Republicans’ working class hero re-branding isn’t fooling anyone
Following the lead of former President Donald Trump, some Republican politicians are making a paltry attempt to brand themselves and their party as champions of the cause of working class Americans. Reps. Jim Jordan, Josh Hawley, and Sen. Ted Cruz have all recently made claims of being blue-collar legislators. | AP photos / PW illustration

So far, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Jim Jordan haven’t taken up Chris Hayes’s challenge.

On his show a while back, the MSNBC host laughed out loud when Sen. Cruz—aka The Cancun Kid—Sen. Josh Hawley, and Rep. Jim Jordan claimed the GOP was the born-again blue-collar party.

The host of “All in With Chris Hayes” dared the three Republicans to put up or shut up:

“So here’s a simple test, gentlemen: Go on the record with your support for the workers fighting for their rights against Amazon right now. Otherwise, we’ll go back to assuming this is all an insulting act.”

Hayes meant the union drive at that Alabama Amazon warehouse.

Okay, Cruz was out of pocket for a spell, jetting off to Cancun with the kids and leaving his fellow Texans in the deep freeze. He’s back home, though the headline on a Houston Chronicle editorial suggested that while Cruz bought “a ticket to paradise…Paradise can have him.”

Anyway, Hayes rightly dismissed their bunkum as “ludicrous on its face” and more “very disingenuous working-class hero dress-up” from the Republicans.

Hayes said the union campaign at Amazon pitted workers “doing something incredible and brave and difficult” against “just about the epitome of big business in America, big tech, corporate power.”

Of course, hogs will fly before Cruz, Hawley, and Jordan slap “Union Yes!” stickers on their bumpers and join a picket line in solidarity with any union. ‘Bama will drop Crimson Tide football before these con men embrace the workers who want to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. The vote is underway.

Meanwhile, the GOP is still what it’s been in the main since the 1920s, the party of plutocracy and bare-knucks union-busting.

Donald Trump was the most anti-union president since Herbert Hoover.

Click herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and here for proof.

And herehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and here.

Cruz, Hawley, and Jordan, also charter members of the GOP Treason Caucus, were among Trump’s top toadies. There’s a Grand Canyon-wide gap between what they’re saying about working people and how they vote on labor issues.

Cruz has backed the union position on issues just 6% of the time since he came to Washington, according to the latest AFL-CIO legislative scorecard. Hawley and Jordan score 5% each. The average Senate Republican notches 17%; (Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul tie at 12%.)

Cruz and Jordan have co-sponsored national “right to work” legislation. Hawley backed RTW when he was Missouri attorney general.

Hayes isn’t the first journalist to call out Cruz’s hypocrisy on unions.

“Senator Ted Cruz has been attempting to pivot in a new direction: championing the working class and unions,” Jessica Montoya Coggins wrote in The Texas Signal. “That’s a big surprise for unions in Texas that have witnessed firsthand the junior senator’s antagonism for labor rights and policies that actually support the working class.”

She added: “When the Biden administration announced an executive order revoking a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, many Texas Republicans, including Cruz, lamented it would cost thousands of jobs, especially union jobs. In a Senate confirmation hearing for Pete Buttigieg, Cruz specifically said ending the Keystone XL pipeline permit would cost the country 11,000 jobs. The Washington Post fact-checked that figure (which Cruz actually linked to his Twitter account), and noted that almost all the jobs were temporary.”

Coggins quoted a statement for The Signal from Rick Levy, Texas AFL-CIO president: “Shocked, shocked I tell you that Sen. Cruz is trying to play cynical political games with President Biden’s bold proposal to create millions of good paying union jobs in the new green economy.

“Workers in Texas and those that truly support us are fighting for restoring the right to organize by passing the PRO act, for enforceable workplace safety, for raising the minimum wage to give all workers a fair shot at achieving their dreams. We’d love to have the Senator’s support for blue-collar workers on these and many other key issues, but forgive us for not holding our breath.”

Doubtless, Missouri and Ohio AFL-CIO sisters and brothers would express similar skepticism about Hawley and Jordan.

For the record: Jordan and nearly every Republican voted against the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act when it passed the Democratic-majority House last year. Biden has endorsed the legislation, which collected yes votes from almost all Democrats, including Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, Kentucky’s only Democrat in D.C. Not unexpectedly, Kentucky’s five GOP House members voted no.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell is counting on no votes from Cruz and Hawley if the bill gets a vote in the upper chamber. Wanna bet they won’t disappoint?

On the other hand, “Biden has pledged to be the ‘most pro-union president’ in history,” John Logan wrote in The Hill. The story was headlined, “The president wants Amazon workers to join a union.”

Logan quoted Biden’s Feb. 4 tweet: “Every American deserves the dignity and respect that comes with union organizing and collective bargaining. The policy of our government is to encourage union organizing, and employers should ensure their workers have a free and fair choice to join a union.”

Anyway, Cruz, Hawley, and Jordan remind me of an old Kentucky expression: “Put ’em in a barrel, roll it down a hill, and there’d be a liar on top every time it rolled over.” (You can use stronger words than a liar. But I try to keep my musings family-friendly.)

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article represents the opinions of its author.


Berry Craig
Berry Craig

Lifelong Kentuckian Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, recording secretary for the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and a member of the state AFL-CIO Executive Board. His ninth book on the history of his state, “Kentuckians and Pearl Harbor: Stories from the Day of Infamy,” was published by the University Press of Kentucky in November 2020.