Trump and Idiots

I have, on several occasions, said that people who vote for Trump are idiots. Having read the excellent article Why Trump Voters are not Complete Idiots I have been forced to question my stance.

The article, if I may be so bold as to recast, turns the US into a two-story house. The folks on the ground floor get by, the folks upstairs do well. By any measure, I’m living upstairs.

It’s important to note that while money is a big factor in where you think you live, it is not the only factor. Income is only one way one’s value in society is defined. Respect from those around you is another. Upstairs people feel more valued.

There’s no guaranteed pass to the upper floor, but a college education is pretty damn close to one. Go to college, move upstairs. And here’s where the core resentment toward immigrants comes in. It’s not the illegal immigrants coming in on the ground floor that rankle, it’s the legal immigrants, the educated ones, who step right onto the upstairs that piss people off.

It’s not how well you’re doing, it’s how well you’re doing compared to the other guy.

So Liberals and Democrats (not at all the same groups) make two basic promises: 1) we will make living on the ground floor suck less, and 2) we will make it easier for your kids to go upstairs.

But for a man just getting by, with his kids already past “college age”, there’s not a lot of upside there. He remembers when just being a hard-working man doing his job and not bitching too much was enough to feel secure in this country. Maybe he couldn’t get upstairs, but hard work meant something, and he could be confident that his family would be taken care of. For that guy, that was when America was great.

Trump, while not offering anything specific at all, implies that he will restore America to those good old days. But he isn’t offering to make living on the ground floor better, he wants you to believe that he’s changing the rules for who gets to live upstairs. For people who feel stuck downstairs and degraded by assholes like me calling them idiots, maybe it’s time to change the rules.

It gets a little ugly, though, when you consider that during this mythical period when America was great, the upstairs was occupied almost exclusively by white men. So when he talks about going back to the good ol’ days, he’s talking to the working white men whose fortunes have flatlined while all the other demographics in this country have caught up. But he’s making it a white-men-vs-the-world proposition. Sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much.

These folks have heard all the political double-speak before, but there they sit, downstairs, even while brown and yellow college-educated kids skip up to the luxury suites without breaking a sweat. Time to shake things up! Time to value the people who work with their hands, who actually make stuff. So people in the making-stuff group who want to shake things up are not inherently idiots. They are following an agenda that, at least superficially, gives them the better chance to get upstairs. The Democrats are telling them their grandchildren will have a more fair shot at the stairs, but that’s far away.

Blow up the system. When the debris stops falling, who knows who will be on top?

So far, that makes sense. But there’s still the question: Is Trump the guy to do that?

Let’s take another look at those good ol’ days. When a working man could provide for his family and maybe even send his kids to college. Or at least technical school, or a skilled apprenticeship. Those days actually existed, not long ago.

Was it the Republicans, or the white men upstairs that created those conditions? Well, no. Not even remotely. It was the labor unions. The Great America Trump wants us to remember is the America when workers had power. When there was dignity in labor and a comfortable life even while the fat cats upstairs got rich.

So, white men who remember a better past, is Trump really going to return us to those days? Will he restore the power of the unions?

Hell, no.

He couldn’t if he tried, and he’s not going to try. Among the many lawsuits Trump has settled, there are the union-busting ones. He is famous for shitting on the working-class people. Gleeful, even. He is the worst thing that could possibly happen to the working-class joe in this country. He is a spoiled rich man with a long history of disregard for the people he is now asking to put him in the White House.

So, back to my premise: are people idiots for voting for a fundamental change to the system? No. Not if they don’t believe that we are on a path that makes things better for their grandchildren.

But are they idiots for voting for Trump? Yes, absolutely. Trump is one of the people who put them where they are, and he has no intention of changing that. Just ask that man of the people over in Russia.

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4 thoughts on “Trump and Idiots

  1. Sorry to hear the allergies are attacking.

    This is an important issue. The whole “what about me” thing. Nobody wants to be left behind, and it needs to be addressed. It is also why there were sometimes comparisons between Bernie and Trump. In europe it is funny to watch the handwringing of the ruling liberals, as they get shocked at Brexit and rising nationalist parties, while suddenly having the epiphany that a lot of people on your ‘ground floor’ analogy feel ignored. Which is why I hope Bernie’s influence can push Hillary’s policy towards more improvements of the ground floor. As you say, democrats and liberals not necessarily the same thing.

    But trump is style over substance. He just says, “you feel bad and wronged” without any substantive back up to that statement. He needs a ‘Because.’ as in “you feel bad and wronged because of wage stagnation, because of union busting, because of wall street patriarchy.” (Okay, he is throwing a “because of immigrants and muslims,” but anyway)

    They also villify Obama with no substance.
    “The last 8 years have been terrible!”
    “No kidding? – how so?”
    “No, that’s my whole sentence, ‘the last 8 years have been terrible,’ I have nothing to add.”

  2. There’s one thing I think you’re ignoring. Not too many election cycles ago, I remember being told that the US workforce needed college educations, because the world was moving into an Information Economy.

    I remember wondering how that was going to work, because… let’s face it, not all people are suited to jobs that require them to sit in cubicles all day and stare at computer monitors.

    I appreciate that you addressed that elephant by bringing up labor unions.

    But now a big topic of conversation is student loan debt. It seems to me that a lot of young people were raised on the belief that a college education was a requirement to move up, only to now discover that student debt is an anchor holding them back.

    In my current work-life I work with Millennials, and I see some drowning in student debt and others utterly skeptical of the value of higher education. Admittedly, I’m working in a service-sector industry where, as a “Department Manager II,” my hourly wage is slated to increase (a few years hence) under the California “Fair Wage Act of 2016.”

    My point is, I think the assumption that a College Education is a ticket out of the lower economic strata is a thing of the past.

    • That’s a really good point – and another peeve against furriners coming in on the second floor, debt-free since they went to school overseas.

      I strongly believe that anyone with the desire to continue education should be able to do so without racking up huge debt. Community colleges could be the cornerstone of Making America Even Greater Than Ever, if we commit to them.

      It also means ending some of the predatory “universities” that are in the loan business, rather than the education business.

      Fun fact: Harvard, with a fraction of the interest on its endowment, could waive all tuition.

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