So here we are on Day 2 of the Trumpocolypse and still wondering what happened. And I think I know what happened. White heartland and rural voters have been suckered by the Republicans once again.
If you listen to the punditry, the message of this election was rural, white, working class America screaming, “Hey pay attention to us! Help us!”
At this point I am only speaking about economics, I will get to race and culture later. So, economically, what were these voters screaming?
“Please Mr. Trump use your super powers to help us!” Use the awesome powers of the federal government to protect us from the manufacturing prowess of the Chinese and the Japanese. Protect us from the wage competition of the new immigrants. Protect us from the changing of the industrial economy to a service and information one. Use your super powers to change the 75 year old demographic and market trends that have emptied out our downtowns, ruined our roads and schools and left us poorer.
Anyone see the irony here? Bottom line that is what many of them want, a massive federal bail out for the heartland. And this is what Trump has promised them, that they will now be able to achieve “any dream you have ever dreamed.” As if this is some kind of Disney movie.
Again, I am leaving out the racist and homophobic part for now. But clearly “every dream” for rural areas is bustling downtowns, churning factories, new schools and the local jobs for their newly college educated children so they won’t leave.
The irony, of course, is that these same people have been voting for 50 years for people who have been saying, “Fuck you, you Randian takers. We have rich people that need our help.” But wait, it gets better. Where do these rich people really live?
That’s right, on the solidly Blue East and West Coasts.
It was no accident that when the Clintons really made it in the world they moved to New York. Who wouldn’t? Why live in a desolate Arkansas backwater when you can have all the cultural and educational advantages of New York?
So, how does this scam work anyway? Let’s take Paul Ryan as an example.
Ryan represents the declining manufacturing and small town kind of place that Trump appeals to. And what is Ryan’s plan to help the people in his district? A giant “fuck you” that’s what. His plan is to cut the taxes of really, really rich people (the kinds of folks on the coasts, they sure as hell don’t live in Janesville!) and slaughter the kinds of programs that would benefit his constituents of more modest incomes, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, infrastructure repair, and subsidies to help rural districts cope with urbanization and globalization.
This is where we get back to racism, it is an essential part of the scam.
Ryan’s message to the suckers in his district is: “We need to cut taxes so that YOUR (White rural folks) money doesn’t go to THEM (Brown urban folks.) So, the rich folks get tax cuts (poor rural folks don’t pay much in taxes!), live in exurban areas where they have local Blue governments that keep things humming along nicely for them.
Ryan and Mitch McConnell and others like them are simply water carriers for the rich elite, who don’t even live in their states or districts — cutting their taxes while their own people suffer. McConnell wants to throw ten of thousands of his fellow state citizens off their health insurance so the poor pitiful Koch brothers can live in comfort.
As you look at those electoral maps, and see of all those Red counties across the United States, think of them as the toxic waste dumps for the One Percent. Notice how far they are from the nice calm Blue areas around Chicago, the West Coast and the Eastern business corridor.
Also notice, as the rich people move south and west, that the nice Blue color follows them. Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and soon to be Arizona. Virginia and North Carolina are joining this list. And maybe even Texas. Clinton was closer than most people realize there.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not really saying that Democratic politicians are insincere and they really care only about the rich elite. Democrats sincerely (I think) believe in the power of reasonable government to make people’s lives better. That is why the quality of life in Blue states is much better than the Red areas. Which is why the elites want to live there.
Republicans in fly over country are doing the dirty work of the elites by outsourcing the misery of our modern economy to rural and inner city areas.
We see that here in Wisconsin. The money driving Republican politics here comes from Waukesha county. Rich area. Their schools are top notch and they have easy access to the sports and culture of Milwaukee. By reducing state taxes and services they choke off development in the rural and inner city areas. The misery this causes is far from them, so they don’t care. They get to keep a larger chunk of their already outsized incomes.
Do they hate government? Hell no! They love it. When it directly benefits them. Good schools, parks, clean water, public money for sports stadiums…They love it! Keeps the pitchforks and torches away from their doors too!
Support for rural schools, inner city infrastructure, safety nets for those left behind by the huge demographic and economic changes of the 21st Century? Fuck ’em!
Here in my small city we just elected a Republican who is going to Madison to further cut the taxes of people in Waukesha county, while we here can’t even fix our streets. His basic pitch: “Don’t let your tax money go to the hellhole that is Milwaukee.” Same scam as Paul Ryan’s.
Trump just doubled down on the scam. It’s not your fault that your town sucks. And it is certainly not the fault of people like me who pay no taxes while your schools, infrastructure, healthcare and retirement benefits go down the shitter. It’s them Mexicans! And them Chinese! And the Kenyan President! Look over there, it might be ISIS!
If Paul Ryan was honest and actually represented the people in his district, he would say, “THEY (the East and West coast elites, who are benefiting from the new economy) should be paying their fair share in taxes so that YOU (my constituents) don’t have to bear as much of the pain in this rapidly changing economy.”
But Paul Ryan doesn’t give a shit about his constituents. He is just a water carrier for the rich elites. So is Mitch McConnell. So are most Republicans. So is Donald Trump.
Sometimes, because he is unfiltered, Trump sounds like FDR (I am not kidding!) Roosevelt was considered a “traitor to his class” because he had the audacity to claim that government had a role in softening the pain for the Have Nots and that the Haves should pay for it. Trump sometimes says that people like him should actually pay taxes and that the revenue should go those areas that need help — small cities, rural and inner city areas.
But don’t worry, people like Gingrich and Christie will quickly get him back on the Republican message. Once again, the misery will be outsourced to fly-over country, while the East and West coasts get bullet trains, super fast internet and whatever other toys they think a First World country should enjoy.
Right now it is people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell that are traitors to their own people. Oh and you too, Sean Duffy and Pat Snyder. You too. Traitors to your own people, all of you.