate beer and I’m neither married nor have children, but I am who I am because of who he was.

I am writing this before the first debate between the former president and the man who beat him.

I’m aware that a lot of the people who hate Trump think that the folks who support him are bigots and zealots, ready to rid the country of rainbows and minorities and immigrants.

I don’t necessarily disagree with that description of the man if we are to judge him by the language he uses. That language is repellent.

But as the great Salena Zito wrote in 2016, the people who hate Trump take him literally and not seriously, and those who love him take him seriously but not literally.

Perhaps that’s changed a bit in the last eight years because I think a lot of liberals take Trump seriously. They think he will destroy democracy. But in going after one man, they demonized a whole group of people that Hillary Clinton threw in a basket, and that Barack Obama ridiculed for clinging to their guns and religion.

This class warfare thing has gone on for a long time, and to be honest, the folks who are pulling out their hair about Trump have only themselves to blame for his success.

They made fun of Sarah Palin, and they got Marjorie Taylor Greene. And in mocking my grandfather, they are reaping the whirlwind.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times in Pennsylvania. Her column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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