Quid Pro Joe has a new proposal for blue-collar workers: learn to code, or else.
At a Monday campaign stop in New Hampshire, Biden said that coal miners who have lost their jobs need to take up computer programming, complicating his image as a champion of the working class, Breitbart reported. The former vice president has made numerous comments that critics say risk alienating manufacturing workers.
Biden to coal miners: Learn to code
The Democratic primary frontrunner has leaned heavily into his Pennsylvania roots to project a folksy image and win back Rust Belt voters from Donald Trump, whose appeals to manufacturing workers left behind by globalization helped him win the 2016 election. But in recent remarks, Biden has shown how far the Democratic party has drifted from its more traditional working-class support base.
Speaking in New Hampshire on Monday, Biden betrayed his Clintonian side when he suggested that coal miners must seek retraining as software programmers. Biden evoked Hillary Clinton’s pro-globalization rhetoric in 2016, saying that displaced coal miners would need to move into new jobs for the sake of building a more environmentally-conscious economy.
“Anybody who can go down 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well,” the former vice president told the crowd, according to The Washington Times.
This is the second comment Biden has made in recent weeks showing a lack of concern about the prospects of America’s blue-collar workforce. Biden also said in December that he would be willing to displace potentially hundreds of thousands of such workers to help achieve a “greener economy,” according to Fox News.
Battle for blue-collar votes
Biden’s rhetoric could be a real problem for his 2020 campaign, since he will likely be competing with Donald Trump for blue-collar workers in critical Rust Belt states. Chris Hamilton, co-chair of the West Virginia Coal Forum, slammed Biden for condescending to coal miners.
“It’s just inconceivable how someone, particularly in his position could advocate putting tens of thousands of working Americans out of work. But it comes as no surprise,” he said, according to Fox. “Former Vice President Biden has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for mining and for our coal miners.”
The phrase “learn to code” has become a derisive description of the Clintonian mentality that displaced workers simply need to “catch up” by uprooting their lives and changing careers. Not everyone can be or wants to be a techie in the one of five major metropolitan areas in Boston and California where the bulk of such jobs are concentrated.
Critics say that the “learn to code” advice is misleading, since retraining seldom leads to more secure or better-paying employment, as Breitbart notes. It’s also patronizing: Hillary Clinton has said that her biggest regret from the 2016 campaign was promising to kill coal jobs.
“I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country,” she said, according to Business Insider. “Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Have the Democrats learned nothing from the debacle of 2016?