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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2016 Election Analysis - Part 4: The Big Con

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 12/08/16 01:32

by Dave Mindeman

This election was based on a big con.

The economy has been moving upward. Unemployment has been moving down. Corporations are continuing record profits. The stock market is at all time highs.

But some people have not been benefiting and those people are concentrated in the "rust belt" - the areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin that have been the victims of the decline of the manufacturing base in America.

Trump convinced them that it was trade policies that moved their jobs to other countries. The government didn't protect them from those low wage countries that stole their manufacturing plants. Trump told them that he would stop this migration. He was their champion - he would be their voice. He would bring back the glory days of steel and coal and assembly lines.

But it is one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated on the American people. And the people who desperately want to believe that those jobs can magically be transported back to their home towns hung on every word Trump said.

There is no question that some of these jobs were lost to free trade policies. Worker protections have been weak. But that is not why the rust belt has been declining. No, corporations found a new way to get cheap labor - they automated. Robots and machinery took those jobs away. Studies have shown that 85% of manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation...and human resources are just not going to come back.

Trump knows this. He has participated in moving his own product manufacturing overseas. He knows that automation is the key. But that didn't matter to him. He found the words that could draw big crowds of people...saying the things they wanted to hear, that they wanted to believe...and conning them into thinking that he was the one person who could fix it all.

In a way this is cruel. This is cynical. But when you don't have to deal with facts or real policy, it would seem that it can work to win an election.

Combined with a media that allowed the fantasy to grow, Trump managed to con his way to an incredible victory.

Will reality set in? Of course. But Trump is working on other ways to continue to dupe those loyal followers. This idea that he can threaten and cajole one company at a time to keep those jobs here is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Another show. Visual optics. This is not a way to fix a systemic loss of jobs to automation. It is just another cruel hoax.

Trump has shown us how fragile our democracy can be. He has pandered and lied and taken conflicting positions to the point that no one really knows what his actual policy is - it is an intentional moving target.

And every single institution in this country fell for it. The Republican Party establishment, union workers, the donor elite, the media...but most of all, it was the left behind, working class Americans willing to latch on to the first campaign promise that said what they needed to hear - even though it was a cruel, false, shameless hoax.

This country will be tested to its very core in the next four years. Let's hope we can survive that test.
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