RESOURCE HARVESTING

(Ed note: I prepared this for a media outlet that deemed it Too Polemical for their tastes, hence the writing style is a little more formal than usual here.)

Before entering politics, it would be hard to imagine Donald Trump spending much time in places like Youngstown, OH or Huntington, WV. Now he can’t get enough of them.
The billionaire real estate magnate with a fondness for Manhattan, Las Vegas, and East Coast resorts suddenly finds himself more comfortable in Harrisburg. The more he struggles to succeed in Washington, the more he will rely on campaign-style “rallies” in places like this to boost his ego and gain a respite from the criticism that is part of life in the Beltway. Why? The Rust Belt has in endless supply the one resource most crucial to Trump’s base of popular support: anger.

By any measure, places like upstate New York, the Ohio River Valley, central Illinois, and Michigan have been down for decades. In Huntington and Youngstown, for example, population has fallen in every census since 1950. The story of the decline of manufacturing and extractive industries like coal in these places is one Americans know by heart today.
What the Rust Belt offers Trump, then, is a segment of the population that has been on the brutal receiving end of every negative social and economic development since the early Seventies. It is a population that has been knocked down so many times and received so many unfulfilled promises from elected officials that logic and reason are no longer of much importance when evaluating politicians. As long as Trump gives voice to their passionate anger, they will be there to support him even as his actions in office do nothing to help the most downtrodden areas of the country (and, in some cases, actively worsen their problems).

As a lifelong Midwesterner with a firsthand opportunity to witness the struggles of some of these areas, none of the explanations for why Trump received so much support there are compelling. Racism, “economic anxiety,” distaste for Hillary Clinton, and susceptibility to false information distributed via social media are partial explanations at best. To understand why so much of Trump’s Rust Belt base will never turn on him requires understanding the sense of malaise, of giving up, of a step beyond hopelessness, that pervades places that have been sliding downhill without interruption for more than half a century.

The Rust Belt and Midwest more broadly speaking have experienced so much hardship and for so long that residents no longer care what policy prescriptions candidates promise; they firmly believe that nothing will work anyway. These voters are unlikely to care that Trump often flip-flops on issues, does things for which he vocally criticized Barack Obama, and fails to deliver on promises made during the campaign.

Similarly, pointing out that he has nothing but bile-laced Tweets to show for his first half-year in the White House is not persuasive. So long as he continues to give them a vicarious outlet for their anger toward convenient targets that are often blamed for the Rust Belt’s problems – urban elites, immigrants, gays and lesbians, the media, ivory tower academics, the Clintons, and so on – he serves a vital purpose for them.

It is not easy to watch one’s community slowly fall apart over decades due largely to forces beyond one’s control, nor is it easy to look to the future and see only the same downward trajectory regardless of endless (and ultimately fruitless) plans to “revitalize” the Huntingtons and Youngstowns of the United States. After five decades of bad news, Trump feels like a breath of fresh air. Rather than offering them economic or social policy proposals they have heard before and in which they have no more strength to believe, he offers them an opportunity to extend a middle finger to the established institutions of society and government. That is invaluable to people who have received nothing of value in exchange for their votes since the strong economic years of the post-War era.

The people of Huntington, WV are not dumb enough to believe that the Mexican gang MS-13 – the President’s new obsession – is responsible for the shuttered factories, soaring unemployment rate, stagnant wages, and addiction problems that plague their community. But when all of those problems exist for so long that they are viewed as simple facts of life no more controllable than the weather, venting anger at a sinister, foreign Other is cathartic if nothing else.

Trump is not dumb either. He knows that when his administration veers unsettlingly close to chaos, people in rural Ohio, upstate New York, central Pennsylvania, and other declining areas of the country will not judge him on the specifics. They don’t expect him to solve their problems because they have come to believe over time and from repeated experience that their underlying problems are unsolvable. They only want him to keep up the Trump Show, to get under the skin of the groups in society that they blame for their struggles, to rile the establishment even when doing so is pointless and unproductive.

Decline has been a part of life in the Rust Belt for so long that only the oldest residents can remember a time when it wasn’t the defining theme in the life of their communities. The oft-analyzed demographic that dominates these areas – whites with minimal education – does not truly believe that Donald Trump will solve their problems. They do believe that he will deliver the next best thing: an opportunity for revenge. If failure is seen as inevitable, then lashing out in anger at enemies, real or perceived, at least offers a sense of power and control that has been absent from these areas for two generations.

The more Trump struggles, the more he will turn to these places to boost his spirits. He and America’s downtrodden communities realize that they have a relationship of mutual dependence. Rust Belt voters finally feel like someone is on their side, and they are right. Against enemies real, imagined, or distorted, Trump and his most loyal voters will feel comforted that if nothing else, they are in the fight against the liberal media and MS-13 together.

Be Sociable, Share!

68 Responses to “RESOURCE HARVESTING”

  1. Andrew Laurence Says:

    This makes sense to me, but please note that MS-13 is not a "Mexican" gang. It was founded in Los Angeles, and most of its members are ethnically Central American, principally Salvadoran.

  2. Michael Says:

    This is compassionate in the most brutal way, and I love it. Despair creates bad people.

  3. Bill Says:

    You hit the nail on the head here. Growing up in a rural New England town, I've seen the devastation similar to that of the midwest. All the people in my town who never left are overwhelmingly in support of Trump and are the same people posting white pride memes. The thing that gets me is that these are the same "pull up by yer bootstrap" people who disdain government hand outs and welfare to any degree. Liberal me did my own bootstrapping: I racked up a ton of student loan debt, cashed out a 401K in my late 20s to afford to move to NYC, and got a decent paying job. However, I'm the snowflake for realizing the stagnation of my hometown and doing something about it. Things and times change; if they're going to cling to a Rockwellian picture of their manufacturing economy past, then they are doomed to die off with it. They can shake their fist at us in the "liberal elite" cities but as I look out of my office window, I see literally thousands of good-paying construction jobs in every direction of Manhattan. We get it, you're angry. Be the conservatives you are and exercise the power of individuality (see: freedom) in this beloved Capitalist utopia that is your picture of St. Ronnie's USA. Or just buy a Chinese-made Confederate flag, hang it on your '92 Ford Ranger and call it a day.

  4. Matt Says:

    "he offers them an opportunity to extend a middle finger to the established institutions of society and government."

    As someone who's paying taxes to keep these fuckwits above water, I'm happy to reciprocate that middle finger. I hope they lose every person they care about to opioids, then lose their own home to health care expenses. Fuck these people.

  5. Andrew Laurence Says:

    @Matt: That's pretty harsh. I'm actually happy to pay taxes to support them, even though I can't relate to their lives and don't agree with their world view, because they are Americans and human beings like me.

  6. ronzie Says:

    Wow, Ed, you've almost convinced me I should go buy a MAGA hat and put a Trump 2020 sign on my front lawn!

    Seriously, if people want to get revenge, why not do it in a way that might also bring them some material benefit, by voting Socialist? Raising the tax rate on the highest income bracket back above 80%, like it was from the 40's to the 60's, would definitely work on the revenge front, and might just improve the lot of the working class in the rust belt, since those were the years when economic growth gave us the hope that we could do better than our parents and our children could do better than us.

  7. Jestbill Says:

    Correct, but there's more: Trump won states that he should have lost–by about 1%. Not just one, but several; there's something fishy about that election.

    Construction jobs? LOL! We sent subsidized grain to Mexico and put a bunch of farmers out of business so they came up here and worked construction. Then we crashed the world economy, crashed the overbuilt construction economy and sent 'em all home. Were these impoverished Americans supposed to move to Florida, learn construction skills and be undercut by impoverished Mexicans? Trapped is trapped.

    Now, with the economy improving, Fuckwits want to blame people who failed to starve last year for not taking advantage of it.

    Human psychology is a mess. I once knew a homeless guy who was all upset because the Catholic charity didn't help him as he expected. At the same time he was SURE that government should never take a hand. He was definitely handicapped and needy but still a rightist, bootstrappist in idology.

  8. Mo Says:

    Obviously it wasn't Esquire who was squish about being too polemical – witness this true and awesome beauty from good ol' C.P. –

    Before we get to the other stuff, and there was lots of other stuff, I'd like to address myself to those people represented by the parenthetical notation (Applause) in the above transcript, those people who waited for hours in 105-degree heat so that they could have the G-spot of their irrationality properly stroked for them. You're all suckers. You're dim and you're ignorant and you can't even feel yourself sliding toward something that will surprise even you with its fundamental ugliness, something that everybody who can see past the veil of their emotions can see as plain as a church by daylight, to borrow a phrase from that Willie Shakespeare fella. The problem, of course, is that you, in your pathetic desire to be loved by a guy who wouldn't have 15 seconds for you on the street, are dragging the rest of us toward that end, too.

  9. Middle-Out Says:

    One thing confuses me: on the one hand this says racism isn't the primary cause, but on the other hand it says Trump sticks it to their enemies, which apparently they consider to be non-light-beige people. If they aren't racists, why is the idea of sticking it to *that* particular demographic so pleasing to them?

  10. Heywood J. Says:

    Truth hurts. Matt's right, these damaged, emotional snowflakes can't die off quickly enough, before they get all of us killed. Fuck their wittle feewings. They can certainly control how much Fixed Noise they poison their brains with, and whether they read books or not. The public library is still free.

  11. Heywood J. Says:

    Truth hurts. Matt's right, these damaged, emotional snowflakes can't die off quickly enough, before they get all of us killed. Fuck their wittle feewings. They can certainly control how much Fixed Noise they poison their brains with, and whether they read books or not. The public library is still free.

  12. Safety Man! Says:

    How did this article get rejected? Then again I never notice any supposed coarse language on this blog.

  13. Safety Man! Says:

    How did this article get rejected? Then again I never notice any supposed coarse language on this blog.

  14. Rugosa Says:

    Middle-Out,

    The government giving all their tax money to the undeserving non-light beige folks is one of the causes of their distress.

  15. Ten Bears Says:

    Not just the Rust Belt: from the wheatfields of Nebraska to the cattle ranchs of Nevada to sawmills and logging towns of Oregon. It's not the mythological Ozzie and Harriet we're missing.

    Of note: the middle class was built by unions.

  16. Net Denizen Says:

    If this is too polemical for a media outlet, then that media outlet is not dealing in brutal honesty. You're better off not being associated with a place that needs to sugar coat everything so their readers won't be easily offended by the truth. I'm sure they promised to pay you in "exposure" too….

  17. Katydid Says:

    Know what? I agree with Matt. I'm pretty damned tired of my tax dollars going to people who want to seek their revenge on me for simply existing.

    The regulars here have heard my story; I'm second-generation American and only 1 out of 4 grandparents spoke even the most basic English before arriving here. (Side note; all 4 of my grandparents became American citizens merely by arriving on American shores; there was no further citizenship process.) The hatred roiling out of Rill Murkkkuh astounds me because I have done nothing to these people except support them with my tax dollars. Yet they blame me–it's my fault they're all addicted to opiods and my fault the jobs left their towns before I was even born. And they're going to make sure I *pay for it*. Sure. 'Cause THAT makes sense.

  18. quixote Says:

    "if people want to get revenge, why not do it in a way that might also bring them some material benefit, by voting Socialist? Raising the tax rate on the highest income bracket … would definitely work on the revenge front, and might just improve the lot of the working class."

    This is what puzzles me, too. I know it's not what they hear on Fox or talk radio. I know the noise machine is the reason for their demented world view. And yet.

    How obvious is it that taking money from the haves and distributing it to the have-nots is going to result in more money for have-nots? Why would they need anybody to tell them this? Why isn't this anywhere on their mental maps?

    On a gut level, I do not get it. Especially since it doesn't even deprive them of the chance to kick somebody.

  19. Andrew Laurence Says:

    @quixote: The haves have done a marvelous job of divide and conquer. Poor whites will fuck themselves up the ass with no lube just so long as the poor non-whites get fucked harder with a bigger dildo and even LESS lube. :-)

    Poor white identify with non-poor whites, not with poor non-whites.

  20. mojrim Says:

    @quixote: It's pretty simple:
    1. They don't believe anyone will help them in any case.

    2. Redistribution feels wrong to them. They want jobs and communities, not what they would call "handouts."

    @Matt: You'd be angry too if you were on the losing side of globalization. Thrown in Faux News…

  21. Alex SL Says:

    Leaving aside scapegoading versus identifying the real enemy, one of the main problems of rural right-wingdom (be it in North America, Australia or Europe) is that its economic stance is just incoherent. They want (a) jobs in Tinyville, Middle of Nowhere, and (b) a free market, not government hand-outs.

    When the magic of the invisible hand of (b) decides that (a) is not going to happen for want of transport infrastructure and a deep talent pool, what then? The only two solutions are either a communist command economy or some kind of crony capitalism where private companies are given huge gifts by the taxpayer to "create" a few jobs in Tinyville. Note that the USSR and GDR had safe jobs in rural places, and they largely disappeared after 1990, for the aforementioned reasons.

    Logically, they'd have to choose whether to become commies or, if they want to be good free marketeers, give up their rural town, because that's what the free market told them has to happen. If neither is acceptable then what else is a politician to offer as a solution? Magic?

  22. Brian M Says:

    ALEX SL lays it out. There are things we can do on the margins (tax rates, trade policy, educational policy), but there is not a single politician, political party, or ideology that has proposed a real "solution" to the coming Third Wave Industrial Revolution. Throw in climate change (which is coming even if they don't believe Jesus will allow it), massive political instability (sometimes caused by the very politicians they choose…or the religions they follow).

    Their anger and spite is really self-directed. And, they seriously lack imagination. Why would anyone fight for a job that leaves one coughing blood at 45 if one survives being crushed by a mine explosion? I know, culture and community, but not everything in the past was a good ol' day.

  23. Katydid Says:

    @AlexSL; yes, indeed. My job, in East Coast City, employs a whole lot of people from all over the USA. The company is a huge employer with tens of thousands of employees. There are a number of people from various little Nowheresvilles demanding that the employer open up mini-offices in their own little Nowheresville because living in a diverse metropolitan area is just so very horrible compared to the unfettered joy of Nowheresville, where you can buy a huge house for fifty-seven cents and they never, ever have to pay any taxes. There's a whole lot of butthurtness that Large Company doesn't want to move from its location where it has plenty of robust infrastructure and access to a huge supply of technically-savvy, educated workforce. When it snows, Big Company knows the state can afford to plow the roads because the people here actually pay taxes. If there's a fire or a power interruption, the state has a whole flotilla of people on hand to take care of it because the people here actually pay taxes.

  24. RedWell Says:

    As a Midwesterner who has seen both ends of this divide, I'd like to extend the middle finger back.

    I get the anger and frustration. Indeed, what has happened is particularly devastating because not just the money but all the people with brains left.

    That does not excuse stupidity. As an Hispanic friend of mine pointed out as we worked manual labor with other poor people, you can be poor with dignity, but most of these Midwestern poor lacked even that. They just lived in poverty.

    Still, let's not forget that there are millions of suburban voters across the country who also support Trump. They don't go to the rallies, but they are the hard spine of his GOP support.

    They are also angry and frustrated, but about first world problems: cultural identity and perceived religious persecution.

    I'm not sure which group is more stupid, and I don't use that word as an insult so much as a clinical diagnosis.

    I will say this: I came from some mix of these groups, but I have no sympathy for them. I can only hope they start to lose, for their own good as well as that of the United States.

  25. democommie Says:

    "2. Redistribution feels wrong to them. They want jobs and communities, not what they would call "handouts.""

    Except for their SS and Medicare and HEAPP and EBT and Oxywean programs and the like.

    Yeah, I ain't buying that they actually think past, "Other people are stealing what's mine.".

  26. Bernard Says:

    now you see why southern rednecks vote Republican too. divide and conquer just blame those lower than you in the fight for the American Dream. been working happily in the South. Getting Over is what matters most. Fox, St. Reagan hammer this Fuuk the Other guy! Day in day out since the Right decided it wanted it all. Use Whites against Blacks against Latinos Gays Uppity Women and on and on. Works perfectly for the Elites for the last 40yrs.

    Lies, Thieves and Power.

    the American Dream con, as in The Art of the Deal. aka Orange Frankenstein

    a Rich Idiot who bought the Presidency. Sharks are circling now for more Blood. what part of America is being sold to what other Rich Billionaire .
    We are being SOLD to the highest bidder. clean water, or clean air be damned

    Trump is good for highlighting what Politicians just quietly.

  27. democommie Says:

    I actually wanted to make a little PSA.

    I'm going into the Syracuse VA, tomorrow, for a carpal tunnel release that is supposed to take 15-20 minutes of actual Dr. time and some hours of other stuff. It may be complicated by the fact hat I have an ulna that is impacted into the lunate process which is impacted into the right metacarpals. The orthopod seems to think it's all good. I'll reserve judgment till it's fixed–o m not.

    I had to stop my ibuprofen last week and at the moment both of my arms hurt from just above the elbows to the fingertips. It's not keeping me from typing, cooking or doing other things, but it slows me down and at night it raises hell with my sleeping.

    Not sure, since I'm not a Trumpliguturdlican or KKKommitted KKKristian whether I'll be able to type one-handed. Time will tell.

  28. greatlaurel Says:

    @democommie Good luck! Hope you heal very quickly.

  29. jcastarz Says:

    I just returned from a trip to the South Carolina Greenville-Greer-Spartanburg area to observe the eclipse – which, BTW, was an awesome event that put human affairs in a totally different perspective. The friends I was staying with told me that business was booming down there: 4% unemployment, lots of work, etc. In an area that's not a "coast", not "elitist", and not so far from some of the mid-west depressed areas that relocating shouldn't be too scary. Or so it appeared to me… but what do I know? At least, they had real rush-hour traffic, with working folks scurrying every which way.

  30. JAFD Says:

    Old Pennsylvania joke:
    Why is The Tariff like Marriage ?

    Both are ways to
    Protect the Domestic Enterprise, and
    Encourage the Infant Industry

  31. democommie Says:

    @jcastarz:

    It's the same in a lot of places down South. It's also the part of the country with the lowest %age of union representation. This is touted as a good thing 'cuz unions are of the DEVIL. Unions aren't needed no more, 'cuz, they"s all gettin' good pay and well, maybe not so good benefits and, wha? the factries movin' agin'!

    Yeah, no such thing as paradise on earth.

    What never ceases to amaze me is the number of people I know who have BEEN in unions most of their adult lives, sent their kids to well funded public schools and state universities. enjoyed ready access to medical care and other public/private services and who once retired can't WAIT to escape the hellhole of northern winters and taxation.

    Right now, a lot of people who used someathat union paycheck to buy or expand the family place on the shores of Lake Ontario or other lakes and rivers in upstate, northern NY are screaming bloody murder that their flood damaged properties are not being remediated by agencies of the federal gummint or the state gummint (with federal money). Fuck'em.

  32. GunstarGreen Says:

    @Katydid, RE: "I'm pretty damned tired of my tax dollars going to people who want to seek their revenge on me for simply existing. … Yet they blame me–it's my fault they're all addicted to opiods and my fault the jobs left their towns before I was even born. And they're going to make sure I *pay for it*. Sure. 'Cause THAT makes sense."

    See, the funny thing is that those are the exact same words coming out of those peoples' mouths, thrown in the other direction.

    They've never beat up a non-white man because he was non-white. They've never called anyone the N-word, the S-word, or any other race-related slurs. They go to work every day with their non-white coworkers, work shitty jobs they hate for almost no pay, then go home and get told by "those damned lib'rul elites" that they're racists by default and that their "white privilege" confers all sorts of wonderful advantages upon them that they really should feel guilty about — this, while the last wheel falls off of the rotting trailer they call home and another round of collections calls fills up their answering machine.

    There ARE, in fact, vile racist pieces of shit in this world. But there are also a whole lot of people that aren't enemies, even though they aren't allies. They're just trying to get by in a crappy situation, and the broad-brush "us or them" rhetoric turns them off and causes them to vote for the guy that tells them they're NOT bad people.

    As fun and cathartic as the infamous "basket of deplorables" commentary was, it was incredibly misguided. It could only have two effects: to harden the hearts of the actual deplorables, and to piss off fence-sitters that then went and voted right-wing out of spite for being talked about in that manner.

  33. Tim H. Says:

    Better had she said Trump's followers aren't all NAZIs, but NAZIs love him.

  34. mojrim Says:

    @demmocommie @AlexSL: Yes on both counts, their brevity of thought and the fundamental illogic of their position. It's been my observation, however, that such is the norm in human cognition. Only a small sliver of humanity has ever demonstrated the ability to carry an idea to it's logical end, to to sort out contrary ideas, and live with the consequences of their conclusions.

    @Katydid: Problem is, they lack the education and talent to function at your company in East Coast City. Or West Coast City. Or really anywhere in those kind of jobs. The world as we have constructed simply does not need what they have to offer, nor anyone in those kinds of numbers. If you gave them each $100k and a ticket to Coast City, you'd only manage to increase the homeless population therein.

  35. Katydid Says:

    @Demo; take care of yourself, man. Sending good wishes for an uneventful surgery and a near-painless recovery.

    @GunstarGreen; you're absolutely right, of course. When we see people acting viciously and irrationally, why, the very worst thing we can do is shine a light on it. Why, when we're attacked, we should just abase ourselves at their feet and keep reassuring them that they're just the bestest and most wonderfullest of all and we don't mind one bit being abused by them.

    That seems to be your point.

  36. Brian M Says:

    Katydid: In defense of Gunstar, I am not sure he was really saying that at all. I read this as more of a warning we can't demonize people who may not really be our enemies.

    Especially when the tech bubble pops (how much longer will money be chasing aps software producers that do nothing real beyond making life for the top 10% even more slothily convenient?) and those big Coastal Cities have their own economic crises to deal with (and if The Big One hits out here).

    Plus: Is it rational public policy to force all of the heartlanders to move to overcrowded, drought and fire and water shortage plagued counties sitting on colossal seismic fault lines? That seems crazy to me.

    To an extent, I think things will sort themselves out eventually. Even a high end software engineer will get tired of sitting in traffic, brown lawns, and paying $650,000 for an 1100 square foot 1967 snout house rancher in a gang plagued neighborhood.

  37. Linda Says:

    Your argument is right as far as it goes, but leaves one thing out. Conservatives I know cannot ever admit they are wrong. Doubt and self reflection are considered traits of weaklings. After 30+ years in being Right About Everything, to admit they got snookered is an impossibility. I have met fraud victims in my job, and in the best circumstances admitting you've been had is painful. Some people never do. My conservative bro, who likes referring to people who don't agree with him as sheeple, has dropped out of Facebook for awhile because news and such is getting frustrating for him. It would be too much to admit a sheeple is looking back at him in the mirror.

  38. democommie Says:

    I'm back from surgery. It seems to have gone ok. I did not talk to the surgeon as he was with another vic–er, patient. It doesn't get unwrapped untll 9/07 and that tells me it took a little more work than planned. Things are going to be interesting and typing will be more difficult.

    Thanks for the well wishes from Katydid and others.

    Per the notion of the Diplorables being the same as me. Nah. I have not spent the last 40+ years trying to fuck up the lives of people I don't like. I have not spent those years voting for an increasingly racist, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-intellectual warmongering group of low, venal curs to promote an agenda of exclusion, xenophobia and deliberate destruction of the federal government.

    I am nothing like those people.

  39. Sharkbabe Says:

    This is a fucking brilliant essay, Ed.

    (Minor quibble: you left out the whole Radio Rwanda industrial complex.)

  40. mago Says:

    Because belonging feels so good.

  41. Tom Says:

    Why do you write "immigration" instead of "illegal immigration"?

    & 100 other complains that I'm too inarticulate to write.

  42. Linda Says:

    In he campaign, Trump made a big deal out of pointing out that he was against illegal immigration. But he just proposed a point system and numbers that would slash legal immigration, too, and Trump lovers were fine with that. As I pointed out to conservative bro, if that point system had been applied when our anscestors came here, we would be having the argument in Polish.

  43. Linda Z Says:

    Even when there is a lack of differently colored people to hate, people can always turn out against the wolves.

    http://www.apg-wi.com/spooner_advocate/paywall/experiences-with-wolves-gathered-to-support-delisting-bill/article_c06ace4a-8999-11e7-98fa-5f7139012b57.html

    And nothing says more about the looming chronic public health disaster like the accomanying photo.

  44. democommie Says:

    @Tom:

    Why are you a racist xenophobe? I'd ask why you're anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-awareness but I have one arm in a sling and typing is problematic–oh, wait, I just did sorta ask.

  45. They aren’t going to change their minds….. « blueollie Says:

    […] They voted for Trump as a big "fuck you" to their perceived enemies; what Trump does makes little difference: […]

  46. Ben Bochner Says:

    It doesn't take much digging to find that the number of Democratic voters who were kicked off the voting rolls in MI, WI and PA was far greater than Trump's margin of victory. So all this talk of mysterious Midwest voters who secretly voted for Trump is bullsh*t. Trump didn't win. He cheated. Candidates with 35% approval ratings can only win by cheating. So they do.And they will continue to do so, as long as Democrats allow computerized voting machines with no paper trails and Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression. With their solid 35% support amongst white voters, they can shave elections in their favor and keep claiming there is a mysterious 15% of voters out there who vote with them on Election Day, but who can't be found otherwise. This is why there is no Republican outreach to other groups besides white voters. Who needs voters when you have the voting machines?

  47. Brian M Says:

    Ben Bochner wins the thread with his terrifying post. We are too ready to blame the Trumpalos when a big part of the problem is corruption, cheating, and techonological "fixes".

    All I need is six magic numbers. Learning Spanish would be a challenge, but Uruguay seems really civilized, and they are supportive of immigration. (If New Zealand doesn't let me in). :)

  48. linus bern Says:

    GunstarGreen,

    "As fun and cathartic as the infamous "basket of deplorables" commentary was, it was incredibly misguided."

    It was pretty clear in context that this comment was about neo-nazis, KKK, white supremacists, and assorted misogynists. Instead of saying such people are not welcome in our party, and do not represent our values, Republicans of all stripes donned, "I'm a deplorable" shirts and buttons, effectively standing in solidarity with and providing cover to some of the most reprehensible people in American society. If the don't like getting aligned with white supremacists, perhaps they shouldn't have aligned themselves with white supremacists.

    Apart from that, your comment is bang on.

  49. Brian M Says:

    The problem is, in the Age of the Soundbite and Tweet, context is obsolete.

  50. mclaren Says:

    This is really excellent and seems to me to get to the nub of why these communities support Trump.
    And it's not just these wrecked economically collapsing eternally downsliding dying midwestern communities — you got the big cities in the U.S., and you realize that a huge swath of the population there is now sliding continually downwards, just getting crushed economically and socially worse and worse every year. I'm talking about people who work six days a week and are still homeless because they can't afford an apartment in a major city. I'm talking about people with a new college degree and $15,000 in college debt who can't find anything better than part-time work as a barista. I'm talking about people with masters degrees in electrical engineering who are still living in their parents' basements after graduation because the tech jobs have been offshored or snapped up by H1B visa holders eager to work for 1/5 the salary of U.S. born engineers.
    People like this: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/21/missouri-fast-food-workers-better-pay-popeyes-economics
    And all the promises by all the politicians turn out to be 100% garbage, and it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse for everyone but the top 10% who graduated from an Ivy League college with an advanced degree, or a professional credential like MD/LLD.
    For 35 years the pundits & professors & economists have exhorted everyone "More college! More training!" And then you look at the stats showing that 94% of all jobs created since 2005 are short-term low-page part-time "gig" jobs, and you realize it's all bullshit. Nothing it going to help. The U.S. economy is collapsing, and nobody in the op 20% gives a damn.
    The kind of existential despair generated by 8 years of Obama talking about "Hope" and "Change" while everything gets worse and worse and worse is so toxic that the bottom 80% of the US economic pyramid are now becoming unreachable. They realize nothing is going to help. All they have is rage.
    Problem is, if this keeps going, the next step beyond voting for a loon like Trump in the hope that he blows up the system and crashes everything, is Molotov cocktails and cities burning to the ground.

  51. Katydid Says:

    Hey, Mclaren:

    I'm talking about people who work six days a week and are still homeless because they can't afford an apartment in a major city. I'm talking about people with a new college degree and $15,000 in college debt who can't find anything better than part-time work as a barista. I'm talking about people with masters degrees in electrical engineering who are still living in their parents' basements after graduation because the tech jobs have been offshored or snapped up by H1B visa holders eager to work for 1/5 the salary of U.S. born engineers.

    This was very much true in the 1970s and 1980s, too, except the basement part (over-18s were cordially invited to move out by their parents).

    What would turn this around? Solid education–from elementary school forward–in critical thinking and source evaluation. Instead of just shrugging and saying "context is obsolete, thinking is HARD, let's go shopping", people as a whole need to stop being so lazy and actually think about what's going on.

  52. democommie Says:

    @ Ed:

    I'm reading "too polemical" as "we don't like the truth if it costs money."

  53. Brian M Says:

    Katydid: I don't think I was "shrugging" about it…just pointing out the reality.

    I am slightly skeptical about the education mantra. I donlt have the numbers, but there is an argument that there are quite a few countries in the Middle East and Africa who have educated a lot of engineers, for instance. There are not that many jobs for engineers in Oman or Chad or Tunisia. But you have excellent recruiting grounds for terrorist ideologies.

    China graduates more electrical engineers than the United States by a long way. If the residents of Hamilton, Ohio all had engineering degrees, would they miraculously find jobs in their hollowed out communities? There is already a massive capacity problem, so even if the United States suddenly re-industrialized, all that would mean is that you would have an unstable nuclear power (China) with a population far more prone to real rebellion than American Trumpalos.

  54. Much Coherent. Wow. | Murica Derp Says:

    […] So what does that bling-flashing Queens bullshit artist actually think about Marse Bob and Stonewall and that whole gang? Probably not a hell of a lot, in any sense. Jefferson Davis was savaged by his own Confederate planter contemporaries as an intractably disagreeable piece of shit, but that's the last thing a blowhard like Donald Trump knows about the Recent Unpleasantness. He latched onto the Lost Cause nonsense almost out of nowhere over the summer, probably because Chad Wealthingrape and the boys down at UVA were giving him shout-outs (shouts-out?) and buying his hats. His declaration of common cause with the postindustrial underemployed, by contrast, feels ancient. (Gin and Tacos has a strong counterpoint, very much worth reading, here.) […]

  55. NickT Says:

    I saw recently a claim that there are roughly 5.6 million reasonably decent jobs that aren't being filled because people don't have the skills (not the college degrees, the skills) to make a go of them. I suspect we need more education in technical/vocational training, rather than free college/more college.

    As for the hate that lifts Trump – you have to remember that he's basically been a failure all his life and he knows it, deep down. He's been able and eager to blame others all his life and that's why he's got the connection with the resentful white losers who want to blame others that no-one else could manage. Throw in a Republican party that's whoring itself out to racism and election-theft a little more obviously every year and you've got the makings of a very nasty ongoing situation. People talk about fixing the damage done by Trump – but a substantial chunk of the population and the GOP don't see it as damage at all. For them, it's the win they've always wanted.

  56. Brian M Says:

    Nick T: Perhaps. Just like Nativists argue that the agricultural jobs would be miraculously filled by AMERICANS if we just stopped the INVADING BROWN HORDES (/sarc).

    I agree with you 110% on vocational/technical training. All universal free college would do would be to further devalue the college degree and lead to employers finding other mechanisms for crude sorting and delimiting their employee searches.

    I would have to see more details on that 5.6 million jobs. I have read that part of the problem, and it may be tied to that number as well, is obvious and testable drug addiction is so rampant among some segments of the population that employers do have a problem finding clean employees. I don't have an easy answer for that!

  57. Katydid Says:

    Whoops, blockquote fail on my last post; I was quoting Mclaren, then adding my own thoughts. (Brian M, are you also posting as Mclaren?)

    You and NickT raise some interesting thoughts–stuff NPR has also been raising. What do you do when the jobs require drug testing (for example, you don't want a train conductor or coal miner or brain surgeon stoned out of his mind and risking the lives of many others) in a state where marijuana is openly used or half the population is addicted to opiods?

    I think advertising vocational jobs is an option–know what? A lot of those jobs were union jobs that would bring in absolute beginners and have them train as apprentices under masters. The people who could benefit most from those jobs seem to hate unions the most. Lack of critical thinking.

    As for the college hatred you guys seem to have for colleges and people who attend them…not everyone can be a plumber. Many people do belong in college and that's where their strengths lie. Employment seems to run in cycles–are you guys even old enough to remember the 1990s, when college students were being snapped up and given 6-figure salaries right out of college?

  58. NickT Says:

    @katydid

    Pointing out that not all good jobs require college degrees and, furthermore, that many of them require vocational training which colleges don't provide, is hardly hating college. When did our level of discussion become so miserably shriveled that pointing out facts became "hating"?

    For the record, I survived three rather good universities, but am well aware that they simply don't provide much in terms of actual,usable skills. What I know of inter alia cooking, plumbing, electronics, logistics etc I had to teach myself. The same applies to negotiation, price shopping, personal health and a whole range of skills that enable one to get through life better.

    I don't hate college – but I recognize that it has limitations and that, for a rather large number of people, it is of relatively little use and even, sometimes, an unnecessary and damaging cost imposed on them at the expense of pursuing careers that would make them happier and more prosperous.

    I believe that we should be looking to dramatically improve the quality of public high schools and roll back the fraudulent academies and home-schooling nonsense that have failed miserably to replace them. Get people a genuinely high quality secular high school education in math, English, civics, statistics, basic science, history, computer skills and at least one foreign language, throw in vocational training of good quality that is widely available and you'll see numerous benefits that simply won't accrue from college for everyone.

  59. Brian M Says:

    I think Nick T sums it up pretty well. I am not hating on college. How could I-I have a professional masters degree. But I am a nerdy bookwork who sorta liked school….that is not everybody.

    I am not convinced the only professions and jobs with social value are college-educated ones. Heck…we have way, way too many "business" degrees and "finance" degrees that unleashed hordes of little powerpoint and spreadsheet laden sociopaths on the world. :)

  60. Brian M Says:

    worm! not bookwork! :)

  61. Brian M Says:

    https://thegrapevine.theroot.com/fl-white-woman-explains-why-she-kicked-a-racist-white-1798388081

    Of course…the woman in blue exemplifies why much of the Trump electorate is NOT worthy of our endless self recriminations about the need to "reach out" to his SA troopers.

  62. Katydid Says:

    @Brian M: the woman in blue certainly makes a case that some people simply won't control themselves until someone beats the crap out of them.

  63. democommie Says:

    @Nick T, Brian M and Katydid:

    I agree with you all!

    College IS important. What's going on at most of the schools these days, though, seems to be wealth transfer in exchange for pretty much useless degrees for a lot of people.

    I have not talked to one graduate of the local college who HAS a job lined up as they leave with their freshly faxed BA/BS. They're either waitrons or other low wage workers or their going to grad school to pile up some more debt. It's the new company store.

    OTOH, every kid I meet who goes to BOCES and succeeds in the course of welding or whatever–they've got jobs waiting for them.

  64. democommie Says:

    they're not their

  65. Brian M Says:

    demo: If they can avoid the temptation of opiates or meth, that is.

    On a related note: Here is my conspiracy theory. Our "Owners" KNOW things are going to get much worse for the "surplus population". So why not legalize a drug that makes one passive and stupid (marijuana)*. That is why pot has been legalized. AND, it is another juicy cash crop and profit center!

    * I know cannabis has benefits for some people. And, I think the War on Drugs was a disaster. But….before giving into the fervid pronouncements of profit and tax revenues, and gourmet strains, at least acknowledge there are problems with weed.

  66. democommie Says:

    The main problems with weed from a medical standpoint are some %age of users become pychologically dependent. Also people who smoke weed tend to develop bronchitis and other respiratory problems given two factors–chronic use and lack of proper technique/hygeine.

    Some people just like being high, stoned, biffed, trashed, wasted or whatever your preferred euphemism for intoxication might be. That marijuana is problematic for those folks is beyond argument–it is a well established fact. It is also an established fact that all of the illicit drugging in the U.S. causes far fewer annual deaths than the two legal intoxicants that are available without prescription–alcohol and nicotine. Both alcohol and nicotine generate enormous tax revenues and both also generate enormous for treatment of those who don't know (or don't want to) when to say when.

    Both alchohol and tobacco production, btw, are heavily subsidized–one way or another–in the process of growing grains and other botanicals as well as tax subsidies for its manufacture and distribution.

    So, I like getting stoned and I would really like to replace my lyrica and ibuprofen (for arthritic and chronic ideopathic pain) with medical grade marijuana but the price for that is sky high and is not covered by any insurance or state subsidies to medicaid for instance.

    When marijuana is proven to be as dangerous as nicotine or alcohol then I'll give credence to arguments against its legalization. Meantime, I would spark a blunt in a heartbeat, if I had one!

  67. Brian M Says:

    demo: Just to clarify…I am no drug warrior. I voted for legalization. I am even somewhat persuaded by arguments for medicalization (versus criminalization) of harder drugs. I just get exhausted by the drumbeat of pro-pot nonsense in some elements of the media. The whole lifestyle marketing shit is exhausting. But then, I am a wine geek, so how can I complain? :)

    I would add in the destructiveness of the American Industrial Food System.

    I drink alcohol, so I am not going to be the one to judge you getting stoned (if you even care about "judgment" from a stranger on the internet LOL). I don't think it is "good" for you, but neither is excess wine or (more to the point for me) my disgusting habit of consuming pints of expensive ice cream (and then wondering why I am plump and not as lean as I should be due to obsessive exercise)

  68. democommie Says:

    @Brian M:

    All points taken and mostly agreed with. I would prefer clean, safe drugs whether they be recreational or medicinal.

    The price of pot has come way down in the places where it's been legalized and, thus far at least, there is no BiGange.

    As for the ice cream. Someone asked me once, "Why do you eat a whole PINT of Ben&Jerry's?". My answer was, "Because it doesn't come in quarts.".