The Fallacy of Trump’s “Blue-Collar Presidency”

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Referring to his presidency as the Blue-Collar Presidency,” Trump appears to be targeting this base as a part of his 2024 campaign. Attending the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike, targeting campaign ads for working-class Latino men, and framing his presidential campaign as pro-union and pro-worker, Trump is attempting to secure a more significant portion of the working-class vote in the 2024 election. He claims to have helped “disadvantaged Americans” by providing new jobs, higher wages, and better health insurance. However, without pointing to any specific policy or providing warranting on how his role as president uniquely benefitted the blue-collar workers, he doesn’t prove that he filled the role as the “Blue-Collar President.” 

Beyond his lack of clear benefits for blue-collar workers, much of his policy and platform is detrimental to this demographic. By taking actions that have eliminated healthcare access for low-income households across the U.S., appointing anti-abortion judges and Supreme Court Justices, and deceiving voters about his tax policy, Trump has worsened the conditions for many working-class Americans.

Trump has added events to his campaign that target unions and blue-collar workers, attending union strikes and meeting with factory workers. To appear as an ally to blue-collar Americans, he met with Teamsters, a large labor organization, and suggested that they endorse him as a candidate. Trump has proposed that he is the only candidate willing to protect union labor and save union jobs.

While many white blue-collar workers are increasingly supportive of Trump and the Republican party, numerous union leaders suggest that he is harming workers. The Communication Workers of America union argues that he “made it more difficult to enforce collective bargaining agreements, silenced workers and restricted the freedom to join unions, …restricted overtime pay, opposed wage increases,” and made quality insurance, affordable medicine, hazard pay, and safe working conditions less accessible to workers. The United Auto Workers union similarly suggested that Trump’s re-election would be a “disaster” for blue-collar Americans, arguing that the judges he appointed were not supportive of union activity based on the ruling of a Trump-appointed judge against unionized truck drivers. Sean Fain, the President of the UAW, also stated that Trump has “a history of serving himself and standing for the billionaire class.” Many local leaders have cited concerns about a second Trump term, arguing that he attempted to “undo the safeguards that protect working families.”  With this said, leaders of other unions, including Teamsters, believe that Trump “has done a lot of good work for union workers,” Trump also received the votes of many lower and middle-class Americans in 2020, suggesting that they view him favorably.

Trump has also challenged healthcare access for lower-class Americans. In creating the American Health Care Act, Trump sought to develop legislation that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially referred to as Obama Care. Although the bill was passed in a House vote, it failed to be passed by the Senate based on Democrats’ fears that it would eliminate American healthcare access. The Congressional Budget Office was adamant in its disapproval of the bill, and large private organizations similarly spoke out against the bill, including the National Library of Medicine and the American Medical Association. From the limitations that Trump was able to successfully create on the ACA, research from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) suggests that his actions had neutral or negative impacts on Americans’ coverage. While many components of healthcare access remained the same, with only a fraction of a percentage of people losing coverage, potentially due to external factors, the NLM contends that there were slightly higher impacts on seniors’ ability to access care. With this said, very few sources have researched Trump’s impact on healthcare. Although his initial attempts failed, a second term could allow Trump to challenge larger portions of the Affordable Care Act with legislation similar to the American Healthcare Act, risking more significant losses for the Americans who rely on this program.

Trump’s court appointments also posed a threat to important medical care based on the anti-abortion legislation that prevented many Americans from receiving abortions or necessary care for miscarriages or medical complications related to pregnancy. Trump presents the decreased abortion access as a success on his campaign website, taking partial credit for the regulation of abortions and maternal healthcare. Based on these policies, though, the National Public Radio reports that many doctors in Texas were unable to provide medical care for people who had miscarried. Medication and procedures to help those who have miscarriages or abortions are often the same, and many doctors risk losing their jobs because of laws that incriminate physicians who assisted with care related to abortions. Pharmacists were unable to tell whether pills or medical care were being used to induce a miscarriage or terminate a pregnancy. If medical professionals treat a pregnancy that is presented to them as a miscarriage, they could be breaking state law and face legal consequences. Based on this risk, many Texans who have experienced miscarriages were unable to receive the necessary medical procedures, adding stress to the traumatic experience of miscarrying.

The Guttmacher Institute, a maternal health research organization, finds that this limited access to abortion has created disproportionate challenges for poorer women. While many wealthier women can travel out of state or work around the laws to receive treatment in these circumstances, this is not possible for many people without the economic resources needed to travel and take time off of work to receive treatment. As a result, low-income communities have had higher negative impacts based on this decision that Trump proudly attaches to his name.

Trump’s campaign also presents a misleading argument about his support for low-income Americans through a statement about reducing economic inequality released by his Council of Economic Advisors. While members of his staff suggest that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has benefited blue-collar and low-income Americans immensely, economic and financial analysts at the Economist suggest that these benefits are exaggerated, with the benefits of this legislation being marginal.

With this said, the former president received 44% of the votes from voters with a household income of under $50,000 in a New York Times exit poll from 2020, suggesting that many lower-class Americans continue to support Trump. Blue-collar Latino men, for example, have been receptive to his campaigns according to data reviewed by Politico, increasing his popularity in 78% of majority Hispanic communities. Similarly, white, blue-collar, midwestern men have expressed support for Trump as a 2024 candidate, according to the Wall Street Journal. This data demonstrates the success of Trump’s campaign in gathering more support from lower-class voters within specific demographics based on his values and his campaign promises that many voters view positively. It is also clear that many voters aren’t experiencing consequential challenges that they associate with Trump’s campaign based on the increased support for his candidacy.

By contrast, the quantitative data suggests that his presidency created challenges for many working-class Americans despite his campaign’s claims to support the working class and the support he receives from his base. With this, Trump’s campaign has been incredibly effective in attempting to collect more blue-collar votes, despite the misleading and inaccurate claims about his accomplishments in his first term.

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This article was edited by Inna Volovich.