Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Why Trump Won in "16.........

I  heard one pundit the morning after the election say that both parties have been so busy trying to put together coalitions of wedge and single issue voters over the last 30 years that everyone forgot to broadly target the formerly young, formerly middle class white families in middle America that have become a vanishing demographic and are now in the minority, but still the largest minority voting block in America.  These were the people whose anger Richard Nixon tapped into in the turbulent society of 1968 when they were still the "great silent majority", and while most of them were and remain surprisingly provincial and unsophisticated in their ideals, they were not the same cadre of angry bigots and anti-government white people that George Wallace rallied around the American Independent Party (affectionately known then as the "Apes" for their acronym and political philosophy) in the same year.  These were the people who suffered through two oil shocks that further isolated them from the rest of country and disrupted a lifestyle that depended upon travel by private automobiles and supply lines served by over the road trucks.  They had their savings devalued by runaway inflation, then were "squeezed out" of buying cars and homes and investing in farms and small businesses when Paul Volker raised interest rates to squeeze the inflation out.  The Reagan Republicans energized these people temporarily, but ultimately abandoned them and took them for granted by adopting tax cuts for the rich on the theory that the benefits would “trickle down” to them, even though very little of that money ever really trickled down to the small mill towns and agricultural centers of middle America.  Bill Clinton sold middle Americans on a new vision of sensible populism to replace the New Deal and Great Society, but he too abandoned them and took them for granted by talking their employers and unions into supporting free trade on the theory that it would replace their industrial jobs with higher paying modern tech and service jobs.  In the end, a few people became fabulously wealthy in the "new economy", but free trade and lower tax rates encouraged traditional employers with factories and service centers (which had moved to smaller places in America seeking lower costs and cheaper labor in the 1950s and 1960s) to outsource labor intensive business to countries where building and labor costs were negligible, and their ability to offshore and outsource work gutted the bargaining power, prestige and political capabilities of the great industrial unions and left workers to fend for themselves.  While some people in major urban centers with good infrastructure managed to make a transition to better work, the working class people in small towns and cities more commonly ended up with shift work in retail and fast food or doing odd jobs for construction companies or their neighbors to make a living. 

Middle Americans have always been patriotic and nationalistic, and while many made a pragmatic decision to join the "all volunteer military" to escape the increasing dead ends of local life, many more saw the National Guard as a way to make extra cash for their young families by volunteering for weekend and summer duty, and the occasional task of helping with disaster relief and security did not impose too many hardships on people rooted in families and jobs in small places.  George W. then betrayed them again by deploying National Guard units to conduct foreign wars rather than gearing up the number of regular volunteer army troops needed to meet his objectives, and although he paid lip service to the sacrifices of the Guard units, he did not do very much to support their families or small business employers while they were deployed and ultimately dropped hundreds of thousands of returning veterans back into their small communities without access to the kind of medical, psychiatric and social support needed to treat their physical injuries and PTSD.  Bush then led the country into a financial and economic collapse which might have been the only time in 35 years when the small places in middle America received the same treatment as their urban and suburban counterparts, and Bush then "solved" the problems he created with a plan that bailed out the major financial oligopolies from the liabilities and losses sustained from their intemperate gambling for bonuses, but did not require them to pass on the favor to the people in middle America who had undertaken financial obligations to them in good faith that they could not now repay.  Obama offered middle America the "hope" of rebuilding our country, and actually got votes from some of them, but allowed his handlers to waste his temporary majority in Congress on a stimulus bill that combined "investments in America's future" with old fashioned pork barrel deals, and neither of these provided much tangible relief to any of those
areas outside of the major urban centers where the steady increase in people's misery had grown even worse after the financial collapse.  By the time Obama started working on ideas that might have broader benefits, so many people who had been left behind over the years had been poisoned by the anti-progressive propaganda of Fox News, conservative talk radio, fundamentalist churches, and internet conspiracy theories that they swelled the moronic ranks of the Tea Party, which beyond its pointless fixation on nostalgia, negativity and anarchy, elected representatives who were openly antagonistic to and categorically rejected any efforts by the Obama administration (like the ACA) to provide meaningful relief for any of the real world problems faced by the very voters who elected them.  

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