The search is now in full bloom to attach blame for the Trump election debacle. How is it possible that Trump won the election? Hillary did not run an effective campaign. She should have paid more attention to the rust belt states. The electoral college is the enemy because Hillary won the popular vote. White Males turned their backs on Hillary. Blacks, Mexicans, women did not get out and vote.
All of those are distinct possibilities, but the roots of Trump’s victory go deeper and much further back into America’s history than the election just a few weeks ago.
Trump was elected by the American people fair and square, under the same rules which have elected 44 previous presidents. Fact is, the American people brought their current political situation on themselves. They have been setting the table for Trump’s victory for a long time.
Many Americans have perceived that their lives are not getting better. They’re getting worse. Americans see themselves falling behind in many dimensions, and the drift away from the American Dre3am has been going on for two or three decades.
By electing the politicians that they have at the state and federal levels, American voters have racked up programs and policies which have now put them in this ‘losing ground’ box. And Trump was just smart enough – or he had the right instincts – to tap in to the massive discontent of a majority of Americans who see themselves losing in the game of life.
From Obama Americans bought the notion that the only correct ‘Made in America’ way to pay for health care was through insurance. They have repeatedly rejected single-payer systems like Canada’s or the more common hybrid public-private systems of other countries which would provide universal coverage.
Americans now have the world’s most expensive system, which routinely screws them. Insurance companies invented the ‘pre-existing condition’ as a means of denying health care coverage. In what sane world would having previously had an illness disqualify you from receiving medical care? But the American voters have consistently elected candidates who advocate for the insurance industry.
Americans have also consistently bought the Low income tax mantra, particularly when it applies to their national government, which they hate with a passion. Lower taxes ultimately lead to lower services and downloading costs on taxpayers. That’s what they’re now getting, and they don’t like it.
But one of their greatest mistakes was turning their backs on the union movement. Americans are now largely anti-union, because their politicians and business leaders have convinced them that unions are evil. They have been convinced to turn their backs on the concept of collective representation in the workplace, instead placing faith in the benevolence of the boss.
They have bought the notion that it is somehow wrong and un-American to take a wage increase above the level of inflation, though they would not for a minute limit corporate profits to that level. Your paycheque now buys less every month.
They love the low prices of consumer goods in the stores, and largely ignore the fact they are imported from low-wage countries in Asia and elsewhere. Nobody reminds them that the job losses losses in America which flows from buying offshore mean more and more Americans can't afford those goods at any price.
They have bought in to the anti-union mantra which has led more than half the states to enact ‘right to work’; laws which essentially render the union movement impotent.
They believe two weeks paid holiday a year,12 weeks’ unpaid maternity leave, pathetic work safety laws and thin environmental controls are all Important measures which will help ensure continued business prosperity.
They steadfastly refuse to look to any other countries as models for any of the structural problems that exist in the US, opting always for a ‘made in America’ solution. They comfort themselves with the idea that America is the greatest country in the world.
They continue to elect politicians who support military spending at 16% of the federal budget (Canada is at 7%). They tolerate boondoggles and ‘earmarks’ in federal legislation which protect the jobs of politicians and escalate the cost of government. They tolerate incredibly high election costs, mostly paid by major corporations and the thousands of lobbyists who blanket Washington politicians with their money and influence.
But Americans refuse to make the connections. They can see they are losing ground, and they don't know how to turn it around. So they elect Trump, who promises to ‘drain the swamp’. He also points them to people they can blame for their misfortune – Mexicans, Muslims, people with brown skin, people who look and think and pray differently.
We know of course that won't work. In recent weeks we have seen the people Trump plans on recruiting for his cabinet. He will be a disaster as president, and as he fails, he will point to others as the ones who are responsible for America’s failures. And chances are, the American voters will once again buy the big lie.
Make no mistake. The American people did this to themselves, deliberately and with eyes wide open. If they truly wanted to make progress personally, financially, socially and to their personal security, they perhaps should have voted for Bernie. He’s the only one who had a program which addressed the fact most Americans were falling behind.
I don't cry for Americans. I feel sorry for them.
Dec. 8, 2016