I have always been proud of my affiliation with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, otherwise known as the Machinists. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood, a few blocks from the big Goodyear tire factory in northeast Lincoln, NE, and not far from the railroad yard where members of the Machinists union worked on the railroad. When I moved to Iowa, my number one mentor was a hard-drinking, hard-living political genius who had built the Machinists union into, at that time, the most politically potent union in the state. I will never forget what he did for me, and what he taught me about organizing and politics. The President of the Machinists union at the time was the legendary William Wipinsinger, one of the most fiery speakers I have ever heard. I was proud to help organize a new Machinists local, and to be a dues-paying member for many years.
As a result of this history, the current President of the Machinists, Tom Buffenberger, and I are old friends. Tom is an old-style working-class progressive, and I like him a lot. But I was very disturbed by the report Chris mentioned from the campaign trail in Ohio.
Tom, and my friends in the Clinton campaign, I don't think this kind of rhetoric helps your cause. God knows there is nothing wrong with a little old-fashioned working-class populism, as I have advocated many times in my day. But I don't see how it adds any working-class voters to the Clinton cause, and it has great potential to drive your numbers down among what some of us call creative-class voters (those who work in universities, the arts, media, high-tech and in small businesses like architecture, engineering and law firms), many of whom are still wavering as to whom to vote for.
Here's the other thing: to cause such divisiveness now between creative-class liberals and blue-collar workers really, really screws us come the general election: we need both kinds of folks to win this election.