Much has been written about voters, sometimes labeled the “white working class”, who live in small towns, have low incomes and supported Trump in 2016. There are various hypotheses—not, despite the rhetoric, mutually exclusive—that have been proposed to explain this: never-ending latent racism galvanized by the experience of having a black president, a vote of despair in the face of economic decline, paranoia fueled by fictitious narratives of immigrant crowding and crime. I just finished reading a post-mortem on the recent British election that, by analogy, suggests two more hypotheses about Trumpism:
1) With decades-long declines in deindustrializing areas, there has been a steady outflow of mostly younger residents. This has a tendency to shift the politics of those who remain to the right based on age considerations alone, but the outflow is likely selective in other respects as well. Those who light out to the cities are probably better educated and more tuned in to trends in metropolitan culture, taking their blue votes to jurisdictions that already pile up big majorities for Democrats.
2) What do people do when they lose their long-term jobs in manufacturing and the relatively well-paid services that cluster around manufacturing nodes? If they don’t emigrate, what’s left? Many look for bits of opportunity where they can find them, combinations of self-employment, gig work, off-the-books service work, etc. Those who scrounge for income in these ways are the same people as the workers who were laid off during deindustrialization, but their class position has changed. They no longer look to unions or government regulation to protect their interest against employers, quite the opposite. Union work now competes with them, and regulation just makes it harder to cut the corners their livelihood depends on cutting. In other words, their income has gone down but they are less “working class” than before.
Just to be clear, I’m not pushing these explanations. They are just hypotheses, and it isn’t obvious to me what kind of evidence would adjudicate them.
Trumpism doesn’t exist. Your creating a illusion of voting patterns that don’t exist. Manufacturers have been leaving small industrial startup towns since the 1920’s. Moving to the suburbs of bigger cities. A similar fate occurred in the cities as well in the post war era.
That isn’t the vote your looking for.
Peter, My experience in Wisconsin suggests you are on to something. I grew up in a small town that was largely dependent on 4 or 5 manufacturing companies for employment. About 20 % of my high school class went on to college in 1970 and maybe another 10% went to technical school. The county was 55% Democratic. Today there is no heavy manufacturing of any kind left, the population of the town has dropped by 20%, a large part of that population is old and the younger people often commute 30 miles for work in larger cities. The county is now reliably 60% or more GOP. Most of the 20% in my class who went to college never came back. I did not and only 2 of my 9 siblings still live in the county—one is a farmer and the other runs a small business catering to residential construction. There is simply no opportunity for your average Joe and that makes those who are left easy pickings for right wing hate radio.
Liquor, smoking, and opioids are prevalent in these areas also. In a recent letter to The Atlantic and their article “The True Cause of the Opioid Epidemic.” I made this comment (partial): “As to the epicenters of Opioid abuse? Law makers questioned Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith wanting to know why millions of hydrocodone and oxycodone pills were sent (2006 to 2016) to five pharmacies in four tiny West Virginia towns having a total population of about 22,000. Ten million pills were shipped to two small pharmacies in Williamson, West Virginia. The number of deaths increased along with the company and wholesaler profits. West Virginia is an area suffering from deaths of despair brought about by an economic depression. The industry pursued the business.”
Yes it is true, communities fall apart, the educated leave, and those that are left turn to who ever can promise something in return be it politics are a moment of solitude with drugs. Make no mistake of this not being a reality and as I pointed out to the author, the industry pursued the weakest amongst us who were deprived of a livelihood.
Suppose our post-manufacturing outcasts could move to a big city and get jobs that pay $25/hr — like in Walmart — a unionized Walmart that is. Or $20/hr jobs in Target and Walgreen’s.
If Micky D can pay $15/hr with 25% labor costs, Walmart with 7% costs and Walgreens with 10-15% can pay a lot more. More of the money goes to such labor — more of the money gets spent by such labor — not even any loss of jobs at higher salaries because they spend proportionately more where they work. Expensive restaurants represent a split-screen where the latter concept is concerned — but that’s an exception that truly proves the rule.
It’s called being like Germany — it can be done! It’s called shifting 10% of income the bottom 40% — up to 20% income share from them; up from today’s 10% share.
Here’s how in the link. Will anybody even address the issue of regularly scheduled union cert-recert-decert elections? Be a killer issue (as in killing the Republican party). Why will no one even address the issue? ???
Denis, that is a good idea, but logistical issues retard progress on the issue. You gotta convince, fund and implement it efficiently. WV population would collapse and create spin off problems.
You know Denis, the biggest obstacle to your ideas is that the non unionized folk working the dead end service jobs you talk about do not think they are entitled to earn a decent living. They have been conditioned by the media and the elites to believe that if they have not gone to college or learned a trade they do not deserve to make much above the poverty line—which they get to by having both spouses working full time with grandma and grandpa providing childcare and limiting their drinking to the cheapest beer they can find and running a few low level scams or gigs on the side. And Run, I will not dispute anything you say about the opioid crisis, but when those manufacturing companies were open there were a dozen taverns outside their gates and they were always full, everybody in town smoked cigarettes including yours truly and probably 50% of all brides were pregnant. At the end of the day escape was possible because people believed it was possible. Not sure if that is true today.
It is different when you go grab a beer or bourbon with friends to celebrate the end of a week. It is another case, when the job disappears or you are laid off, there are no other jobs, and you have to figure out how to feed your family and keep the house. Purdue, Teva, Johnson and Johnson, etc. preyed on these people deliberately. why in the world would one send 10 million opioid tabs to two pharmacies with a town population of 22,000? They knew people would use them and doctors would prescribe them and pharmacies would fill the prescriptions. Bastards all . . .
Black or white, the issues here are the same.
The better educated of a generation will move. They apply for a job by phone and mail, they travel for the interview, and receive the confirmation of being hired by mail. Then they move.
The security of the less educated of that generation depend on their extended family. (Baby sitters, help with a car repair, a ride to work, a small short term loan, a sympathetic ear) Change is not easy. Imagining a whole new life is even more difficult. Moving without a job waiting is like stepping off the edge of their world. And the big city already has a supply of less educated labor. Some of them do move, but not most of them.
The Democrats are losing some of their base because they have not spent enough of their energy on behalf of their base.
They have espoused globalization in the name of raising the populations of other countries out of poverty. They have espoused semi open borders in the name of helping the downtrodden poor in Mexico and Central America.
The problem is that they have been less vehement, less impassioned in their defense of working class Americans. Where are the sanctuaries for American unemployed, or homeless. They admit to only some small misunderstanding of the impact of their laws on working class Americans.
Of course Jim and that caused the recession/depression of 2007/8
I have lived and worked with these folks for 67 years. I remember when manufacturing and construction were solid middle class jobs and even small communities flourished. I remember when the men in small towns could carpool to the city for those jobs.
Much of that is gone. Look at the smaller cities close to I-75 or US 30 and see the rot and deterioration.
Not everybody can move to Houston or Atlanta.
I hear that 50% of the US population have not recovered from the 2009 recession. Matches my observations.
Trump is a con man but at least he offered something, which is a tad better than nothing. Someone will have to clean up his damage.
Ever been to Lasalle – Peru, Illinois near Us55. I interviewed at a plant there which occupied 1/3rd of a building. Personnel loved me and the Plant Manager didn’t. I could not be bullied and I could do his job. I know what it is like to be out of work and spend a year gaffing trees, cutting them down, and chipping wood. Cutting grass was a side job. Kept my family in Wisconsin.
Trump is white trash and all the money in the world and the presidency will not change that for him.
I have been thinking Hollywood should do a remake of “Escape from NewYork”. Only this time it is “Escape to New York”. The president’s plane crashes in the small-town countryside and Snake has to navigate roving gangs of opioid addicts and religious zealots to return to the safety of New York City.
Would love to see Trump work with his hands amongst common laborers or automotive workers.
I assume that if Trump worked with his hands other than stuffing his pie hole or grabbing a woman’s privates that he would die of a heart attack in 5 minutes. I think he would fit in with other manual laborers as long as they paid him respect. Certainly his working vocabulary, grammar and spelling is very blue collar.
Bert, eliminating the toughest obstacle to forming a union — running the illegal gauntlet of management muscling — doesn’t make the election part harder.
Jim, Rusty, their ancestors crossed oceans for a lot less safe goals. If an automatic union cert-recert-decert cycle were the federal law they could realistically look forward to moving to something better. Think Germany — look how far behind they were when they started (1945) — now they are the progressive standard of the world.
“Of course Jim and that caused the recession/depression of 2007/8”
Of course not!
The Great Recession was brought on by US economists’ simple minded theories which were adopted by BOTH political parties. But the “rising tide that lifted all boats” was never going to happen and it did not happen. The outcome of NAFTA was predictable and was predicted by Ross Perot in the 1992 and 1996 general elections. The free trade treaties that followed were just as punitive to the working class.
I doubt that many working class voters in 2016 understood what had brought on the Great Recession.
It was candidate Trump’s condemnation of semi open borders and free trade treaties which got him elected. And those ideas were certainly NOT espoused by mainstream Republicans.
As I have said before, if candidate Clinton had been running against any of the mainstream Republicans she would have won that election in 2016.
Vehemently stating that illegal immigrants just wanted jobs or wanted protection against gang violence were not winning arguments. American working class voters saw unemployment and gang violence in the US too.
The Democratic party’s focus was in the wrong place. Its candidates should have never defended free trade treaties or illegal immigration. And calling half of candidate Trump’s supporters “deplorables” was counterproductive too.
My ancestors came here in the 1700s when all they could look forward to was the death of their children in childhood and an early death themselves. One of my immigrant ancestor’s father and grandfather both died young and left only 2 or 3 children to reach adulthood. The immigrant in America lived to age 73 and left 8 living adult children who were having his grandchildren.
And the news from prior emigrants to the English colonies was almost all positive! When one emigrant returned home and wrote a book about the hardships of the journey and the less than idyllic circumstances in the colonies, emigration did not slow. If anything it increased.
Just as in the 20th century, many Kentuckians from the mountains moved north to find jobs that prior migrants were writing home about. The pull of those jobs just got greater with time.
We don’t live in those worlds anymore.
I read the article you referred to about the English communities surrounding industrialized areas, the fall out of jobs, the blaming of the “brown” people, and subsequent defeat of the Labour party. I also read the comments which were interesting. The “olds” stay put and the “youngs” escape to the cities. In this country we have chained an entire generation (millennials) to student loan debt which one candidate (Biden) chastises them saying “he got his on own and they should get theirs on their own.” Since he is a leading in popularity; hopefully Millennials do not pick up on his comment.
The Atlantic The True Cause of the Opioid Epidemic describes a similar scenario.
My complaint to this direction is the opioid companies went out of their way to prey upon people in smaller towns as I pointed out earlier. Millions of pills were shipped to small towns Appalachia which would never use such in a normal circumstance. The same jobs are not coming back and the trickle down is just that a trickle of what they received in the past.
No one seems to take into account that these white working class people have been voting the same way for more than five decades.
Y’know, decades when many of the supposed reasons for voting GOP did not exist?