EP 380 The Hardhat Riot Marks Moment the GOP and America’s White Working Class Came Together

Sometimes riots come to define communities as you attach the name forever in your mind with the riots–like Watts, Attica, Detroit and others. And sometimes riots get lost in the long arc of American history. Few, however, are as little remembered and yet profoundly impactful as what occurred on May 8, 1970, in lower Manhattan. It was the day that David Paul Kuhn marks as the beginning of the end of the long relationship between America’s white working class and the Democratic Party. In his book, ‘The Hardhat Riot’, he describes the schism that tore liberalism apart and has had a mark on our politics to this day. In gripping detail, he takes us back to that harrowing day, when workers, in the shadow of the half-built Twin Towers, put down their tools and raised their voices signifying an emerging class conflict between two newly polarized Americas. In the wreckage was the Democratic Party’s electoral majorities, once so secure in the 20th century in America. What happened that day and in the electoral landslide for Richard Nixon in 1972 was a harbinger of the Reagan Revolution and Donald Trump’s surprising victory in 2016. Let’s delve into the history so we can understand the journey we are now part of, in another year of turmoil and conflict on our streets, in a presidential election year.