Which road is the way back from Mr. Trump? Working people are labeled the crazies and several reasons are given. These people are left behind in the economy and feel neglected. Immigrants are taking over jobs and Muslims are threatening our way of life is what we are told. Minimum or low wage jobs are the best we can hope to obtain. There are other reasons or excuses, which are documented to be without a factual basis. There is generally some truth to most stereotypes which can be exaggerated by those who wish to obtain power. How can this be in the nation that prided itself on individualism, hope without fear and belief in a better tomorrow? The road that got us here did not start with the current presidential race.
History is littered with extremist groups such as the John Birch Society and militia type groups in more recent times. Generally their appeal is somewhat limited as to who are actual members or followers. The contemporary media today tends to be less inclined to actually report on the more recent extremists who are most vocal today. Perhaps it is because there is no one group or charismatic leaders with a podium from which to cry out.Today’s radicals tend to be more into power through money. Organizations such as the Koch Foundation and its extremely wealthy supporters do not seek the limelight for themselves but fund people, candidates and officeholders, to do their bidding for them. In a state like North Carolina one very wealthy person has worked hard to fund what he believes are the right people. North Caroline not so long ago was viewed as the New South. Now its elected types and laws are reminiscent of a less hopeful time.
These people, very wealthy extremists, are not working class. These are the so-called one percent, the wealthiest of the wealthy. Why would I or any person of or from the working class support these people. Probably part of the reason is that we neither know them nor are necessarily aware of them and their involvement. These people hide behind the faces of the candidates we may vote for. A local person, generally a white male, seeks office or re-election, with huge monetary support from these people or groups. In exchange for that financial support and in order to keep obtaining that support to stay in office the candidates become their mouthpiece. We are told the problem isn’t the super rich but the unions, those who want a living wage for workers, those who believe all people should have health care and those receiving social security. medicare and help from various assistance programs. All these hurt business and make it harder for businesses to hire more workers. It doesn’t seem to matter that this premise is factually untrue and documented to be false by responsible sources. Maybe some of us believe it because we are told it by people who start out more like us when seeking office and more like them after they are elected. These elected people hide the fact that their opinion is paid for by the super rich who hide behind them. Those who hide are cowards, afraid to do their own dirty work, and those who speak for them are cowards who are motivated by self-interest and power. Who are these people and why do we believe them or at least want to believe them?
Working people’s income as a percentage of the national income grew after World War II and continued up until about 1970. Income levels stagnated or have declined in real money since then. At the same time the very wealthy have flourished in every way. Factories closed which entire communities thrived on and took pride in the products they produced. Perhaps a college education was not necessary because skills were learned on the job through union apprentice programs and the like. Wages, vacations, health insurance, sick leave etc. were provided through negotiated contracts and sometimes because employers provided these benefits even if only to avoid union organization of their employees. Social security and medicare expanded and grew because workers and employers had to participate to insure some lifestyle security when an employee retired. After all these are entitlements, which we paid into, not government “handouts.” Some companies set up additional retirement programs such as IRS allowed 401K or personal IRA programs. This represented a decent lifestyle and offered the promise that our children would be in a position to start where we leave off and not basically start over, so what happened?
Regardless of how a person may view the Carter Presidency, we probably agree he was a decent man. People in large numbers supported President Reagan. He always came across as a decent person whether we agreed with him politically or not. His claims that government is the problem and references to welfare queens, however was a change in the national rhetoric. 1992 resulted in the election of people calling for a change in our view of government and our elected leaders. Democracy was not enough, we needed a Contract With America we were told by Newt Gingrich and others. There was much ballyhooed over this “contract” which eventually fizzled. The George W. Bush election of 2000 created controversy and some lingering hard feelings. The Iraq war and the ongoing war in Afghanistan contributed more animosity and questions of truth by our leaders. The election of President Obama resurrected some deep-seated racism. Senator John McCain choosing a less than qualified VP with a vitriolic attitude fueled the fire as animosity even hate was labeled gridlock rather than what it was and still is. Health care became a line in the sand for Republicans. Death panels, socialism, Obama over reach and the like were thrown around without a basis in fact. The march continued with Romney a Mormon and part of the 1%, McConnell calling for President Obama to be a one term president. Do nothing, support no legislative initiatives and certainly no President Obama requests and on and on. Never had we seen such inaction in Congress and an inability just to talk. Gridlock gravitated to animosity, disrespect for each other, intolerance and hate.
This brings us to 2016 Presidential election. Mr. Trump surprises all the political pundits. He displays a total disrespect for our country, our constitution and those things we claim to believe. His followers are working class people. Regular people who feel left out and hopeless. The jobs they have are low pay, low skill with a limited future. It is just a job for a paycheck no pride in it, no self-respect for it. Our children see the same prospects. Why, what happened? The world has changed and we, the working class, haven’t adjusted, maybe can’t. Our government leaders still try to fix blame but offer little help. Why would they, so many are the purchased representatives of the super rich, who are doing quite well. Unions don’t have the strength in numbers but then we, the working class let it happen and accepted the blame being placed there. Our wages and benefits needed to be cut and replaced with workers who willingly take less. The products we made still cost money which we no longer can earn. We cling to a spoiled rich brat as our savior. He doesn’t care, his life is good no matter what. We deceive ourselves. I grew up in a working class neighborhood. If we acted uppity or arrogant or tried to be a tough guy, that person got his ass kicked by the bike rack after school. I will guarantee Mr. Trump never had that experience nor a lot of the others such as McConnell, Ryan, Gowdy and some Democrats as well. That was a most humbling experience for a seventh or eight grader and a life long lesson. We all need to visualize and recall that type of experience. Then we need to get off our ass and stand tall again. Read, learn, understand who we are and who can help lead us regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. We need to get along. Politicians fooling us or us fooling ourselves has to end and that’s our bottom line.