No, I am not “buying a staircase to heaven,” or anything close. It would be nice but this is not in my realm of realistic.
Let’s start with the election. Why would anyone be surprised that Trump lost. He lost the popular vote in 2016 and barely won enough battleground states to tip the electoral college in his favor. This was before the nation had four years of Trump under its belt. This was before the nation got to see that everything that looked bad about Trump before November of 2016 was really true. So people voted, and yes, absentee ballots made it easier for many of us to vote and register our voice in this past election. We knew ahead of time that more women were not going to be voting for Trump. We knew ahead of time that more folks with education beyond high school were reconsidering their votes of 2016. We knew that African American voters were going to be out there and voting in spite of attempts to suppress their votes with purged voter rolls and closing polling places in poorer neighborhoods. And most of all, we knew we did not have a leader. We had a very polarizing figure that worked to build anger in his base and keep the nation divided.
Hey, with someone like Trump, there is never a good outcome. His good outcome is just that, what is best for Trump, but not what is best for the country. This is not that hard to see.
Now, let’s look at the Trump base. Who are these people. Many of them look to me like historical Democratic voters that have become so disaffected by a government that has abandoned their needs. These are folks that used to have a firm hold on the middle class. These are folks that used to have middle class jobs with benefits like health insurance and security. These are folks that felt secure in the so-called American dream. What happened to make them join ranks with the likes of the Koch brothers?
American business and policies that broke the back of America’s industrial heartland is what happened. We sat back and watched a big part of the manufacturing sector quietly pick up stakes and relocate to Asia, and especially China. We watched this happen for over 30 plus years. Early on this became a political force with the third party campaign of H. Ross Perot in 1992. We listened for a minute, and then our attention went elsewhere.
There were some winners in all of this, large American corporations and the folks that own shares in large American corporations. Profits have grown, and then to make sure those profits stayed put with the shareholders, we wrote tax policy that reduced the tax on unearned income (think dividends and capital gains). We made wages the worst kind of income to have when it comes to taxation. We got everybody to swallow this with a mirage called “trickle down economics” – if we let the rich keep more of their income, they will spend their additional wealth and it will trickle down to all of us. Well, except for a few determined to be ignorant folks, most of us realize this never happened.
And then, we had a Republican controlled Congress for most of Obama’s presidency. Other than the Affordable Health Care Act in the first two years of Obama’s presidency, once the Congress became Republican controlled after the election of 2010, there was not going to be any more social programs coming out of Washington. Mitch McConnell was not even bashful about stating that he would make sure Obama had nothing the could point his finger to and say, “We did that.” McConnell laid down a strategy of obstruction and Congress did nothing to bring relief to Americans suffering from the Great Recession of 2008. So, now you have this growing segment of the American population not making it and there appears to be no help coming from the federal government. Republican politicians made sure that the blame for the lack of help was laid at the feet of the Democratic party. The stage was set for Trump to enter.
So you have a lot of disenchanted Americans that are losing in their struggle to just hang on to their place in life. They are hurting from the Great Recession of 2008 and they see that banks were helped under the policy, “too big too fail,” yet they see no help for them. They see immigrants coming in to the country, often people of color, and they view these new arrivals as threats. They listen to politicians telling them these new arrivals are being handed the American dream on a silver platter. So, there is mega resentment and, yes racism. Now, the Republican party looks at all of this anger and resentment and organizes their pitch to play right to this. There would be no help coming from the Republican party – that kind of policy and politics is not in agreement with the Republican philosophy. There was never going to be a Republican health insurance program. There was never going to be tax policy that would stop the concentration of wealth at the top of the American population. There was never going to be a large national infrastructure investment to create jobs and rebuild America. There was never going to be national Manhattan project to help our country invest in and create alternative green energy. Now, enter this con-man/demagogue coming down a golden escalator and with a speech about building walls, Mexican drug dealers, rapists, and murderers.
Trump gets elected in 2016. The once formidable “Blue Wall” of historic Democratic states (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania) crumbles just enough to give Trump their electoral votes. The key to understand all of this is the phrase, “just enough.” There was no landslide that swept Trump into office in 2016, no landslide at all, just a few thousand votes on the Trump side made the difference. The Democrats did not cry foul and push the country into a succession of litigations leading up to Trump’s inauguration. They followed with our tradition of peaceful transfer of power, swallowed a bitter pill, and watched Trump succeed Obama in the presidency.
Now we are four plus years past the election of 2016. We are a country that has been even further polarized and divided, and this has been intentional on the part of Trump. We are a country that has witnessed most of the norms of our democracy be trashed and trampled on. We have watched as our standing in the world has been trashed for the sake of one man, Trump. We have been encouraged to turn on each other and to hate each other.
Is it any surprise that there were enough Americans to say, “We have had enough” – enough to make some of the swing states come out the way they did? it should not be any surprise. There is a tipping point to all things, and this November 3rd recorded the results of another tipping point.
It does not make me wonder, at all.