Democrats Talked a Little Bit About Jobs and Manufacturing During Night No. 3 of the DNC

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Aug 20 2020 |
Former President Barack Obama was one of the featured speakers on Wednesday during the Democratic National Convention. | Photo via Twitter

Meanwhile, the current president took a shot at an iconic American manufacturer.

Night No. 3 of the 2020 Democratic National Convention is in the books. It was a big night, with speeches from Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and former President Barack Obama (more on that later).

But there was also talk about some key policy issues, including job creation – a critical topic for many Americans right now, given that tens of millions are out of work because of the economic fallout of the unmitigated coronavirus pandemic.

Manufacturing even received a couple of nods, as it is a key part of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, which we blogged about when it was introduced earlier this summer.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), speaking from a childcare center that has been closed for months due to the pandemic, poked fun at herself for her love of plans, and praised Biden for many of his. The first one she cited? Biden’s plan “to bring back union jobs in manufacturing,” along with his goal of creating millions of new clean energy jobs in his $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

Speakers also cited Biden’s past efforts to strengthen manufacturing. Hilda Solis, who served as Labor Secretary during the Obama administration, talked about Biden’s work helping to rebuild the economy after the Great Recession. Solis specifically cited Biden’s leadership on the auto rescue, saying that “they saved the auto industry and a whole lot of good union jobs with it.”

There clearly is a lot of work to do now, which Democrats acknowledged. One of the video segments shown on Wednesday night featured on-the-scene interviews with American business owners struggling because of the pandemic.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) interviewed Kevin and Molly Johnson, who own Fischer Tooling in Lake County, Ohio. The company employs between 10 and 12 people, but like many small, family-owned companies has struggled since the pandemic hit.

“We shut down last week because we ran out of work,” Kevin Johnson said. “And we had enough to come in for another week, but if we don’t get additional orders in, we’re going to have to look at another shutdown.”

Molly Johnson added: “When this isn’t going well, it’s scary.”

Meanwhile, the night’s headliners focused most of their remarks on bigger themes, along with praising Biden for his empathy. Obama noted that Biden has a unique capacity to relate to his fellow Americans facing crisis: “When he talks with someone who lost her job, Joe remembers the night his father sat him down to say he lost his.”

Obama’s speech was a call-to-action, criticizing President Trump while also urging Americans to “embrace your own responsibility as citizens.” And the former POTUS specifically called out a key voting demographic, one that has been cited as a reason why Trump prevailed in 2016 but also is seen as critical in the current race.

“I understand why a white factory worker who’s seen his wages cut or his job shipped overseas might feel like the government no longer looks out for him,” Obama said. “And why a Black mother might feel like it never looked out for her at all. I understand why a new immigrant might look around this country and wonder whether there’s still a place for him here; why a young person might look at politics right now, the circus of it all, the meanness and the lies and crazy conspiracy theories and think, what’s the point?

“Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power – those who benefit from keeping things the way they are – they are counting on your cynicism.” 

Those are some fighting words from the former commander in chief.

So what’s the current president been up to today, anyway? Well, he live-tweeted Obama’s remarks – I don’t think he cared too much for them – but earlier in the day he took at shot at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.

See, Goodyear doesn’t allow “workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party,” which includes Trump’s trademark red hats. Trump apparently got word about this, and used his favorite social media network to call for a boycott of the Akron, Ohio based company.

While Trump may have had some fun in the ongoing cancel culture wars, some argued that the tweet may not have been the best decision politically, given the Goodyear plant in question is located in a key swing state (and employs around 62,000 working class voters across the country).

United Steelworkers (USW) President Tom Conway, whose union represents many of those Goodyear workers, pointed out that Goodyear closed a 90-year-old plant in Alabama because of unfairly traded imports. The USW “reached out directly to the President and his White House staff on countless occasions,” but didn’t receive any help.

“It would have been nice if the President would have paid as much attention to that loss of American jobs as he does to his MAGA hats,” Conway said. “Maybe a tweet or two back then would have been helpful.”

As of this post, there are 75 days left until Election Day. At least 173,000 Americans have died of COVID-19.