Economic Inequality Is Undermining America

Worker Solidarity Will Build a Better Future

How has America come to this? A third of the nation, perhaps more, is so steeped in a politics of hatred and fear that it believes the preposterous: that a conspiracy of elites rigged the 2020 election, and that those same mysterious elites mean to take everything that’s theirs away from them—their nation most particularly.

This isn’t a new fear. Since before the founding of our nation by people who were themselves unwelcome settlers on the North American continent, most white residents of what is now the United States have seen each wave of newcomers as a potential threat to the American way of life and the nation’s prospects. From the antebellum slavocracy to the postbellum Klan; from the anti-Irish contempt of Northern Protestants to the anti-Catholic, antisemitic, anti-Slavic, and anti-Asian nativists who dominated the politics of the 1920s and effectively banned immigration for the next 40 years; and from the antisemitic populism of radio priest Charles Coughlin in the 1930s to the culture war cries of Pat Buchanan in the 1990s, nativist, religious, and racist phobias have been a recurrent feature of American life.1

Now, however, they’ve come to define one of our major political parties more completely than ever before and to the point that they threaten our democracy’s foundations. One year after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by seven million votes and a decisive margin in the Electoral College, a poll asked Americans if they agreed that “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Fully 30 percent of Republicans said they agreed, and an even higher share of Republicans (68 percent of respondents) believed that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from Trump, though no credible evidence of vote tampering or voting by noncitizens had been adduced.2 Daily, the line between a violent, racist, fascist fringe and the mainstream of the current Republican Party grows fainter.

What lies behind this paranoia, anger, and refusal to recognize reality? The most likely explanation is discomfort with the reality that has been emerging in recent decades. As my American Prospect colleague Paul Starr has noted:

Contemporary liberalism and progressivism have been trying to upend five separate sets of social relationships that have been the traditional basis of American society. White over Black has been the basis of the American racial order. Men over women has been the basis of gender relations. Straight over queer has been the basis of acceptable sexual orientation. Religion over irreligion has been the basis of acceptable public expressions about faith. The native-born have dominated immigrants.3

These hierarchies are being challenged, and in some parts of the nation (chiefly in cities), they have been at least partly undone—not by creating new hierarchies, but by increasing equitable treatment. But neither the challenges nor the backlash against them are new—so how is it that the backlash has hit with such force that it all but defines the Republican Party in the age of Trump?

For that, we need to look at the economic landscape on which they play out.

The Abandonment of Working People

I was the news and politics editor of LA Weekly in the 1990s, at a time when the regional economy was undergoing a fundamental transformation. Since World War II, California’s biggest employers had been aerospace companies: Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas, North American Rockwell, and so on. Centered in and around Los Angeles, these companies employed hundreds of thousands of workers, including thousands of engineers and tens of thousands of unionized assembly workers. With the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, however, these companies abruptly and massively downsized—at the same time that the numbers of Mexican and Central American immigrants coming to Southern California hit a new high. Those immigrants found work in low-wage service sector jobs (or low-wage off-the-books manufacturing jobs), even as many of the aerospace unemployed (and white people in the working and middle classes more broadly) left for neighboring states.4 Trying to encapsulate all these changes, I wrote, “Over the past several decades, not the bottom but the middle has fallen out of the L.A. economy.”5

Three decades later, it’s clear that my assessment of the Los Angeles economy can be applied to the American economy as a whole. As the Pew Research Center documented in April 2022, the nation’s middle class, which constituted 61 percent of Americans in 1971, made up just 50 percent in 2021 and accounted for only 42 percent of total income (down from 62 percent). Both lower- and higher-income groups have grown compared to 1971, but the money only moved in one direction: the lower-income group’s share of total income has also dropped, while the upper-income group’s share has ballooned from 29 to 50 percent.6 The rich have gotten much richer—and everyone else has gotten poorer.

The destruction of the industrial economy and decline in union membership, in addition to capital’s abandonment of rural areas, have cast millions of working-class Americans adrift. The political consequences of these changes have registered most strongly in the states that were the nation’s industrial heartland for most of the 20th century, but they affect us all.7

Prizing Profits Over Worker Well-Being

The factory jobs of the mid-20th century frequently involved demanding and repetitive physical labor, but thanks to the high rate of unionization, they offered greater pay and benefits for the white working class than those workers had enjoyed before, along with a level of stability. And as more unions desegregated in this period, workers of color increasingly enjoyed some of those same benefits.8

For the 30 years following World War II, industrial unions ensured that their members’ wages and benefits steadily increased—gains they realized through notably successful strikes. Throughout the 1950s, the yearly number of major strikes averaged more than 300.9

Management was no fan of these disruptions, but they were regarded as the normal ebb and flow of labor relations. Indeed, throughout the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, many corporate executives believed, or at least affirmed, that their workers’ well-being mattered. “The job of management is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly affected interest groups … stockholders, employees, customers, and the public at large,” the chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey (now ExxonMobil) said in 1951.10 He was espousing a principle that became known as stakeholder theory, in which attention to worker well-being is a crucial part of the strategy for corporate success. Once hired, good workers had something close to lifetime employment, which entitled them to certain rewards. “Maximizing employment security is a prime company goal,” Earl Willis, General Electric’s manager of employee benefits, wrote in 1962.11

Through the early 1970s, as the famous graph from the Economic Policy Institute illustrates, workers’ wages rose at the identical rate that productivity rose.12 But as the economies of Germany and Japan recovered from the devastation of World War II and began exporting goods to the United States, American companies responded to this competition by sharing less of their revenues with their employees.13 Following the recommendations in a memo by future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell,14 they began lobbying Congress as never before for lower taxes and for more restrictions on unions. The National Labor Relations Board, then controlled by Richard Nixon’s nominees, weakened to near nonexistence the penalties employers incurred if they illegally obstructed their workers’ attempts to unionize; thereafter, the number of such illegal obstructions soared, even as the number of successful organizing campaigns dwindled.15

The anti-union turn of American business in the 1970s greatly accelerated in 1981 with Ronald Reagan’s ascent to the presidency. Reagan’s firing of the nation’s air traffic controllers for having waged an illegal strike triggered a similar wave of firings by some of the nation’s leading corporations, which rendered the strike a tool that unions employed more warily and far less frequently. The number of major strikes plummeted from 286 a year in the 1960s and 1970s to 83 a year in the 1980s, 34 a year in the 1990s, and 20 a year in the 2000s.16

Also in 1981, to reduce high levels of inflation, Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker raised interest rates to the point where they induced double-digit unemployment and hastened the permanent downsizing and closing of thousands of factories, large and small.17 The industrial Midwest never recovered.

Between 1979 and 1983, nearly 2.5 million people in manufacturing lost their jobs.18 The number of US steelworkers (in basic steel) went from 450,000 in 1979 to 170,000 by 1986,19 even as the wages of those who remained shrank by about 17 percent.20 The decline in the auto industry was even more precipitous, from 760,000 employees in 1978 to 490,000 three years later.21

By the 1990s, the stakeholder ethos that some leading corporations had professed to follow in the 1950s had been thoroughly repudiated by CEOs in favor of the doctrine of maximizing value for shareholders. In the 1980s, 56 percent of corporate executives surveyed by Conference Board agreed that “employees who are loyal to the company and further its business goals deserve an assurance of continued employment”—but when executives were asked the same question in the 1990s, a scant 6 percent agreed.22 This attitude shift is evident in General Electric’s leadership: in 1988, fewer than 30 years after General Electric supposedly prized employees’ security, acclaimed CEO Jack Welch told the Wall Street Journal, “Loyalty to a company, it’s nonsense.”23

Declining Worker Security and Opportunities

The abandonment of the once-secure sector of America’s working class accelerated as companies began moving their plants to cheaper climes—initially to the largely nonunionized South, and eventually to such low-wage havens as Mexico, China, and Vietnam with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China in 2000. According to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the flight of American industry to China cost the nation roughly 2.4 million jobs, with spillover effects that further decimated a number of local economies.24

The post-2000 offshoring of industry has understandably drawn a great deal of attention—so much that the role of the American South in reducing workers’ economic security has not been sufficiently scrutinized. The manufacturing industries are a critical example. In the first decade of the 21st century, manufacturing job loss was comparable in northern and southern industrial regions; both lost about a third of their manufacturing jobs, thanks in large part to globalization and the Great Recession. By 2015, the South had rebounded, with 13.5 percent more manufacturing jobs than in 2000, while the North still had not returned to 2000 levels.25 But all those new jobs didn’t necessarily add up to better earnings. In Alabama, where auto industry growth was highest, workers at auto-parts factories saw a 24 percent decline in earnings from 2001 to 2013; in Mississippi, earnings were down 13.6 percent for the same period.26

Confronted not only with the financial collapse of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession but also with much cheaper production in the American South and overseas, the median wage of all US manufacturing workers fell by 4.4 percent between 2003 and 2013.27 And the decline of Northern wages to Southern levels hasn’t been confined to manufacturing. The expansion of Walmart, the nation’s largest private-sector employer, from its Southern base into the North and West has had a profound downward effect on the incomes of retail workers.28

As bad as all this is, the employment picture in rural areas is even worse. A 2016 study by the Economic Innovation Group charts the grim decline of the nation’s rural areas and the increasing concentration of economic activity in major cities. In the economic recovery of 1992 to 1996, just 13 percent of the net increase in business establishments was in counties with more than one million residents. But that share rose to 29 percent in the recovery of 2002 to 2006, and to 58 percent in the recovery of 2010 to 2014. Counties of 100,000 to 500,000 residents lost ground: they went from 39 percent of the net increase in businesses in the 1992–96 recovery to 36 percent in the 2002–06 recovery and 19 percent by the 2010–14 recovery. And counties with fewer than 100,000 residents saw the greatest declines. In the 1992–96 recovery, these counties were responsible for a robust 32 percent of the net new businesses, but their share fell to 15 percent in the 2002–06 recovery, and during the 2010–14 recovery it was zero percent—they saw a net loss of 17,500 businesses.29 Let these numbers sink in. Each loss was not just a business; each was a loss of dreams, homes, retirement plans, and college funds.

As economic opportunities have declined in rural areas, so too have communities. Between 2000 and 2018, 52 percent of rural counties saw their populations shrink, while the populations of urban and suburban areas of the United States have continued to grow.30 Smaller populations spread across much larger areas mean that critical services like education and healthcare are harder to access.31 And because rural households are less likely to have access to broadband internet than metropolitan counties,32 telehealth and virtual education opportunities are also out of reach.

While unions give workers the stronger voice needed to fight for greater security and economic equality in these communities, corporate America’s hostility to workers and unions—evident in the recent anti-union activity of not only Amazon but also the supposedly more enlightened management at Starbucks—has been matched by the hostility of Republican politicians. Over the past decade, Republican governors and legislators of such onetime union bastions as Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin have joined the South in enacting laws intended to reduce union membership.33 Moreover, these states have joined most of the once-Confederate states in enacting voter identification laws designed to depress voting by people who might want to strengthen worker protections, such as people of color, millennials, and Democrats.34 Like the pre-1861 enslaver elites, today’s Republicans appear increasingly dedicated to Southernizing the North.

Economic Insecurity Feeds Fear, Scapegoating, and Division

For those who wonder how rural America and much of the nation’s historically Democratic white working class have turned Republican, and in many cases have embraced racist and nativist demagogues and conspiracy theories, the four decades of downward mobility and economic and social abandonment described above should dispel much of that mystery.

The phenomenon of economically vibrant, diverse, and progressive cities juxtaposed with economically struggling, insular, frightened, and reactionary rural areas isn’t limited to the United States. Its parallels can be found throughout post-industrial Europe. London has a socialist mayor, but Northern England, once home to a thriving manufacturing economy and a reliable base of Labour Party voters, is now thoroughly deindustrialized and voting increasingly for Tory candidates and for nationalist, anti-European initiatives like Brexit. Paris has a socialist mayor, but the north of France, once that nation’s industrial belt and the political base of the French Communist Party, is now the base for the xenophobic nationalism of Marine Le Pen. The cities of Hungary are as vibrant and progressive as the cities of Texas, but just as in Texas, they are outvoted by an economically floundering, radically right-wing, nationalist countryside.35

This adds to the challenge facing those of us who want to increase opportunities for all working people. Although rightly focused on the many ways that people of color are being disenfranchised, and that women and LGBTQ people are being threatened, the Democratic left must also attend to its failure to recognize and address the casting adrift of its onetime white working-class base. The political consequences of this failure became strikingly clear with Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. An analysis of the vote by Working America, the community mobilization arm of the AFL-CIO, found that in five key swing states that Clinton lost to Trump—Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—81 percent of the difference in votes from Barack Obama in 2012 to Clinton in 2016 came from rural and small-town population centers, areas with both high economic distress and large working-class populations.36

The Democrats’ failure to recognize, much less remedy, this abandonment began with the presidency of Jimmy Carter, which deregulated many industries. Trucking, for instance, provided drivers with decent wages and benefits until deregulation wiped those advantages away.37 Subsequent Democratic presidents did not reverse this trend; rather, it continued under Bill Clinton, whose promotion of trade accords with Mexico and China, atop his deregulation of the financial sector, wrought long-term economic havoc.38 It further continued with Obama, whose conservative economic advisers managed to save the banking system in the wake of the 2008 collapse but stood by as roughly 10 million families lost their homes and as the economic recovery never fully reached the millennial generation.39 To be sure, all three presidents worked diligently to block the more draconian policies that Republicans championed, but it wasn’t until Biden occupied the White House that a Democratic administration moved to reverse offshoring, promote domestic investment, and strengthen worker rights.40

Under the best of circumstances, however, actualizing the Biden agenda would take time, and just enacting it has in many particulars been thwarted by congressional Republicans and a handful of renegade Democrats. More broadly, the Democrats’ political prospects are imperiled by the narrative that has become Republican holy writ—that white working-class Americans are the victims of progressive cultural elites and people of color.* As in Britain, France, Hungary, and elsewhere, that narrative would be far less effective if the voters to whom it’s directed weren’t, in fact, being victimized by another group altogether: the economic elites across the political spectrum who have enriched themselves at the expense of all middle- and working-class people over the past 40 years.

Uniting Working People

What we need now is solidarity—and the union movement is critical for changing the narrative and bringing people together. When the unionization rate was higher, far more voters heard presentations and explanations of policy options from their unions that were factual alternatives to the demonization of people of color and immigrants routinely proffered by the likes of George Wallace, Rush Limbaugh, and Tucker Carlson.

A December 2021 study from the Center for American Progress Action Fund showed that unions’ political programs still have a significant effect on their members’ voting. Union women were 21 percentage points more likely than nonunion women to vote for Biden, while union men were 13 points more likely than their nonunion counterparts. College-educated unionists went for Biden at a rate 22 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts; among voters without four-year degrees, however, the difference between union members and nonmembers was only 6 percentage points (though that six-point margin certainly helped Biden carry Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania).41

The problem, however, is that union members now comprise just over 10 percent of the workforce and a mere 6 percent in the private sector—down from about a third of the nation’s workforce in the middle of the last century.42 As recent union victories at Starbucks and Amazon make clear, discussions with informed fellow workers can provide credible narratives workers aren’t likely to hear elsewhere. But for unions to grow and have worker-friendly policies to share, they need more allies in office. Democrats need to do what they’ve only begun to do during the Biden presidency: recognize the millions of Americans who understandably feel abandoned and offer hope for all workers by addressing their very real concerns through the kinds of investment and inclusion that our nation sorely needs.

That would include a number of Biden administration proposals that would benefit working-class Americans as a whole, not just those left behind in the wake of a now diminished industrial economy. A child tax credit, the public provision of childcare, and universal pre-K would ease the burdens of families with children, just as student debt relief and protection of reproductive rights would give rising generations greater control over their lives. Enabling the government to bargain down the cost of prescription drugs (many of which are developed through taxpayer-funded research) would rein in the skyrocketing rate of inflation inflicted on those in need of medications, as would universal Medicare proposals such as that of Senator Bernie Sanders.

Making work pay again for tens of millions of Americans requires a host of major reforms. The nation needs the kind of industrial policy that returns manufacturing to our shores, invests in environmentally friendly new technology (while training existing workers for these new green jobs), and diminishes our dependence on imports, which renders us vulnerable to the shortages that have triggered inflationary pressures, eliminated millions of jobs in the United States, and reduced the wages of millions of workers as a result. Workers in the service and retail sectors don’t hold jobs subject to the downward wage pressure of foreign competition, but their lack of power to bargain for better pay and working conditions has ensured that an increasing share of corporate revenue goes to major shareholders while wages stagnate.

Successful unionization campaigns across the country reflect the clear popular sentiment now in favor of unions (at 68 percent in a recent Gallup poll, higher than it’s been in over half a century43), but the law protecting workers’ right to organize has been so weakened over the decades that legislative and administrative rule changes are required to restore that right. The PRO Act, which passed the House but has languished in the Senate like so many other proposals, would restore those rights. But even without the PRO Act, Biden’s appointees at the National Labor Relations Board have reinstated some crucial rights that previous administrations failed to enforce.44

Much of Biden’s agenda has been stymied by the narrowness of the Democrats’ majority in the Senate. The 2022 midterm elections could uncork these proposals should the Democrats gain—or the elections could condemn the nation to even greater neglect of its economic and social needs should the Republicans prevail. With even modestly larger Democratic majorities, the work of serious economic reconstruction can begin. And at the same time, working- and middle-class Americans can experience the benefits of pulling together to rebuild our country—from our bridges to our public schools. That, I hope, will guide us back to our shared values of diversity, equality, and opportunity and refocus our energy on creating a more perfect union.


Harold Meyerson is the editor at large of the American Prospect, a former longtime op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, and a member of the board of the Albert Shanker Institute.

*For more on this intentional divisiveness and how we can defeat it, see “The Benefits of Collective Action: Why Overcoming Racism and Inequity Is Good for All of Us.” (return to article)

Endnotes

1. J. Young, “Making America 1920 Again?: Nativism and US Immigration, Past and Present,” Journal on Migration and Human Security 5, no. 1 (2017): 217–35; and S. Tanenhaus, “When Pat Buchanan Tried to Make America Great Again,” Esquire, April 5, 2017.

2. Public Religion Research Institute, “PRRI Survey: Competing Visions of America: An Evolving Identity or a Culture Under Attack? - Republicans (68%) Are Twice as Likely as Democrats (33%) to Agree That God Has Granted America a Special Role in Human History,” November 1, 2021.

3. P. Starr, “Liberation Day 2020: One America Just Defeated Another,” The American Prospect, November 10, 2020.

4. W. Frey, “Immigration and Internal Migration ‘Flight’: A California Case Study,” Population and Environment 16, no. 4 (1995): 353–75; H. Meyerson, “Conservative Collapse,” LA Weekly, November 11, 1998; and H. Meyerson, “Y’All Don’t Come Back,” LA Weekly, September 6, 2006.

5. H. Meyerson, “What Democrats Need to Know about Los Angeles,” LA Weekly, August 9, 2000.

6. R. Kochhar and S. Sechopoulos, “How the American Middle Class Has Changed in the Past Five Decades,” Pew Research Center, April 20, 2022.

7. A. Stewart, N. McCarty, and J. Bryson, “Polarization under Rising Inequality and Economic Decline,” Science Advances 6, no. 50 (2020): eabd4201.

8. R. Kelley, “Building Bridges: The Challenge of Organized Labor in Communities of Color,” Aspen Institute Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives, November 1998.

9. H. Meyerson, “The 40-Year Slump,” The American Prospect, November 12, 2013.

10. G. Burck, “The Jersey Company,” Fortune 44, no. 4 (October 1951): 98–113.

11. J. Fraser, White-Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America (New York and London, W. Norton, 2001), 100.

12. Economic Policy Institute, “The Productivity–Pay Gap,” August 2021, epi.org/productivity-pay-gap/.

13. Meyerson, “The 40-Year Slump.”

14. N. Pahwa, “Time to Fight: How the Powell Memo Convinced Big Business It Was Losing American Hearts and Minds,” Slate, August 30, 2021.

15. H. Meyerson, “The Memo Writer,” The American Prospect, March 30, 2022.

16. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Work Stoppages: Annual Work Stoppages Involving 1,000 or More Workers, 1947 – Present,” U.S. Department of Labor, bls.gov/web/wkstp/annual-listing.htm.

17. T. Sablik, “Recession of 1981–82: July 1981–November 1982,” Federal Reserve History, November 22, 2013.

18. P. Flaim and E. Sehgal, “Displaced Workers of 1979–83: How Well Have They Fared,” Monthly Labor Review (June 1985): 1–16.

19. J. Warren, “Steel Union Plots Its Course,” Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1986.

20. P. Beeson, L. Shore-Sheppard, and K. Shaw, “Industrial Change and Wage Inequality: Evidence from the Steel Industry,” ILR Review 54, no. 2A (March 2001): 466–83.

21. N. Ayoub, “Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 6, 1999.

22. P. Gosselin, “If America Is Richer, Why Are Its Families So Much Less Secure?,” Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2014.

23. J. Flanigan, “Southern California Job Market: Challenges of the Working Life: Commitment: Commentary: Antidote for the Demise of Loyalty: Respect,” Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1988.

24. D. Autor, D. Dorn, and G. Hanson, “The China Shock: Learning from Labor Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade,” NBER Working Paper No. 21906, National Bureau of Economic Research, January 2016.

25. H. Schneider, “U.S. South, Not Just Mexico, Stands in the Way of Rust Belt Jobs Revival,” Reuters, April 7, 2017.

26. C. Ruckelshaus and S. Leberstein, Manufacturing Low Pay: Declining Wages in the Jobs That Built America’s Middle Class (Washington, DC: National Employment Law Project, November 2014).

27. Ruckelshaus and Leberstein, Manufacturing Low Pay.

28. J. Wiltshire, “Walmart Supercenters and Monopsony Power: How a Large, Low-Wage Employer Impacts Local Labor Markets,” working paper, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, November 6, 2021.

29. The New Map of Economic Growth and Recovery (Washington, DC: Economic Innovation Group, May 2016).

30. “1. Demographic and Economic Trends in Urban, Suburban, and Rural Communities,” in K. Parker et al., What Unites and Divides Urban, Suburban, and Rural Communities (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, May 22, 2018).

31. D. Gutierrez, “Little School on the Prairie,” Harvard Political Review, February 10, 2016; and Achieving Rural Health Equity and Well-Being: Proceedings of a Workshop (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, March 14, 2018).

32. E. Dobis et al., “Rural America at a Glance: 2021 Edition,” Economic Information Bulletin Number 230, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, November 2021.

33. A. Campbell, “One Reason the Rust Belt Turned Red,” The Atlantic, November 14, 2016.

34. National Conference on State Legislatures, “Voter ID Laws,” June 13, 2022, ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx?ct=98163b4218aaec73e02570c50c153ae8ca98434625a901c03010fe47fbf71ac5adea0274bd072b9835a254d98096800ea23a86bae7157b649016c2f002a541f9#ftn 6.

35. W. Galston, “The Rise of European Populism and the Collapse of the Center-Left,” Order from Chaos (blog), Brookings, March 8, 2018.

36. M. Morrison, Bridging the Divide: Helping to Rebuild a Multiracial Progressive Coalition by Winning Back White Working-Class Moderates (Washington, DC: Working America, 2016).

37. R. Premack, “How a Little Known 1980 Law Slashed Pay for Millions of Truck Drivers and Created Big-Box Retail as We Know It,” Business Insider, July 25, 2020.

38. J. Faux, “NAFTA, Twenty Years After: A Disaster,” Economic Policy Institute, January 3, 2014; and T. Canova, “The Legacy of the Clinton Bubble,” Dissent (Summer 2008).

39. D. Dayen, “Obama Failed to Mitigate America’s Foreclosure Crisis,” The Atlantic, December 14, 2016; L. Kusisto, “Many Who Lost Homes to Foreclosure in Last Decade Won’t Return — NAR,” Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2015;  and A. Van Dam, “The Unluckiest Generation in U.S. History,” Washington Post, June 5, 2020.

40. N. Schreiber, “The Biden Team Wants to Transform the Economy. Really,” New York Times, Febuary 11, 2021.

41. A. Glass, D. Madland, and R. Teixeira, Unions Are Critical to the Democratic Party’s Electoral Success (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, December 21, 2021).

42. Economic Policy Institute, “Unions Help Reduce Disparities and Strengthen Our Democracy,” April 23, 2021; and Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Union Members—2021,” news release, U.S. Department of Labor, January 20, 2022.

43. Gallup, “Labor Unions,” news.gallup.com/poll/12751/Labor-Unions.aspx.

44. Meyerson, “The Memo Writer.”

[illustrations by Alex Nabaum]

American Educator, Fall 2022