It’s Time for Conservatives to Reclaim Labor Day

Labor Day has historically been a left-wing holiday, with its roots in the 19th and 20th Century labor movements. While Republicans kick-off the summer with Memorial Day, the celebration of workers has long been ceded to the Democrats. However, 2016 marked an epochal shift in America’s political alignments. It’s high time for conservatives to reject their white collar attachments and fully become the party of the working man.

During the late 19th century, industrialization was transforming the American economy. Workers faced dehumanizing working conditions, long hours, low wages, and virtually non-existent safety standards. In response, labor unions began forming to advocate for better conditions and improve the lives of workers. The first Labor Day Parade took place in New York City in September 1882 to celebrate workers’ rights, but it would be some time before the country fully recognized the holiday.

The pivotal moment came in 1886, in what became known as the Haymarket Affair. On May 1, thousands of workers took to the streets of Chicago to demand 8-hour work days. After days of violent clashes, a bomb went off on May 4 killing police and civilians alike.

The depth of radicalism in the early labor movement is an inconvenient fact for today’s left. Far from the narrative of peace and love that the modern left has written into the history books, dreams of revolutionary communism were alive and well in the capitalist West.

The Haymarket Affair galvanized radicals throughout the West. An international federation of socialist groups declared May 1 International Workers’ Day, in commemoration of the violent backlash in Chicago. The holiday later became synonymous with the Soviet Union’s effort to spark global revolution, and continues to be celebrated throughout the world. Yet sensing the radical direction the labor movement was heading, President Grover Cleveland offered an olive branch. In 1894, he signed legislation to make the first Monday in September a federal holiday for workers — Labor Day. (Read more from “It’s Time for Conservatives to Reclaim Labor Day” HERE)

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