Skip to content

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

…and by cowboys I mean construction workers.

This is an opinion and not representative of the Executive or General Board

            As I rolled over the milestone of 40 years old, I decided it was time to stop driving 4 different vehicles, years 98 to 2008, mileage ranging from 107,000 to 222,000. We Carvana-ed a 2014 Suburban with 58,000 miles, priced as you would expect – outrageously. As for my daily driver that sees about 25,000 miles per year - a 4 cylinder, 30ish mpg, 2011 Chevy HHR. It still has high miles but in amazing condition. With the HHR purchase from a dealership came an XM Radio subscription for what I assumed was a month. It seems to be passed that now. I won’t tell if you don’t. What always comes with what the Left demands of you – everyone must drive newer cars that get better mileage to save the earth, instead of driving old cars that are kept out of a junk yard or landfill? Answer: irony and the unaffordability of liberal living. At least we’ll be able to live out of that roomy Suburban when we go broke.

            Now to the title up there. The stunningly beautiful, albeit hairy arm pitted Paula Cole and her 1997 single which asks, “where is my John Wayne?” It also asks a few other questions and makes statements that seem to be ripe for cancellation today – “I will do the laundry if you pay all the bills… I will raise the children if you pay all the bills.” Especially looking at history through the prism of today’s woke lens – why hasn’t she been canceled and drug through the mud? – it serves as just another reminder of the hypocrisy of today’s Liberal/Leftist.

            But what I’ve been thinking while hearing that song on a bi-daily basis (I almost exclusively listen to the 80s and 90s station – Liquid Metal sprinkled in at times) during my hour and fifteen minute drive to work in Rosemount is, where have all the cowboys gone? And by cowboys I mean construction workers? And by, where have all the construction workers gone, I mean where have they gone politically? The answer to that is an almost total transformation to conservatism from previous dictatorish rule by the Dems over the construction unions for the past 100 years. That is until the Bad Orange Man came to town.

Vote With Your Wallet

I posited in 2015 to any fellow ironworker that would listen - Hillary Clinton probably had no idea what the difference was between an ironworker, steelworker and iron ranger. However, Trump likely did. Trump Tower took 2-1/2 years to complete, saw Barbara Res the first female to oversee a major construction project in NYC and likely put more money into the pockets of ironworkers directly from Trump himself than any president. Trump grew up having lunch on his Dad’s jobsites, which would explain his crass, uncouth and sometimes vulgar way of operating. I assure you, if each jobsite had an HR department, there’d never be a building completed for the rest of eternity. There’s a reason why he resonated with the construction crowd.

            There are few careers that allow someone with a criminal background as colorful and lengthy as ironwork while still providing decent pay. And when there was sanity surrounding law and order, i.e. you screw up, you do your time, pay your price to society, lose your license for a bit, live in the work house, etc., construction workers voted Blue because the Left believed in that order and the Right may have looked down on the scourge that is Roughnecks more so.

Then Obama came to town and started reorganizing the “oppressed” by race instead of class no matter how successful you were. As Victor Davis Hanson points out from time to time in various ways, the white forklift driver in Oklahoma making 13 dollars an hour was suddenly the enemy of Colin Kaepernick who is worth millions but believes every white person is an oppressor to every helpless inner city black kid.

And then Trump came to town and said, the Dems forgot you, Construction Crowd, I will bring you with me, and he swore at hecklers and talked like he was sitting on a beam with his connecting partner about gallivants in the bar last night. And the construction crowd went, “wait a minute… why are we voting for Democrats who hate everything we stand for? Which is diesel machines, leaky welder-generators that have built warehouses for 30 years, forklifts that puff black smoke every time you step on the pedal, bearded neanderthals that have a Smith & Wesson 1911 in the center console of their 20 year old truck, politically incorrect toxic males that make sure Amazon has a warehouse to send their ‘green route’ packages out of.”  

And then “voting with our wallet” started to make sense, but from the opposite side of the isle. When I was an apprentice in the ironworkers in 2012, a Business Associate (BA) stood up at the podium in front of the entire class, slammed his hand down and told us that we “had to vote with our pocket book.” From November of 2012 to November of 2016, my retirement fund gained an average of roughly 13%. From literally the day after Trump won in 2016 to right before Covid hit, my retirement averaged a percentage gain in the mid 40s. “Vote with your wallet” they said, and so we did.


If I had to guess, I would say that 85% of construction hardhats and vehicles sport a “Let’s Go Brandon” sticker. At peak working months, there are probably 50 ironworkers give or take, that are employed by the company I’m with. At the very most, two voted for Biden and one of those two may very well have voted for neither. The shift in votes from Blue to Red by the construction crowd is, I believe, a very good indication of how radical and far the left has gone off the tracks.

Ironworkers have always been a bunch of criminals. On the first day of orientation we were told, somewhat jokingly, “you can’t be an ironworker without a divorce and a DWI.” Well, I traded a divorce for two of the other. Most people I’ve worked with have all the above and more. But they’re also some of the hardest working, genuinely decent and honest guys I’ve known. A lot have issues, that’s for sure. But once they hit the jobsite and shake the cobwebs off from last night, they work harder than anyone outside this career could ever fathom… in a world that is incredibly dangerous and beyond destructive to your body.

The Left used to applaud your hard work and look past your criminal history, so long as you were putting in a decent effort to better yourself and be a productive member of society. The Left now applauds criminals who are nothing more than criminals, blaming everything but the criminal. They demonize everything a construction worker is – see above. They look down on our way of life and the tools we use but demand everything construction provides - woke book stores, woke coffee shops, trendy hipster bars, hospitals for vaccines and gender reassignment, warehouses to deliver Amazon packages out of, dealerships to sell their electric cars, ironworkers to build wind farms, ship builders for luxury vacations and giant diesel powered cargo liners to bring the material for batteries from countries whose land has been destroyed by the mining process.

The construction industry has always been filled with independent thinking scofflaws who don’t like following rules. The rules for construction workers were laid out for a long time with the help of a Democratic party who would be screamed out of their own BPOU if they operated today as they did back then. Liberals who were invested in fighting the power 60 years ago are now the Power, controlling almost every faction of society.

Standing in the Bread Line Asking for Toast

No one goes into the ironworkers because they narrowly missed that internship with NASA. By and large, the construction crowd is not an educated one, but they’re not stupid. You can’t stand in the bread line and ask for toast, and that is what today’s Democrats have done. They’ve stood in line asking for the amenities produced by hard, polluting, construction work and demanded a renewable green toast.

Construction Union halls, BAs, International Board Members for the Unions… it’s time to stop sending us Biden/Harris bumper stickers in the monthly magazines. Picking someone to make a critical weld on a building based off gender identity, race and intersectionality is not a good idea for the longevity of that structure. Picking an inspector based on their oppressed traits will not mean important, life threatening errors are caught. A pilot hired under DEI quotas will not be able to land that plane at some point. As possibly the smartest man alive today, aside from Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson says, “wokeness cannot survive under its own weight.” A building cannot survive when its critical components fail because of wokeness.

I think a good barometer for how far the Left has gone off the rails is the construction industry’s shift from Blue to Red. Nobody lives in the real world more than construction workers. We drive a lot. We beat the hell out of our vehicles. We work in a world that literally uses the resources needed to shape and build society. There are no Tesla powered cranes, forklifts or boom-lifts and Elon would be the first to admit that.

Our old vehicles are cheap to maintain and run forever. The only thing that matters in a day’s work is your ability to complete the task correctly, not your skin color or gender identity or victim status. When you’ve lost the construction union workers, you’ve lost your way. Structures collapse when they’re not built correctly and society is collapsing because its foundation is now anchored in woke DEI garbage.  

The Left can ponder and intellectualize the injustices around the world from their Ivy League faculty offices behind rich brown, thick mahogany desks. Their pale arms hugged by Italian, high backed, leather office chairs while the ironworkers light themselves on fire, welding in a sweatshirt that’s10 years old with more frayed threads and holes than any sane person would think is still wearable. Then a 23 year old, white Grad student can order The Communist Manifesto out of the Amazon loading dock and feel good about virtue signaling to the black community about equity. And then have that same inner city black community pay off his Gender Studies Master’s degree. We have to be reaching a breaking point. Again, I’m just glad we moved to Buffalo from South St. Paul for when it does break.


Daniel Breitenbucher - Media Coordinator - Opinions page Editor in Chief