Detroit is a union town, but anti-union feeling of this kind (unions organize precisely to get stamped guarantees, after all) is not uncommon. Pro-union and anti-union members of the working class can be as difficult to distinguish, for those who haven’t made a study of the schism, as Shia and Sunni. Unless there’s an obvious giveaway—a UAW jacket or bumper sticker or, as in Duane’s case, a T-shirt that said “Proud to Be Union Free”—there’s typically no outward tell. They live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same churches, share similar conceptions of the good life. Many people unconvinced that unions are an unqualified plus still drive American cars, since love of country trumps any competing dislike. Such folks are often called Reagan Democrats, a term that would make more descriptive sense if they hadn’t also been Bush Democrats, Dole Democrats, Bush II Democrats, and, later, McCain Democrats, by which point it’s both easier and more accurate to call them what they are, which is Republicans. Though I vote with the unions, I find Duane’s philosophy attractive. As approaches to life go, “Now I gotta learn how to build machines” has much to recommend it. It neatly distills working-class self-reliance, a virtue that unions, by their collective nature, can’t, or don’t, particularly encourage. Self-reliant should not be confused with stoic, by the way. You don’t have to be stoic to be working-class; you can complain without ceasing so long as you do so without whining.
more from Paul Clemens at n+1 here.