A coupe of years ago I was sitting in a local beverage room. That beverage room was part of a local hotel, and I was in a corner having a chit-chat with the owner, a very dignified elderly Italian gentleman.
The hotel was at the time on the market, at a whisker under a million dollars. That's big money in these parts.
Turns out that the elderly Italian gentleman and I had a few things in common. He washed up on these shores and got a job as a ditch digger. Ya, apparently they did dig ditches (wow! a triple alliteration!) back in the day. With manual labour.
The back-hoe put an end to the ditch-digger trade.
But that would not derail my Italian friend. No, with his four or five years of formal education, and his old-school work ethic, he'd just carry on.
Buddy worked his way through numerous manual labour jobs. He saved his paycheques and eventually became the owner of the "Manor" in Guelph. That is today one of the top strip joints in south Ontario, but Buddy owned it when it was a highly popular country and western joint.
I knew it very well.
It was an odd coincidence that these two immigrants, a generation apart, would have unknowingly crossed paths so many years before.
Yup, there was a couple of times when Buddy's bouncers beat the shit out of me.
And there was a couple of times when I beat the shit out of Buddy's bouncers.
But no matter. We're sitting in the far reaches of that beverage room, reminiscing about what things looked like in Guelph forty years ago.
Turned out me and Buddy knew a lot of the same people. Even though Buddy was from my dear Daddy's generation, we had something in common.
We were immigrants.
And we washed up on these shores never expecting to be anything other than "working class."
Wente's white trash working class.
I've got enough relatives in Illinois and Ohio and New York and New Jersey to know that the immigrant experience in the USA was not in any way significantly different from the immigrant experience in Canada.
You showed up and you were the bottom guy on the totem pole. That's how it worked then, that's how it works today, that's how it's always worked.
We came here expecting to be the working class, and we were.
Which brings me to Margaret Wente's effort in the Globe and Mail today.
Margaret likes to spew ill-informed twaddle that more often than not has little or no relationship to the real world. Today she out-did herself.
Apparently Margaret has read a book by JD Vance, "Hillbilly Elegy," which perfectly nails why Donald Trump has risen to the Republican nomination on the strength of a disaffected white working class.
I have to say I'd be hard-pressed to find more hate-speech against the working class in any 800 word essay I've ever seen.
Vance's book is "an intimate portrait of the white working class."
Let the slanders begin...
Vance's book is not remotely about the working class.
It's about a remote subset of that working class... the folks who have given up.
In the first place, the "working class" is the working class. When I was on the shop floor the black dudes were always fairly well represented, and you can bet I spent a lot more time on the shop floor than Wente.
When the plant shut down and moved operations to Mexico, thanks to the free trade agreements that pundits universally tell us were a good deal for us, it wasn't just the white working class that lost their jobs and their homes.
It was the working class; black, white, and we even had Pakis on the shop floor by then.
But what would Wente know about the working class? She occasionally caught a glimpse of some worker bees in the back of her daddy's sheet-metal shop. Maybe they were all white. Where else would she come up with the idea that it was only white folks who were the losers in the disembowelment of the working class?
Wente's working class whites were not disenfranchised because "free trade" agreements shipped their jobs to Mexico and China. No, it was a "cultural, spiritual, and psychological crisis."
And then those disenfranchised working folks turned to drugs and crime and, eventually, Trump. At least the white ones. Apparently the others are voting for Hillary.
Get the fuck outta here!
The reason the working class are supporting a billionaire poseur in this election is because he's the only candidate who has acknowledged that it's "free trade" that took away our jobs, and it's the professional political class that keeps pushing stuff that works against us.
Buddy in the beverage room was a working class guy even after he became a minor capitalist. He's got a son who is a doctor in Toronto and a daughter who is a professor at Duke. I'm a working class schmuck with two university degrees, in spite of settling too comfortably into my role as the pot-addled hillbilly on this blog. Virtually every working class family I have ever known, black, white, and every shade of brown, has worked hard to push their children to the next level. Those are the kind of people who are in Cleveland this week pushing for a Trump nomination.
Wente's tenure at the Globe and Mail has survived a couple of plagiarism scandals. If they won't dump her for serial plagiarism, maybe at least they'll cut her loose for writing really stupid shit.
We can only hope...