President Trump is upset that the leadership of a national firefighters’ union endorsed Joe Biden. Trump sent out dozens of tweets and retweets on the subject. In one, he referred to the organization in question as “this dues sucking union.”
It’s okay for Trump to be upset and to make his displeasure known, but I hope he isn’t counting on union leaders to back his reelection bid. The American labor movement, like so many American institutions these days, leans hard left. As union membership has declined sharply, leadership’s leftism has, if anything, become more pronounced.
Trump is right to think that union members have good reason to consider voting for him. However, I think he’s being unrealistic if he expects more than a few isolated union leaders to endorse him, or even to remain neutral.
I’ve heard speculation that Trump’s desire to woe union leaders may help explain his continued support for his embattled Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta. Why else, it might be asked, would Trump, having shed so many Cabinet members, still retain a Labor Secretary who gave a sweetheart deal to a serial sexual predator and whose do-nothing approach to the job perpetuates the Barack Obama-Tom Perez DOL?
Actually, I can think of two reasons. First, Acosta’s ability to flatter Trump; second, Trump’s lack of interest in the Department of Labor.
But maybe a third reason for retaining Acosta is that union leaders like his laissez-faire approach, and Trump doesn’t want to alienate union leaders because he hopes they will endorse him.
Again, I think such a hope is overly optimistic and, perhaps, even delusional. Moreover, Trump’s success in key states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin doesn’t depend on endorsements from union leaders.
Trump carried these states without such endorsements in 2016 because union members are not slaves to union leaders. He can do so again in 2020 for the same reason.
It’s true that Biden will play better with union members than Hillary Clinton did. However, Biden will be saddled with the positions of the contemporary Democratic Party — pro-abortion, anti-gun rights, anti-cop, slavish adherence to political correctness, and so forth. He can’t disavow them and still retain the strong support of the Democratic base.
Plus, Trump now has an economic record on which to run. At the present time, that record is largely favorable to the interests of union members.
The New York Times acknowledges Trump’s potential strength with rank-and-file union members, especially younger ones:
Chad Martin, a 36-year-old steelworker, heading from the parking lot to clock in for the swing shift, dismissed Mr. Biden’s message that he was labor’s best friend. “That’s old-school thought,’’ he said. “That’s what my dad thinks. He’s a Democrat.’’ Mr. Martin said he became a Republican in his 20s when “I started thinking for myself.’’
It was clear that many other rank-and-file workers also support the president. A worker named Mark, who declined to provide his full name, used an expletive to describe Mr. Trump, but said he was doing a good job. “He can’t keep his mouth shut,’’ he said. “But look at the economy. I just started working here three months ago, I’m making the best money of my life.’’
This sentiment, not the fantasy of endorsements by union leaders, represents the path to success for Trump in 2020.