Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It's the Economy, Stupid

Donald Trump is getting a lot of attention for his racist, sexist, xenophobic remarks, but he's talking about more than that, and it might just be all that other stuff that's getting him the support that has stupefied so many of us.

Have you actually listened to any of his speeches? Beyond the water-throwing, disabled-mocking, wall-building and race-baiting, there is some substance.

This week, I spent several hours I can never get back watching Trump's speeches online, and I now totally get why he's getting so much support. It's not the racism, or at least, it's not JUST the racism. Trump talks a lot about the economy, and very few commentators are addressing the failings of the system that Trump talks about at his rallies.

Trump is saying out loud what a lot of people in the US have felt for quite some time: they are being screwed over.

Corporations have made out like bandits under free trade, but regular folk lost out. Those who have kept their jobs are now doing the work of the people who lost theirs, with no increase in pay. Many others are working three part-time jobs with no security and no stability, because of the way big companies do their 'just in time' staffing.

A lot of people in the US are no better off today than they were a decade or even two decades ago. Many have gone backwards financially. They know the banks, the corporations and the already-wealthy have done very well, and they have now figured out that the system is gamed against them. The house is always going to win, even while their house is 'underwater'. Trump is vowing to bring back the good times, when a person could make a living by working hard, not just by being born rich or with connections. He has tapped into the hugest fear most of us have: that our kids won't be better off than we are.

It remains ironic that Trump himself is the child of wealth even while decrying the graft of the ruling elite. He's also vulgar and rude, but being a loudmouth jerk doesn't take away the ring of truth to what he says about many Americans: things are not good for them and things are not getting better for them under the systems and policies currently in place. He's acknowledging the electorate's pain, often in a crude and ugly way, but acknowledging it nonetheless and no other candidate on either side is doing that.

Trump likely will not be able to fix the problems even if he does win the vote in November, but he's seeing and speaking a fundamental truth for the vast majority of Americans now: the American Dream is a chimera for all but a very few. The people who have lost out are blaming a government the voters know is no longer of or for the people, and they're looking for someone to set things right. Trump is popular because he's saying he's the one to fix it. He's promising to be a savior, and that's something US voters are willing to embrace.

Frankly, I am astounded and grateful that with all the anger and all the loss Trump is tapping into, that the people he's speaking to are are still willing to put their trust in voting for change. Think about all the guns down there.

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