On its face, the results of the presidential election would seem to bode ill for those of us who care about social and economic justice. How did a self-proclaimed billionaire with a track record of the following become a champion for the forgotten working class?
- bankruptcy and non-payment of contractors
- tax avoidance
- racial discrimination
Our suspicion is that Donald Trump’s rhetoric is a Trojan horse aimed ultimately at providing yet more Reagan- and Bush-style taxes breaks that have helped lead the greatest income gap in the United States since the 1920s, all while curtailing our civil rights. If “trickle down economics” was so effective, why have middle- and working class wages been essentially flat for decades?
Of course, actions will speak louder than words. We would love to see Trump and Republican leaders take up the mantle of workers’ rights in earnest, as has ICWJ for nearly two decades. For starters, we would be thrilled to see the new administration embrace the Fight for $15 to help insure that lower-wage workers can earn family-supporting salaries. We would support him if he built on the Obama legacy and advocated for equal pay for equal work for women. We would be thrilled to see him rebuild the union movement, thus improving wages for both union and non-union workers in the economy.
Somehow we doubt that Trump backers see raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing gender equity, or restoring balance between unions and corporate management as high priorities for the incoming president. We strongly suspect we’ll have to redouble our efforts to both push back against threats to workers’ rights, and commend businesses in our area that do well by their workers. In essence, we will most likely continue to educate about, advocate for, and take action on behalf of the most vulnerable workers in our community. President-elect Trump has no track record of public service, much less social change. And we know that past actions are the best predictor of future actions. We’d love nothing better than to be proven wrong.