Monday, November 14, 2016

Pundit: It's About the Economy, Stupid!

James Nolt, writing in TheStreet (here) has an interesting take on Donald Trump's victory that has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump's personal, intellectual, and social faults. He believes it's all about the economy and I think he has a good point to a degree. Trump's obvious "isms" are all too real and they--quite frankly--make him unfit for any public office. But many of the people who voted for him--people who oppose his "isms" are frustrated and simply want a dramatic change ... one they could not envision with Clinton.

Here's some of what Nolt posits:

Trump has promised to return capital and jobs to the U.S. with extraordinary import duties. This is a promise that no presidential candidate has made since Republican Alf Landon in 1936. ... the political economy matters to voters.

The crash of 2008 was a huge blow to American confidence, while the decades-long loss of high-paying union manufacturing jobs has festered in Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Energy jobs were also at stake in the Dakotas and West Virginia. Most of these traditionally Democratic or swing states went for Trump.

Many college-educated pundits took comfort in the fact that higher education correlated with support for Clinton. However, they missed the real reason for this. In a way, their university educations in multiculturalism and textbook economics blinded them to the depth of discontent outside the Northeast and the West Coast. Instead of thinking of Trump voters as ignorant, they should have recognized them as distressed. Trump understood this and pandered to it in his speeches. 

Whereas he won the votes of discontented people, including a higher percentage of the Latino vote than Republican candidate Mitt Romney received in the 2012 presidential election, despite insults about illegal Mexican immigrants, Hillary Clinton gained support from donors and voters who are reasonably satisfied with the status quo. Trump tapped into a nerve among many people who see the media as arrogant and superficial, ignoring the depth of their angst.

Whereas establishment pundits heard Trump's political incorrectness, what Midwestern voters heard from Trump was restoration of one of their core values: fairness. ... Construction jobs used to be monopolized by well-paid workers in century-old unions but are now more often going to illegal immigrants. Whereas farm work in California has long been done by Mexicans, now even the summer farm jobs in the Midwest go to illegal immigrants.

A university education used to be affordable for the kids of working families, now the price is skyrocketing, and foreign students with money to pay high tuition are displacing American students.
Hundreds of thousands of decent people are getting addicted to legally prescribed opiates pushed by big pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies get well compensated by the Affordable Care Act, sticking consumers with the soaring bills.

The Great Recession of 2008 devastated home ownership and retirement savings, leaving broken dreams and debts that can't be paid. The bankers who prospered from that won massive rewards.
Nobody went to jail for dispossessing millions.

Why doesn't Congress fix these problems? Because politicians Washington are awash in donor money. They ignore people and pander to donors.

For those who really want to understand why Midwesterners, in particular, gave this election to Trump, the categories of cultural politics and white supremacy don't get at the issues that really enthused these voters. They grasped at the hope that he is, as he claims, a voice for distressed people.
They want to "drain the swamp" of corruption in Washington and restore fairness. If Trump is angry and abusive, they can forgive that because many of them are anxious, too.

But their anger isn't principally racial. It is about a rigged political economy that makes them economically insecure.

1 comment:

  1. The people who want to attribute most of the blame for the lost election on racism fail to notice that the Rust Belt states that went for Trump all voted for Barack Obama: PA, MI, WI. Trump is the ultimate salesman. He read his prospects correctly and appealed to what they wanted to hear. Of course, he can't deliver much of what he said he's going to do, and he's the ultimate insider, but those voters sure sent a message to the elites running things in DC, elites of both parties.