A new film and books about organizer and strategist Bayard Rustin bring attention to the crucial, hidden tradition of practical radicalism.
When I attended President Trump’s October 13 rally in Des Moines, I was disgusted by the lies I heard.
Trump likes to brag about how many jobs he’s created. He likes to claim that he’s fulfilled his promise to be the “the greatest jobs president that God had ever created.”
“Over the next four years, we will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world. And we will end our reliance on China once and for all,” he bellowed into the wind in Des Moines. “It’s already happened.”
The truth is that Trump has done nothing to bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores. In fact, he has the worst jobs record of any modern president.
When he took office in 2017, Trump inherited an economy that had gained a net 11.6 million jobs over the Obama administration’s eight years. During the past four years, our economy has lost nearly half of those. American companies are investing more in China than ever, and our trade deficit recently hit a new record.
Under Trump’s watch nearly 1,800 factories have disappeared, including the 150-year old “Murray” in Burlington. Named for its past incarnation as the Murray Iron Works and later operated by Siemens, the Murray was the oldest, continuously operating plant west of the Mississippi.
I worked there for 31 years. Today, shuttered and abandoned, it’s the perfect symbol for Trump’s presidency.
In April 2019, Siemens’ corporate representatives spent 20 minutes telling us that they’d be closing our state-of-the-art facility and sending our jobs to the Czech Republic and India. Everything we’d spent our lives working for would be gone.
Shortly after we got the news, I wrote to the White House to ask President Trump to help us save our plant. I got a form letter back that said our factory’s demise was a state and local matter, and there was nothing the president could do.
That is simply not true. Siemens is a massive, billion-dollar corporation that does hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with the federal government. Trump could have issued an order saying that as a federal contractor, they can’t send our jobs overseas.
Instead, he did nothing. Now, workers like me are left feeling abandoned and betrayed — not just by Siemens, but by our government.
I worked my last shift a few days before Christmas. Since then, I’ve been spending more time with my grandchildren. I’m 65 years old, so I doubt I’ll find another job. I miss my Murray family. It’s hard to wake up every morning and know that I won’t be seeing them at work.
But I refuse to turn my back on my fellow workers — those I worked with side by side, and those who are facing similar struggles across the country. That’s why I’m committed to telling the truth about Trump: He’s never stood up for working people. He’s never done anything except feed us lies and broken promises.
When I pointed that out at his rally in Des Moines, I was spit on by one of his supporters.
That’s right. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Trump himself has been diagnosed with the virus, a supporter of the president decided that he would spit on me to keep me from telling the truth.
It’s going to take a lot more than spit to keep me from speaking out.
Together with Our Revolution activists across the Midwest, I’m organizing working people and spreading the word about Trump. We need real action to save our jobs and communities, not more lies and bluster.
Originally published at OtherWords.org.