Arlie Russell Hochschild in Mother Jones:
In a framed photo of herself taken in 2007, Sharon Galicia stands, fresh-faced and beaming, beside first lady Laura Bush at a Washington, DC, luncheon, thrilled to be honored as an outstanding GOP volunteer. We are in her office in the Aflac insurance company in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Sharon is heading out to pitch medical and life insurance to workers in a bleak corridor of industrial plants servicing the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and petrochemical plants that make the plastic feedstock for everything from car seats to bubble gum.
After a 20-minute drive along flat terrain, we pull into a dirt parking lot beside a red truck with a decal of the Statue of Liberty, her raised arm holding an M-16. A man waves from the entrance to an enormous warehouse. Warm, attractive, well-spoken, Sharon has sold a lot of insurance policies around here and made friends along the way.
A policy with a weekly premium of $5.52 covers accidents that aren't covered by a worker's other insurance—if he has any. “How many of you can go a week without your paycheck?” is part of Sharon's pitch. “Usually no hands go up,” she tells me. Her clients repair oil platforms, cut sheet metal, fix refrigerators, process chicken, lay asphalt, and dig ditches. She sells to entry-level floor sweepers who make $8 an hour and can't afford to get sick. She sells to flaggers in highway repair crews who earn $12 an hour, and to welders and operators who, with overtime, make up to $100,000 a year. For most, education stopped after high school. “Pipe fitters. Ditch diggers. Asphalt layers,” Sharon says. “I can't find one that's not for Donald Trump.”