The Message Of 2016: Ignore Workers And Working Families At Your Peril

RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 22:  Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds on June 22, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Clinton discussed her vision for America in the future and the issues she would tackle if elected president. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Last week’s Brexit vote was just the latest example — albeit a giant one — in this wild political year when workers have been sending the clear message that status quo economic policies are unacceptable. Politicians here in America and in Europe ignore the concerns of workers at their great peril. For the Democratic Party in this country in 2016, the lessons are especially clear.

In the 35 years since Ronald Reagan became president, we’ve seen a steady erosion in the attention political leaders have given to the economic and political concerns of the working class. From the dramatic decline of union membership to the excessive deregulation of Wall Street; from trade deals that enrich multinational corporations but not American workers to a lack of antitrust enforcement that’s allowed near-monopolies in too many sectors; from a lack of significant wage increases for all but the top 10 percent of Americans to ever-escalating inflation in the costs of health care, groceries and college, our political system breakdown and our persistent “trickle down” sense of economics have combined — and conspired — to weaken the well-being of most American working people and retirees.

And now they’re angry, in ways that once hardly seemed imaginable.

Former Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Mike Lux is one of the authors of this piece.


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