Commentary: Put the working class in play

The realignment that so many talk about is real, or rather, it can be. But only if the GOP actively sheds its pro-corporate image and actively advocates for the issues that animate these new voters.

working class
Arial view of Virginia, Minn., a central hub of the Iron Range. (Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock)

There isn’t a better time to be a Republican than right now. Whether that is nationwide or in our own, beloved state of Minnesota. Despite the DFL trifecta, a great realignment is happening and we can put it into overdrive this presidential election year.

So put the working class in play.

For so many decades, it was a foregone conclusion that the DFL would dominate blue-collar workers, rural and urban. That is no longer the case. Up here on the Iron Range, we sent Republicans to the state capitol for the first time in recent memory in 2022, breaking the DFL’s iron grip on the region.

But this wasn’t an accident. As I wrote in a previous article for Alpha News, the Iron Range GOP went full bore for the blue-collar vote. The blue-collar union vote may be souring on the DFL, but that doesn’t mean that they trust the GOP. Far from it. If the MNGOP wants to be a majority party, one that commands the assumed win every election instead of relying on nail-biter pluralities, then we all need to take heed.

The realignment that so many talk about is real, or rather, it can be. But only if the GOP actively sheds its pro-corporate image and actively advocates for the issues that animate these new voters. Across the pond we see the ruins of the British Conservative Party, which was given the chance of a lifetime to move towards the working class in 2019 but instead fell back on the policies of yesteryear which resonated with no one and it is now looking at a resurgent Labor Party because of it.

There is already precedent and guides for what this new, working family Republican Party can look like. Avant-garde conservatives like Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. J.D. Vance, Sohrab Amari, Oren Cass and, most importantly, President Trump himself have shown the way. Meet your would-be voters where they are and advocate for the issues most important to them. This is what the Iron Range GOP did, and now they are leading the fight for those communities so left behind by the globalist, neo-liberal consensus. President Trump met with the Teamsters president earlier this year, and it resulted in a maxed out donation to the RNC from the union.

It can be done. We can put the working class in play.

Even in the past, we see Republicans lending an ear to the concerns of labor and working-class voters. Nixon made labor outreach a major part of his election strategy; Eisenhower was openly pro-union and supported the programs that they relied on. Lincoln famously said, “Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration” in his first annual address.

Not wanting to be accused of offering nothing concrete, here are five simple but important things the MNGOP can do in 2024 to increase its share of the working-class vote.

  • Openly disavow right-to-work laws. One of the main reasons that Iron Range Republicans enjoyed the success we did in 2022 is that we let the unions know that the main beef they had with us was no longer on the table. This is, by far, the biggest sling hurled against Republicans (effectively, I might add) in the union halls. Many who would otherwise vote GOP or at least hear us out will not hear if we put roadblocks like this in the way.
  • Showcase retail and industrial workers and the hardships they face in Joe Biden’s America. The devout Muslim mom trying to make ends meet and the steel worker on the Iron Range both want the same thing: a real material chance at a better life for their families and communities. Outreach hard to retail workers who are trending towards unionization.
  • Call out and propose ways to curb Wall Street distortions of the housing market. If we want families to form, we must fight for their freedom to own property without going into massive debt.
  • Support the reshoring of American jobs and protection and creation of communities that rely on industrial jobs and the good wages they bring. Much has been made of how the cultural rot we are experiencing is, in large part, due to drying up of local institutions like unions, churches and, worst of all, families. One of the biggest culprits is the hollowing out of our industrial heartland. This can be reversed, and we need to be the party that reverses it.
  • Campaign (or at least support) on protecting Social Security and Medicare. In a time where the young aren’t sure if they will ever own a home, our working-class elderly are worried they won’t be able to make ends meet on what pensions and programs they have. We shouldn’t let them down. Democrat schemes like Medicare for all, or corporate ploys like raising the retirement age will only hurt those who need it most. Let’s be their champions. The Republican Party was built by dreamers and reformers. We have the imaginative power to protect the vulnerable where the Democrats can only maintain the status quo.

This election can be the election where the MNGOP turns the tide on the DFL and we begin to take our state back from the radical left philosophies that are waging war against the principles and institutions that made our state great. But we can’t do that without the working class. If we want those big wins, we need to do real work to show that our party actually is the party of the American working family.

Jacob Giese is the Vice Chair for Media at the St. Louis County GOP.


Jacob Giese

Jacob Giese is the Vice Chair for Media at the St. Louis County GOP.