Lunch pail Democrat

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In United States politics, the term lunch pail Democrat, lunchbox Democrat, or lunchbucket Democrat refers to members of the Democratic Party of a "blue collar" or working-class background,[1][2][3] as well as politicians who share or attempt to leverage this background through populist appeals. Laurence Collins of The Boston Globe summarized the term as "a label that connotes an absence of lofty philosophical concerns in favor of a concern for people's more basic needs".[4]

The term lunchpail is also used more broadly as a metaphor for the working class, and in addition to Democrat is paired with other terms, such as lunch pail liberal or lunch pail socialism.[5]


The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang notes the term "lunch-pailers" being used to refer to laborers in a political context as early as 1958, and "lunch-pail liberals and Progressive Democrats" used in 1992.[6]


Among the traits associated with lunch-pail Democratic politicians are:


Hubert Humphrey
  • Hubert Humphrey was described as the "last of the lunch-pail Democrats" in 1982 by New York magazine.[9]
  • Al Gore's efforts during his 1992 campaign have been described as: "determined to cast himself as an old school, labor lunch-pail Democrat in the tradition of Hubert Humphey and Walter Mondale. This strategy was problematic in a number of ways, not least because it wasn't particularly convincing."[10]
  • Democratic politician and eventual 56th governor of Mississippi, Cliff Finch used the emblem of a lunch-pail with his name upon it in his campaigns.[11]
  • During the 2008 Presidential primaries, Hillary Clinton was described as "transforming herself into a white lunch-pail populist, knocking back whiskey shots in Indiana."[12]
  • Spiro Agnew was described as "Nixon's ambassador to the lower middle class, to the blue-collar American — the people who voted Democratic in the past, the people we used to call lunch-pail Democrats."[13]


  1. ^ Lana Stein (31 May 2002). St. Louis Politics: The Triumph of Tradition. Missouri History Museum. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-1-883982-44-7. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dante J. Scala (5 December 2003). Stormy Weather: The New Hampshire Primary and Presidential Politics. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 56–. ISBN 978-0-312-29622-3. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  4. ^ Laurence Collins (1983). Power & privilege [sic]: an examination of the Massachusetts legislature. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  5. ^ Frank M. Bryan (3 December 2003). Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How It Works. University of Chicago Press. pp. 273–. ISBN 978-0-226-07796-3. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  6. ^ Grant Barrett (21 April 2006). The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang. Oxford University Press. pp. 172–. ISBN 978-0-19-530447-3. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  7. ^ Sidney Plotkin; William E. Scheuerman (1 July 1994). Private Interest, Public Spending: Balanced-Budget Conservatism and the Fiscal Crisis. Black Rose Books Ltd. pp. 15–. ISBN 978-1-895431-98-8. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  8. ^ Mother Jones (February 1997). Mother Jones Magazine. Mother Jones. pp. 58–. ISSN 0362-8841. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  9. ^ New York Media, LLC (7 November 1988). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. pp. 40–. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  10. ^ John P. Avlon (22 February 2005). Independent nation: how centrists can change American politics. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-1-4000-5024-6. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  11. ^ Dale Krane; Stephen D. Shaffer (1 March 1992). Mississippi Government and Politics: Modernizers versus Traditionalists. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-0-8032-7758-8. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  12. ^ T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting (18 August 2009). The Speech: Race and Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union". Bloomsbury Publishing USA. pp. 22–. ISBN 978-1-59691-667-8. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  13. ^ Richard Lemon (15 October 1971). Troubled American. Simon and Schuster. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-0-671-21065-6. Retrieved 13 October 2012.

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