Biden's union pitch is a throwback aimed at white males

White, male union members being tempted to vote for social identity over their economic interest “is an old problem and an old argument” in political labor history, said Professor Jefferson Cowie, a social and political historian at Vanderbilt University whose research focuses on inequality and labor shape American politics.

“Going back to Nixon, who had a white, male, blue-collar strategy to win the hearts of white male industrial workers out from underneath the AFL-CIO leadership, there’s always been a strong constituency that’s going to vote whiteness and maleness.”

These “Bruce Springsteen voters,” as Eric Alterman dubbed them, form a strong constituency in labor circles that “votes things other than its economic interest,” Cowie said. “Biden’s project is going to be trying to reach out beyond his white male blue-collar base… the whole thing’s built on coalitions.”

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