Alan Draper

Alan Draper holds the Michael W. Ranger ‘80 and Virginia R. Ranger P’17 Professorship in Government at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. His research interests include labor and the civil rights movement. He can be reached at: adraper@stlawu.edu  

Recent Articles

How Dwindling Union Power Helped Usher In Trump

Donald Trump swept the Rust Belt in part because labor unions are in retreat, a trend that started long before Election Day.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Workers who make coal mining machinery wait to hear from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a campaign stop in Lebanon, Kentucky. D onald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 stunned the nation in part because white, working-class voters helped him crack open the Democratic blue wall of Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Trump succeeded in these states and among the white workers in them because we live not in a post-truth world, but in a post-union one. Strong unions would have helped convince white workers to turn out and vote for Democrats, and would have offered them an alternative to Trump’s narrative that blacks and immigrants are to blame for stagnant wages. But Trump capitalized on declining union strength in key Midwestern states that had previously been dependably Democratic. An early harbinger of Trump’s Midwestern victories was West Virginia, once a reliably progressive state. West Virginia was the base of the United Mine...