How do we vote when we build cars we can’t afford? It will be tough in Detroit, the fight between Trump and Biden for the votes of workers and the white electorate.
• Also read: Joe Biden provides historic support for striking auto workers
“Buying a new car would cost half my annual salary,” assures Curtis Cranford.
This 66-year-old worker has just shaken hands with the American president, who briefly joined a picket line on Tuesday in front of a General Motors factory in Belleville, a suburb of Detroit (Northeast Michigan).
He thanked Joe Biden for coming, but because of the energy transition, which “will cost jobs,” and especially Democratic positions on abortion and immigration, he will “probably vote Republican next year.”
And thus possibly for Donald Trump, the big favorite in the Conservative Party primaries.
The former president skipped the debate of the other candidates for the Republican nomination and visited a small automobile factory near Detroit on Thursday that is not part of the major automobile union UAW.
The latter launched a historic strike against the three major American manufacturers: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump are struggling to “appeal to working-class voters, particularly white voters,” which will be crucial next year, Vanderbildt University professor Jefferson Cowie analyzes in an interview with NPR Radio.
“Will they be seduced by Trump’s usual rhetoric, particularly around race and nationalism? Or will we see a movement more aligned with (…) Biden’s somewhat Rooseveltian vision, that is really the central question,” he summarizes.
Joe Biden, who relies heavily on union support and touts his big middle-class stimulus plans at every opportunity, is now the first American president ever to join a picket line.
By grabbing a megaphone to encourage the strikers, the 80-year-old Democrat sought to deal a major blow to the re-election campaign.
Carolyn Nippa, 51 years old, including 26 years at GM, still can’t believe she greeted him: “It was surreal.”
“I am not for Trump. I say it bluntly. I think he worked for multinationals and billionaires,” explains this worker, who changed factories several times as sites closed.
“If I don’t win the election, the autoworkers are finished,” the former president assured on his network Truth Social.
So, Joe Biden or Donald Trump, who is the champion of workers?
“It’s hard to say,” breathes Kristy Zometsky, 44, who also works at this General Motors parts factory, like her father and uncle before her.
“This strike is actually not a political matter,” assures the worker.
His concerns are the same as those of all the strikers he has met: life is too expensive, salaries are not keeping up, despite the sacrifices made to save multinational companies in 2009.
At this time, during the great economic and financial crisis, Sarah Polk asked herself: “But who really supports us?”
The 53-year-old graphic designer, who was met in downtown Detroit, is not an auto worker, but as an employee of the insurer Blue Cross, he is still unionized with the UAW and is therefore on strike.
The arrival of both Biden and Trump “is a communications operation,” says the mother of three, who she cares for alone and is “always a month late” to pay her bills.
As a voter, she was previously “more of a Democrat.” She would vote for Robert F. Kennedy or Marianne Williamson, two candidates who have little or no chance of appearing in next year’s November election.
So who will have their vote in 2024? “I don’t know.”