Regular readers won’t be surprised that the results of yesterday’s election has me reeling a bit. There is a list a mile long of things that now frighten me. But I am kind of exhausted by being angry and sad. A fair number of post-mortems are claiming that both major parties have ignored working class and poor whites for the past 20 to 30 years. There are many, many ways one could argue about the validity of that supposition. But for a while I want to take it on face value and accept that it is true. I have a very hard time understanding how Trump and the GOP will improve the plight of the working class and the poor. (In that respect I am glad the Democrats lost both houses. This way for at least two years Trump and the GOP can make some serious headway in improving the plight of the working class.)
In the meantime, I am really curious to find out what poor and working class whites want out of this presidency and Congress. During the campaign I only heard vague notions about security and jobs and those were often so laced with animus towards others it was hard to tell which came first. I grew up in a small town on the suburban/rural fringe northwest of Minneapolis. My home county voted 65% for Donald Trump. We always had food on the table, but money was always a concern growing up, or at least until I got to junior high. I was the first person in my family, even my extended family, to go to college. These are the people I grew up with. What is it that I no longer understand? Not a rhetorical question, I really want to know.
My own conventional wisdom has me thinking this is more about social issues (abortion, gays, race, etc.). The types of bills the Tea Party has introduced in Congress would support this idea, but what if it really isn’t that at all? What are the issues that have this demographic so pissed off? (One could ask why they are often so hostile to poor minorities in the city, but remember, I am trying to take the question at face value.
If I was an entrepreneurial person I would be looking for ways to start an organization/website/app that would hook up urban educated type (supposedly the clueless ones) with rural working class types. Not to discuss political issues or even policy ideas, but merely to get to know each other. It might also be helpful to hook up the urban poor with the rural poor to find common ground. There are myriad other combos too that might be beneficial to a better understanding of why we all seem to hate each other right now. What if all these pairs of people–either in person, or on the phone, or online, shared their personal stories, hopes, and fears with each other. Couldn’t there be some good in finding out where our common ground is?
Most of me wants to be angry and rail against all that I think is wrong. But we are stuck with what we are stuck with and something is clearly broken.
As for comments on this post, a few rules: No railing against the election results or against people. Let’s just try and be constructive and introspective.