From the Out & About in the Pasadena Neighborhood desk: An old pick-up truck driven by an old man, older than me, with a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker. The truck, which sags a little in the mid-joint, is kept spotlessly clean. Someone appears to live out of it much of the time. I see it almost everyday. It has a little American flag hanging from the back.
The Trump voter is definitely not just in the heartland or the deep South, or rural, as broadstrokes from the media have it. They’re not hard to find. And they’re not only the uneducated but still well off. Believe the line the well-educated are only a little bit of it? And misguided, too? Surely there can be no one with advanced degrees who can’t see how deadly Trump would be to the world!
But from Thomas Edsall at the NY Times a week or so ago:
“Trade comes with no assurances that the spoils will be shared equitably. Across much of the industrialized world, an outsize share of the winnings has been harvested by people with advanced degrees, stock options and the need for accountants. Ordinary laborers have borne the costs and suffered from joblessness and deepening economic anxiety … failed to plan for the trauma that has accompanied the benefits of trade. When millions of workers lost paychecks to foreign competition, they lacked government supports to cushion the blow. As a result, seething anger is upending politics in Europe and North America.”
Globalization has not just damaged making things. It’s converted survival into a winner-take-all, make artisanal goods or crawl grub street economy. Make high-end trivialities and conveniences for the upper classes, do an endless succession of no-win freelance gigs for about nothing, or liquidate what you have left in an internet buyer’s market. It’s had a widespread effect, the cost of which to the non-select — diminished lifespans, widespread narcotics addiction, suicide, to name a few things in the news — is finally being measured.
You want to write off tens of millions of people who you don’t agree with on much of anything because we believe them to have made poor choices, not be educated the right way, or because they are bigots?
I can’t do it and believe me, I’m acutely aware I did more than my share For Escape from WhiteManistan. No one deserved what bad national leadership and economic policies favoring the elites did to them or people they knew or more distant family members over the past few decades.
I recently saw Michael Moore’s Trumpland. It’s a hurried-up release of his live show put on in Wilmington, Ohio, in Trump territory although I’m not sure there were many Trump voters in the theatre crowd. Part of his monologue, the backdrop of which is large hanging photos of Hillary Clinton from various stages in her life, centers on that Moore doesn’t believe Trump voters are all racists. In Michigan he’s talked to Trump supporters and tells the audience they they know the guy’s odious.
Reading from a notebook, Moore recognizes this is a revenge vote. He gets it, he says. His first and best doc, Roger & Me, went deep into the why that’s only become worse.
Moore goes onto say this is the dying white middle class’s (the 2nd America as the LATimes patronizingly put it last week) chance to throw a bomb into the “establishment.” Trump is “your Molotov cocktail,” and they can deliver the “biggest F— you ever recorded in human history” to those who’ve been running the country.
“[He’s] the human hand grenade they can legally throw into the system that’s stolen their lives from them,” Moore continues.
Moore thinks the anger justified. So do I. I want to throw the bomb.
But in the end he implies Trumpland ought not to do it because it will only feel good for “a day, a week,” “possibly a month.” And they would regret it, at which point the movie goes back to some comedy, spoofing a Trump inauguration.
And this is something our six figure explainers haven’t been able to do. HRC hasn’t done it. She won’t even go near the territory unless you count a paragraph or two from a speech to bankers she tried to keep secret.
Moore riffs on a Trump rally where the candidate tells his audience and Ford Motor Company directly that if the manufacturer moves production to Mexico, he’s imposing a 37 percent tariff on their cars. With Trump it’s balderdash. But it’s something Moore points out you’d never hear from any other politician.
There’s been nothing for the Trump voter or anyone who believes Hillary Clinton’s blandishments and “Stronger Together” motto are empty pandering. And in the context of the election’s daily spew such things have become progressively more intelligence insulting. What together, precisely? Define your terms.
There’s only been a slow grudging admission that globalism has largely screwed Americans, except for the top and their educated shoeshiners, the alleged meritocracy, now frantic to suppress the revolt. They brought fossilization to the economy, a condition in which wealth and corporate power chisels whatever it can from everyone else stuck in it. And that they might have to pay for it in a way they hadn’t planned on has them all at the barricades.
You see, they say in opinion after opinion, you just don’t see that globalism is always good, perhaps it needs only some tinkering, and there’s nothing to be done, anyway, wouldn’t be pragmatic, not prudent. But, jeezus, everyone has to keep that guy out of office because he’s not who we are.
Few of our influencers, certainly Hillary Clinton, will never come right out and admit there’s a rightness to “they’ve had it coming,” to a satisfaction in the chance she would be denied what she believes to be destiny. Clinton hasn’t had to answer to it (only in polls which her show virtually as disliked as Trump) because she’s running against Trump where a strategy of phoning it in worked. (I’ve read her promises and policies book. There’s no need to go into the details of how empty it is once you get past the language of uplift.)
For her entire career she’s been at or near the epicenter of grasping American wealth, rule by the boilerplate from elites, and war without consequences for those who’ve made all the mistakes.
There’s been no discussion of issues this cycle. Zero on global warming. And Clinton has fobbed off any anger at her and government by blithely saying that such an emotion doesn’t solve anything. Neither has she. It’s all been verbal kung fu to the miscues and unfolding sordid biography of Trump: theatrical eye-rolling, jeering laughter, blaming the Russians, Julian Assange, now the FBI, always someone else in league with the enemy, and a “I’m the only one standing between you and the apocalypse” joke.
Hillary Clinton has more than done her part to earn the biggest election F— you! in history. The dilemma is in resolving the delivery of a share of it, of belief in the legitimacy of revenge, and conscience.
The emails never bothered me much, but Hillary’s statement urging all the parties involved at Standing Rock — protesters and pipeline company — ” to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest” fills me with revulsion. This as the soldiers and cops closed in on on the tribespeople. — Barbara Ehrenreich, Facebook, 10/30
From Thomas Frank, whose arguments in Listen, Liberal have only had exclamation points added to them by the election, today at the Guardian, on the Meritocracy of the Swells and their Heimdall/fixer, John Podesta:
The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesn’t have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.
They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.