Home / General / Jobs and Trump Voters

Jobs and Trump Voters

Comments
/
/
/
1320 Views

carrier-workers

I am consistently amazed at the resistance people have to the idea that a reasonable percentage of Trump voters cast a ballot for him because of economic anxiety. I know it’s easier to call everyone a bunch of racists. And some of them are! And some of them are racist and also voted for Barack Hussein Obama on two occasions! And some of them genuinely know that Barack Obama did nothing to keep their jobs in Ohio or Michigan or Wisconsin from moving overseas or being automated. And they know that Hillary Clinton really didn’t either. So, yes, some workers genuinely voted for Donald Trump because they want to keep their jobs. Take many workers at the Carrier plant in Indiana, famous because of the notorious filmed reaction to the bosses announcing the closing of the factory and the move of the jobs to Mexico.

Carrier’s decision to move the factory to Monterrey, Mexico, will eliminate 1,400 jobs by 2019. Mr. Trump quickly made the factory Exhibit A in his argument against the trade policies of Republicans and Democrats alike.

He cited Carrier again and again on the campaign trail, threatening to phone executives at the company and its parent, United Technologies, and to hit them with 35 percent tariffs on any furnaces and air-conditioners they imported from Mexico. To the cheers of his supporters, he predicted at rallies that Carrier would call him up as president and say, “Sir, we’ve decided to stay in the United States.”

Now his supporters expect action. “If he doesn’t pass that tariff, I will vote the other way next time,” warned Nicole Hargrove, who has worked at Carrier for a decade and a half and is not certain what she will do if and when her job goes to Mexico.

Carrier isn’t changing its plans. On Friday in a written statement, the company said, “We are making every effort to ease the transition for our Carrier colleagues in Indiana.” The company pointed out that it will finance four-year retraining and educational programs for employees and provide financial help.

For workers like Mr. Roell, 36, who started at Carrier just weeks after receiving his high school diploma and never returned to school, the problem is not a shortage of jobs in the area. Instead, it is a drought of jobs that pay anywhere near the $23.83 an hour he makes at Carrier, let alone enough to give him a toehold in the middle class.

When he drives to work each day before dawn, Mr. Roell passes warehouse after warehouse of giants like Walmart and Kohl’s with “Help Wanted” signs outside promising jobs within. The problem is that they typically pay $13 to $15 an hour.

“I guess I could work two full-time shifts a day,” he joked.

The situation confronting Mr. Roell and other blue-collar Carrier workers is not simply one anecdote from the region some people call the Rust Belt. It is part of a broad predicament for non-college-educated workers borne out by Census Bureau data. And it explains why even in Indiana, a state with a lower rate of unemployment than the national average, and a strong rebound from the recession in many ways, the economic and political frustration is palpable.

Sure, Donald Trump is lying to these workers. But that doesn’t actually matter in terms of winning an election. Because those workers know that Obama or Clinton weren’t going to keep that plant open. So why wouldn’t they vote for Donald Trump?

This is part of a larger massive failure of the entire political and economic establishment, which is five decades of indifference to communities decimated by globalization. Globalization has helped or hurt different parts of the nation in different ways. It has massively improved my home state of Oregon, which was really pretty poor as late as the mid-1980s and now is quite wealthy. Other coastal and urban areas have done as well. But we all know which communities have been the most left behind. They are the Democratic states that voted for Donald Trump. We need actual economic plans in the places people live. There are concrete political reasons for this–these states have a lot of electoral votes. Democrats have to pull enough white working class votes to win in those states. That means providing actual economic hope for people where they live. But that is not even close to being central to the national agenda, even on the left. Unfortunately, with automation likely to decimate even more jobs in the next years, even more white workers are probably going to be susceptible to racist appeals.

So yes, Trump voters were motivated in some extent by racism AND misogyny AND economic dislocation and community decline. If we chalk it all up to racism, we lose. Deal with the problems of these communities and you not only have done the right thing and have helped all working people–black, brown, and white–but you’ve convinced people of all races that Democrats have a real program for working people.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • politicalfootball

    A lot of foolish things have been written about how Trump supporters aren’t really racist, and perhaps even more nonsense has been written about how the Democrats aren’t worthy of the support of working people.

    But Loomis is right. Trump was able to weaponize racism because of the sustained failure of the elites of both parties.

    • AlanInSF

      The question is, why did Trump get the people who’d been failed by elites to vote for the more pro-globalization, anti-union party?

      Also, we probably need to stipulate that we’re talking about the 35% of Trump supporters who don’t believe Obama is a Muslim.

      • Nick never Nick

        Maybe because the Democrats haven’t presented their agenda in clear terms. Many Democratic initiatives, such as health care reform, an increase in the minimum wage, overtime rules, extended unemployment insurance, all impact working people — but no one has ever presented a document called Democratic Policies for the Working Class. If Obama had done that, and then fought to get these through Congress, and then every time one of them failed said that he was doing his best to enact the Democratic Policies for the Working Class, and every time one passed he celebrated the new Democratic Policy for the Working Class, then the working class would have some idea of what Obama and the Democrats wanted to do for them.

        Thanks to the Republicans, I suspect that a lot of people associate the Democratic party with strong support for men pissing in the women’s bathroom (+ EMAILZ). I’m not saying that the Democrats need to stop that stuff — they can’t, even if it wouldn’t be a horrible idea — but that they need to have a consistent and determined effort to present a unified idea of what they do for the working class.

        • JonH

          ” an increase in the minimum wage”

          May not actually endear the Democrats to *these* workers, who aren’t/weren’t making the minimum wage. These workers may resent the effort to pay “mere burger flippers” more while doing nothing to preserve the better-paying manufacturing jobs.

        • bender

          How many Democratic politicians are willing to utter the phrase “working class”? The preferred term/euphemism is “working families”. The class Democrats make speeches about helping is the middle class.

      • The question is, why did Trump get the people who’d been failed by elites to vote for the more pro-globalization, anti-union party?

        1) No one cares about policy.

        2) Workers largely don’t believe in their own union leaders either because the unions haven’t helped stop their jobs from being lost.

        • nkh

          Just out of curiosity, what concrete policies do you propose? And how would you communicate them since I can’t imagine that actually plausible approaches aren’t going to involve a fair amount of subtlety?

          • I don’t necessarily know precisely what to do. I do think it’s a big problem. The government has geographically shaped job policy in the past, both through the big dam projects that brought industry to the Tennessee and Columbia River basins and through its defense policy beginning in World War II that shifted industry to strategic locations across the nation. There could be encouragements in certain cases in government contracts to make those products in Ohio instead of California. There could be requirements to produce goods for the military actually in the United States, with encouragement to produce them in particularly communities, etc.

            It’s a tricky problem. We also have to figure it out.

            • ProgressiveLiberal

              OK, how about a 20% tariff – on every last import. You know how we accomplish that? By letting the dollar decline 20%. It literally has the same effect as putting a 20% tariff on every last import if our dollar is worth 20% less and buys 20% less goods. Sure, you’re not going to save the jobs that cost 90% less to do somewhere else, but you’re going to save (and bring back) the jobs that cost 10% or 15% less.

              We need to end the trade deficit – every dollar that we pay a foreign worker is a dollar we’re not paying an american worker, which is a dollar that isn’t going to get spent in their community. You end the deficit by balancing the dollar (ie, letting it decline.)

              How about changing the feds mandate or replacing everyone on the FOMC so that they take the full employment part of their mandate more seriously than they do the 2% self imposed cap on inflation? You see, you could propose and pass the ONE BAZILLION JOBS ACT and it won’t matter for shit, cause the fed is going to put the hammer down if unemployment falls any further. I mean, arguing about who creates more jobs is just plain stupid…the answer is “neither, cause the fed ain’t havin it.” They’ll just raise rates to slow the economy. They is literally NOTHING the legislature can do until this little problem is fixed. I mean, for fucks sakes they’ve already raised rates! When millions are un- and under-employed!

              Do these two things – end trade deficit by devaluing the dollar and fix the fed – and the market will bring back jobs to this country. We could have full employment again. If we don’t fix these two things, we’ll never have full employment (short of a bubble.)

              • bender

                If the US were not trying to hold on to its empire, that would be a logical option but there are several things in the way.

                One is that the dollar is the reserve currency of most of the world. Devaluing it all at once would tick off a lot of nations and very rich people who are holding large investments in dollars. They are the creditors of our national debt. They won’t like it, and they will go looking for some other country to provide the new reserve currency.

                Second is that the price of oil will go up. Anything manufactured domestically which requires petroleum for a feedstock or energy source or transport will become more expensive in both foreign and domestic markets.

                The third thing is that massively devaluing the dollar on purpose will set off a trade war.

                I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it, but it will have unpleasant side effects.

                • Brad Nailer

                  I wonder what the replacement currency would be. The euro seems the most logical, but that doesn’t strike me as the most stable of currencies these days. They all go downhill from there: the ruble, the yuan, the riyal. Maybe the yen?

                • Jhoosier

                  As a resident of Japan who hears about the banking bs that goes on here: Oh god, please no.

            • nkh

              I’ve come to agreed that it is clearly a huge problem. But I do have a lot of trouble thinking of what would be real durable solutions. I think infrastructure investment would help but I don’t think that impact lasts and no matter how hopeful the trumpeteers I know are, I call bullshit on that getting done. I agree with the comment below that the Fed could probably help a bit by being more serious about the employment mandate. But the more I look at the cases, like your examples, of times when the government was able to have that sorry of impact the more I think maybe krugman is right. We need to declare war on the Martians.

        • Norrin Radd

          That means providing actual economic hope for people where they live. But that is not even close to being central to the national agenda, even on the left.

          These folks aren’t looking for a 10 point plan. They’re looking for someone to look them deep in the eye and tell them like Jesus that he’ll fight for them. Obama did that which is why he won their vote. Hillary wasn’t as good at communicating her plan. (It did have a lot of points in it though).

          • Oh, I don’t disagree with you. But I do think we also need real policies, because they were looking around for a real good reason.

      • Sly

        Because rural and suburban white voters are as disconnected from national politics as they are disconnected from the multi-racial/ethnic communities that are the electoral bastions of the Democratic party. More so.

        This disconnection is not accidental, but it is very often not deliberate on their part. Those who insist on being and remaining disconnected are not the target. Those who don’t know any better, but who view their country through the ideology that segregation sustains because that’s the only thing they know, are.

      • twbb

        “The question is, why did Trump get the people who’d been failed by elites to vote for the more pro-globalization, anti-union party?”

        Because they saw him apparently dismantle that party specifically because they were pro-globalization.

        • Brad Nailer

          Ergo, Carrier. My question is that this kind of thing has been going on since Reagan; actually, since Carter. Why are people suddenly up in arms about it now? I remember reading about places like Youngstown, Ohio, 30 years ago. Has it taken this long for the justifiable anger to finally boil over, and too bad for Hillary?

          • twbb

            I think it hit a critical mass of people without work, plus an awareness through media saturation that in the cities people are actually doing very well. There’s an understandable anger where you’re working three jobs and falling behind while some millenial hipster in Brooklyn is spending $40 on artisanal tacos.

            I think also immigration patterns may have exacerbated things; a lot of these predominately white, poor, rural areas have started to see some immigration, and they see the people who just came to this country doing better than them. South Asian doctors on EB-1 visas, Mexican laborers able to undercut them on manual work, east Asian small business owners, etc. etc.

          • Aardvark Cheeselog

            Why are people suddenly up in arms about it now?

            The frog suddenly noticed how hot the water’s been getting?

          • Jackov

            Suddenly? Workers were up in arms about their future prospects in 2008, 1992 and 1980 as well.

          • Tzimiskes

            My theory is that it has to do with the uneven economic recovery from the financial crisis. There was a real divergence in outcomes between urban and rural areas that wasn’t as extreme before. Now, this doesn’t explain areas like Youngstown as well, but I have the impression, based on personal anecdotes, that a lot of these smaller industrial cities have a lot of workers that commute long distances into them giving them a greater cultural affinity with rural areas than is present in larger metros.

            This is something I wrote at my blog, I’ve removed the links, but I think these people are up in arms because they feel relatively disadvantaged to a much greater degree than they did before the recession. Many of them were willing to give Obama a chance but they feel that while he has delivered to his urban supporters he has failed to deliver to them. Of course, the strength of the Tea Party in many of these communities show that many of them never wanted to give Obama a chance, but at the margin I think there are substantial numbers that feel they gave the Democrats a chance and they didn’t come through for them.

            While US urban employment had risen above its pre-recession level by 2014, rural employment remained 3.2 points below its pre-recessionary level in 2015 (page 1 and 2). Furthermore, the period of 2010-2014 marks the first time that rural America as a whole has faced population declines, with a loss of 116,000 people over this period. While overall poverty rates are comparable with past history in rural areas, the poverty rate for children living in rural areas has continued to climb through the recession and recovery, from 21.9% in 2007 to 24.2% in 2009 and to a further 25.2% in 2014 (page 3). Poverty in working age adults has risen from 14.6% in 2007 to 17.6% in 2014 (page 3). This was offset in declines in poverty rates among seniors. (information from USDA Rural America at a Glance report, this year’s look better but I wrote the above paragraph back in March)

    • JKTH

      Trump was able to weaponize racism because of the sustained failure of the elites of both parties.

      The thing is, it’s impossible to say for certain whether this is actually the case. Would a Trump-style campaign not have succeeded 30, 40, 50 years ago…whenever the supposed WWC golden age was? We have no idea since nobody actually ran that type of campaign under a major party label. If anything, we have the example of George Wallace in 1968 getting significant traction as a third-party candidate even in states outside the South.

      • lawtalkingguy

        George Wallace won the Michigan primary during the golden age of unions.
        The idea that Democrats ‘left’ the wwc and not the other way around over the issue of civil rights seems to be pretty entrenched and I dont know why. Midwestern populist-democrats did pretty badly vs Reagan and HW in supposedly union friendly states. The only two times Democrats have won in the last 40 years have been Bill Clinton’s traingulation of ‘tough on crime, but populism’ and Obama. Its now pretty clear that both of those guys were unique politicians and that without them its hard to pull either option off.

        Another thing that no one seems to be talking about the massive fall off from Obama elections from the poc voters. IF they dont come out for an existential threat then what will they come out for?

        • Monte_Davis

          Lawtalkingguy: What you said. Trump’s popular vote was quantitatively almost the same as McCain’s and Romney’s. And to the extent it was qualitatively different, racism explains little or nothing: does anyone seriously believe that racism-driven white voters *hadn’t* already voted twice against Obama? (That doesn’t make Trump’s normalization of racism any less despicable or less dangerous in its consequences, of course.)

          The elephant in the room is the decline of 9M Democratic votes since 2008, 5M since 2012. Although even a small amount of D->R switching may well have been critical in swinging Rust Belt electoral votes, I don’t think that PLUS voter suppression PLUS defections to Johnson & Stein are nearly enough to explain that big a decline.

          For those who doubt (as I do) that Sanders would have held onto more of those 5-9M additional Obama voters — POC or not — than HRC did, the question becomes one of person vs. platform. I.e., while you may be right that WJC and Obama were “unique politicians,” I’m not comfortable with the fatalism of waiting for another such — and I don’t see any good alternative to hammering out a Democratic economic position that is more persuasive *and* more honest than the Trump/Ryan/Koch lies.

          • twbb

            Right, I don’t want the only time we ever win the White House is when we run a charismatic candidate after the country’s been run into the ground.

          • nkh

            From what I understand, though, once everything is counted, her turnout will actually be pretty close to Obama 2012. It’s just in the “wrong” places.

          • Rob in CT

            Decline since 2012 certainly is something we should look hard at.

            I’m really unsure about using 2008, though. 2008 was a near-blowout following the GOP fucking up everything. It wasn’t replicable.

            2012, though, yeah.

            Votes are still being counted, right (google tells me HRC has crossed 61M)?

            Need to get the final numbers, adjust for pop growth, and figure some shit out.

            • Rob in CT

              And by the way: what the fuck. The election was almost a week ago. We still haven’t tallied all the votes?

    • cpinva

      “Trump was able to weaponize racism because of the intentional sustained failure of the elites of both parties.”

      there, fixed that for you. this “failure” is most evident in the trade treaties negotiated for the past 40 years. these treaties have pointedly failed to include any means of providing a level playing field for domestic workers/producers, vs foreign workers/producers. this is why they have been so wildly successful, from capital’s point of view. they just keep moving to whichever country is willing to provide cheaper labor and a more exploitable environment for them to rape.

      the costs of transportation-in are easily borne, including a tidy profit, when you have nearly slave labor producing the product, and no environmental regulations to contend with. close those two glaring gaps, and profits from foreign sourced goods drop like a stone, making it far less attractive to move one’s production facilities to a foreign shore. tariffs aren’t necessary, again, just level the playing field.

      the idiots that voted for Trump, thinking he was seriously going to do anything concrete about their plight (other than send in private security with dogs and tasers) are, as are most fools, going to be horribly disappointed. as for their threat to “vote the other way next time”, who cares? Trump certainly doesn’t, he’s shocked he got elected now, I seriously doubt he’s given a thought to anything beyond breakfast tomorrow. what a bunch of easily led dumbasses.

      I have zero empathy for those people. no, less than zero, absolute zero empathy. all empathy movement has stopped. I do hope they enjoy living on the street, because that’s where a lot of them will be by the end of his 4 year disaster, commonly known as a presidential term. idiots.

      • Aardvark Cheeselog

        When I hear “failure of elites” I don’t think of trade treaties. After all, as you point out, meaningful restitution for lost jobs in the US was never a success criterion for those. What the phrase summons in my mind is the fact that nobody in a position of responsibility ever seems to lose their job as a consequence of fucking up any more. They just fail upwards.

        As somebody once pointed out, the argument for technocracy in representative societies is that the technocrats can deliver results. Basic competence at doing that seems to be in short supply everywhere. Specifically including the Democratic party organization.

        • Jackov

          I think I agree. Downscale whites feel they are bearing the brunt for bad policy/decisions while elites are never held to account for their epic failures – esp. the Iraq War and Great Recession. The result is a combination of latching on to anything that may help, projectile blame and a general ‘fuck you guys.’

    • Phil Perspective

      Who slipped a micky into Loomis’s coffee today? He’s damn right. He should talk to people like Brian Beutler and Adam Serwer, both of whom he probably follows on Twitter. Both were often mocking the economic anxiety angle this election. I also hope Loomis read the articles today about the failures of the Clinton campaign. Talk about screwing the pooch with arrogance and condescension.

    • Rusty SpikeFist

      I am consistently amazed at the resistance people have to the idea that a reasonable percentage of Trump voters cast a ballot for him because of economic anxiety.

      “some people”? Your own blog was one of the most consistent, energetic purveyors of the “economic anxiety ha ha ha lololol yeah as if anybody cares about that nonsense” BS. in the month before the election that was practically 75% of Scott’s posts at LGM.

  • Dr. Waffle
    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      You have to remember the “auto bailout” helped union workers who are identified with a large city, ie, perceived as Democrats.

      Trump voters want a bailout that helps them, and them alone. Failing that, they’ll settle for policies that hurt people who live in urban areas even if those policies hurt them as well.

  • djanyreason

    Erik, the reason people are resistant to “the idea that a reasonable percentage of Trump voters cast a ballot for him because of economic anxiety” is that it is very hard to find any economic variable which predicts Trump support, but trivially easy to find variables of racial and immigration anxiety that do predict Trump support. It may be that people voted for Trump because of economic anxiety, but in no greater proportion than those who voted for Clinton for such reasons. It is not the predictive variable. Insisting otherwise is truthiness.

    • Dr. Waffle

      This. Donald Trump explicitly stated during his campaign that American workers make too much money. His economic populism was always an afterthought, and was never the main source of his appeal.

      • Phil Perspective

        This. Donald Trump explicitly stated during his campaign that American workers make too much money.

        He also, at one point, supported the $15/hr minimum wage. That’s the whole point though, isn’t it? Every day everything he said conflicted with what he said the day before.

        • Scott Mc

          Except for the racism. That was pretty consistent. Which leads me to believe that his followers liked that, b/c they didn’t care what he said about jobs or whatever.

          • twbb

            “Except for the racism. That was pretty consistent”

            Was it? Even the racist stuff has been inconsistent. It’s always been there, but in terms of what he claims he’ll do he’s been all over the place.

    • Ronan

      Don’t really have time or inclination to get into it, but a good bit of research in Europe anyway shows how similar demographics turned to RW politics as a result of l/t economic decline and a loss of occupational status. Argument would be certain individuals from these demographics conceptualize decline through nationalism/nativism, others through inequality etc. But the socio economic decline helps explain how opinions are formed/become salient.
      Bit of evidence from.polling shows that some measures of economic insecurity(perceived or real, decline a in social.mobility, etc) is predictive of trump support.
      I keep.recommending revolt on the right by Matthew Goodwin and Rob Ford, it’s on ukip. chapter 3 is quite interesting on This. Perhaps not applicable to the US (though perhaps it is) Also the new minority by Jason geist, a comparative ethnography (with various hypothesis tested by polling data) of east London and Youngstown. I think (imo.anyway) they give quite convincing explanations (values + culture + socio economic decline

    • Erik, the reason people are resistant to “the idea that a reasonable percentage of Trump voters cast a ballot for him because of economic anxiety” is that it is very hard to find any economic variable which predicts Trump support,

      That’s not in fact the reason as no one cares about teasing out economic variables, but it doesn’t matter. Because you can, you know, ask people why they voted for him and take those answers seriously.

      • The Navigator

        And you can also, you know, recognize that people come up with post-hoc rationalizations all the time – especially when they want to cover up a socially unpopular motivation like racism. They may even be rationalizing to themselves. But that doesn’t make it the real reason for their vote. Erik, do you take people at their word when they say they couldn’t vote for Hillary because of her ‘dishonesty’, while they were voting for a pathological liar? Do you think that answer really tells us something useful about what’s actually going on with these people?

        • Yes, actually, I do think it is a legitimate representation of their own beliefs.

          • cpinva

            “Yes, actually, I do think it is a legitimate representation of their own beliefs.”

            I could be wrong, but I don’t think cognitive dissonance qualifies as a “belief”. it represents a twisted psyche, but not a belief as such, regardless of whether or not you claim it to be.

        • Norrin Radd

          It’s also hard to argue that people voted for Obama twice but not HRC because of racism. How does it work that they’re more racist against the white woman than the black guy named Barack Hussein Obama?

          Clearly a set–maybe 5-15%–ignored Trumps outlandish bigotry out of how they perceived their own economic self interest. As Ken Bone said the only reason he was on the fence about HRC ( he agreed with her on most issues) is because he worked at a coal plant and Trump might save his job.

          People have always been willing to ignore bigotry in favor of their own self interest. You see this in the house slave vs field slave phenomenon. Divide and conquer works.

          • efgoldman

            How does it work that they’re more racist against the white woman than the black guy named Barack Hussein Obama?

            Maybe because Grandpa Walnuts and Mittster had an upbringing that didn’t allow racism and xenophobia, as much as their economic views were repellent.
            Orange Shitweasel gave their voters’ ids free rein.

            • ScottK

              Jamelle Bouie at Slate had an article pretty much saying that a couple of days ago: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/why_did_some_white_obama_voters_for_trump.html

              The idea is that even with black and white candidates on the ballot, the election wasn’t about black vs white- people could say “I’m voting for the n*gger” and go do it. But Trump made the concept of multiracial democracy an issue in a way it wasn’t before, and now these people could explicitly vote for making white people in general in charge again.

              I’m thinking that there maybe aren’t *that* many straight-up racists who’d never vote for a black guy, but a lot more who miss the days when whites ran the show and voted for more of that when given the chance.

        • Sebastian_h

          A huge part of the problem is that we are measuring what is easy to measure, not what is important to measure.

          If someone gets let go from their job and after a year gets another job at 70% of their previous pay, they will show up as ’employed’ for the unemployment statistics.

          If someone see their company go through rounds of layoffs but they survive the layoffs, their job insecurity won’t register in any of the official statistics.

      • I think the data Sean McElwee has here is important in this. He’s getting more at what Trump voters think about the issue, rather than what they say is the reason that they support Trump. Both are important. But politically, it seems to be that what matters is the story that people believe about the loss of jobs, not the actual facts. Economic issues are largely understood as cultural issues by most voters, apparently.

        • But politically, it seems to be that what matters is the story that people believe about the loss of jobs, not the actual facts. Economic issues are largely understood as cultural issues by most voters, apparently.

          The sooner we all realize this, the better off we will be.

          • I guess what I’m worried about is if it’s one of those hopeless tasks like how people seem to largely have kept believing that crime rates were increasing throughout an over twenty year sustained decrease in crime. Especially if, as I think might be the case, the people turning toward Trump aren’t so much the people really hit by a stagnant or declining economy, but by those adjacent to it, who aren’t going to particularly notice if things go up or down.

            • TheoLib

              I think it is one of those hopeless tasks, like you say. On Friday, I think, Wolf Blitzer was talking with Steve Israel, who spoke about how the Democrats need to reach out to the disaffected Trump voters. Blitzer showed a clip of a 65-year-old Trump voter who complained that he got a $3 raise in his Social Security the past year, enough to buy a loaf of bread. So he voted for the party that wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare and/or raise the retirement age and cut SS benefits. Possibly he’s just oblivious to the GOP’s openly stated intent and he could be persuaded of the facts by someone sitting down with him and going over them with him. Perhaps, but I’m not confident.

              • kped

                I saw Paul Ryan on TV, and he was fucking giddy. He gets to pass EVERYTHING.

                I guess there is a chance that people pressure them like they did when Bush was trying to privatize SS. I mean, midterms are in 2 years, you privatize SS and medicare and you could get wiped out quick.

                But since I’m not a sociopath like some leftists…I’d rather Republicans in congress fear for their jobs enough that they don’t push this through. I’m not a burn it down guy, there are too many people in the house.

            • Simple Desultory Philip

              this. if data is to be trusted (which, ymmv these days with almost everything), most trump supporters were actually doing ok – $70k or more per year earners is the figure i’ve seen most. that’s not to say that there isn’t a problem with declining jobs in the rural rust belt, but it *is* to say that the people supporting the nazi cheeto weren’t necessarily the people taking the hit. which is terrible both for the people who actually are hurting and also for a huge portion of the rest of the population – but not actually so much for the folks who put him in power.

        • Ronan

          Right. Eric Kaufman has written about this aswell (using data from the values survey, though he rejects most economic arguments )
          This is also what I was saying above. Different people with different cultural values understand their decline in status (due, in part, to downgrading in occupation or unemployment ) differently. Some blame outsiders (foreigners , minorities ) others blame other factors (inequality) both blame differnt members of the elite (some the “cultural elite”, or liberals, others the rich). But economic decline and the decline in status , which they partly had through work, is a cause of their discontent

          • Ronan

            Mistake is to look solely at material deprivation , which is the strawman yglesias et al keep beating

        • Norrin Radd

          Isn’t that always the case? How many well meaning college educated liberals actually think green jobs will save the middle class? In fact unless you’re am economist probably most of what you understand about the economy is based on cultural, not economic, facts.

        • cpinva

          “The predicted score for a white person who thinks it is “extremely likely” people of color are taking white jobs is 64.”

          *bolding mine.

          I found this wording interesting. it’s not a one-off either, he consistently uses the term throughout the article including as part of the title of a graph. I’m not sure if it’s just poor wording on his (the author’s) part, or there is some underlying Freudian slipism going on. what jobs, specifically, are “white jobs” (normally reserved solely for white people and, more specifically, white males), and which jobs are open to anyone with the right qualifications, regardless of race/gender?

          historically, pretty much all white collar occupations have been the province of educated white males. while there have been cracks in the glass ceiling, white males, out of all proportion to their share of the population, still dominate those jobs.

          when actual minorities start taking some of them (no matter how teeny-tiny a slice), some unsuccessful white male applicants may well feel that job has been “stolen” from them, because it has historically been held by a white male. that the successful minority candidate was more qualified than our unsuccessful white male candidate is irrelevant. surely the only reason they got the job is because of their minority status, the same reason they gained admission to a better college/MBA program/first job out of school, than our (now very) unhappy white male.

          our unhappy white, male job/promotion seeker is possibly now thinking:

          “That should have been my job/promotion, and that (insert appropriate racial pejorative here) stole it from me! a white male has held that job/position ever since it was first created (at that time, there were no minorities/women even employed by the company), and I was next in line for it! it was my job dammit, and it was given away to a clearly inferior(insert appropriate racial pejorative here), for no other reason than that they are a minority! I’m going to vote for Trump, he’ll fix this unfairness, so never again will I be embarrassed, by a (insert appropriate racial pejorative here), or any other (racial pejorative)’s!”

      • Origami Isopod

        Because you can, you know, ask people why they voted for him and take those answers seriously.

        This is just … cringeworthy. Like The Navigator says, the Trumpistas are going to rationalize their decisions, and you can’t trust that they’ll be honest with you.

        • As a historian, I take what people say as at least representing their own beliefs. It doesn’t mean everything. But it’s important. On the other hand, we can’t take a worker saying “I am scared and I am voting for Bernie Sanders” seriously and “I am scared and I am voting for Donald Trump” not seriously. And that’s effectively what you are saying here.

          • Snuff curry

            Sure, and everyone believes that they are a fundamentally good person actuated by valorous impulses related to real problems that have easy solutions that would benefit everyone else if only they were monarchs-for-a-day. Everyone’s an expert. The hypothetical Sanders voter and the hypothetical Trump voter fear different things, though, have different grievances. You’re suggesting that we ignore the Trump voter’s pathology, on clear display now for about a year, and focus on how they cleaned that pathology up, went back to keeping the quiet parts quiet, cloaking everything else in euphemism in all other instances we easily recognize as euphemism, when they found out they were going to get their picture in the paper. That’s effectively what you are saying here.

            • You’re suggesting that we ignore the Trump voter’s pathology, on clear display now for about a year, and focus on how they cleaned that pathology up, went back to keeping the quiet parts quiet, cloaking everything else in euphemism in all other instances we easily recognize as euphemism, when they found out they were going to get their picture in the paper.

              Um, no I am not.

              • Snuff curry

                How are we meant to take your hypothetical Trump voter’s stated fears seriously, when they are imaginary and comforting bogeys of the racist, xenophobic kind? I mean, they are, in a way, “representing their own beliefs,” but those beliefs contradict rather than support the more palatable “economic” unease they are attributing their vote to.

                • My voters aren’t hypothetical. They are the people in the Carrier factory in Indiana.

                • cpinva

                  “My voters aren’t hypothetical. They are the people in the Carrier factory in Indiana.”

                  yes, they are. right now, they have two viable targets for their anger/racism: the managers who decided it was more economically viable to move the entirety of the plant’s operations down to Mexico, for starters.

                  secondly, the lower wage, possibly concentration camp-like working/living conditions Mexicans, who will be taking their jobs. there is apparently a surplus of hate to go around. racism doesn’t enter into it at all, except when it does.

                • twbb

                  “the managers who decided it was more economically viable to move the entirety of the plant’s operations down to Mexico, for starters.”

                  It WAS more economically viable to move the plant’s operation down to Mexico. That’s the problem.

                  The third viable target is the “establishment” which they think sold them out to benefit the rich. Which is also the problem, because it’s accurate.

                  It is very, very hard to bring jobs back to white blue collar America, but that’s still a lot easier than changing people’s views on race. I know there’s a lot of anger as to why can’t we just yell at them that they’re racist enough, and then that’ll help.

                • I heard an interview with a clothing manu. the other day who said, in sequence: I’d LOVE to manufacture stuff here, but we don’t have the factories that can do it anymore. I’d love to see people build up the factories but it takes time, and workers with certain skills, and I wouldn’t know how to do it myself so it’s out of my hands. The unions started asking for too much money in this country. Everybody got greedy. The factory owners thought they could get away with raising prices. (Implying that manufacturers who paid living wages were at fault, class traitors I guess.)

                  Even union members, in my experience, are capable of believing that unions got greedy. And even people without diplomas are capable of grasping the simplest version of the “Eagles tickets are through the roof because greedy steelworkers” argument.

            • Tehanu

              Sure, and everyone believes that they are a fundamentally good person actuated by valorous impulses related to real problems that have easy solutions that would benefit everyone else if only they were monarchs-for-a-day.

              Maybe … but I’m much more inclined to think that the easy solutions Chump voters want are the ones that benefit them, and them only — not “everyone else.” Hell, not even “anyone else.”

          • Origami Isopod

            On the other hand, we can’t take a worker saying “I am scared and I am voting for Bernie Sanders” seriously and “I am scared and I am voting for Donald Trump” not seriously.

            Oh, we can both agree they’re scared. But it’s what they’re scared of that matters. Sanders didn’t run on a campaign of white supremacy. Trump did.

            • I’m talking here strictly about taking them seriously, not saying one can’t be right and one can’t be wrong.

        • MPAVictoria

          What about the specific guy quoted in the article? He is going to lose his job. Donald Trump promised to do something so he wouldn’t. Can we believe what he said about why he voted the way he did?

          • efgoldman

            He is going to lose his job. Donald Trump promised to do something so he wouldn’t.

            All the power plants and factories that burn natural gas aren’t going to retrofit just because Tangerine Nightmare promised the miners that coal would come back.
            Nor, unless he can get crippling tariffs passed and cause a worldwide depression, are companies (including his own!) going to stop using cheaper Chinese steel.

            • MPAVictoria

              Oh I am not saying that he will actually do anything to help most of these people. But he at least was talking about them and their issues in a simple, straightforward way. Clinton should have been doing that.

              • Brien Jackson

                No he wasn’t, he was lying to their face promising a bunch of things he can’t, and won’t, deliver. That matters.

                • ProgressiveLiberal

                  Not to pick nits, but, um, isn’t that exactly what she was doing too? You think free college would be coming if she had won?

        • Norrin Radd

          If you assume that all Americans exist on a spectrum of racism perhaps this concept is easier. You can be a little racist and still be a winnable vote for Dems.

          A large majority of Americans thought he was both racist and sexist so clearly many millions of people voted for him knowing he was racist and sexist. These people were a “little bit” racist. Winnable votes. Like Elizabeth Warren said they voted for Trump in spite on his bigotry not because of it.

          • XTPD

            The Scalzi pitch would probably be an effective persuasion tool. It could also probably be assumed a lot of these people would be mostly fine with watching the Horsefly’s Real Time.

          • cpinva

            ” Like Elizabeth Warren said they voted for Trump in spite on his bigotry not because of it.”

            let’s not forget they also voted for him, in spite of him lying to them constantly, being a proven lousy businessman, nearly functionally illiterate (of course, many of his supporters could relate to that), a proven fraud and thief, a pedophile, etc., etc., etc. all personality characteristics they apparently find desirable in a republican president. but no, it was really all about “economic anxiety”, and how they trusted him, a person with no actual clue as to how our government works, to fix it all.

            in other words, his supporters are mostly despicable morons.

            • DrS

              votes from mostly despicable morons count just as much as the votes as saints.

              • Brad Nailer

                Unfortunately, given the numbers.

    • xq

      It’s a complicated question that people have analyzed oversimplistically. Sure, if you just compare Trump voters to Clinton voters it’s hard to see an economic explanation, because most Trump voters are long-time partisan Republicans and white people become more Republican as their income increases. But if you want to know why former Democrats voted for Trump in states like PA and MI, that’s not the right comparison. It does look like Trump did better than Romney among low-income whites.

      • lawtalkingguy

        he also did better among black, hispanic and asian voters.

        • cpinva

          “he also did better among black, hispanic and asian voters.”

          what, he got more than .001%? the Mittster’s bar wasn’t exactly a high hurdle.

    • Markos Valaris

      These studies tell you about the average Trump voter, but almost by definition, these are not the voters that cost Clinton the election. If the question is why Clinton lost, then what you are asking is what motivated marginal swing state Trump voters, and voters who would have voted Clinton but chose to stay home instead. It is perfectly possible for the typical Trumper to be a stone racist while the marginal Trumper (or stay-homer) is much less so.

      • Markos Valaris

        It is perfectly possible for the typical Trumper to be a stone racist while the marginal Trumper (or stay-homer) is much less so

        Better, it is possible that what motivated marginal Trump voters and stay-homers is much less inflected by racism that what motivated his core or typical supporters.

    • Sly

      The best demographic predictor of Trump support among white voters was their degree of segregation. In other words, white voters who are more likely to view the world through a lens that white exclusivity created.

      Obama cracked that lens in 2008, but didn’t break it.

    • twbb

      “Erik, the reason people are resistant to “the idea that a reasonable percentage of Trump voters cast a ballot for him because of economic anxiety” is that it is very hard to find any economic variable ”

      Why on earth do you think economic anxiety is strongly correlated with any real-world economic variables?

    • Jackov

      It was pretty easy for 538

      Counties with weaker job growth since 2012, for example, were more likely to support Trump; the same is true for places with lower average earnings among full-time workers.

      Trump beat Clinton in counties where more jobs are at risk because of technology or globalization. Specifically, counties with the most “routine” jobs — those in manufacturing, sales, clerical work and related occupations that are easier to automate or send offshore — were far more likely to vote for Trump.

  • Ronan

    This,was doing the rounds (on Twitter)

    https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class

    If you ever did up a reading list on the economy and politics of the rust belt (?) I’d certainly be interested in it.
    Gonna read out of sight over Christmas tree, I think.

    • AlanInSF

      The HBR article practices the sort of shoddy anecdotalism that’s always the tell in this sort of analysis, e.g….

      “The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.”

      No, actually the Democrats’ solution was massive infrastructure spending, creating all sorts of manly, productive work — which republicans consistently blocked. But sure, pink collars.

      • Ronan

        Well she also references a bit of research on the phenomenon. I thought it was interesting but I don’t know the history so am.open to correction. I’m indifferent enough to the points she makes specifically about the Clinton campaign (not my business really)

      • XTPD

        FWIW, I also noticed that – at least to me – it seems to be written at a reading level well below Harvard’s (and my) pay grade .

        That said, the part about the working-class hating professionals but liking the rich seems accurate to me. Until at least this decade, “black Trump” was no small compliment in hip-hop circles.

      • NewishLawyer

        The thing that always strikes me about these articles is the damned anti-Intellectualism.

        Do they want a world without doctors?

        • cpinva

          “Do they want a world without doctors?”

          yes, for everyone but them. and most especially not for “those people”! the more health care “those people” use, the less there will be for the “right” sort of people.

      • Origami Isopod

        Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.

        Thank you for quoting that. I can’t be bothered with any analysis that insists it’s horribly insulting to ask men of any class to take on “women’s work.”

        • Snuff curry

          To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.

          Where “class anger” has nothing to do with class anymore. When you narrow your focus on “class” to only include white, non-urban men working as rather well-paying, skilled labor, yeah, no wonder things lose focus. The words they’re reaching for are “identity politics” and “cultural war,” apparently.

          • Origami Isopod

            Yep. White men are, once again, the default. This blind spot distorts everything in U.S. politics (well, not just in the U.S., but that’s the subject at hand here), and even a lot of white men who claim to be our allies can’t be bothered to get new glasses.

      • Sly

        “The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.”

        NO UNQUESTIONED MISOGYNISTIC ASSUMPTIONS HERE NO SIREE

        • Ronan

          Preceding paragraph:

          “Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.”

          • Ronan

            again, differencee between explaining and agreeing

    • Ronan

      Over Christmas, not the Christmas tree

    • LeeEsq

      Its what you call received wisdom.

      • Ronan

        Her argument Is explicitly there are economic causes to.this, which doesn’t seem like received wisdom (from what I’m seeing anyway )

    • eclare

      I like the part where she says she won’t defend police killing innocent people, then in the next sentence defends police who kill innocent people.

    • postmodulator

      I saw that. I had some choice words for the idea that the Harvard Business Review was going to explain to me about factory workers in the Rust Belt.

    • Ronan

      Okay, people didn’t like the article . I get it ; )

    • Solar System Wolf

      Pretty slick how it starts off talking about the “U.S. working class” at the beginning, but by the end is talking only about the “white male working class.”

      • Ronan

        In fairness that’s probably an editorial decision in the heading . She makes it explicitly about the wwc throughout

        • djw

          Quite a myster how this erroneous slippage just keeps happening for some mysterious reason…

  • delazeur

    Personal vignettes like this are pretty useless as political commentary. There are 300 million people in this country; you can find a handful of them who will support whatever narrative you want.

  • LeeEsq

    How do you even stop a company from automizing? Most of the manufacturing jobs were lost because the factories were automated rather than moved to another country. The entire idea of productivity is doing more with less. If you can have an automated factory employing 100 people do the same work as a factory with 1000 employees than everybody is going to go towards the latter.

    • I don’t know. I do know that the lack of good jobs is very likely to lead to more racial animosity. Figure it out.

      • I knew this was coming. I just didn’t expect it nearly this soon.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t automation, but a lack of demand in the economy, leading to a permanent group of un- and under-employed? And that if we filled the gap in demand, these workers would get hired? And get raises?

        You realize that in 1999 when unemployment was down to a year round 4% average, we were a hell of a lot more automated than we were in 1980, 70, 60, 50, etc, etc, etc? And yet people had jobs and were getting raises?

        • Sly

          Manufacturing output kept its upward trend level over the last three decades while manufacturing jobs declined. In other words we are still making shit, but with less people. That means robots.

          For a more nuanced answer: We make the same shit but now with robots and we switched to making new shit that’s easier to make with robots.

          This doesn’t discount the loss of low skill manufacturing due to capital mobility and lower transportation costs making them cheaper in countries with a lower wage floor, but discounting automation discounts reality.

      • cpinva

        “I don’t know.”

        that would be because you don’t. when it becomes significantly less costly to automate, causing your marginal unit cost to drop like a stone, then automation it is. that it puts humans out of work isn’t the company’s problem to deal with, just as long as there a sufficient number of people still working, and able to afford/buy their product. where that break point is depends, I suppose, on demand/quantity produced/cost/price. back to basic econ 101.

    • Ronan

      You can’t. But that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a lot of suffering during the transition.

      • LeeEsq

        The inability to deal with the transition from an industrial to post-industrial society is a really big politically failure. Its not like we didn’t have historical examples to maybe get people to think easing the transition might be a good idea.

        • What inability to deal? What Color Is My Parachute? is all about transitioning to the new economy. So is Who Moved My Cheese? America has millions of life coaches. Those WWC people Just. Didn’t. Try.

          • dl

            Please tell me this is sarcasm. Please.

            • The last sentence is sarcasm.

              The rest is unfortunately factual truth. What Color Is My Parachute? talks over and over about the new economy and the need for people to forget what they thought they were taught about how to get a job, and do what the book says. So is Who Moved My Cheese? It’s more explicit in the former case, which was published, what, 30-40 years ago? And unfortunately that is what we have in the way of helping people transition to economic realities. Life coaches recommending What Color Is My Parachute? If we asked a cross-section of liberal professionals–not just Rs by any means–what to do to help people harmed by the new economy, most likely they would recommend a life coach, and at least one–possibly both, even the liberals–of those books.

              We did know, as Lee suggests we should have, that new attitudes would be required in the economy of the near future, and people set about ensuring we would have them.

              • dl

                yikes. there was a good post here a few years back about the perniciousness of “Who Moved My Cheese” but I can’t find it now. in any case, this “turn coal miners into coders” business is pie-in-the-sky pablum to assuage consciences, for my money.

                • Jackov

                  People in nowheresville need to network more.
                  They must no someone who works at WalMart or the Dollar Store.

    • carolannie

      The answer is you don’t stop the company from automating. You make it pay to retrain the workers and provide them some sort of jobs assistance. Unemployment insurance is waaaayyy too low.The companies that cause the unemployment (let’s face it, they are directly causing unemployment by moving jobs and automating) basically get a huge pass, and the rest of the community gets to pick up the slack Not only are the companies, shareholders, and CEOs massively undertaxed, they are benefiting form destroying the economy AND being subsidized for doing so.

      • carolannie

        Mind you, I think that lousy jobs that pay well should be automated and people should be freed up to do more creative work. But they can’t do that if they are on subsistence level unemployment and trapped in impoverished communities with farcical retraining programs.

        • LeeEsq

          Not everybody is creative though. Saying that people should be freed up to do creative work implies thats what people want or are capable of.

        • Ask Me Gently

          Most people aren’t built for creative work.

          • Brad Nailer

            True dat.

            Most people just want a fucking job that they can do, that won’t stress them out and that puts food on their family. Not too many artists, writers and entrepreneurs running around out there.

            • Origami Isopod

              Most people just want a fucking job that they can do, that won’t stress them out and that puts food on their family.

              And that’s fine.

              This is why I am deeply impatient with the whole “self-improvement” rhetoric that comes from middle-class white people. And I’m someone who has taken a lot of adult-ed courses, both professional and for funsies. Let people just earn a goddamn living, supplemented with UBI, then come home and chill out in whatever way they want. Adults shouldn’t have to spend their free time “improving themselves” so that self-important fuckwits with giant blind spots about class can approve of their hobbies.

            • Scott P.

              As usual, it would help to look at the desired endpoint.

              When we have our Trekonomics future, with all material needs met and complete freedom to spend our time as we wish, what do we see people doing?

              Do we require people to keep working, as a form of self-actualization, and assign people to be replicator polishers? Or do we feel it is possible to have a fulfilling life without the rat race?

    • efc

      Most of the manufacturing jobs were lost because the factories were automated rather than moved to another country.

      That isn’t an uncontested “everyone knows” fact.

      “On the whole, the U.S. manufacturing sector does not appear to have been a hotbed of innovation and productivity gains in recent years. It has gotten by with fewer workers, but in many cases that seems to have been more about managing decline through layoffs and plant shutdowns than boldly leaping into the automated future.”

      https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-10-26/manufacturing-s-productivity-myth

    • ProgressiveLiberal

      My head hurts listening to people here talk about productivity.

      Do any of you have any idea why we were richer in 1999 than we were in 1950? Anyone?

      Riddle me this: if its horrible when a job goes to Mexico, is it equally horrible when a job goes from Seattle to Tupelo? Shouldn’t Seattle do something to prevent this? And by “something” I mean, whatever y’all propose to do about jobs moving from the US to Mexico… It’s high wage to low wage, right?

      Would we be worse off if doctors got paid half as much or would we be better off? What about the doctors?

      And, for the hundredth time: the problem is the dollar is too high, which is like discounting imports and putting a tariff on our exports, and causes a huge trade deficit, which is like mailing your money to china instead of paying the guy down the street. The reason we’re short jobs here is cause we’re too busy creating them over there. Fix the dollar and fix the fed (stop raising rates when we have millions unemployed and NO inflation!) and we’re back in business. This shit ain’t complicated.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Even better, the party about to take control of the entire Federal government wants to eliminate half of the Fed’s dual mandate, too

      • Colin Day

        We may be sending our money to China, but we’re getting their stuff. As some of that stuff is in the form of intermediate goods, that keeps our costs down.

        If we had full employment, the value of the dollar would be irrelevant, as there would be no gains from trying to increase exports.

    • Brett

      You try new things, and you explicitly offer compensation and re-training programs tied into the new agenda with jobs guaranteed at the end of it. Think “Eds, Meds, Infrastructure” – make it a pleasant place to live, make sure there’s some solid employers, and then build from there. Try to diversify them as well over time, because building a monoculture industry town is dangerous – that’s the principle lesson from the shift into post-industrial times.

      For older workers, it might be worthwhile simply paying them to retire early or shifting them into deliberately over-compensated jobs as a phase-down. There’s usually not a lot of them left anyways considering the size of the US government and overall economy.

      States and Cities could do this as well with tax subsidies and grants. Maybe they should be required to include expensive restrictions and severance pay if they shut-down a plant that is profitable after operating expenses and debt service, in exchange for getting the assistance at the beginning.

      And as ProgressiveLiberal has been harping on, for god’s sake, run the economy at full employment.

      • cpinva

        “And as ProgressiveLiberal has been harping on, for god’s sake, run the economy at full employment.”

        hmmmmmmmm, exactly how many jobs, for totally unskilled workers, are going unfilled these days? I’m guessing not many. if there was a huge demand for such workers, the jobs would be there. there isn’t, so they aren’t. again, we go back to Econ 101.

        are you suggesting the government (the “employer of last resort”), simply hire thousands of unskilled unemployed people, hand them a broom, and stick them in public facilities all over the country? if so, what about the people already doing those jobs? where do they go, when they’re replaced by newly hired unskilled workers?

        I’m sorry, but ProgressiveLiberal doesn’t seem to know his ass from a hole in the ground, when it comes to economics/budgeting/etc. just throwing out stupid ideas, with no concrete method of achieving the goal doesn’t make you smart, you just come off sounding like an idiot.

    • Scott P.

      Proposal:

      A graduated corporate tax that is indexed to a company’s revenue divided by its number of US employees. Such that if you have two companies with the same revenue but company B employs 10% fewer workers, it pays 10% more in taxes.

      You can probably find the flaw in the proposal. But it might work for a few years.

    • Tom Paine Caucus

      You don’t eliminate automation. Ideally you create economic conditions in which there are desirable jobs for someone to move to and that they have or can easily obtain the skills to do those jobs. There is still a lot of manufacturing in this country–and there could be more–but it’s become(ing) skilled work. You also provide income support, including maintenance of access to health care, while waging a campaign to normalize and ennoble receiving income support. Easier said than done, obviously. But we’re partly talking about campaigning.

  • Tzimiskes

    A question I keep posing to people whenever they talk about people voting against their economic interests is to ask them how exactly they would go about bringing jobs to rural areas with low education levels, bad weather, and no great recreational areas near by. This usually makes them stop and think, then give up.

    How exactly do we go about bringing back good jobs to the places where these voters lived? Clinton had a few policies, but really, rural broad band, training, educational investment, and targeted Federal programs doesn’t even come close to filling the gap left by the depletion or obsolescence of the natural resources or trade patterns that led to the development of these towns in the first place. The only thing I got is employee democracy, but this is far off anyone’s radar. And at least some of the same logic would apply to a CEO answering to a board of directors elected by employees of a company as it would to a CEO answering to a board of directors appointed by shareholders.

    Maybe it just shows my own limitations, and the fact the subject isn’t my day job, but I can’t really think of anything that would restore the economic balance between rural and urban areas today to what it was even 30 years ago, much less 50 or 60. I understand why these voters are going for ever crazier representatives whose statements are ever farther from the truth, while it is possible to think of some programs that would help at the margins it is really, really difficult to think of anything that would help these areas to close the gap with growing urban centers, and awareness of the growing inequality between urban and rural areas seems to be behind a lot of the Trump vote. At least the crazies and liars tell them there’s a chance but it’s really hard to think of anything honest to tell them that would get the economic results they seem to want. We can help them in material ways, but anything we do that helps them will likely help urban areas as much, if not more, and it is the relative deprivation as much as the absolute deprivation that seems to be driving much of the anger.

    • Origami Isopod

      We can help them in material ways, but anything we do that helps them will likely help urban areas as much, if not more, and it is the relative deprivation seeing black and brown people getting any help as much as the absolute deprivation that seems to be driving much of the anger.

      Fixed.

      We can give them UBI, healthcare, and other benefits. They’ll still hate us, but it’s the right thing to do. As for the jobs, which have mental benefits as well as material ones, I have no solutions.

      • Tzimiskes

        Origami,

        I definitely did not mean just black and brown people. In my experience, these people are just as angry towards hipsters and other white professionals as they are minorities. A source of great anxiety for many of them is that if they send their kids off to college their kids will learn liberal values and not want to come back home. I would say that fear of this is a motivator along with racism. They see the success of urban areas, understand the necessity of cosmopolitan values as being necessary for success there, and feel they don’t know how to win even their children to their point of view in the marketplace of ideas if their children get exposure to other ways of thinking.

        They see the problems in the local area but many of them feel a sense of responsibility to their local community and they believe that their “values” trump their material interests. If there was a way to get jobs back this would at least relieve some of these worries, but this itself is a hard thing to do. Values in scare quotes because I have trouble wrapping my head around how discriminating against people who don’t agree with you can be considered a value, but I have run into enough of these folks that I realize that for them it is a value however deplorable I find it.

        • Origami Isopod

          Oh, to be sure. It’s not just racism, no. That said, racism is a massive part of it. There was absolutely not the same animus toward the cities before the Great Migration and the Civil Rights era. There was some, sure, because city vs. country is one of the oldest tensions in recorded human history. But it was pretty muted in the grand scheme of things.

          Values in scare quotes because I have trouble wrapping my head around how discriminating against people who don’t agree with you can be considered a value, but I have run into enough of these folks that I realize that for them it is a value however deplorable I find it.

          I am not a huge fan of Corey Robin, especially after he turned out to be sympathetic to the JackoffBin harasser crowd on Twitter. But his theory of “democratic feudalism” is a sensible one to me. What’s the matter with Kansas, and Oklahoma, and Alabama, and thousands of counties in many other states is that many, many people are perfectly happy to fuck themselves and their kids over so long as they have someone else to dominate and fuck over. LBJ said it 50 years ago and it’s still true.

          • Or so long as they can emotionally identify with the domination of the weak.

            In dark moods I give some credence to the religious conservatives who say the problem is that people don’t belong to churches that promise to keep order in exchange for submission anymore . . . so they try to generate their own by beating up on others.

    • Solar System Wolf

      Honestly, I’m surprised there’s still anyone around to lament the loss of the white male breadwinner who could support an entire family on his factory job after getting nothing but a high school diploma. That hasn’t been reality since I was a child. My grandfather was a coal miner with an eighth grade education, but he wanted his kids to go to college. My grandmother lived in the Ohio River Valley all her life, but she wanted her kids to get out. They saw the writing on the wall decades ago.

      • cpinva

        this. so did my grandparents and my wife’s grandparents. being caucasion certainly helped that transition along, but you still had to be smart enough to see the writing on that particular wall, and determine to do something about it, before it was right on top of you. and you know what? not everyone is going to succeed, because not everyone is going to have the intellectual heft necessary to do so.

        just going to college means nothing, if you’re not capable of succeeding at college level academics. and most, if not all of these unskilled/semi-skilled, white working class people probably aren’t, or they’d have seen that writing on that wall, and done something about it before now.

        • You don’t just have to see the writing on the wall. You have to think it’s a good idea to get out, or for your kids to do so. My father, whose parents were working class immigrants, went to college (on the GI Bill, at a time lots of other men were doing the same); my mother’s family background was more middle class but her father had died and she grew up in a working class milieu (and maybe was influenced by lefty ideas, it’s not clear). They moved to slightly “better” neighborhoods along with thousands of people from the same background. Both of them expected us to go to college. But they expected us pretty much to stay in the neighborhood (at least emotionally and culturally). And most of my relatives did even if they went to college (especially the girls). If they had seen college and a “good” job as something taking kids out of the community, they might have been rather resentful of that.

          Fortunately, a college degree won't necessarily do that for you these days.

          • Origami Isopod

            But they expected us pretty much to stay in the neighborhood (at least emotionally and culturally).

            And that’s not a wish without some reasonable underpinnings, because poor people have to stick together to survive. See also: urban neighborhoods and families, where people get a little ahead, then end up giving their savings to someone in need.

            Aimai has had some good commentary on this, and on how middle-class white economists have traditionally looked upon this as pathological because it doesn’t fit capitalist assumptions.

            • Aimai has had some good commentary on this,

              Yes, she has.

            • GCarty

              Doug Muder wrote a good article on how support for right-wing politics is often driven by a perceived need to protect the traditionally family structure in which people have cast-iron obligations towards their family members.

              Non-metropolitan baby boomers voted for Trump in the US (and for Brexit in the UK) because they feared that the movement of young people to big cities in search of work would leave them bereft of care and companionship in their old age.

        • Brad Nailer

          Just going to college means nothing, if you’re not capable of succeeding at college level academics.

          And trust me, even if you are capable, a bachelor’s degree is no guarantee of a job, much less a good one. I used to think education was the key; now I’m wondering if training isn’t more important, since that’s what employers seem to be looking for. Unfortunately, that narrows the field, since you have to decide what to be trained for, specifically.

      • Tzimiskes

        I never really understood how many people still thought this way until I had a couple of jobs in sales and met a lot of people that still thought this way in the more outlying areas. My background is from a small town as well, though my grandparents weren’t working class and made sure that their children were prepared for the changing world. But I’ve met lots of people refusing to adapt, in my last job I talked with one of our production guys a lot and he would drive two hours each way to maintain his family in a rural area on a single wage. I’ve talked to a lot of small business owners, some of their employees, and salespeople (sales seems to be a common career for low education folks who want to maintain a rural life, if you’re good wages are decent, of course they are never home cause there’s no business in their local communities, which becomes its own source of grievance) who are trying to hand on to this way of life. Even in my current job, someone that got hired along with me is commuting quite a ways to maintain his family in the rural life while he works at a professional job. For whatever reason, there just seem to be a lot of people unwilling to let go of this lifestyle.

        • Origami Isopod

          Although I’m pretty urban myself, I do think there’s value in rural living. Someone has to grow the food, after all. Family farms tend to get overly romanticized by the food movement, but they’re better on most counts than Big Ag. I’d like to see them get more support and Big Ag less, with an emphasis on making them competitive in terms of distributing food to places where agriculture on a widespread, year-long scale isn’t practical/possible. Also, environmentally speaking, it’s good to have people who are, for want of a less loaded phrase, in touch with nature regularly and able to see signs of environmental hazard that urbanites can’t.

    • Sebastian_h

      “but I can’t really think of anything that would restore the economic balance between rural and urban areas today to what it was even 30 years ago, much less 50 or 60.”

      Well one thing that would make it less painful is to build enough housing in the cities that if you are forced to move to one you don’t have to pay $20,000-$30,000 per year to just live in the city. It won’t fix everything, but people are just so whiny about building that they would rather price poor people out.

      • Richard Gadsden

        Well said!

        If the way the economy is working is that the only jobs in rural areas are farming (which is fine, but if that’s your only employment, you get the population density of Wyoming) and telecommuting then the most important thing is to make it easier and cheaper to get out of a rural area and into an urban one.

        Rural broadband matters because it means that telecommuting can function in more places – we should do what we can to ensure that rural broadband is available – but most telecommuting jobs are for people who went to college and used to work in an office, usually in a city, and then moved (back) out to the country once they had established contacts in their industry and developed experience and employers’ trust.

      • Tzimiskes

        I think this would help a bit, but I think a lot of people are unwilling to move. While they’re not really working class, I’ve met a lot of people in sales who maintain their families in rural areas and are a bit resentful of the sacrifices they have to make, like traveling all the time or needing to maintain a second apartment in the city where they work and then only being home on weekends. While a decent portion of these folks weren’t very educated, they were relatively sharp and managed to move up from the crappy local sales jobs in their communities to work for bigger companies. I’ve heard a lot about the sacrifices and hard work these people put in to keep their families where they are, based on this I tend to think their are a lot of dejected people living in these communities that lack the skills of the folks I’ve met but are unwilling to leave their communities for employment. Anecdotal, but it seems consistent with what I’ve read about these folks, they prioritize community over individual material success so it’s going to be hard to get them to move.

        • Origami Isopod

          The only solution would be to move entire communities or at least entire families to the cities and settle each into one geographically close area, such as a single apartment complex. That was how many Europeans immigrated here a century ago. They brought their support networks with them.

    • Brett

      How many places hit that nasty trifecta of bad weather, little opportunity for recreation and living, and low education? If worse comes to worst, you can pay people to clean up the damage such places usually accumulated over decades of work in whatever the primary business was, and rebuild the infrastructure so that maybe some people can still survive there as farmers, etc while the rest use the income earned from those projects to retire or move somewhere else. The government could assist with that as well if it was willing to buy out mortgages and homes from those willing to sell.

      But most places aren’t that bad. Take this long-form piece on how Roanoke, Virginia, came back from near-death. It was a combination of making the place pleasant to live, a variety of efforts to bring in business and make it more attractive to visitors, and getting a hospital and research complex put there precisely because they’d made it a pleasant place to live.

      That could work for other towns (not exactly as Roanoke did it, but like that), especially if the various levels of government coordinated on targeting it specifically and were willing to do it with living-wage levels of pay. But if you want to sell it, it needs to be explicitly sold as an Employment Program paired with a Rebuilding Program, and not as a piddling set of technocratic initiatives with little funding.

      • cpinva

        I would note that Roanoke, VA is among the whitest places in the country, which is one of the big reasons it was able to get all this help in the first place. and frankly, I still have zero interest in living there. what about the job dislocated minorities? or do they no longer matter?

      • Tzimiskes

        Brett,

        Thanks for the link, I like reading bout these stories. When I was researching the topic I read a lot of stories coming from Washington and Oregon that were broadly similar. My home town has another story with broad similarities, though not as focused on a single industry, we had one of those beautiful, old courthouses that became a central gathering point to make the town attractive.

        But this worked for us because we were less than a two hour drive from Chicago and we’ve become an exurb of that city. I’m from the Midwest (spent my early years in Indiana and Iowa, lived in Ohio and now Michigan) and the trifecta of bad weather, low education, and lack of educational opportunities describes a lot of places out here. I remember spending lots of time driving across empty spaces with nothing but fields and the odd falling down barn or run down looking small town emerging out of nowhere.

        To get a sense of this, look at Google maps and zoom out until you can see the whole of the US with the parks shaded green. Most of the rural areas I’ve heard good things about are near either the mountains, parks, or a major city but if you look at the Midwest there’s a lot of grey without a big city in commuting distance or a nearby park. This describes southern Michigan, most of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio which were the source of some of our recent surprises. While this doesn’t add up to lots of people, it does add up to a lot of votes in state legislatures. These are the communities which I think it is hard to do anything for, and despite their feeling of marginalization our institutions give these people a great deal of power.

        • Scott P.

          I’m from the Midwest (spent my early years in Indiana and Iowa, lived in Ohio and now Michigan) and the trifecta of bad weather, low education, and lack of educational opportunities describes a lot of places out here.

          Well, I’m from the Midwest too (the real Midwest, not the Old Northwest of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan). Much of the Midwest is doing quite well economically, compared to the country as a whole. Among the ten states with the lowest unemployment rates are South Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho. Kansas was doing well, too, before turning into Brownbackistan. It’s not just an issue of weather or remoteness.

    • njorl

      The subset of automation which has caused the greatest job loss is in agriculture. It takes 26 hours of agricultural labor to feed an American for a year. Mandate sustainable farming methods and you will increase the amount of labor demanded in rural areas significantly without having a big impact on food costs for the consumer.

      • Brett

        I’d definitely support moving away from the existing agricultural practices, in part. Low-or-no till, mixed crops, a wider diversity of crops and incentives to do so. It won’t create a lot of jobs, but it’s a good thing to do and would actually favor smaller farmers rather than the gigantic mega-farms.

  • Dennis Orphen

    Well worth repeating:

    Davis X. Machina says:
    November 22, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Trump’s found the magic formula.

    The Democratic bargain, for years, was “We’ll provide a rudimentary social provision, against sickness, and old age, and extremes of poverty, via pensions, nutrition, education, etc. But the price is, ix-nay on on the igotry-bay”.

    The Republican bargain, for years, was “We’ll let you get your hate on, but the price is, the money, all the money, goes up, not, down — you get to die old, sick, and ignorant”.

    Trump’s telling the slice of the population who think Velveeta is cheese, and whose world view is circumscribed by their mall’s access road, that they can have it all: they get to keep their rudimentary social provision, and they receive the green light to get their hate on.

    Why wouldn’t Trump be running away with it?

    Trump’s offering the political version of the checkout-magazine “Eat all you want, and lose 40 pounds” diet.

  • Brien Jackson

    The thing is: Indiana’s been a red state for a long damn time. Yeah they narrowly went to Obama after the 2008 crash, but one cycle later they were voting for Mr. Bain Capital. Maybe there’s a pitch to these people on economic issues that will work *without* the crisis of another Republican created crash. We can shift the party’s position on trade deals and talk up minimum wage hiikes. But there’s really just not a lot of evidence for that that I can see. Donald Trump bragged about stiffing contractors and Congressional Republicans want to abolish Medicare and Social Security…and that’s where “economic anxiety” led these people.

    • LeeEsq

      Same thing with Kansas. Kansas has been a reliably Republican state since the Civil War. Seeing them as working class people voting against their economic interests because the Republicans use social issues is weird. They were always Republican.

      • lawtalkingguy

        Exactly. Kansas has been going through the full Paul Ryan lets cut all taxes and gut everything plan to magically make businessmen feel good so we can grow and whats the impact? More Republicans.
        If socialism could appeal to white racists there would be socialist parties all over the Republican midwest where years of tax cuts dont do crap. But it doesnt, because socialism includes provisions that say white men arent superior to non white men or women and thats a no go.

        • Brad Nailer

          Yeah, except that Bernie got 13.2 million votes in the primaries. That’s a lot of potential, if nothing else.

          • twbb

            Also, even the reddest of the red states with constant Republican landslides tend to still vote 30-40% Democrat. Alabama, the reddest state bar none, still voted for Hillary 35%. These are big by American politics standards, but they are not irrevocably so.

      • Jackov

        Did anyone think Clinton was winning IN and KS?

        Democrats had not lost WI since 1984 and MI and PA since 1988.
        Obama’s average margins were 13 in MI, 10.8 in WI and
        7.9 in PA.

    • cpinva

      let’s also not forget that IN was/is? a bastion of white supremacist activity. the KKK thrived there and, for all I know, still does.

  • We need actual economic plans in the places people live. There are concrete political reasons for this–these states have a lot of electoral votes. Democrats have to pull enough white working class votes to win in those states. That means providing actual economic hope for people where they live.

    The evidence before us at the moment suggests that what we need is obviously fake economic plans for them. That’s what worked for Trump. Actually helping Michigan, like Obama did in lowering the unemployment rate from 9% to 4.5% like Obama did just since his reelection, bringing it finally lower than the US as a whole for the first time since 2000, doesn’t seem to help as much.

    • postmodulator

      Actually helping Michigan, like Obama did in lowering the unemployment rate from 9% to 4.5% like Obama did just since his reelection, bringing it finally lower than the US as a whole for the first time since 2000, doesn’t seem to help as much.

      I get the sense that somehow voters didn’t really associate HRC with Obama.

      Anyway, shhhh, you’re not supposed to point out actual plans when the Elite Scolds get mad at our lack of actual plans.

      • But what are those jobs like? How many workers had dropped out of the workforce? Did the new jobs pay what the old jobs paid? There is so much that unemployment numbers do not tell us about this situation.

        • NYD3030

          Michigan native here. The new jobs in Michigan are mostly garbage jobs. A lot of non-union auto supplier manufacturing paying twelve an hour for the overnight shift, warehouse work, etc etc. The jobs available at the union factories are all contract-to-hire starting around sixteen an hour. The ‘hiring’ part has yet to happen for the guys I know who work there.

          • Exactly.

            And even if they get a union job, is it a two-tier job where they can’t rise up to the point of the senior workers laboring next to them?

            • Bloix

              Yes, the Republicans smashed the unions and therefore the workers vote Republican! Look, I’m happy to assume that the average Trump voter in Michigan has shit for brains, but this is too stupid to be true. Much more reasonable to conclude that they are fucking racists.

              • A) Those unions were in massive decline before Scott Walker took over.

                B) By 2011, workers had no sympathy for the public sector workers in no small part because they were government workers. Black or white, they were the target of resentment.

                C) Yes, it’s a huge problem that lots and lots of people deal with their own downward mobility by lashing out at others.

                D) While Republicans are responsible for the recent union crushing, these workers also know that Bill Clinton signed NAFTA and Barack Obama supported the TPP. They aren’t idiots.

                • mds

                  Those unions were in massive decline before Scott Walker took over.

                  Especially since Scott Walker isn’t governor of Michigan.

                • Sebastian_h

                  C) is a great contributor to racism. If we keep people upwardly mobile, it is a lot less of a problem. I think this is a pretty clear answer to why so many people in Western countries suddenly got so much more noticeably racist in their voting patterns in the last 15-20 years when they somehow managed to be the very same people right before that.

                • Colin Day

                  If they “know” that Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, then they’re wrong. Bush XLI signed it it 1992.

                  NAFTA

              • NYD3030

                People who work in industry in the upper Midwest really just want somebody who will keep the fucking factory open. If they can’t have that, they’ll take someone who will at least pretend they’ll keep the factory open.

                What they don’t want is somebody calling them ‘shit for brains’ for voting based on their perception of what will help them build a comfortable life.

                Seriously, how are we supposed to win elections by treating them like they’re idiots?

                • Bloix

                  I didn’t call them shit-for-brains. I pointed out that Erik was asking me to assume that they are shit-for-brains. What I called them was fucking racists. And I got in response a request that I should be understanding of them because they are only fucking racists because their unions got smashed.
                  You can decide for yourself what people like that have for brains.

              • NYD3030

                The more I re-read this comment the worse it gets. People in Michigan (where I grew up) and Wisconsin (where I currently live) feel like the system perpetuated by the elites has screwed them hard the last thirty years. I suspect you would agree that it has. They got an opportunity to vote for somebody who would blow the whole thing up and they took it, because to just keep on keepin’ on didn’t seem to be an option any longer. I know people personally who voted for Trump because they thought Clinton was just the next cog in the same old machine. These people are not scary midwestern Klansmen monsters to me, they’re my fucking neighbors.

                You mean to tell me the people in Wisconsin are more racist than they were when they went overwhelmingly for Obama twice? Or that the white working class as a whole is more racist today than when it was the bedrock of the mid-century democratic party?

                • Mike G

                  And along came a bolder liar with slicker marketing who promised them magical changes that he won’t deliver.

                  My question is how are they going to lash out when their corner of America isn’t “Great Again” in a couple of years?

                • lawtalkingguy

                  in WI trump got extra 4,000 votes over Romney. Hillary lost 200,000. Lets not pretend its some great white awakening. But to your broader point, when exactly was it the bed rock of the Democrat party? When George Wallace was winning Democrat primaries in Michigan or when the entire Midwest voted twice for Reagan over two midwestern progressives?

                • jeer9

                  From Michael McQuarrie’s analysis of the election:

                  Slightly lower black turnout, third-party candidates, and depressed Democratic turnout generally will all be cited as such factors {for the collapse of the Blue Wall}. But none of that addresses the fact that to shift Michigan, say, from +10 for Obama to even cannot be explained by these factors. You still have to account for people who voted for Trump, many of whom probably flipped from being Obama voters. Digging deeper into county results supports this.

                  Take Macomb County and Oakland County in Michigan. Macomb County is mostly white and has a median household income of around $53,000. It is not particularly poor, but also not affluent. It is often characterized as “working class” and “socially conservative”. The county voted enthusiastically for Kennedy in 1960, Johnson in 1964, Nixon in 1972, and Reagan in 1984. It voted for Obama twice (+9 in 2008, +4 in 2012). Trump won Macomb by nine points. The number of voters was the same. Trump peeled off white working-class votes. In contrast, we have neighboring Oakland County, which is considerably more affluent (median income of $66,000), has a university, and has more of a New Economy, advanced manufacturing economic base. It is more diverse as well. It is a traditionally conservative suburban community that has been drifting Democratic since 1996. Obama was the first presidential candidate to win a majority in the county since 1988. There, turnout for both candidates was down a bit, but the difference remained the exact same. Oakland was +8 Democrat in 2012 and +8 in 2016. Democratic support remained roughly the same in the more affluent, diverse, and educated county while shifting significantly in the traditionally working class community.

                  Or take Mahoning and Ashtabula Counties in Ohio. Mahoning is the Rustiest part of the Rust Belt, once at the heart of American steel production. The city was unionized, multiracial, and solidly Democratic. It was also ravaged by deindustrialization. The county is economically poor (median household income of $23,000) and culturally as working class as it gets. It has been solidly Democrat in presidential elections for decades. Obama won the county decisively (+26 in 2008, +28 in 2012) and the county contributed much to his statewide majority. Hillary Clinton won Mahoning by three points. Ashtabula, by contrast, is overwhelmingly white, more exurban, and more affluent than Mahoning, but with average household incomes considerably lower than the national average ($40,000 median family income). It has none of the knowledge economy trappings of Oakland County. People there once worked in auto plants and now work in hospitals. It has been solidly Democratic in presidential contests since 1988. Ashtabula decisively supported Obama in 2012 (+13) and decisively supported Trump in 2016 (+19).

                  This story can be told repeatedly across the Rust Belt. The electoral shift was highly concentrated in territorial terms and Rust Belt territories were ground zero. Trump flipped a full third of the counties that voted for Obama twice. Clinton flipped 6 of the 2200 counties that didn’t vote for Obama. Many of the counties Trump flipped are Rust Belt communities in the Midwest. And those counties, in turn, flipped the electoral college votes of Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, from Democrat to Republican. Obama’s coalition managed to bridge the dying Rust Belt and the New Economy, but Clinton didn’t and, given her baggage and her policies, could not. Trump snatched the Rust Belt from the Democrats. Trump is president because of a regional revolt.

                  We will never know whether a more focused campaign and advertising strategy that targeted the concerns of these economically straitened voters would have worked – any more than we can know whether Comey and the media played a decisive part or whether Sanders might have fared better (even as we acknowledge that he had no chance of winning the primary). We do know that the Clinton campaign did not choose to highlight these issues and stressed instead her opponent’s character flaws. (According to several reports, the Big Dog thought that this region’s economic woes were not being addressed – but he was ignored. Let’s pass over the irony of his role in their condition.) So we are left in the throes of defeat trying to concoct a positive narrative about this loss – and I would suggest that the tale which emphasizes some poor choices (which can be corrected in the future but also include some culpability) is a better one than a story whose main metaphor concerns lousy luck at poker-playing and whose theme is blame of the media. The first empowers; the second tells us we’re prey to chance and the same-old same-old. (I remember when the media sucked in 1980 and 1988 and 2000 and 2004, years we all lost, and it’s highly unlikely they’re going to get a clue soon.) Trying to move forward will be difficult until some Dem accounting is made and self-criticism occurs.

                • Tom Paine Caucus

                  “You mean to tell me the people in Wisconsin are more racist than they were when they went overwhelmingly for Obama twice? Or that the white working class as a whole is more racist today than when it was the bedrock of the mid-century democratic party?”

                  No, some of us are saying that in 2008 and 2012 Obama seemed like the better (or least bad) choice in those specific circumstances, but in 2012, Trump made a direct appeal to them to vote in their perceived interests as white people to the direct detriment of people of color.

                • Bloix

                  “blow the whole thing up”
                  Do you have any idea what this means? It means Germany 1933. People who voted to “blow the whole thing up” were voting for fascism. Fine. I accept that the fucking racists in Michigan are fucking fascists, too. But anyone who writes “blow the whole thing up” as some sort of over-the-top metaphor is criminally clueless.

        • PJ

          This rejoinder really needs to be unpacked. PoC are ALSO working class. They’ve been working the SAME jobs, enduring the SAME uncertainties. They voted for HRC.

          Even the NYTimes is willing to drop this in an article:

          And they said they are troubled, as well, by an America that seems to have embraced multiculturalism and political correctness without question. They said they did not understand the Black Lives Matter movement, wondered why Democrats seemed so fixated on transgender access to bathrooms and tended to be enraged at the way veterans are treated and violence directed at the police.

          Yes, their economic lives are deeply threatened by the basic desire of safety and inclusion coming from other groups.

          Also:

          “There is a racial element to this,” Ms. Isenberg said of the white working-class women’s votes for Mr. Trump. “They do what’s right. Go to church. Try to support their families. They turn around and the rug is being pulled out from them. Groups who they see as economic competition, African-Americans and immigrants, they’re getting an advantage that is not extended to poor rural whites.”

          • Amazingly, it is NOT JUST ABOUT ECONOMIC ANXIETY. It is ABOUT BOTH RACE AND ECONOMIC ANXIETY.

            How fucking hard is it for people to realize that in fact this is multicausal? If you even bring this up in the last few days, you basically get accused of not caring about black workers. I was unaware that people could not deal with multicausal factors for a social or political problem.

            Because really, people of color are also working class? They also have economic anxieties? You don’t say!?! I had no idea! Amazingly, they don’t vote for Trump because Trump is also a racist and is using racial animosity to advance his campaign! And perhaps they aren’t being talked about as much right now because they didn’t vote for the fascist.

            • PJ

              With all due respect Professor, saying “IT’S BOTH” means nothing.

              People are literally giving you examples here about why it’s so hard to uncouple both in the minds of voters, and your answer is:

              I don’t necessarily know precisely what to do.

              So-called neoliberal democratic party politics is what it is precisely because they’ve been triangulating the interests of white swing voters with big business for years. This is what it already looks like when you center the mythical WWC voter in your politics. And it has clearly been in vain.

              You need solidarity among working class voters to counter that influence of big business. But how do we do that when the other side exploits racism? How do we do that when PoC voters are so disempowered?

              • Sebastian_h

                Black people who are part of the working class are rather obviously more in tune with how Trump’s racism might personally hurt them.

                That sucks.

                You can argue that people are ‘racist’ in the sense that they aren’t worried enough about Trumps racism and selfishly prioritize their own ideas about globalism. But that isn’t the same as saying that they are so racist that if you offered a substantive change to how we deal with globalism (a change that Clinton was the epitome of never going to happen) that they would vote against it just to fuck over black people.

                • PJ

                  I don’t think you know how racism works.

                  The racial caste system has engendered beliefs in white workers about what they are entitled to now and what they had in the past. While this is never explicitly called on as “white supremacy”, it is what undergirds the organization of American society.

                  Implicit bias means that people’s ideas of “trade” and “global trade” and “safety net” are inevitably racialized (and gendered). That they see themselves as losers in this equation means that anything and anyone who didn’t belong in the bygone days of white dominance is seen as an abberation to the natural order.

                  As a bonus, the federal government created laws to facilitate and defend racial and gender equality. This is how Republicans are successful in fear-mongering taxes, welfare, and anything else that smacks of government assistance.

                  Voters may very well be reached, but what has not been articulated is exactly what combination of politics, policy, and language we can use to break down this reaction into something more reliably progressive at the voting booth You’re assuming they can be counted on when historical evidence points to the contrary.

            • But voters in Milwaukee and Detroit didn’t come out in the same numbers that they did in 2012 and 2016. It made enough of a difference that Clinton could have won Wisconsin, Michigan, and almost PA. If she’d won those three states she’d be president now.

              Was that also because of economic anxiety? Emails? Voter suppression? IDK. I’m just saying it wasn’t just the WWC who didn’t show up for Clinton.

            • Brien Jackson

              Well by the same token, I don’t understand why you’ve been so resistant to the notion that lots of these people codify their anxiety about BLM, feminism, LGBT rights, etc. as part of their economic anxiety. As the second link says, LOTS of these people view the political economy as a zero sum game, and see efforts to help non-white workers explicitly as things that will hurt or impoverish white workers.

              • I’m not resistant to that notion at all. I am resistant to people simply ignoring actual economic anxiety as a real thing that made a difference in this election.

                • PJ

                  Well, neither are “people” resistant to the idea that economic anxiety exists among white voters. I don’t think anyone is denying that the last 2 decades were tough.

                  What’s critical for organizing focus is whether we keep expending efforts to “reach” people who, at this point, can’t even be convinced to vote for the party that bailed out the auto industry in the face of overt racism and misogyny.

                • Brien Jackson

                  To be blunt, I think you’re ignoring a big chunk of the actually happening conversation. There are leftists who are seizing on Trump’s election to tell Democrats to marginalize PoC and women while focusing on what rural white men want. To this end, it’s really relevant whether we can specifically appeal to Trump voters without embracing the racism, and THAT is what a lot of us are pushing back against. Suffice it to say, these aren’t people whose problem with trade is that workers in Bangladesh are being exploited and dying or that natural resources in Africa are being strip mined.

                • Oh, I’m aware that Connor Kilpatrick is an asshole and that he is doing this to some extent, although I do think less than others are claiming, even though there is no reason to ever give that guy the benefit of the doubt. But I do indeed believe that we can be anti-racist and also appeal to some Trump voters. Not all of them. Maybe not most of them. We don’t need most of them. But some of them, those we do need.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Maybe. And ideas are great! But at the moment we really do have to solidify that we aren’t going to tell PoC and women to sit down and be quiet so that we can shift to white male identity politics.

                • Well of course! Where did I say otherwise?

                • Brien Jackson

                  I’m not saying you did. I’m just saying you dropped this in at a bad time, and you seem to be wondering why people are a little raw at it.

                • Well the whole conversation is driving me crazy, yes.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Well…sorry? I mean, I’d rather not be wasting my energy resisting people on the left who want to embrace white male identity politics either, but I’m blaming the people who are trying to take us in that direction for it.

                  I can understand your frustration since I know that you aren’t Kilpatrick et. al. If it makes you feel better know I’ve spent a good bit of time this week thinking about the way you’ve been right and internalizing a lot of your arguments. And really, I’d rather be brainstorming constructive ways to appeal to these people while maintaining an anti-racist platform.

                • sharonT

                  can I just fist bump Brien for trying to describe a set of policies that embrace lift up a working Calais the encompasses the WWc and POC? That’s the way forward for a functional Democratic Party in the US.

                • Monte_Davis

                  EL: “We don’t need most of them [Trump voters]. But some of them, those we do need.”

                  As lawtalkingguy notes (I’ll use Wikipedia numbers instead), in Wisconsin Trump got 1,300 more votes than Romney — and Clinton got 239,000 fewer than Obama. In Ohio Trump got 110K more than Romney — and Clinton got 510K fewer than Obama. In Michigan Trump got 159K more than Romney — and Clinton got 297K fewer than Obama.

                  To me, that suggests that it might be less useful to ask “how could HRC have pried away more Trump voters?” than to ask “where did so many 2008 Democratic voters go?”

            • Bloix

              What you are arguing that Michigan white working class voters were too irrational to vote their own self-interest and instead voted out of fear, race hatred, and vanity. Fine. You’re telling me that they are like any other victim of an obvious con man – they have shit for brains. I can feel sorry for morons, and pity them. I can understand that my side needs their votes. But don’t tell me I have to respect them after they’ve voted to smash up the greatest country in the history of the world.

          • Ask Me Gently

            African-Americans and immigrants, they’re getting an advantage that is not extended to poor rural whites

            How so? Or is this just another story Limbaugh and Fox News are peddling?

            • Mike G

              A lot of people believe this. I read a series of interviews with Trump-leaning voters (from before the election) and a recurring theme was that minorities and especially undocumented immigrants were getting all these secret lucrative benefits that white people of similar situation were not getting — free medical care, free housing, free food, etc.
              Almost all of them mentioned it so most likely it’s being pounded into them from one of their toxic media sources, Fox or Limbaugh.

              • What a lot of people believe is that people they look up to deserve lots of good stuff, and something is wrong if they don’t have it . . . and people they don’t look up to don’t deserve stuff, and if they have it someone gave it to them illicitly or unfairly.

                (Something like that drives EMAILS!, in fact — especially from the defense-sector people everybody around here seems to know.)

            • twbb

              They ARE getting an advantage that poor rural whites don’t have, and it’s not because of their color or ethnicity or immigration status — the operative word is RURAL. Rural America has always been poor. Rural anywhere has always been more often than not poor.

              Those poor rural whites move to the city, they get the same advantage as the African-Americans and immigrants, plus the added advantage of being white citizens.

              • twbb

                (BTW, that is not me arguing they should just move, I’m just saying rural poverty is pretty much a constant in human history)

    • eclare

      The evidence before us at the moment suggests that what we need is obviously fake economic plans for them.

      This. Also, it should be combined with a promise to punish those other people who get hand outs and take our jobs.

    • XTPD

      So basically, Dems should run on a 40 Acres and FREE UNICORNS (or at the very least discount ponies) message.

      I’d normally join Scott in saying that it’s politically unwise, but now (especially taking the chickenfuckers’ perpetual worthlessness) it seems worth a try. (blah blah blah, #Kanye2016)

      • Brett

        Given there’s no penalty for lying, they might as well just say they’re going to keep the factories open in the Midwest and constantly harp on how Democrats saved the Big Three and 3 million jobs. Seriously, why don’t they get explicit about that, put that on a bunch of signs?

        • Jackov

          Obama campaigned in parts of the Rust Belt on renegotiating NAFTA. Four years later he campaigned on his record of saving jobs. You have to win before you can enact good policies.

  • eclare

    The idea that Democrats actually do care about the white working class did not and does not fit the preferred media narrative.

    http://crooksandliars.com/2016/11/joan-walsh-blasts-media-who-ignored

    • marduk

      Nobody watches stump speeches, of either candidate. The media was terrible this election, but it always is. It’s up to the candidate themselves to pick the message that they hammer on. Clinton’s economic policies were mostly quite good. But the message Clinton chose to push past the media filter was that we are a decent, inclusive society and Trump is a piece of shit.

      That’s a good message! But it offered nothing to the people looking for better jobs and better pay. Trump’s message was that you’re all getting screwed, by everyone (especially foreigners and immigrants), and he’s going to fix it. His solutions were garbage and the causes he blamed were just scapegoats but he was the only one pushing an economic message through the filter.

  • PJ

    Jesus, take the wheel …

    • PohranicniStraze

      Can’t, he’s awaiting deportation hearings.

      • Mike G

        Trump’s ICE reviews Jesus’s case:
        “Lessee, a Middle Eastern guy, no wife or kids, no identity papers, trained as a carpenter but hasn’t worked in years. Travels from place to place, no steady job, lives off handouts, local authorities call him a troublemaker. You’re outta here, moocher!”

        • PJ

          Don’t forget: Long-Haired Socialist.

          • rea

            Don’t forget the terrorist attack on innocent businessmen at the Temple!

  • veleda_k

    Of course, there are many people whose cultural markings and white collar jobs would label them middle class who have been seriously let down by the new economy. Unpaid interns, new grads, contractors without benefits, people employed in “start up hell” who live paycheck to paycheck, don’t have savings, are on welfare and only have health insurance due to the ACA. But they’re not part of the much mythologized working class, so no one cares who they voted for or why.

    (I just ended a year contract and am now unemployed. I work in the non-profit field. How well do you think those will be funded under Trump? I haven’t heard much concern for my economic anxiety.)

    • Origami Isopod

      No kidding. A lot of us are or have been economically insecure as fuck in the last five, ten, twenty years. We didn’t vote for Trump. But we’re not Real Murkins so nobody cares.

      • Really. You think I or others who write about these issues all the time don’t care about your economic anxiety? Or is it that they are trying to figure out how a fucking fascist got elected to the White House?

        • SIS1

          To be blunt, if these people didn’t live in area’s whose votes are weighted more than those living in large coastal states, would politically anyone care?

          • Probably not, but there we have it. In an undemocratic system, you have to plan to win in different ways.

            • SIS1

              Then why aren’t we asking why the Obama coalition didn’t come out? Cause that is why she lost, not because all of a sudden this one subset of the population’s problems have all of a sudden become greater.

              What did Obama promise the white working class than Hillary didn’t? Cause if at the end of the day its all about finding that one “charismatic” person, then we don’t even have to waste time with new proposals and ideas: lets just have “America’s Next President!” on TV to craft the right set of lies and bromides that the suckers will buy.

              • Dilan Esper

                Obama wasn’t running against a protectionist!

                This opening has existed for decades. Trump is just the first Republican to exploit it.

                • SIS1

                  “Obama wasn’t running against a protectionist!”

                  And so what!?

                  If you think protectionism is what really won this election, I have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

                • Rob in CT

                  S1S1,

                  With an election this close, there are probably 10-15 things that could be said to have won/lost it.

                • Dilan Esper

                  Given where the decisive votes were located, I would say protectionism helped Trump a lot.

                • SIS1

                  With an election this close, there are probably 10-15 things that could be said to have won/lost it.

                  Hillary Clinton could have punched a ‘Chinaman’ in the face while burning a copy of NAFTA and claiming she was going to outlaw international trade, and it would not have made a difference to much of this cohort.

                  Given where the decisive votes were located, I would say protectionism helped Trump a lot.

                  Obama never campaigned on protectionism and he won Penn, Wisconsin, and Michigan twice. He in fact remains popular in those states, even as he has been the main driver for TPP.

                  And I am sorry, but Trump said a lot more about ending immigration than he did trade wars, and it seems to me that had a much greater impact than grousing about NAFTA.

                • Dilan Esper

                  SIS, again, Obama ran against free traders. So protectionist voters had nowhere to go.

              • Jackov

                JFC
                The white working class was a third of the Obama coalition in 2012.

                Yes. Barack ‘I am going to unilaterally renegotiate NAFTA’ Obama did not campaign on protectionism in 2008 and did not pummel Romney on outsourcing in 2012. smh

      • veleda_k

        Yep. I graduated college right in time to be hit with the 2008 recession full force. The white collar economy fundamentally shifted, and has never gone back to what it was. The entry level job is dead, so my generation desperately tries to gain a foothold through unpaid internships and “volunteering.” Others bounce from contract to contract, never seeing benefits. What I see among myself and my generation isn’t just economic anxiety, but economic hopelessness. My first reaction to reading that Mr. Roell lost his $23 an hour job was, “Who the hell makes $23 an hour? That’s rich people money.” Roell notes the $13-$15 an hour jobs with despair, but where I am, $13 is on the high end for a bottom rung office job that requires a BA (ridiculous degree requirements being a whole other issue).

        I’m scared as hell for my future. But somehow I managed not to vote for a racist sexual predator.

        • Fortunado

          Im right there with you (I finally made it into the 15’s!). The before and after effect of 2008 is enormous. Most of my friends were “before” and the difference between how they live and how I do is enormous. There was an impulse to hit that “fuck everybody!” button in the voting booth but I resisted also.

          • Origami Isopod

            A lot of the “fuck everybody!” voters were, I will point out, Bernouts or glibertarians who are less likely to take a hit from this than most of us.

        • pseudalicious

          Right there with you, man. Same boat. These folks can fall into a goddamn open volcano.

  • Murc

    And some of them are racist and also voted for Barack Hussein Obama on two occasions!

    I’ve been mulling this over for a few days, as have we all, and I’d like to toss this out there: this slice of voters contains a lot of “don’t care about racism” white folks.

    And when I say “don’t care about racism” what I mean is “they don’t give two shits that Barack Obama is black; but they also don’t give two shits about the people who would like to hang him high because he’s black. Both things are completely irrelevant as far as they’re concerned.”

    Now, make no mistake, that’s definitely a kind of racism. But it gives us enough wiggle room to actually make political progress with, because while these people don’t care that Trump is super mega awful racist, they also don’t care that Keith Ellison, Rust Belt rabble-rouser, is a Muslim POC.

    Or am I completely nuts here?

    • Yeah, that makes some sense to me.

    • Cheap Wino

      You’re not nuts, it pretty much captures it. But, it is in no way acceptable and in the end only serves to highlight how racist our country is. We should not be accepting of that attitude. Calling out the subtle racism and bigotry shouldn’t be any different than calling out the inhumane attitude that is behind anti-Obamacare or anti-LBGT issues.

      Those folk aren’t okay because they’re not openly racist. They’re racist because they are okay with our government treating them in a racist manner. That’s what structural racism is!

      • eclare

        Yes. This.

      • PJ

        Being a “structural bias doesn’t exist” person also renders you extremely vulnerable to arguments based on debt hawkery, anti-tax-mongering, and bootraps-ism.

        • Origami Isopod

          Yes. This.

          You can’t undo the other political problems with this country if you don’t tackle racism head-on. It’s baked into everything else.

    • random

      Scalzi describes this as the ‘Cinemax’ election in a recent article, as in you wanted to get HBO but were willing to also pay for a subscription to Cinemax to get it. Check it out.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      that’s definitely a kind of racism

      I’d say it’s more a racial apathy that can tilt over into racism without too much of a push. We shouldn’t assume that racist/non-racist is a rigid binary*. It’s more of a spectrum with some sort of apathy/indifference in the squeezed middle.

      *Why is auto-correct trying to make this a “rigged primary”? I swear the Bernie bros have hacked something effectively for once.

      • Richard Gadsden

        I think that “attitudes that result in non-white people doing less well than white people” is a pretty good definition of racism.

        It’s consequentialist rather than virtue ethicist, of course.

      • Origami Isopod

        Yes, let’s keep on excusing and minimizing “soft racism,” that’s worked so well in the past.

    • Quaino

      I know we all desperately know white men are to blame for all this, but why is the conversation and finger pointing only at them? White women broke hard for Donald fucking Trump. Am I supposed to believe white men voting for their spirit animal is more disconcerting than white women voting for a woman hating abuser with massive anti women policies.

      Figuring out that failure is the conversation to have. If you can’t pull the vote of women from Donald Trump you sure as fuck can’t capture men.

      • Origami Isopod

        It’s been discussed here too. The answer is, as with white men, investment in white supremacy even at the cost of one’s own well being and that of one’s children. The solutions won’t differ markedly, other than offering things like subsidized daycare.

      • Jackov

        Republicans vote for Republicans.

        A majority of white women voters have favored the Republican in all but one presidential election since 1972. The result is more shocking given Trump but white women vote Republican though much less than white men. (Clinton actually did a little better overall than Obama 2012
        (-10 vs -14 though much worse with non-college white women)

        The poorest third of the white working class voters(of which women are likely the majority) in the non-South had consistently voted for the Democratic candidate for 40+ years. The focus is on these voters as it appears they are one of the larger shifts in the MidWest this election.
        (plus they are white and conceptualized as brawny men)

        You are correct that women are often excluded from political conceptions – “Republicans” or “white working class” – just as POC are excluded from the working class as a whole.

    • Tom Paine Caucus

      You’re not nuts, but I would change this slightly. There are people who voted for Obama twice despite his race because in the specific circumstances of those elections he seemed like the best (or least bad) option. But in 2016, Trump made a direct appeal to them to vote according to their perceived interests based on their whiteness, to the direct detriment of people of color and women and LGBTQ people. Ellison personally and as party leader could craft a message and policy proposals directed to those people that would win their vote, but it would have to be one that would make them believe that voting for a multi-cultural coalition was more in their interests than voting for a candidate promising to help them economically because they’re white.

  • PJ

    The lack of clarity on exactly how we get these voters stop believing lies about where their jobs went or what taxes do or how healthcare works or forgetting about the auto bailout tends to render this kind of Souls of White Folk writing mostly useless.

    • eclare

      This is the source of my frustration. I have yet to hear anyone say, in practical terms, what we’re actually supposed to do or say to attract these voters.

      • NYD3030

        Well how is it that they formed the political power behind the Democratic party for forty to fifty years, back when they were most assuredly WAY MORE RACIST than they are today?

        They way you attract them is this:

        1) Stop acting like they’re idiots.
        2) Find people in their communities who share our vision – these people exist.
        3) Organize, organize, organize.
        4) Offer policies like ‘The factory you work at won’t close, impoverishing your children’

        I believe that is how it was done in the past. I mean, call me crazy, I think there’s room for Midwesterners in the glorious Democratic future.

        • postmodulator

          4) Offer policies like ‘The factory you work at won’t close, impoverishing your children’

          We’re going to seize the means of production?

          Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying no.

          • bender

            Make it worthwhile to somebody to keep the factory open or convert it to making something else more profitable, through tax policy.

            That would include e.g. subsidies for keeping people on the payroll for another five years, matching funds to keep factories from moving to other states that are luring them with incentives, favorable tax treatment for investors in the factory, reform the Import-Export Bank to give priority to helping businesses in impoverished areas to export.

            Look for everything in the tax code that gives incentives to corporations to reduce their workforce, and change those provisions. Study what Germany has done to keep an industrial base along with high employment and good benefits, and adopt some of their policies.

            Everybody wants to put their thumb on the scales of the market economy. Let’s load the scales with benefits for working people for a change.

            • DrS

              Everybody wants to put their thumb on the scales of the market economy. Let’s load the scales with benefits for working people for a change.

              And in doing so, let’s put the thumb on the scales against those job creators who aren’t creating jobs for working people who want to work but can’t.

            • Scott P.

              Note for all the praise of the German economy, the former East is as much a wasteland as the rustiest part of the Rust Belt is, if not more so. Also US unemployment is 4.9%, Germany’s is 4.1%. Not that huge a difference.

        • PJ

          1) I’m certainly not saying they’re stupid. I’m saying their active or passive investment in white supremacy blinds them to crucial alliances with working class people of color

          2) “these people exist.” OK … I’m not saying they don’t but you need to name someone/something.

          3) See 1

          4) Some of this can be true, but a lot of it may be lies. I guess we’re lying to people now?

      • Dilan Esper

        I think the big one would be to be more protectionist.

        Now, that may be bad policy. But lots of things are bad policy and receive representation in the political system. The reality is that the whole free trade project has been pretty anti-democratic, with elites basically viewing protectionist public opinion as an irrelevant obstacle.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        have yet to hear anyone say, in practical terms, what we’re actually supposed to do or say to attract these voters.

        “The beatings will continue until morality improves?”

        I suspect that’s what many of them hear as the mission statement of the Democratic party as interpreted by Saint Limbaugh and the Blessed Jones.

        • Origami Isopod

          In which “beatings” = “treating PoC like human beings.” Because the Rethugs sure as shit weren’t giving them any economic relief.

  • Funkhauser

    Disagree with you a lot, but agree 100% on this.

    Problem is also that many swing/low-propensity voters are low-information voters. People can bitch all they want that the Democrats actually did have a plan, and that Hillary had detailed policy proposals on her website, but when the rubber hit the road, there were two messages in the campaign:

    “Make America Great Again. Win trade deals, fuck the foreigners, we’ll all get rich.”

    “Don’t be a bigot. That guy’s unqualified. More of the same of what you’ve got now.”

    • Origami Isopod

      She did talk about her policies. The media didn’t cover them.

      • marduk

        That’s 100% on her. Her campaign had plenty of good policies, but you only get one, maybe two core messages you can hammer through to the public. I think Funkhauser’s formulation is pretty close to the two campaign’s core themes.

    • Severian

      You’re not making the connection. If Hillary did have detailed policy proposals, and active political junkies like us know she talked about them a lot while campaigning, then how did we get to those two messages? hmmmm?

      Personally, I see a whole lot of propagandizing going on.

  • MPAVictoria

    Thank you for this Erik. The democratic party need to start coming up with answers for these questions right now.

    • Fortunado

      I also liked this piece. There’s a lot of resistance to the point he’s making because people are understandable furious about the election results.

  • bobbyp

    There are many things that can and/or need to be done, but due to politics, we don’t want to pay for them. Economics does not determine who gets what out of the economy. Politics does.

  • Brien Jackson

    Oddly not talked about since Tuesday: Guns. This was the first Presidential election post Sandy Hook, and Democrats really did get more vocal on pushing for gun control legislation. Clinton ran probably the most liberal candidacy ever on this issue, picked an anti-gun Governor for a running mate…and the NRA was one of the first aspects of the Republican establishment to accept Trump and try to start normalizing him.

    And then Democrats lost Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. And I’ve not seen anyone looking into how big of a factor that was.

    • Breadbaker

      See Theda Skocpol’s argument about how the NRA and other GOP groups functioned as Trump’s GOTV apparatus without him having to pay for it.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Also abortion. White evangelicals voted in massive numbers for a man who clearly could not even pretend to give two shits about the teachings of Christ vs. a committed Methodist who has weekly conversations with her pastor for decades and reads Bible lessons which are emailed to her daily. Why go to the mattresses for Trump, then? Scalia’s death and extended vacancy on the court put the abortion issue in really stark terms: the possibility of overturning Roe vs. having a major pro-choice figure as President filling that slot and likely preserving abortion rights for a generation.

      • Anna in PDX

        This is why he picked Pence.

    • Mellano

      Anecdote; we got Rob Portman mailers several times a month beginning early in the summer despite never voting Republican and not living in Ohio because the Portman campaign either had money to burn or had areas of improvement in its ad targeting tools.

      Their entire, repeated message was that Rob Portman was an outdoorsman who respected traditions. Slick pro photos of him in hunting gear and of vintage rifles. And a lot of NRA talk. Not one other policy, not one vote, no Obama, no Hillary, no Ted Strickland, nothing. Just: Rob Portman loves guns, like us.

  • Cheap Wino

    I’m going to go back to blaming the media. Even on this. The racist enablers who voted for Trump because he happens to get the simpleton explanation about trade correct (we’ll leave out that he has no policy or solutions to deal with the real issues) are ignorant about the issue.

    I’d bet mister making over $23 an hour who will lose his job at Carrier would be much better off if there were an abundance of $15+ dollar an hour jobs that he could take to soften the blow. But I’d also bet that he has spent the last few years spouting bigoted bullshit about how ‘those’ people who work those jobs don’t deserve that kind of money because, well, do I have to explain why bigots gonna bigot?

    The media has dropped the ball sucked at the teat of the right-wing media so much that “living wage” still is looked at in disdain by the kind of racist enabler economic voter that cast their ballot for Trump.

    This isn’t such a complex issue. We’ve set up our society such that the people who suffered not one fucking bit through the greatest depression since the actual great depression got all the gains from the recovery. The was utterly ignored by the media. If it hadn’t been Trump wouldn’t have stood a chance because the conversation would have exposed that his wealth and his ideas about wealth are out of sync with any proper prescription for Joe-everybody-else who has been getting screwed in the economy since 1980.

  • SIS1

    I have honestly become sick of this whole “think of the white working class!” mania going on. Trump is President because we have a system that values certain voters over others – period. That and because suckers are born every minute.

    There is no politically viable solution to bring those towns back from the dead. The days where a White man could leave high school and go into a factory and get a “good job” that fed the family were the result of the aberrant post War period, and the change in technology and the coming on automation have only helped speed up the end of that system, which certainly did not exist prior to the 1930’s.

    I forgot who mentioned that the real solution to those dying Midwestern towns would be to allow for a flood of immigrants to settle there and bring their dynamism, but the people in these towns want a freaking time machine, to return to something that can’t be anymore. Any measures to alleviate the inevitable decline, like massive publicly funded jobs programs would be spurned as “communism”, and new means of transfers to share our collective product would also be looked down upon. But lets be clear – the days in which most people could rent their times in a way that is profitable to another and thus get their piece of the collective economic benefits is slowly for all, and more quickly for others, coming to an end. Its inevitable. Sadly Trump is just one bad sign of how unwilling humanity will be to face the music and readjust itself as fundamentally.

    • If you were a 48 year old white man with a high school education who perhaps had never flown before, how easily do you think you could fundamentally readjust yourself?

      • SIS1

        Its extremely hard, but the problem is that there is no bringing that past they want back back. The factories aren’t coming back. And it is fundamentally dishonest to promise them that. Trump and the Republicans win again and again because they can simply lie: tell those men we can bring the good times back. Being the responsible, reality based party is fucking hard, but someone has to do it.

        • I grant you that. The problem is that we don’t have any other plan for these communities. So lies and white nationalism and other forms of difference are what they are going to go for. So we either deal with that or we lose and fascism reigns over the land.

          • SIS1

            This isn’t a planned economy though, so what “plan” can Democrats come up with with any real chance of delivery? Trade wars would merely shift winner and losers in this country while hurting others outside. I would love to be able to announce massive public hiring programs, but these workers seem to hate those (look at the hate the auto bailouts got)…..

            • Dilan Esper

              It’s true. At best trade wars just shift winners and losers. At worst they make everyone worse off.

              But you can’t explicitly decide to make voters in the rust belt worse off so that voters in the silicon valley can be better off, and then expect the rust belt voters to vote for you.

              “It’s bad economic policy” is not a good POLITICAL argument. This reminds me of tort cases where defense lawyers made cost benefit arguments. Those arguments can have a lot of validity, but juries don’t buy them. They object to trading safety off even if the costs are disproportionate.

              So if you are a defense lawyer, you don’t keep making that argument just because you think the jury is wrong on the merits. You figure out what they will buy.

              • SIS1

                Trying to figure out why the Obama coalition failed is more vital than trying to capture this cohort, as the Obama coalition has a (literally) longer life span.

                There is no arguing with resentment – and I don’t think we should “figure out” how to weaponize it like the Republicans have. That way lies the end of democratic systems.

                • Jackov

                  Working class whites were 34% of the Obama coalition in 2012. Trying to figure out why some of the people who voted for Obama twice abandoned Clinton is trying to figure out how the Obama coalition failed.

                  Senate races in 2018 include PA, WV, OH, MI, WI, MN, ND and MT.

        • Fortunado

          I respect your position, but why are you sure the factories aren’t coming back? What would happen if they put a 100% tariff on imported goods? Globalization has been reversed before.

          • SIS1

            Periods when globalization have been turned back should generally be considered terrible ones. When Smoot-Hawley was enacted, it didn’t stem the misery or the job loses.

            Even a 100% tariff isn’t going to make it even remotely profitable to make many basic products in the US. And many Americans are employed making high end durable goods – you think other countries will accept the US imposing high tariffs with no counteractions? So you may gain jobs from substituting for imports but then lose the jobs from people making exports that are fired.

            Also, why would anyone create a factory in the Midwest when you can shop for cheaper labor and more pliant worker exploiting locations down South?

    • Mike G

      Trump has no special answers, he just made a series of boldly outlandish claims that an experienced and knowledgeable politician might hesitate to make knowing they are complete BS.

      He’s not a king who can unilaterally impose a 35% tariff on Carrier’s imports, or even on air conditioner imports in general, under trade agreements. That’s under the very large assumption that he even has any intention of trying to fix the problem now that he’s elected and doesn’t have to face that crowd again unless he chooses to do so.

      How do you compete with someone who makes ridiculous unworkable promises that desperate people believe, without descending to an equal level of mendacity?

      Trump gained popularity because he was a bolder and more convincing liar. My prediction is he won’t stray far from the Repub cheap-labor deregulation ideology, he’ll just be better at stirring up cultural/racial BS as a distraction while they get economically shafted some more.

      • Brett

        How do you compete with someone who makes ridiculous unworkable promises that desperate people believe, without descending to an equal level of mendacity?

        Why not match on it? It’s not like the Trump voters took everything he said at literal word-for-word truth – even the workers in the article Erik cited were of mixed belief on whether Trump would be able to do anything about it.

        So promise the Moon, and then do something concrete that you can do once you’re in power as a party.

        • twbb

          The best explanation of Trump I’ve ever seen was on someone’s comment (forget who) that his supporters took him seriously, but not literally, while his opponents took him literally, but not seriously.

          I think a lot of the people who voted for him did so pretty much because they figured he’d do something, even if it wasn’t what he promised, that would help them.

  • lige

    As someone who grew up in Oregon it’s hard to think of it as a rich state but I guess it does show things can change. Totally anecdotal but here in my corner of the rust belt (Northern Indiana) I’ve had conversations with people who can acknowledge that Trumps a jackass but still think there’s a chance that he would deliver on his jobs rhetoric and at least he’d be a change. That’s enough for some votes.

  • shah8

    I sort of hate this discussion.

    It’s sort of like saying that “Gypsies steal out of economic anxiety”. That phrase, in and of itself is a sort of logical gish-gallop, where we fight over the terminology, causality, epistemology, and other -ologies at once.

    Look, it’s just one slice of reality, and only at an angle (and by the way, read:http://www.vox.com/conversations/2016/10/25/13384528/donald-trump-women-stephanie-coontz#pq=xch0MU )

    Here’s the thing…Those people are racist. Meaningfully, destructively so, and in a way that we can’t really tolerate if we have genuine concerns for the well-being of non-whites.

    The trick is…most, if not the vast majority of white people are harmfully racist or potentially so. Ideology, structural racism, conformism, and so on… So why aren’t there violent race wars all the time? That’s because everyone is part of a constellation of multiple cultures and customs and law and expectations that all go together to create both a civilizationalized mindset and a faith in that you are always proximate and integral to some abstract civilization that direct the flow of events as one expects even though individuals don’t have the power to determine very much of anything.

    This is really not about “economics” at all. People are viewing their lives in the standard protestant near-Calvinism that is a big part our American cultural heritage. They are making judgments about what their success, and the lack of it, means. So you can see, that includes people who have been *successful* as well those who are in trouble. This Protestantist mentality is consistently asking about what is the “virtuous path of success”, and making moral judgments on the nature of their own and other people’s success. Thus, that dynamic in Appalachian areas where there are few non-white people, better off people make horrible judgments on poor whites who use government benefits.

    So thinking about how such people interact with the political process, I think it’s important to understand anomie (as Chris Arnade has been harping on) and especially caprice. And caprice because I think that a lot of insiders and metropolitans just don’t take very seriously the sort of secular(as opposed to cops and robbers) decline of rule of law that has happened in so many parts of the US. People don’t have access to the law. People don’t have the ability to set norms. People don’t feel like they can guarantee the preservation of their property or honor the promises that they need to make to the other people that matters to them. The financial crisis was devastating to tens of millions of people, and the visible lack of punishment of those that were responsible was even worse, knocking their sense of moral economy akilter. Civilization doesn’t seem to really exist as strongly anymore, the kind of civilization that matters to people, and the faith in its external existence weakened.

    People with a sense of injury and a sense of morally uncompensated loss…well, somebody’s gotta pay. People with a diminished faith in civilization don’t really care to repress their natural racism and other bigotries, and act on these impulses. Others who might have sanctioned those people who hang an Obama-doll off the tree in the front yard, are less inclined to do so, out of tedium and fear for personal safety. After all, they don’t believe as much in civilization either…

    I’ve already said what I thought was the key point of failure–Hillary Clinton had high negatives coming into the election season. That meant that she spotted her eventual Republican opponents with all the people who’ve made up their minds on her. It meant that she had less margin, and needed to be a great politician that successfully reintroduced herself to the public.

    So, from there, you can see where Clinton truly went wrong. There are three things. First, the speaking to finance for fees thing was a profound error, and she very, very, badly needed to have released the transcripts and made clear that there is a separation of goals vis a vis the banks. Second, Clinton simply tried to reintroduce herself to her audience, and repeat her life story, not being truly aware (or was insufficiently ambitious/aggressive about this) that a reintroduction fundamentally involves reinvention. There needed to be a real Road to Damascus element to that introduction, particularly at the end of a successful eight year presidency. Clinton was way too focused on *continuity*. Continuity with Obama’s people and strategy. Continuity with her self-conception. Continuity with her policy proposals. Etc. That was the second issue. The third issue is that she never successfully introduced an onboarding strategy. The “goodies”. Some sort of reason or set of reason that people who don’t like her can vote for her, or get people who don’t normally vote to vote for her. Get people to suffer the slings and arrows of voter repression. Goodies aren’t really quite handouts, though it often involves that. Goodies are the concretization of positive feedback from being engaged in the political system. Very often, it’s about creating a fundamental sense of affirmation and power that an individual can make a difference, just by being there. Trump delivered goodies–as you can see from all the people who feel like he’s signaled a general societal change to greater permissiveness of racist and sexist acts. Repulsive, yes, but you only need those goodies to work in the right areas, and for many obvious reasons, white people in rust belt areas are more primed than elsewhere (mainly to Midwestern Mussolinis feeding them regular meat). Clinton’s goodies, the feeling that women could vote for one of their own, didn’t affect any one spot of the country with a beneficial boost in the electoral college–more than that, Obama’s goodies were a direct contrast to Bush–>big contrast. Clinton’s goodies about glass ceiling were in contrast to Obama–>small contrast, and so, many people were “ho-hum”. Clinton had to offer some other kind of goodies. There was a real problem with this…She was up against a white electorate that specifically felt like non-whites were already living high on the hog, and most things that could work would involve very much helping lots of minorities. Also, the Democratic Party is very sensitive about maintaining the support of professional whites, even as the country has gotten more polarized. Real creativity, charisma, and general Magnificent Bastard (Bitch?) traits were needed…you know, like how Obama was hitting Clinton in ’08 over the health care mandate, even though he probably knew any plan had to have one.

    Okay, I think that’s long enough. Just my diagnosis…

    • Sebastian_h

      This rings very true to me and illustrates something that has bugged the hell out of me forever with Clinton. She never has an identifiable “I was wrong” moment even when she dramatically changes her mind. It was a big part of what made her seem so inauthentic and calculating.

  • Gareth

    For workers like Mr. Roell, 36, who started at Carrier just weeks after receiving his high school diploma and never returned to school,

    I was going to joke about this, but it does raise a serious question. If you can determine why this guy never got any kind of higher education, you’re halfway to solving the problem. Unless the answer is that he’s not smart enough, in which case you’re screwed.

    • There are always going to be people who for whatever reason don’t have the ability or the right set of skills to go to college. They also deserve a dignified life with a good job.

      • MPAVictoria

        And arguing they don’t because they are stupid is probably not a good way to get their votes…

      • efgoldman

        There are always going to be people who for whatever reason don’t have the ability or the right set of skills to go to college.

        Or the money.

        • Gareth

          Not having the money is the optimistic explanation: cut him a check, problem solved. But if he can’t benefit from college, or even vocational training, that’s a much bigger problem. It doesn’t help that the more people believe everyone deserves a dignified life with a good job, the less they believe that some people are incapable of going to college. Erik is one of the very few people who believe both.

          • DrS

            He had skills that got him a relatively high paying factory job weeks out of high school. I very much doubt that he’s somehow irredeemably stupid.

            Count me with Erik then, if you are making a list of people who think that some people are not made for college (as currently constituted, anyway) and who think that everyone deserves a dignified life.

            We cannot take people who responded positively to positive stimulus, who took ‘good jobs’ who did ‘the right thing’, who have not broken laws and toss them away.

            Nor can we throw away the people who have been caught up in our horrible systems.

            These should not antagonistic ideas. To the extent that they are, they are problems for the left to solve, and problems that only the left can solve.

          • nixnutz

            Do you think that if everyone went to college that white-collar jobs would magically appear for all of them?

            Most jobs that require a degree for hiring purposes nowadays don’t actually require you to have learned anything in college anyway.

            I definitely think we should have free college for all, that should improve social mobility, but it won’t solve this problem.

            • DrS

              Actually, it probably would have solved this problem. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of college grads getting the ol’ screw job, but the still lean Dem cause they tend to know what’s going on.

              Doesn’t make anyone necessarily less fucked (except it does, cause it leads to a better economy) but a few specific state colleges putting out some grads could have swung it, if only on ‘mere’ cultural grounds.

              • nixnutz

                I meant the problem of deindustrialization. I think that’s a problem that needs to be solved for its own sake, not primarily for the electoral benefits.

      • Brett

        I’ve never quite agreed with you on this. I mean, we put most people through high school now. Couldn’t you have said the same thing about middle school a hundred years ago, that a bunch of people simply aren’t suited for sitting down in a classroom and learning more than the three R’s?

        I mean, I get where you’re coming with this, but . . .

        • twbb

          An 8 year old and a 12 year old and a 15 year are very different than an 18 year old.

          A lot of families can’t afford to have their 18 year olds go read Chaucer; they need them to stay home and take care of grandma or support the family through that gas station job, etc.

      • michael8robinson

        There are always going to be people who for whatever reason don’t have the ability or the right set of skills to go to college. They also deserve a dignified life with a good job.

        There are millions of recent college graduates who think a dignified life with a good job sounds like a pretty sweet deal and would like to know where to sign up for that.

        Precariat. It’s a thing. Look it up.

        Forget the people who “don’t have the ability or the right set of skills to GO TO COLLEGE”, the people who have the ability and right set of skills TO TEACH COLLEGE don’t even have good odds for “a dignified life with a good job”.

        By your argument they should all be jubilant Trump supporters, whereas in fact they’re all huddled under their beds in a foetal position at the moment.

        • twbb

          The difference is the idea of hope. The PhD who’s been adjuncting for 10 years for $4,000 a year still has at least a shred of hope that she will get that tenure-track position, or be able to move to a decent job in the public or private sector. She knows her odds aren’t good, but they’re there.

          The unemployed millworker who saw the mill move doesn’t have that. It hurts to walk, the only options in the area are part-time low-wage service industry jobs, her neighborhood looks desolated, everybody around her has the same problem, and she has seen things get steadily worse.

    • SIS1

      Just putting people through college will change nothing, except devalue whatever “college premium” exists even more.

      The whole “education will save us” is bullcrap.

    • BigHank53

      If he didn’t need an advanced degree, why spend the money and time to get one? A lot of factories don’t particularly want people with degrees on the floor, because they get bored with the work and quit.

      • Gareth

        Advanced degree? The dude never went past high school. There’s some middle ground between that and the chick from Arrival.

        • DrS

          OK, I was willing to grant some doubt before, but this is fucking gross my dude.

          • Origami Isopod

            It’s Gareth, so.

          • Gareth

            My attempt at humour aside, don’t you think a BS in Manufacturing Engineering Technology would be useful to him?

            • Scott P.

              If we’re talking about one guy, then sure. If we’re talking about a million of them, I’m not sure putting them all on the job market with a BS in Manufacturing Engineering Technology will do much other than flood the market.

  • DamnYankees

    Conversations and posts like this leave me somewhat confused. Even if I were to grant everything you are saying in this post about these particular voters, its somewhat baffling to me why this is where our focus is.

    Hillary won more votes than Trump. She won more votes than Romney. She won more votes than McCain. She lost by a very thin margin in a few states, and so she’s not president because we have this electoral college system. And she only lost not necessarily because a huge amount of people switched votes (though of course there were some), but because millions of people who *showed up* for Obama didn’t show up for her.

    When you lose that narrowly, there are going to be 100s of reasons you can look to for “why” you lost and how you can fix it. So yes, she and the Democrats could have won had they done a little better with the white working class. But they also could have won by doing a little better with *basically any other demographic group*. Had she gotten more millenials to vote for her, she wins. More black people, she wins. More college educated white women, she wins.

    And the problem with posts like this, which point out a problem without a solution, is that I’m not seeing a lot of people grappling with the costs of the kinds of things that *might* improve the Democratic standing with these people. Doing these things might cost them college educated votes. It might depress minority votes. It might narrow their edge in women.

    This second guessing is just very frustrating – not because it’s the wrong thing to do (we lose, we need to introspect). But because its so oddly targeted. What’s the more likely way for Democrats to win PA in 2020? By appealing to these white working class voters? Or by boosting turnout in Philly and Pittsburgh? Same for Wisconsin/Milwaukee. Same for Michigan/Detroit. Not to mention NC and FL.

    Anytime you lose this closely, its very, very easy for each person to get up on their hobby horse and say “aha! had you done that one thing *I* think is important, you might have won!” The problem isn’t that the person saying it is wrong. The problem is multiple people can say it, and they might *all* be right. How do you pick which way to go?

    • veleda_k

      More college educated white women, she wins.

      Ah, but the left hasn’t staked its identity on mythologizing and romanticizing college educated white women.

    • What I am suggesting is that we deal with the reality of deindustrialized communities, creating good jobs in these places. This is a good thing regardless of any political ends. The fact that dealing with economic problems could get Democrats votes is a benefit. But I don’t see how this has anything to do with what people fear–that we would sacrifice people of color to appease white cultural norms.

      • DamnYankees

        What I am suggesting is that we deal with the reality of deindustrialized communities, creating good jobs in these places. This is a good thing regardless of any political ends.

        Well, I think you’re doing more than that. There are lots of good things that could be done in the world. We could plant more trees. We could put a man on Mars. We could bring back Firefly.

        But you didn’t write posts about those things. You wrote about “creating good jobs” in deindustrialized communities. And you did so in the context of this Presidential election. I presumed you were therefore arguing that these two things were rather intimately connected, and that in fact this a primary thing to focus on going forward; I don’t think I made a big leap there.

        As many people have pointed out in this thread, and what you basically have admitted, is that “creating good jobs” in these places is, at this point, little more than a slogan. Almost no one has any ideas for how the hell to do that, or literally what it would even mean. So what exactly are we even talking about? Why is this the topic of conversation?

        I don’t mean to come off upset at you – I read this blog for a reason. I like your posts and generally agree with your politics on most things. I just don’t know why we’re devoting so much of this conversation to trying to come up a with a solution to a problem where (i) no one has any idea what the solution is and (ii) it’s not remotely clear that, even if we did, if would be worth making it to the target of our efforts.

        • efgoldman

          Almost no one has any ideas for how the hell to do that, or literally what it would even mean.

          Actually, there’s a very good idea that’s worked since FDR: A massive public works program – especially now with the cost of borrowing still at record lows.
          Unfortunately the fuckheads with “Republiklown” after their names aren’t having any. Absent legislating at gunpoint, there’s no fixing it until at least the next election.

          • DrS

            And, this is extremely trenchant in the environment that we found ourselves in post-2008 collapse. Yes, the GOP was to blame, and yes, it is unfair to blame the democrats for all of it, but they were there too, and the President takes the blame.

            Such a lost opportunity, even with our gains. We had a need to build, people out of work who knew how to build, and people handing us money at low rates.

            Such a fucking waste.

        • BigHank53

          I just don’t know why we’re devoting so much of this conversation

          Because blaming it all on racism is (a) lazy, (b) overly dismissive of voters that the Democratic party can’t afford to write off, and (c) is tempting some people to embrace the politics of racial resentment, which would do us as much good as a sucking chest wound.

          • MilitantlyAardvark

            Can we also stop pretending that Clinton was a great candidate who was robbed? She was on a number of points an astoundingly bad candidate with some seriously tone-deaf advisers.

        • Origami Isopod

          We could plant more trees. We could put a man on Mars. We could bring back Firefly.

          One of these things is not like the other … Let’s leave that overrated pile of Whedonfail (racial and otherwise) in the ’90s-00s where it belongs. Otherwise, good comment.

          • pseudalicious

            Aww, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of me seeing Sean Maher shirtless. Then again, this would also involve hiring Adam Baldwin and giving him money… Okay, fine, you win.

    • Charlie S

      To add to your initial point: the Republicans lost seats in both houses of Congress this election, along with the popular vote for Presidency. And yet, because of this “success,” they can enact the most radical agenda since the Gilded Age. Trump was right: it’s a rigged system. And there’s no clear or simple way to “unrig” it at this point in the game.

      • DamnYankees

        Hillary also ran ahead of the other Democrats who ran in these places, who ranged from the more liberal (Feingold) to the more conservative (Strickland).

        Where the hell is the evidence that Hillary lost to Trump over these kinds of issues? How many pieces like this are going to be written over the next 4 years without any real evidence of the problem they claim?

        • veleda_k

          The data I’ve seen indicates that Clinton won among low income voters, and what really correlates with support for Trump is whiteness and an authoritarian outlook. Which seems kind of obvious.

          • Sebastian_h

            You aren’t looking at how votes change over time. The easiest and laziest explanation for anyone’s vote is that they voted for the same Party this time as they did last time.

            Clinton won among low income voters because most low income voters voted for Obama last time. However there was a huge CHANGE in how many voters went for Clinton–especially in the key Rust Belt states.

    • Gizmo

      I’ve gotta agree with Erik Johnson on this one. While there are in fact many contributing factors to the D’s loss last week, the fundamental problem remains – working-class jobs are being wiped out. This has been going on for years now, and both political parties have been accessories – if anything, it seems the be the only point of agreement. NAFTA made it way easier for companies to pack up and go to Mexico. This particular bomb has been ticking for a while.

      The bottom line for me is that the Democratic party needs to be first and foremost a democratic party – focused on the broad interests of working people whether they be manufacturing workers, bus drivers, or service workers. If those people do well, the rest of us will, too.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        If those people do well, the rest of us will, too.

        A rising tide lifting all boats beats trickle-down economics any day of the week.

        • twbb

          Unfortunately, for a lot of people in the leadership of both parties, the “rising tide lifting all boats” still means trickle down.

    • xq

      The focus is on wwc voters because they are the ones who switched from Obama and therefore good targets for swinging back. Trying to attract other Republican demographics is challenging because they are mostly strong partisans.

      Clinton did try to convert educated white women, and it worked to some extent, but Trump’s wins among wwc overcame that. It’s not obvious how she could have done better on that front.

      • Murc

        The focus is on wwc voters because they are the ones who switched from Obama and therefore good targets for swinging back.

        More to the point: part of, but not the entire, reason the white working class receives so much political attention is because they’re hugely swingy in general and because there’s a ton of them.

        There are other, shittier reasons. But “large voting bloc that’s also volatile” is a big one.

  • Rufus T Firefly

    Preach it, Erik. I’m 100% with you too.

  • Anna in PDX

    Look. Either we can talk about the working class as a class. In which case the message would be tailored to workers, not workers of one race. Or, we can talk about catering to a race. Coincidentally, the race which still has it better than any other race. In which case the conversation is fucking racist. Why is the white working class even a thing? People of color work the same kinds of jobs and have much worse troubles if you break this down by race, what on earth is the point of mentioning whites as a constituency, UNLESS it is all about racism? (Theirs. The racism, that is.)

    Sure let’s talk about the Carrier plant and what we can do about industrial jobs but stop mentioning white people like they have some sort of mysterious greater import when it comes to these jobs.

    • SIS1

      Yes, its hard to instill class consciousness when you decide to subdivide it.

    • a.monkey

      JFC. This. I’d also add, given that WWC turned out for a racist, misogynistic conman, the easiest way to get votes from them is to become more racist and more misoginistic. It’s a strategy I guess, just not a good one.

      As an aside, Hillary had the same message as trump. Effectively “we need to do better by the working class”. She just left out… you know… the dog whistles so fucking loud you could practically taste the racial slurs behind them. It was good enough for the working class, but ignored by the WWC in favor of trump. She lost. in part. because of this.

      • Dilan Esper

        Becoming more racist and misogynistic is a straw man. Nobody is advocating that.

        • Origami Isopod

          … except Connor Kilpatrick and lots of others of his ilk.

          • Snuff curry

            They’re not even pretending anymore. I was expecting months of “colorblindness” but that crowd have gone whole hog in a matter of a week, along with public faces old enough to know better (Sanders and Corbyn, for two).

    • Murc

      stop mentioning white people like they have some sort of mysterious greater import when it comes to these jobs.

      Nobody is doing that. People are specifically mentioning white people because they’re the politically relevant swing vote here and need enough of’em to not have results like the one last Tuesday.

      Either that, or we need to make up the vote totals elsewhere.

      • Rob in CT

        It’s entirely possible Hillary lost b/c of lower turnout (which is partly about suppression) amongst non-white voters who weren’t as enthusiastic about her as they were about Obama.

        Me, I’d like to go after both sets of voters.

        • Rob in CT

          Addendum:

          I want to go after both groups (to the extent it can be done, obviously!) because we don’t just need to flip this election result from a narrow loss to a narrow win.

          We need another wave election, because that’s the only way we’re going to get shit done, and after 4 (or 8!!) years of a Trump Administration, there’s going to be a lot of things that need doing.

  • Warren Terra

    US manufacturing output is up 40% over the last 20 years. Even excluding the one big grower (electronics and computers), the rest of US manufacturing is up almost 10% over the same time period.

    Over that same period, manufacturing employment has dropped by a third; I don’t know the distribution but would expect the better-paid jobs were the most strongly affected.

    As with many things, the problem is one of distribution. We’re making more than ever, but fewer people are significantly benefiting.

  • ProgressiveLiberal

    Ok, so who has a fucking plan?

    I have a fucking plan:

    Devalue the dollar. If our currency is too expensive, its the same as a tariff on our exports and a subsidy on imports. If exports cost too much and imports are too cheap, then people will buy shit made in other countries because its cheaper, instead of buying overpriced shit made in this country. So, a 20% decline is like getting a coupon for 20% off american made shit, and a 20% tax on foreign made shit.

    Why does this matter? Cause we have a fucking trade deficit. Every dollar spent on an item that is made in another country is the same damn thing as mailing your money to that other country, instead of giving it to the guy working in the local factory, who will spend it in the local diner, who will spend it in the local butcher, etc, etc, etc. If you balance the dollar, you can balance the trade deficit – again, by making our shit cheap so americans pay other americans to make it, and their shit expensive, so americans stop mailing their goddamn money to china to make shit for us.

    SECOND, replace everyone in the fed’s FOMC with people who TRULY UNDERSTAND that the full employment mandate IS NOT OPTIONAL. Greenspan was a total fuckup, but while economists were talking about NAIRU being 5%+, he let unemployment fall to a year round average of 4%, and who fucking knew, NAIRU is less than 4%. You know what else happens when there are no unemployed workers? People get raises cause bosses start stealing employees from other companies. And a little bit of inflation isn’t a bad thing either, if it occurred – inflation is raises, and inflation erodes debt. Which is precisely why rich people hate it.

    THIRD, flood the market with doctors. The number of doctors is limited by the government, based on how many medicare will pay to train each year, and it is way, way, way too low, which is why doctors here make twice as much as other countries. You want to know why people aren’t getting raises the last few decades? Part of it is because their TOTAL COMPENSATION is what matters, and the increases in it have gone towards their benefits – ie, to pay doctors. So, you still get one doctor appointment per year, but now its twice as expensive – oops, there went your raise.

    FOURTH, end patent protection. You pay too much for drugs because of bullshit patents. There goes your raise again. In a free market, drugs would sell for 80-90% less.

    You want to know where all your raises have gone? Doctors, drug companies, the investors in your company, etc. This is why people are pissed.

    FIFTH, free college and a decent retirement, obviously.

    Again, anyone else have a plan? This is how we get to full employment, this is how we get raises again. I have yet to see any other democrat articulate a plan that could actually work. AND, the most important parts of this wouldn’t even take legislation.

    • Warren Terra

      There are a number of reasons why doctors are paid a lot. One is that our country is very unusual in charging massive tuition of our medical students. We then make our doctors work for a few years for absurd hours at incredibly low pay, before we start paying them enough to eat into their accumulated student debt (plus interest!). And then having set their wages on the basis of their accumulated student debt, we pay them on that basis for the rest of their working lives.

      Another is to question whether doctors really are paid a lot. Brain surgeons are paid a lot. Specialists generally have reasonable hours and pretty great pay. But GPs, especially those who serve poor people? I don’t know the numbers, but I’ve certainly heard of some whose paychecks aren’t so hefty.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        They average double what other first world countries doctors make.

        Sure, the ones making the most will come down the most and the least the least. Point still stands.

        I’d rather pay their education instead of absurd salaries for the next 60 years.

        Here’s the bottom line: you’re either for cutting salaries, or you’re for our overpriced healthcare system which costs twice as much as any other countries. Are you on the bus or you off the bus?

        You would make a great lobbyist, but a poor progressive.

        • Warren Terra

          You really are committed to making enemies and destroying debate, aren’t you?

          I make the point that the US system of making medical students pay steep tuition contributes to the abnormally high pay for doctors in the US. You apparently agree with this point, except that you twit what I’ve said into some sort of endorsement of the status quo whose defects I’m pointing out. You then needlessly insult me.

          Great work, sunshine.

    • NickFlynn

      This is pretty much the Dean Baker plan, give or take. I’d toss a pretty massive ongoing program of infrastructure maintenance and modernization into the mix as well. There is no reason a country as rich as ours shouldn’t have the best stuff and infrastructure provides blue collar jobs (although there are issues with labor mobility that probably have to be addressed.)

      From a pure economics standpoint, it is pretty solid. Politically, it is going to be a heavy lift – the potential losers are powerful groups and beneficiaries are a more diffuse lot.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      Devalue the dollar.

      And when other countries do the same to their currencies, what then?

      the full employment mandate IS NOT OPTIONAL.

      OK, but what will generate your new jobs – and, more important, what stops them being crappy jobs with poor hours and bad pay?

      THIRD, flood the market with doctors.

      And how do we pay for this and make sure they don’t all scurry off to “nicer” parts of the country or go into lucrative specializations and only work in those areas?

      FOURTH, end patent protection.

      Seems reasonable, although I don’t see how it’s going to happen anytime soon.

      FIFTH, free college and a decent retirement, obviously.

      How do we pay for this? Is college even the right solution for some of the kids going through it? Wouldn’t we do better to set up technical schools of quality, much as Germany did back in the day?

      • Brett

        OK, but what will generate your new jobs – and, more important, what stops them being crappy jobs with poor hours and bad pay?

        You run an economy at full employment for multiple years in succession, and it drives up wages. That happened in the late 1990s, it happened in the 1960s boom, and it will happen again. But you got to get unemployment down to about 4% – that’s the sweet number.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          You run an economy at full employment for multiple years in succession

          I am not seeing a plan for how we get there so much as a set of wishes. They are, indeed, lovely wishes, but I really have trouble seeing how we get from them to the reality to which they aspire. How exactly do we generate enough “good” jobs while competing with low-cost economies?

          Are we going for Trumpian protection rackets and tariffs here?

          • DrS

            I do think we could have put people to work building stuff on borrowed money.

            But then we elected a guy who crows about not paying it back.

            So, that’s kinda fucked.

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            “I am not seeing a plan for how we get there so much as a set of wishes. ”

            Uh, it was step ONE.

            demand = C + I + G + NX

            devalue dollar means NX goes up (exports – imports, or “net exports.”)

            more demand = more jobs.

            It’s literally the whole fucking plan.

      • Warren Terra

        “ending patent protection” is not reasonable. I don’t doubt there’s a lot of room for reform and rethinking, but intellectual property is a real thing (some of it, at least), and the availability of patent protection is critical both to ensuring money is spent on research and to ensuring the fruits of that research are made public instead of hidden away in the hope no-one can rapidly duplicate them.

        We might as well – perhaps might more usefully – call for the abolition of other forms of private property.

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          Patents aren’t private property, they’re government enforced protectionism. Stop with the silliness. No one thinks that ending a military program that buys the same bombs every year for the last 20 years is “ending private property.”

          Either you like paying 5X what drugs are worth or you don’t. Are you on the bus or off the bus?

          (I was speaking the in the context of drugs btw.)

          There are plenty of other ways to finance research other than an arcane 200+ year old system. Public financing for example. There are many others. But patents on drugs got to go.

          • Scott P.

            But you’re not calling for public financing of medical research, you’re calling for ending patent protection for drugs.

            If greater public financing of medical research is necessary for the thing to work, advocate for that instead.

            • Warren Terra

              Even this is too generous. It’s ridiculous to say “End patents” and then nine hours later clarify you meant, end patents on drugs only.

              And: if this guy knows the slightest damned thing about how drug research and patents work, I’d be shocked.

      • Warren Terra

        You ask reasonable questions about “free college” when you consider it from the point of view of preparing students for the workforce – but let’s not forget a few other features of “free college”: (1) it employs a lot of college instructors, rather cheaply; (2) it keeps a lot of young people out of the job market for a few years; (3) it potentially educates or even perhaps civilizes a lot of young people in ways that have no palpable connection to their becoming more employable and yet might benefit society.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          it employs a lot of college instructors, rather cheaply

          Not sure that the joys of adjuncthood are really a good argument for free college. Arguably, we’d be better off reforming the college system so that schools have to pay staff properly. Start by trimming the administrative and athletic department fat and emphasize that college is about education, not as a feeder system for the NFL etc.

          it keeps a lot of young people out of the job market for a few years

          If we give up on creating good jobs, that approach makes a tepid sort of sense. If, however, we believe that we can create good jobs, then the whole opportunity cost angle kicks in.

          it potentially educates or even perhaps civilizes a lot of young people

          We live in hope, but I suspect that better technical schools would be of more use to many of them.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        And when other countries do the same to their currencies, what then?

        This is part of our trade agreements with them – we push dollar devaluation instead of copyrights. It’s all a negotiation. Also, just like china, we can buy the currencies of other countries, and they can’t stop us. Free market. There are lots of ways to get this done. I mean, its literally been china’s plan for decades…time to get smart.

        OK, but what will generate your new jobs – and, more important, what stops them being crappy jobs with poor hours and bad pay?

        I told you, devalue dollar = increase demand for exports. Full employment = raises. Look at the late 90s. And decades before that.

        And how do we pay for this and make sure they don’t all scurry off to “nicer” parts of the country or go into lucrative specializations and only work in those areas?

        This is just silly. Did every fast food worker scurry to the parts of the country where its “nicest” or they raised the min wage? That isn’t how a market works. You’re not even making logical arguments at this point.

        Seems reasonable, although I don’t see how it’s going to happen anytime soon.

        Trying to win an election here…then we implement the plan. Did you miss Trump’s victory last week? Did anyone predict obama plus 60 senators back in 2004? Anyone?

        How do we pay for this? Is college even the right solution for some of the kids going through it?

        How we pay for everything. Tax the rich or cut the bombs. No one said forced college. There will be jobs for everyone on every level if we follow the plan to increase exports by devaluing the dollar and get unemployment down to 4%. I never said I was against tech schools.

    • Rob in CT

      I’ve been worried/annoyed about the trade deficit for along time now. Nobody seems to talk about it. It’s like it’s some law of nature that we just bleed ~3% of GDP per year in trade. It’s odd.

      That said, I do wonder about MilitantlyAardvark’s question: if we devalue (and I think we should!), don’t others follow suit? How does that all shake out?

      SOMEHOW we need to close our persistent trade deficit. I actually think this is the core of the “hollowing out” of our economy – not automation, and not even evil banksters (though they do have much to answer for). We have a persistent demand shortfall because we’re -3% out of the gate and the only way we plug that is with federal deficits which just get us back to even (and distributionally it’s not even).

      I used to talk about this more. Particularly in the aftermath of the financial panic of ’08. Hardly anyone seemed to want to talk about it. ETA: not here, as I wasn’t commenting here then. More at Outside the Beltway.

      This is a worthwhile issue to tackle because it’s not made up bullshit. It’s a real problem, and if we could solve it we’d have done a good thing (particularly for low income Americans of whatever stripe). Whether or not it gets us a bunch of Rust Belt votes is another question. I’m pretty jaded at this point – Dems do pass policies that help people and the political payoff looks small to nonexistent.

      Fed – clearly, though that’s basically what Dems have already done (yes, there was a tiny hike recently which was bad but bad in a really small way). They should continue to push for Fed “doves.”

      Doctors – cost of medical care is too damn high, so yes, though driving down doctors’ educational costs would seem to be a key part of this working.

      Patent Protection – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Some level of patent protection is a good thing. We’ve just overdone it.

      College/retirement – Free community college & cheap state schools would be a pretty good step. Protected SS. I liked the idea upthread about boost UI.

      Also infrastructure (I’d focus on clean energy/smart grid, but no doubt some bridges can use work).

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Infrastructure is just Government spending, which is good too. Plenty of that we could do of course. But everyone argues for that so I didn’t include it in the plan.

        Patents – either replace with a system of bonuses for new drugs, buy them out, or cut the exclusivity time, but reform that shit. Drugs should cost 10-20% of current prices.

        Doctors – we already pay for some of their education, do it for twice as many. Give em 0% loans. Hell, pay their tuition if we have to, its cheaper than society paying 2X what other countries pay for the rest of their lives.

        Trade deficit – you push in trade negotiations the fact that we are now concentrating on the right value of the dollar instead of copyright enforcement or other priorities. These are all negotiations. We can engage in open market operations buying and selling currency just like china does. Not every country is going to do so. We take a harder line against the countries that retaliate – and I don’t like their odds. We can afford to do this. It’s not every country we have to do this with. Germany runs a trade surplus – we need to too. It can be done. It needs to be done – or we’re never going to get full employment again and we’re never getting raises again – absent an asset bubble which is only temporary and then the resulting recession (dotcom, housing.)

        • Davis X. Machina

          Germany runs a trade surplus – we need to too. It can be done.

          Hell, everyone needs to run a trade surplus!

          Wait a second…

          • Rob in CT

            Me, I’m not gunning for a surplus. Something very close to neutral would do just fine.

      • SIS1

        Last time I checked, we in the US are rich – a rich country buying stuff from poorer countries…how is this a problem? And we aren’t bleeding anything – the US is a vast net beneficiary of the global economic system, where the rich of other countries decide to park their money in US real estate and other investments.

      • Scott P.

        I’ve been worried/annoyed about the trade deficit for along time now. Nobody seems to talk about it. It’s like it’s some law of nature that we just bleed ~3% of GDP per year in trade. It’s odd.

        The fact the dollar doesn’t depreciate is a sign that it’s not as simple as the above makes it seem. When you consider capital, there is a net inflow, not a net outflow.

  • Heron

    The fundamental problem with this sort of argument is that these same people have been voting Republican in progressively larger numbers for 30 years now. Their Republican statehouses and Governors, who they voted into office and keep in office, have been absolutely murdering them on economic policy for years, yet they continue to elect them. Reagan ran on the promise that he would gut their unions and send their jobs overseas, and they voted for him twice. The only reason they voted for Clinton was BECAUSE he brought a more Republican economic policy into the Democratic party; That’s what triangulation was ABOUT. Their union reps tell them, “you vote for this guy it’s going to cost you your pay if not you job” and… they vote for the guy, lose their pay and/or job, and then vote for him again.

    Like how to you get to these people? They have, for decades now, refused to listen, and refused to learn from experience, and voted Republican far more than Dem, particularly in state races. If their life doesn’t improve under a Dem, or if it does but the radio tells them it hasn’t, they vote R. When their life goes down the shitter under an R, they vote R again unless the Dems run someone the media likes enough not to trash constantly, like Obama. They can say they’re going to vote D “if this guy doesn’t come through” all they like but I don’t buy it. If they actually cared about how politics impacts their jobs, they wouldn’t keep electing right-to-work legislators who send their jobs overseas. They’d listen to their union reps. They don’t. They’re no different than the liars down here in Texas who talk up and down about being for “personal freedom” then want to put the federal government in their neighbors bedrooms.

    And honestly, I don’t think the election even hinged on industrial workers. I think it hinged on lefty voters who swallowed the propaganda on Hillary and chose not to show up.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      There’s some evidence that the voters you refer to have no idea what the Democrats stand for other than big government and the Beltway consensus – which is why Trump got away with pretending to be an outsider rather than the bigliest* of fraudsters.

      Yes, Big-Lie-est and bigly-est are both deliberately implied.

    • Dilan Esper

      I don’t buy this at all. I love free trade, but it isn’t very popular, and the party shifted because Bill Clinton was a corporate whore who saw an opportunity for donations, not because it would produce any relevant votes in swing states.

      • Heron

        Yes. The Dems lifted Republican party econ propaganda about “Competitiveness” and “Deregulation”, and made NAFTA, a Republican initiative, their own, because they realized how much bankers loved that and how much voters hated it. They deliberately chose a bad electoral strategy, and they just won on it -twice!- by chance, apparently. That’s also why the Rust Belt went so huge for Bill Clinton repeatedly; because they were so opposed to Free Trade, Anti-Worker policies. I guess that’s also why they elected Reagan twice; because of how pro-union and anti-free-trade he was.

        This argument is a straight-up counterfactual. Like, actually LOOK at how these people vote, for god’s sake. When are they voting to protect and strengthen their jobs? If they care about their jobs so much, why are they not joining Unions, and why are they voting every chance they get to weaken Unions? Why have they been doing this for 30, hell 40, years now? The Dems gave up on fighting hard for Union policies because the Union constituency shrunk by a lot, real fast, in the 70s and 80s. The whole argument for “Third Way” politics Clinton made was that the Dems had become too “radical” and “leftists” through their hardline support for unions, minorities, and government oversight, and they needed to tack right a bit, rhetorically and politically, to win those voters back, and that included on economic policy. And it worked, which is why he won both his elections.

        These folks don’t care about, and probably don’t even know much about, economic policy. Like, it’s all well and good to ask them if the economy influenced their voting, but why isn’t that followed up with a question about what Hillary and Trump’s econ policies WERE? Because we all know what the answer to that is going to be; that these folks don’t know a damn thing about their policies, or their actual record. They’re not voting economic policy. They’re voting what they hear on the radio, what they hear in the breakroom, and what they see on television when they watch the news, which ain’t often. People can only work with the info they have, and this election people were given particularly bad info, which led to a bad result.

        It’s simple and frustrating, but you folks want to make it into a morality play about how the Dems haven’t done enough for workers. As if the Republicans have done ANYTHING for them ever. If they cared about that, they wouldn’t be electing Republicans who promise them, openly, to pursue policies that hurt their economic interests, and who have delivered on that promise their entire lives. I’m sure there are some working class voters is vote like this, but they aren’t statistically significant. This is a problem of false consciousness, not Dem policy.

        • Dilan Esper

          Hogan, again, the Republicans never ran a protectionist!

          This is the first election when they did, and yes, it turns out free trade is a vote loser in key states.

    • Murc

      Like how to you get to these people?

      Barack Obama managed.

      • PJ

        You know, Black people are saints.

        They’ve been trying to deal with explaining racism to white folks for generations now and they haven’t managed to massacre each and every one of you in your beds.

        • PJ

          And no this doesn’t mean that I hate you or think you’re racist or whatever. It’s just … FFS.

        • Murc

          This is like the third thread you’ve dropped the precise same non-sequitur and it remains baffling.

      • Heron

        Actually no he didn’t, which is what the midterms during his admin were about, and why everytime the issue of race has come up during his time in office these folks have flipped the flip out. What actually happened was that the media liked Obama, and chose to cover the ridiculousness of the claims against him, or the many flaws of Mitt Romney, rather than treat the conspiracy nonsense ginned up against him as substantive. They chose the opposite with Clinton. Media liked him, gave him good coverage, rightfully mocked the nonsense Rs flung at him, and so folks turned out in big numbers and he did well.

        Aside from 2008 when everybody was voting against Shrub and the Rs, he wasn’t getting votes because people thought it would help the economy; public opinion on that has stayed mostly in the crapper for the last 8 years despite the real improvements his admin managed to get in the face of Republican intransigence. The same voters you are saying he “got to” via economics, you are also saying voted against his economic performance with Hillary; that’s a very basic and very obvious contradiction. That his policies are either widely misunderstood or widely disliked(the ACA for instance) and yet he has a 56% approval shows that folks opinion of him isn’t based on policy. Looks to me like coverage is the defining factor on this.

        • Rob in CT

          There is truth in this.

        • Murc

          The same voters you are saying he “got to” via economics,

          Oh? where did I say this?

  • Sebastian_h

    I rarely get a chance to completely agree with Erik.

    I agree with every word in this post.

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    I voted for and donated to Clinton, but I found her squirmings on NAFTA and TPP utterly unconvincing. If the Democrats want to be taken seriously on an issue that clearly does matter to a good number of Rust Belt voters, they need to find a more convincing candidate on economic/trade issues.

    (No, this isn’t an endorsement of the idea that The Bern Woulda Wonnit, which is a futile debate.)

  • Brett

    How many people and towns are we talking about here? It feels like the damage has been done in terms of deindustrialization, and most towns and cities affected by it have either shrunk down to some lower level or recovered in some way. There’s only about 12 million manufacturing jobs left total in the US, and a big chunk of those are jobs in the never-unionized plants in the South where the pay is actually an improvement on what they had before IIRC. I doubt there’s more than 2-3 million union manufacturing jobs in the US in total.

    That makes it easier in some ways. Targeted job programs, infrastructure investment, and cleanup work can help areas that remain, along with buyouts, early retirement, subsidies to factories in exchange for time commitments (if legal), and so forth. For the rest of the working class – for which manufacturing employment has been the exception for decades – they need easier access to unionization.

    • Murc

      For the rest of the working class – for which manufacturing employment has been the exception for decades – they need easier access to unionization.

      As someone who straddles the border between working class and lower-middle class, this would be of huge help to me.

      Do you know how many of my co-workers I’ve met? Actually, physically met?

      One.

      I work in a decent-sized office, 130 folks or so. But those aren’t my co-workers, they’re my clients. Their IT support is outsourced. Well and good; their company isn’t an IT company. They hired the company I work for!

      The other members on my team, they’re my co-workers. There’s a bunch of us. But they’re smeared out across the country. And that’s just on this account; there are several thousand of us doing this work, and if we were all unionized we could wield real power, but we never interact.

      I wouldn’t even know how to begin unionizing. I know how to start on my team; there are people I could put feelers out to. But labor law is based on expecting us to all be at the same site, which we are totally not. And we’re one small team with no idea on how to interact with the other small teams to form a big team. What are we supposed to do, ask management for an email directory?

      • bender

        Is there a professional association for people in your line of work? If not, I’d say the first step is to form one.

        When you do, take a lot of care in writing the bylaws. You want an organizational structure that keeps decision making power in the rank and file. You don’t want a nationwide organization where the ordinary membership rarely meets and interacts, the national officers or the paid staff set the policies and the dues paying members can’t do anything but rubber stamp.

        There are labor unions for creative workers who don’t all gather at one job site. Maybe some of those have patterns you can follow.

  • DrS

    When it comes down to it, the Dems have been about social gains without caring about economic gains for the bulk of their supporters for a long time.

    And it one of many factors that bit us all in the ass. It probably was not the only one, but it was enough to provide a margin.

    • Thom

      “When it comes down to it, the Dems have been about social gains without caring about economic gains for the bulk of their supporters for a long time.”

      It is hard to square this with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

      • Katya

        And the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the reauthorization of SCHIP, increasing the Pell Grant award, the stimulus, the auto industry bailout, the EFCA, the change in overtime rules, increasing the federal minimum wage, the tax relief/extension of unemployment benefits, etc.

  • timb

    Every person I know under the age of 40 Who voted for Donald Trump, did so because of jobs. I live in Indiana and white people live in ghettos as much as any minority in the country. Their ghettos are just rural ghettos

  • I am consistently amazed at the resistance people have to the idea that a reasonable percentage of Trump voters cast a ballot for him because of economic anxiety.

    I’m not amazed at all, because I feel that resistance too. Here’s why: regardless of the precise motivations some voters had for voting for an authoritarian at the head of a virulently bigoted movement, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that’s precisely what they did.

    Another reason is that “economic anxiety” is actually a really vague term that, when you think about it, doesn’t explain much that we didn’t already know about elections and why many voters support Republicans. Particularly in this country, there aren’t many people who don’t feel some form of economic anxiety. And it’s this very anxiety that often gets in the way of support for progressive solutions:

    – Doesn’t that mean you’re going to raise my taxes? I can’t afford that!
    – I heard that these environmental regulations are going to cost me my job!

    Erik, of course, is talking here about a pretty specific form of anxiety:

    And some of them genuinely know that Barack Obama did nothing to keep their jobs in Ohio or Michigan or Wisconsin from moving overseas or being automated. And they know that Hillary Clinton really didn’t either. So, yes, some workers genuinely voted for Donald Trump because they want to keep their jobs.

    Concerning this, two things are true. One is that the Democrats didn’t really have any ideas for holding onto those jobs. Another is that if they had, they’d have been blocked by Congressional Republicans anyway.

    Sadly part of the power of the U.S. right has been to severely limit the imagination of U.S. liberalism. Even I have a lot of trouble imagining things that would actually help that could fly politically in this country.

    At least, that has been true up to now. The Democrats are now utterly in opposition. They don’t have to try to come up with things that they can get past or around Republicans. All they have to do is to nail Trump firmly to the promises he made and to come up with alternatives when those promises are revealed to be empty. The second will be very hard, but again, perhaps being in opposition can liberate the liberal and left imagination a bit.

    And strategies for resistance and renewal can’t focus on just one thing. Bringing hope back to disaffected communities is essential, but it’s not the only essential thing. Not only can the Democrats not back off on becoming the party of diversity and inclusion (they are still “becoming’ that), they must double down on it. Only now that inclusion must also explicitly encompass the disaffected communities of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota (which Clinton only narrowly won) and elsewhere. They must expand the meaning of “inclusion” still further. Support for diversity and economic justice must be fused together into the same vision, and that vision must be projected from the mountaintops for all to see and hear, so all may know that there is another vision of this country out there for the choosing.

    • Only now that inclusion must also explicitly encompass the disaffected communities of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota

      This is the sticking point, though, isn’t it? The country has to embrace all people. I don’t see why the party has to. Parties in our system aren’t just clubs for the expression of grievances and likemindedness. If the Ds have a plan for helping everybody that people in PA disagree with, and understand enough to vote against, the goal should be to implement that plan, not to find a tricky way to get them to vote D. If they can’t get enough votes to implement the plan, they need a way to do that. But “hey maybe our worst enemy’s most insulting idea about what’s wrong with us is the first thing we need to fix” (and I realize this isn’t quite what Erik is saying, and that this is the way we’re talking about this issue in exactly this way is largely the Ds fault) doesn’t seem productive.

      Also, reinforcing grievances that can’t be fixed, and attitudes that make things worse, only set things up for a bigger political problem down the line.

      Maybe people who have written themselves out of the party should just be let go. If individual people from that milieu want to join the effort to get progressive policies passed, fine. But at times it seems like the white working class is coasting on the fact that they once were reliable votes, in order to argue that everybody should put their wishes–all of them–first.

      • kped

        And, having said that…it’s not like we, or the Democratic party, are advocating things that aren’t in their interests! We just aren’t serving it with a side of racism.

        • I know you’re not really arguing, but I actually don’t get this line of argument. What are the reasons to think anybody ever knows what their interests are and what will serve them? That’s not how people work.

          eta And that isn’t meant as a dig at poor, stupid people. It’s directed against people who really seem to believe that people intuit their material interests in some way and automatically know where to turn to fulfill their needs, or who think you can predict people’s votes by figuring out their economic needs.

          • Yes, it’s really not that simple. I’m writing something about this now, actually. Basically one of the things I’m trying to say in the essay is that economic insecurity is not easily separable from other forms of insecurity, which means that different “working class people” can interpret their economic and financial problems quite differently – especially when race is involved.

            All of which is to say it is not so simple as to say “offer a progressive program and we beat bigotry”. And it’s why, while we can and should be stronger on economic justice, that must not mean weaker on inclusiveness and diversity. And even all that is by no means a guarantee of success. But there is no available strategy going forward that comes with any such guarantee.

          • kped

            Correct, I wasn’t arguing, and I agree completely with you on those points. I don’t believe that these people will have a “Eureka” moment and realize that Democrats are better serving their interests…and also, I believe that racism actually does serve their interests. As does misogynist behavior.

      • I agree with most of what you’re saying, Bianca. However, your distinction between a country that embraces all people and a party that embraces all people is surely moot when said party wishes to govern said country.

        Also, it does seem likely that some voters who voted for Obama in 2012 voted for Trump this time. Is that switch irreversible? Was the Democratic Party more racist then? Is the siren song of bigotry irreversible?

        Understand that I am not asking for those who will be harmed by a Trump presidency to empathize with those who voted for him. Frankly, the people of whom Erik speaks are relatively low on the list of people I am currently sympathetic towards. But I’m talking about cold political calculation here. Well, partly. Oddly enough, I’m also motivated by a moral case beyond political calculation: we should try to do what’s right even for those who don’t vote as we’d like.

        • However, your distinction between a country that embraces all people and a party that embraces all people is surely moot when said party wishes to govern said country.

          If it is going to become a prerequisite for political participation that parties, or individuals, be invulnerable to charges that their vision won’t be acceptable to 100% of the electorate–in the opinion of self-declared gatekeepers whose own vision isn’t itself subject to questioning–then we are well and truly screwed.

          • rea

            If it is going to become a prerequisite for political participation that parties, or individuals, be invulnerable to charges that their vision won’t be acceptable to 100% of the electorate

            NO, Democrats only–IOKIYAR.

            • Obviously conservatives by definition are 100% acceptable to 100% of the electorate.

  • Otis B. Driftwood

    I was born and raised in the south. My family come from Appalachia–white, uneducated, rural and poor for as many generations back as we can discover. You’ve all read the famous LBJ quote that tells you the essential point of the 2016 election: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” From slavery to the 21st century, American politics has largely been driven by getting the working white folks to look for someone to blame for their troubles–immigrants, African Americans, feminists… It’s misdirection. Look! Over there! Pay no attention to the capitalist behind that curtain.

    This doesn’t require believing anyone is “stupid.” My grandfather left school after 4th grade, but was smarter than many of the professors and executives I know. He was, however, a “low information” voter. Not to put too fine a point on it, he didn’t read much and didn’t have the background in history or other subjects to have a great deal of perspective on what he did read (and this in the days before Fox and AM radio demagoguery). He also was reared in a culture that was surprisingly violent and intolerant–and that was really all he knew. If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders had said _exactly_ the same things about economics that Trump did, my grandfather wouldn’t have even considered voting for anyone other than Trump–and NOT because Trump opposed the TPP before Hillary did.

    • Origami Isopod

      Co-signed.

  • Bruce Vail

    I don’t have anything unusual to add. I’m just glad a thread on this particular subject tops the 300 comments mark.

    From a strictly personal point of view, I never found the professions of working class solidarity from Hillary or The Donald to be at all credible. I don’t recall ever going to the voting booth were lower expectations than this year.

    • twbb

      I really do think a nontrivial amount of the WWC vote was them shrugging and spinning the wheel.

    • Rob in CT

      I don’t recall ever going to the voting booth were lower expectations than this year.

      Kerry, 2004? Gore, 2000?

      I mean, even though I think HRC wasn’t the best candidate ever, she really looked like the equal of those two to me. In 2004, my Kerry vote was almost entirely an anti-Bush vote. In 2000 I was a moron so nevermind…

      • twbb

        Gore is still my favorite candidate. I was excited about voting for him.

      • Bruce Vail

        Lower expectations than for Gore or Kerry?

        Yes, I am afraid so, although both look super-fantastic now in comparison to Bush or Trump….

  • smott999

    I logged in late and still trying to catch up but…
    While we’re scratching our head at why the large Nbr of 2-time Obama voters flipped to Trump, does Sexism come to mind?
    I did a quick search on the comments and found 0 mentions.
    I don’t believe that can be discounted as a large factor .
    How large I guess we won’t know.
    But let’s not ignore it.

    • Rob in CT

      It’s been raised in prior threads – it’s obviously a factor. Worth raising again. Worth raising every time.

      The biggest shift toward Trump was among men (in particular unmarried white dudes, IIRC). The overall gender split was bigger than in the past.

    • Mike G

      This. People won’t say it out loud, but I think a few of my acquaintances (older white guys) doing the “I just don’t trust her” song and dance were actually conflicted about putting a woman in charge.

      If Joe Biden ran the same campaign I suspect he’d have won it.

      If you’re going to be a “category-buster” in the job (first black man, first woman, first with no political experience) you really need to have charisma and emotional appeal to break through resistance to seeing a new type of person in the position. Obama had this, Trump too, Hillary not so much.

      • smott999

        It does seem that Hillary flipped large Nbrs of Repub women.
        But that was overwhelmed by the large number of “Dem” guys often white unmarried dudes as you say, flipping to Trump.

  • smott999

    Meanwhile busy renewing my UK passport. I know Stay and Fight is the rage but I’m old.
    And I’m out.
    Wasn’t born here, never quite felt like it was my country.
    Definitely not my country now.
    Some nice properties in Nova Scotia near my cousins …and I’m so privileged and fortunate to have options.

    • Origami Isopod

      People should do what they need to do, honestly. I don’t blame you for leaving.

  • alex284

    I know it’s easier to call everyone a bunch of racists.

    If you look at the history of the US and say “white people are just really too good at calling people out on racism!” then I don’t know what kind of discussion we can have.

    And some of them are! And some of them are racist and also voted for Barack Hussein Obama on two occasions!

    Proof? I keep on hearing this bandied about, but the whole “secret ballot” thing prevents any actual proof. Some people in some states that went for Obama in 2012 had more people who voted for Trump than for Romney, but there’s no reason to think that those “more people” voted for Obama in 2012. They could just as well have not voted in 2012, as tens of millions of people do each election.

    Last, is that article about the carrier plant related at all to this discussion, or is the argument just a total non-sequitur? I don’t follow NY Times links so I can’t see if these people all said they were voting for Trump or something. Without that, the argument of this post seems to be “people are losing their jobs, and people voted for Trump. I assume those people because reasons.”

  • Pingback: [BLOG] Some Monday links | A Bit More Detail()

  • PSP

    I think one economic trend that isn’t looked at, and probably contributed to the result, is the number of latinos moving into construction. Near me is supermarket parking lot where the day laborers wait to be hired. For a generation after the factories close, the well paying alternative for an uneducated guy was to go into construction and make good money. After 2007, those guys were clobbered. Now, guys who were making $20+/hour banging nails are competing with day laborers asking $100 per day. Whole trades are turning into a contractor and a “bunch of Mexicans.” Roofers and masons went first. Want to find people combining racial intolerance and economic insecurity, look for a tradesman who had, or barely staved off a foreclosure, and whose kid can’t follow in his footsteps.

    • SamChevre

      Seconded.

      If you want someone who thinks things have not gotten better under Obama, talk to anyone who works in construction.

      And the thing I keep hearing is “we used to have unions that looked out for us.” The Philadelphia Plan keeps paying dividends to the Republicans–it really does set the trades unions and the Democrats at odds.

  • SamChevre

    Moved

It is main inner container footer text